Attorney General Eric Holder announced last year that alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) would be tried in civilian courts in New York City.


After a wave of criticism, the White House apparently backed away from those plans. Now one group of families of the victims of 9/11 is coming forward to ask Holder to stand behind his decision to have a civilian trial.

The Obama administration appeared to have given in to criticism from people like Sarah Palin who called a potential KSM civilian trial a "horrible decision, absolutely horrible."

Even New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he wanted the trial moved out of the city.

In January, an administration official told The Washington Post that "New York is out."

The Associated Press reported in March that Obama advisers were close to recommending a military trial for the terror suspect.

New York Gov.-elect Andrew Cuomo spoke out Thursday against having the trial in his state.

While Cuomo was saying he would fight to keep the trial away from New York, September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows released a statement asking Holder to hold the the KSM trial and other terror trials in New York or another East Coast venue.

"We, family members of those who died in the attacks of 9/11, entreat you to try Khalid Sheik Mohammed and his Guantanamo cohorts in federal courts that rely on the U.S. Constitution and the tenets of America's 200 year-old system of justice," the group wrote to Holder.

"The location is not of consequence, although New York, Virginia, or another venue in the East where most of the families reside, would be optimum," they said.

On Wednesday, Holder told reporters that he was "close to decision" on where and how to hold the trials.

"We are working to make a determination about the placement of that trial. I hope that whenever the decision is, it is one that will be based on the merits and what is best for the case and justice in that case," Holder said.

The liberal blog Think Progress first reported on the letter from September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows to Holder. The full text of the letter follows.

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November 11th, 2010

Attorney General Holder:

We, family members of those who died in the attacks of 9/11, entreat you to try Khalid Sheik Mohammed and his Guantanamo cohorts in federal courts that rely on the U.S. Constitution and the tenets of America's 200 year-old system of justice. The location is not of consequence, although New York, Virginia, or another venue in the East where most of the families reside, would be optimum.

The overarching consideration is that these self-confessed, accused detainees must be tried under well-tested and fair laws recognized by the world. Our American sensibility for justice and fairness must be demonstrated openly to our allies and our enemies. We must stand tall in rebuking those who accuse us of witch hunts. The American justice system works without resorting to newly-minted courts whose shaky underlying justification is scorned by most of the world as self-serving.

We are proud of our country and our justice system: we know you are too. Now please let us prove it to all.

Many of us met with you face-to-face on June 16, 2009 and you told us at that time of your personal commitment to bringing these trials to open, transparent courts. Please do not back off from what you know to be right.

September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows

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