Washington (CNN) – Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday that the Obama administration would likely decide within weeks where the accused 9/11 conspirators will go on trial.
Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee that his original decision to hold the trial in a New York City civilian court remains "on the table,"
despite pressure against that venue from Republicans and New York officials.
When confronted later at the hearing by Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, who opposes a New York trial, Holder said the concerns of city residents and officials would be taken into account.
After the hearing, Schumer issued a statement rejecting Holder's New York option.
"We know the administration is not going to hold the trial in New York. They should just say it already," Schumer said.
The hearing, originally scheduled for March, was postponed until Wednesday so Democratic committee members could attend the bill-signing
ceremony for health care reform legislation.
An expected showdown between Holder and Republicans who oppose his policies did not materialize. While Holder faced some tough questions, he remained calm and also received praise from Democrats on the panel for his stance on controversial issues such as closing the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility and putting terror suspects on trial in civilian courts.
Holder said Wednesday he supported using both civilian courts and military commissions for detainee trials, with the venue determined by what would be best for each particular case.
Some Republicans oppose such civilian trials, saying the terror suspects are enemy combatants who should not receive rights afforded U.S. citizens. Some also dislike the administration's plan to close the Guantanamo Bay facility.
Holder said the facility would be closed as soon as possible, but he was unable to specify when. He also said that 48 Guantanamo detainees would be housed elsewhere when the facility closes because the government intends to hold them indefinitely.
The government is looking at a maximum security prison in Thomson, Illinois, as a possible venue for the terror suspects.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, appeared to trip up Holder when he asked where the administration planned to detain any dangerous terror suspects captured in an overseas terrorist stronghold such as Yemen. Holder stumbled, and then responded, "We're wrestling with that."
"We are basically a nation without a viable jail," Graham declared, noting the Guantanamo Bay facility would be shut and that placing an al Qaeda prisoner at the U.S.-run Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan would cause problems domestically for Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, missed Wednesday's hearing to attend the funeral of his former campaign treasurer in Vermont.
Let me understand this. If I rob a bank in New York, I get to be put on trial in New York. If I rob a bank in Kansas City, Kansas, I get to be put on trial in Kansas City, Kansas but when men from other countries come here and break OUR LAWS, they get to be tried elsewhere. They get special privileges. That's BULL. This is a group of terrorist dictating to our government what to do by striking fear in our people. When they can do that, they have won.
I hope that whatever decision AJ Holder comes to is determined by honoring our legal system, the US Constitution and our nation’s tradition of justice.
I sincerely hope that he doesn't cave in to all the whiny, wimpy people who think that somehow we can't handle the inconvenience of a criminal trial.
What a disgrace to the memory of all who lost their lives on 9/11 that the GOP is playing politics with prosecuting the perpetrators of that heinous attack – let alone the GOP's insistence that our criminal justice system is weak and that US citizens can handle a couple traffic jams.
Keep it OUT of NYS...we don't want it!
Whatever, but keep GITMO open because you and your comrades in the White House will be guests in three more years,
Holder needs to resign. He is a complete idiot. This administration will take the concerns of the people of New York just like they did with the majority over health care. They don't care about the people of America.
Do you think Obama and Holder have as a motivating force to hold these trials in our courts so that if the defendants are found Not Guilty, they will then be released into our public as citizens then start up Muslim Centers to train Al Queda members here on our home soil?
Give it a break sir – you are not ultimately in charge! Pray or give it up! :)
Holder should be forced out. He is the worst AG this country has ever had and that is saying a lot. If this is more of Obama's change he can keep it.
Turn your finger around and point to your own ineptitude sir! :(
Holder hasn't resigned yet?
Obama and Holder are still considering spending a billion dollars to hold circus trials for the murdering terrorists who planned 9/11 in NYC! Could anything be more insane? Well reading the Underwear bomber his right to be silent instead of interrogating him was just as insane, but you'd think they'd take some medication and end the insanity. If Obama isn't really as insane as Holder he should fire him immediately. This is our nation they are subjecting to this total insanity. It needs to end!!!!
Does holder even have a brain? He sounds more confused than bozo.
What the heck is the problem with leaving gitmo open and having the trials there? Or is this too complex an answer for them to grasp? I think this bunch forgot what happened on 9/11 too quickly.
First off thiose men should have allready been tried, and then either executed as the law requires, or place into a maximum security prison with orders to shoot them if they revolt in any way, what is the hold up on trying the guilty so and sos.
Dont let the President cause any delays and do not let him place them in such a position that they cold be aquitted. In other words Mr President keep your hands off of the trial. No sympathy for them or you will get the same trreatment when yu go out of office in 2012