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November 14th, 2009
04:52 AM ET

Should 9/11 suspects be tried in civilian court in New York?

Five terrorism suspects are heading to New York City to be tried in the 9/11 attacks. Among them is the self-proclaimed mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed. But not everyone is pleased with the decision to try the case in a civilian court near ground zero.

What are your thoughts on this story? Leave your comments below, we may use some of them this morning in the CNN Newsroom.

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soundoff (53 Responses)
  1. Jon

    Yes. They should face the very people that they hurt and tried to hurt. I don't think a military tribunal would work for those people that lost their loved ones during the 9/11 tragedy.

    November 14, 2009 at 5:47 am |
  2. monique

    Some people are saying that a miltary tribunal would be faster and that if they are tried as civilians they would be afforded rights as US citizens. These people have been sitting in a military prison for 9 years receiving better healthcare than most US citizens,hence why Michael Moore brought 911 victims to Cuba to get medical care that they could not get in the US. I feel that even if they are tried in a military tribunal these criminals still have rights..the right to representation and a fair trial.

    November 14, 2009 at 6:12 am |
  3. ernie orlando, fl

    Yes all should have a trail but after watching the real story of 9/11 GW Bush and Chaney should be first on trial. Watch the video Loose Change and you will agree too.

    November 14, 2009 at 6:13 am |
  4. Paul

    I just can't see them assembling a jury of their peers

    November 14, 2009 at 6:35 am |
  5. Michael

    I think that everyone needs to move. Let's prosicute the individuals that were involved in what happened and let that be the end of it. I am tired of September 11, please.

    November 14, 2009 at 6:35 am |
  6. MJ Washnock

    These terrorists should not be tried in a civilian court but a military court as combatants. They have already pled GUILTY...This so called trial will be a circus giving these jihadists a platform, cost the US taxpayers and NYC, untold millions, and incite the Muslim " street ". Eric Holder is part of a cadre of liberal lawyers who want to give these barbarians "rights" like an American citizen. Did Hitler have rights like a US citizen ???
    On trial here will be: The CIA, Cheney, Pres. Bush, the laywers that represented them and the entire US – NOT the terrorists !!!!!!!
    This will destroy the CIA and I hope we all remember this when we are attacked again in the future...

    November 14, 2009 at 6:40 am |
  7. Dan US Army (Ret)

    So can anyone make the point that these guys are civilians and that we are not at war with any governing body of any other country? Therefore, they are only suspected of crimiinal activity until proven guilty in a court of law. Civilians are not and should not be tried under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The UCMJ is a justice system for soldiers, not cowards, ministers, clerics or boyscouts.

    November 14, 2009 at 6:41 am |
  8. Joel

    What REALLY should be done w/the 9/11 suspects:

    1. Rejoin the International Criminal Court (ICC)–which quite frankly, we should have never, NEVER EVER LEFT IN THE FIRST PLACE!!!!!

    2. Let the ICC deal w/the9/11 suspects–after all, this is their turf.

    Speaking of the ICC:

    1. Why isn't the President and/or Congress talking about rejoining the ICC?

    2. Why aren't you folks in the media talking about the ICC as well?

    I mean, did we blow it by storming out of that august institution over trivial, penny-ante chump-change allegations or what? If we'd have stayed put ,we could have avoided this mess about the 9/11 suspects–as well as arguably 9/11 itself–if we'd have stayed put. Isn't it enough we also lag behind the world in health care, as well as being the only industrialized nation w/capital punishment; not to mention bowing out of Kyoto and the land-mine treaty?

    November 14, 2009 at 6:43 am |
  9. Angel

    Hey TJ & Betty Just a thought a little while back I heard Sarah Palin say we need to keep President Obama feet to the fire. Wow I guess the fire got a little to hot for because she quit being the governor in Alaska. Just my opinion how is she going to be a good candidate for Pres. Number one how is she going to lead in the White House when she can't keep her own house straight. I'm a little tired of all the hoopla she gets for her book going rough it should be called going nuts in Alaska. If and a big "IF" she was elected President what would that say about of our countries principles we have a President who gives up on Alaska, verbal spars with her daughter's baby father, david letterman.etc Wow if she gets really upset at these situation what's will happen"IF" North Korea test a missile during her "tenure."

    November 14, 2009 at 6:45 am |
  10. Robert

    Yes, we are capable of a just decision.

    November 14, 2009 at 7:03 am |
  11. Frank

    Does the Muslim World view the Terrorest suspectts Trials in NY as fair? I think that what the Government is Thinking.

    November 14, 2009 at 7:06 am |
  12. Nancy

    I can see both sides of the coin here. However, I believe that even though US citizens have a right to fair trial, this case is unique whereas their crimes were of war and they killed thousands of US citizens, who were not given a fair trial before their undue execution.

    November 14, 2009 at 8:07 am |
  13. In NY

    The crime happened in NY. Bring the criminals here for the trials. It would happen for any other crimes. Put them in a NY prison.

    November 14, 2009 at 8:09 am |
  14. Jerry Jacksonville, Fl.

    I think by trying them in the U.S. we may show the rest of the world that we do indeed have an honest judicial system. The previous idiots we had in the White House would probably water boarded them to death, they are the reasons that we are on the bottom of the list for most liked countries.We're going to convict and execute them anyway. No big deal

    November 14, 2009 at 8:11 am |
  15. Raj

    They should be prosecuted in NY and put away for ever. It has a better chance of success then military tribunal, which clearly has not worked.
    It's strong positive message to the world about American justice system and prove we are not cowards.
    What's the difference between these people who have killed thousands versus financial swindlers who have decimated millions.

    November 14, 2009 at 8:25 am |
  16. Axel

    Of course the terrorists should be given fair trials, but trying them in New York would most likely result in bias and unfair treatment. How can a judge and jury not let their emotions affect their decision?

    November 14, 2009 at 8:45 am |
  17. ken

    Yes they should be tried in civilian court in new york where the two stolen planes crashed into the twin towers. I am tired of the whining from the diddo heads. It has been 8 years and the suspects have not been put on trial yet, military or civilian court . The twin towers have not been rebuilt yet. Doing nothing seems to be the republican option.

    November 14, 2009 at 8:46 am |
  18. Pauly

    "To be treated as a common criminal is the last thing Khalid Sheik Mohammed wants," said Tom Malinowski, head of the Washington office of Human Rights Watch. "It disintegrates the warrior mystique that al-Qaeda promotes to sustain itself - a mystique that a military trial would have reinforced."

    November 14, 2009 at 8:52 am |
  19. George

    No way they should have the same rights and privileges extended to US citizens. There are so many instances of mistakes made by prosecutors or police where criminals are freed ... no matter how small the chance it might just happen.

    November 14, 2009 at 8:53 am |
  20. Mark Seidler

    This trial is about reestablishing the USA as a nation that embraces "Rule of Law" and reversing the trend toward Autocracy.

    The hysterical drama-queens on Fox believe KSM is some sort of hybrid between Hannibal Lechter and the creature from "Alien". Those of us who live in the real world understand that KSM is about as dangerous as Tinky-Winky . . . without his purse.

    November 14, 2009 at 8:55 am |
  21. Charles Bee

    Republicans dithered for years about these admitted terrorist, and now they whine about every decision this administration makes.
    They whine about everything including jeans the President wore
    at a baseball game. Their whining is no longer news, it's expected.

    November 14, 2009 at 9:04 am |
  22. Emmanuel Didier

    The Obama administration is taking a big risk to have these trials in civilian courts. If any of these guys walk, it will the end of the Obama administration and of the Democratic congress, next year's elections will see the rebirth of the Republican party. The problem lies with the evidence and how it was obtained. It will be in Federal Court with much higher standards than local court. I think this is a gamble but a good PR moment for the US if it works out. I am a little worried at the possible outcome but.........

    November 14, 2009 at 9:08 am |
  23. Charles Bee

    I know it's politically incorrect to ask, but are rightwingers,
    hoping for another terrorist attack, because they think it will hurt democrats? Some of them seem to be giddy about the Ft. Hood shooting.

    November 14, 2009 at 9:18 am |
  24. Julie

    Of course there should be a public trial. With an interpeter, so, we can all hear what they are saying, not a remake of what they might have said with blocked out or fabricated testimony. And, not under being torchured for adequate testimony as the bush cheney brigade allowed to get their submission of guilt.
    i was listening to the Saddam trial, where not one person was credible, friend of a friend heard this and that. cousin of someone else heard this and that ALL HEARSAY. After all the hype Saddam was charged ONLY with 145 so called murders. He testified they all had trials due Iraqi law, and were condemned to death. Suddenly during this trial, they removed it off the air. Most of these had tried to kill Saddam.
    PERSONALLY, i want to hear what they say, and when they say it. Because I believe they are scapgoats for the Bush administration. Who should be on trial also. I also wish to see the 16 pages eliminated from the 9/11 investigation. I want to hear all the black boxes on the planes. I want to see and hear of all the people that warned bush, that sat 2 weeks on his desk about the people taking flight lessons from various flight instruction schools that warned the FBI. Long over due......

    November 14, 2009 at 9:37 am |
  25. Keith Anderson

    CNN had my support because of Lou Dobbs. I was in agreement with most of his commentary and reporting. Many of us here in Texas and Louisiana agree with him. CNN is wrong to take Lou Dobbs off the air, is wrong to give in to special interst groups – those who want to allow ILLEGAL immigration and allow corruption in our gov't., etc.
    Bring back Lou Dobbs, or at least put someone in his place that stands for the American constitution.

    November 14, 2009 at 9:58 am |
  26. dennis linville

    What purpose does it serve? certianly not anything positive for the American people. Our courts are designed to punish the innocent and free the guilty.If they are to be tried by our laws there is no dought their rights were violated but they are not American citizens they are terrorists and should be tried by military law or better yet spread the rumor they insulted the bush family. Then they would be put to death quickly like sadam.
    I know Obama wants the big show but lets look at the outcomes for a second. If they are convicted,why do we ignore their civil rights? is it because of the extent of their crimes ? then what about other high profile criminals that have gotten off due to these same rights? Now the other way,do you think the government /judicial system will have any credibility at all if it releases these terrorist back into society?
    Either way a trial in US courts wil raise questions and promote outrage.

    November 14, 2009 at 9:58 am |
  27. James

    Certainly try them in NY....not in Cuba!!! Instead of saying No to everything or finding fault with everything the Obama Administration does, would be nice if the Republicans could do something good for Americans. They did nothing for 8 years and now they don't want to change everything is sad.

    November 14, 2009 at 10:12 am |
  28. jade

    Why is it that Americans are so fearful of having the 9/11 criminals tried in our judicial court system. NYC is where the crime was committed and it is traditional in the US to hold the hearing in the place where the crime was perpetrated. To suggest that our court system is too delicate to accomodate the likes of the alledged terror suspects; that NYC cannot provide adqequate support or security for same or that we don't have appropriate penal facilities to hold them once convicted and sentenced is sheer lunacy. Those elected and non-elected should cease and desist on the hysteria they are promugating out of ignorance or simply to politicize (either reason is without merit) an event that should not be politicized.

    November 14, 2009 at 10:14 am |
  29. Eric Cotner

    I believe that its great that they are going to try him in NY. 9/11 happened in New York, why not put him on trial in New York? Not only is he going to have to face all of the people that his crime effected, but hes also going to get what he deserves! What will putting on trial in Guantanamo prove? Nothing, He is just going to be another "Terrorist in Guantanamo", He needs to be made an example of!

    November 14, 2009 at 10:15 am |
  30. Scott G.

    Betty and Tj:

    Khalid Sheik Mohammed and the other 4 terror suspects should be tried by a Military tribunal. They are foreign soldiers who attacked the United States and they should not be tried in a civil court where they are afforded Constitutional rights that American criminal afforded.

    November 14, 2009 at 10:16 am |
  31. John Seiling

    It has been nearly 50 years since a murderer found guilty by a military tribunal has been executed. Nearly half of the Guantanimo detainees have been released. A few have been tried and found guilty and short sentences given. It is about time the Justice Dept stepped in and gave the five confessed and plotting Jihadist’s a New York jury trial and a prompt execution.

    November 14, 2009 at 10:25 am |
  32. Derryck S. Griffith

    November 14-2009:

    Could The Alleged 9/11 Terrorists Get A Fair Trial In New York City's Court?

    I say YES. New York City's Federal Judicial Court has a history of conducting such trials. Plus, we have a very credible history for conducting Civil, and Capital Crimes too.

    As for the type of Jurors to be selected. I hope that efforts would be made to get volunteers from outside the US, to sit in as Jurors too.

    This will help to give the pretense that Justice was Indeed Done, or Seemed To Be Done, in whatever results are obtained at the end of these trials.


    November 14, 2009 at 10:28 am |
  33. Carol

    I regret that our President has taken the tribunal of the 9/11 terrorists away from the American Military where they might be more swiftly and justly litigated. It seems to me that what we as Americans are in need of is healing, which cannot be brought about in open court in NYC. The cost of this decision will be paid in far more than U.S. dollars.

    November 14, 2009 at 10:30 am |
  34. Toni

    Are you serious? Of course the 911 terrorist hijackers should be tried in America, preferably New York where it happened. I don’t understand what has taken so long. Should they be tried in China? I don’t think so. Any other jurisdiction is simply not acceptable. Should we let them rot in a jail cell for the rest of their lives without a trial? That’s not what America is about or is it? How could anyone think that the 911 terrorists should not be tried in New York is incomprehensible to me. America, please be Americans and let the courts decide the fate of these horrible people and let those who paid the ultimate price for their acts of terrorism finally rest in peace.

    November 14, 2009 at 10:32 am |
  35. John MacDonald

    The crime was an act of war, which should be tried in a military tribunal. We are only giving the terrorists the forum they want to excoriate America and seek recruits. It is totally unnecessary.

    November 14, 2009 at 10:32 am |
  36. Michael kelly

    If the suspects tried at New york, it will bring back memory to them for the destruction they are suspected of doing, i think this would be good.

    November 14, 2009 at 10:35 am |
  37. Gail

    Yes , these murderers should be tried in the United States and in New York where their crimes were perpetrated. I want someone to ask the Republican naysayers, WHAT they are afraid of? Our justice system defines us as Americans. We are a nation of laws and we do not torture. The terrorist want us to treat them as though they are some"Super" criminal, but I say let's treat them as the cowardly, lowlife criminals that they are.

    November 14, 2009 at 10:40 am |
  38. Jerry

    At least the terroists suspects were very secure at Gitmo, I'm not sure the same level of security can be given in New York City. I can foresee sleeper cells going into the NY/NJ area to strap on explosive belts and drive bomb laden trucks and cars into the city. Watch out New Yorkers your bad days are about to begin.

    November 14, 2009 at 10:47 am |
  39. Jeannot

    Yes, it is a good idea to do it in New York city where everything began it may be hard for the people of New york, but the law aplies for everyone, why not having a civialian court? I think they're still human, right? The U.S it's a country of freedom so the gorvement need to give an example to americans and the rest of the world that being a terrorist or being a pedophile in a free country it's a crime and criminals have to face justice, fair one as everybody else. It's not because you're terrorist that means you can not have a fair trial, right... I don't like terrorist myself don't get me wrong but so many people have given their lives for freedom so we can all be free, lets not waste it...

    November 14, 2009 at 10:50 am |
  40. julie

    george says:

    No way they should have the same rights and privileges extended to US citizens. There are so many instances of mistakes made by prosecutors or police where criminals are freed ... no matter how small the chance it might just happen.

    Julie says: Debate on baby. Over 20% of all of our incarcarated jailhouse folks are illegals from other countries, our legal system is already extended to non American individuals.

    November 14, 2009 at 10:50 am |
  41. Cookie Olson

    Yes they should be tried in a criminal court just like any other commom criminal. They are nothing more or nothing else then common criminals like Ted Bundy. Treat them as such and we will begin to destroy the myth we helped create that these criminals are legitimate military combatants who can't be held acountable for their murders. They are not they are just muderers hiding behind their religion. Cookie in FL

    November 14, 2009 at 10:52 am |
  42. Vivienne Avare

    NO No No! That dangerous state of affairs will create a backlash and demean America, as well as former President Bush & admin,.
    If it's not broke don't fix it. The terrorist have pleaded guilty. All that is needed is to follow through on the military trial, soon ready to go! This is not a criminal civilian matter; thus, it is unwarranted to treat it as such! Our Presidents own words, "we are broke" but that doesn't stop the fiscally irresponsible 'powers that be' from wasting millions more and valuable time/resources to do what the military should be doing! The Dem'wits are making a mockery of our war systems ability to handle the enemy!

    November 14, 2009 at 11:08 am |
  43. Dan US Army (Ret)

    Thumbs up to the adminstration that has the intestinal fortitude to follow the laws that are on the books. Instead of turning this disagreement into another political argument, why not focus on making sure these criminals are brought to justice based on the evidence. Why write new rules because of these cowardly acts of terrorism? Why allow this group to make us change our laws? As I understand it, we will someday have a courts martial of a Major in the US Army for a horrific act of terror at Ft. Hood. Good Idea. Remember we declared a war on drugs. Should we hold military tribunals against people using, selling or manufacturing illegal drugs? Why can't John Mc Cain see terrorists as a radical group of criminals instead of a military force? Is this not the first time in history that a US President declared war on an extreme religious faction instead of a nation?

    November 14, 2009 at 11:36 am |
  44. Ellen

    I don't think the trials should be held in NYC or anywhere in the US. If any of these men are found guilty, do you really think Bin Laden is going to sit quietly and do nothing? I don't think so. Do you ?

    November 14, 2009 at 11:41 am |
  45. Joel

    Isn't this a job for the INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT (ICC)?

    If we didn't storm out on them in a huff, we could have avoided this mess!

    November 14, 2009 at 11:42 am |
  46. Frank

    If the Courts were going to throw out the case thay would have already done it. Just like when other cases that had abuse inthem the cases where thrown out and the criminals are let free. Thay must feel thay have a bulletproof case against them to go to trial.

    November 14, 2009 at 4:38 pm |
  47. larry anase

    Of course not but eric holder has to do something to have obama and his liberal agenda move forward with closing gitmo. It will take 5 years to come to trial, and holder doesn't care if these terrorists go free. Holder will be somewhere else when these are tried. Remember the wonderful job he did for clinton when he didn't prosecut Rich and eventually clinton pardon him the last day he was in office. They all turn my stomach

    November 14, 2009 at 4:39 pm |
  48. Frank

    CNN is it true that the Past Government was going to modify the Military Courts Laws/rules inorder for them to have the trials?

    November 14, 2009 at 4:59 pm |
  49. vic nashville tn

    Actually I think now Democrats and President more conservative than republicans when its comes to Afghan or terrorist suspect trial

    November 14, 2009 at 7:14 pm |
  50. Lauren Arnold

    Absolutely not. What fear should terrorists have of the American government if we allow them to commit an act of WAR and then be tried as criminals in civil courts? The reality is that they don't have the same rights as U.S. citizens, nor do they deserve them. What will the president do if one of these terrorists is let go on a technicality? He'll have boxed himself into a corner and made a joke of the American judicial system. I don't believe any American citizen will appreciate that.

    November 14, 2009 at 10:24 pm |
  51. michael armstrong sr. TX.

    New York seems to want a town hanging but is this the wild west or is this the country that keeps there military and civilian courts seperated the reason for seperation is to not give the american rights to those who hate us if they put these people in an American civil justice system there are going to be some that walk free from smooth talking lawyers twisting American rights to free our demons to strike us again stupidity strikes again.

    November 14, 2009 at 10:37 pm |
  52. Wade

    This is quite simple to most people that have a least half a brain. These terroists are military combatants in their "holy war" against anyone standing against some fake god called allah. These are nothing but murdering whack jobs. They admitted their crime, dip our bullets in pigs blood, as General Black Jack Pershing did in the Philippines, and send their murdering souls to hell. Obama obviously wants them on trial here in a civilian court, where there is the possibility of a mis-trial, thus freeing his "brothers". Wake up America, you are in a holy war from now until this world ends, and in war it is very simple, kill them before they kill you.

    November 17, 2009 at 6:28 pm |
  53. Gail Riegle

    This is a sad time for America. My head is down and my heart is so full of sadness for the citizens of NYC who endured this awful massacre and now they have to endure this. I can't believe our government is so determined to do this. We were just beginning to heal. Can they be anymore insensitive? Do they really think this is the right thing to do? GITMO is a good thing. It was founded by very smart people for this very reason and there will come a day when the USA needs it again and it won't be there if this naive President and his bunch of groupies have their way. These criminals should be in a military tribunal at some far away place, not under the noses of those whom they brought so much devastation and pain to. For God's sake, Obama . . show as much compassion for the American citizens as you and your inept Attorney General do for those who want to harm us so completely. At this point I've had enough of the Obama administration and its advisors. If he left office now, it would be fine with me.

    November 17, 2009 at 9:21 pm |