Conservatives ‘sit out’ NYC trials protest despite calls by Liz Cheney, Gingrich and Rove
An effort by several prominent Republicans to rally opposition to Attorney General Eric Holder’s plan to bring five accused 9/11 plotters to the US for trial apparently fell flat Wednesday.
Despite efforts by former Bush White House adviser Karl Rove, former House Majority Leader Newt Gingrich and Liz Cheney, daughter of the former vice president, no protest erupted outside the chamber of the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday morning as Holder arrived to explain his decision to try the accused plotters, including alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, in a Manhattan courtroom.
“No such message was delivered on Wednesday morning,” writes Nick Baumann at Mother Jones. “When Holder arrived at the committee room in the Dirksen Building, there were no demonstrators, no angry mob.”
While Baumann states that “some 9/11 relatives who oppose trying KSM in New York were in the house,” other news sources suggested the opposition was somewhat more fierce.
“Relatives of Sept. 11 victims turned out in force Wednesday to oppose Holder’s decision,” reported USA Today.
But Baumann’s description of the hearing — plenty of available seating, no “throng of irate citizens” — suggests the Republicans’ efforts fell far short of expectations.
Bush administration strategist Karl Rove sent out a call for a protest on Monday. “Don’t sit out: 9:30am 11/18 Dirksen Senate Bldg Rm G-50 to oppose Atty Gen’s testimony on trying terrorists on US soil,” he wrote on Twitter.
On Tuesday, Liz Cheney’s new conservative pressure group, Keep America Safe, sent out a similar Tweet. “Join Keep America Safe at 9:30am Wed at Dirksen Senate Bldg to protest Holder’s testimony,” the group stated. That was quickly echoed by Gingrich, who wrote: Join Keep America Safe at 9:30am Wed at Dirksen Senate Bldg to protest Holder’s testimony on bringing terrorists to US.”
That was enough to bring some opponents of the Obama administration’s decision to Capitol Hill, as USA Today reported:
“I don’t have a clear understanding about why it has to be in New York,” Peter Regan, 28, whose father, New York City firefighter Donald Regan, 57, was killed in the attacks, said before the hearing. “There is no reason it has to be in New York. It gives them the biggest stage to do what they want to do.
“They are being given the rights of American citizens. They aren’t American citizens. They never will be American citizens.”
Alice Hoagland, whose son, Mark Bingham, was killed on Flight 93, said she was “sorry our attorney general was not brave enough” to try the Sept. 11 planners in military court. “The logical place is a military venue,” Hoagland says.
In the face of some opposition to his plans, President Barack Obama has sounded a tougher note on the accused 9/11 plotters. The president made a rare foray into an ongoing judicial process, predicting on Wednesday that Mohammed would be convicted and would face the death penalty, the Associated Press reported.
Asked about opposition to the New York trial venue, Obama reportedly said: “I don’t think it would be offensive at all when he’s convicted and when the death penalty is applied to him.”
And Holder suggested that prosecutors in the case may be willing to accept a guilty plea from Mohammed. Mohammed had attempted to plead guilty before a military tribunal in 2008, but the Justice Department blocked his efforts.
Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee his department would be willing to accept a guilty plea, in order to move the case forward faster, The Hill reports.
While Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor who saw the city through the 9/11 attacks, opposes the New York trials, current Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said he sees it as “fitting” that the trials should take place near the site where the vast majority of 9/11 victims died.