9/11 plotter 'likely to be executed', White House spokesman says
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Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-professed mastermind of the September 11 New York attacks, is likely to be executed, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs has said.
REUTERS - Accused Sept. 11 plotter Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will be tried and convicted and is likely to be executed, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said on Sunday.
Interviewed on CNN's "State of the Union," show, Gibbs said: "Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is going to meet justice and he's going to meet his maker. He will be brought to justice and he's likely to be executed for the heinous crimes he committed."
Gibbs did not confirm reports that the Obama administration has begun looking for places other than the heart of New York City to prosecute self-professed mastermind Mohammed and four accused co-conspirators in the face of fierce criticism tied to security and costs.
"We are talking with the authorities in New York. We understand their logistical concerns," Gibbs said. "We will work with them and come to a solution that we think will bring about justice."
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder decided in November the trials would be held in New York City, where the federal courthouse is connected to a fortified detention center with a tunnel.
But U.S. officials said last week Holder has begun considering other venues.
Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell, also on CNN, said the accused plotters should be tried by a military commission, preferably at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. He said Republicans would deny the administration the funding to mount a trial in New York and predicted that many Democrats would join them.
"Interrogate them, detain them and try them in a military commission offshore at Guantanamo," McConnell said.
The decision to reconsider the location came as President Barack Obama faced increased political pressure to refocus his agenda. Obama has been trying to push through a health care reform initiative and reduce the high unemployment rate.
Looking outside NYC
Last week, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg reversed his support for holding the trials in Manhattan.
"I can tell you I would prefer if it was done elsewhere. I think some of the suggestions make sense, like a military base, because it's far away from people and you can provide security easily," Bloomberg said.
Democratic Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana told "Fox News Sunday" it would be hard to justify having the trials in New York because of the cost alone.
"I think this (having the trials in New York) is one of those things that sounded good in theory, but in practice doesn't work so well," he said.
In addition to security concerns, some lawmakers -- as well as some relatives of the almost 3,000 people who were killed in the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington -- have said the defendants could use the criminal courts as soapboxes to propagate their anti-American beliefs and turn the trials into a media circus.
In one previous trial connected to the hijacked plane attacks, Zacarias Moussaoui was sentenced to life in prison in 2006 after being convicted of conspiracy. The trial was in United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Alexandria.
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