Judicial Watch Sues Justice Department for Documents on Decision to Prosecute Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York Court
Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Obama Justice Department to obtain documents related to Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to prosecute terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other 9/11 conspirators in New York federal court. Judicial Watch’s November 19, 2009, FOIA request seeks the following information:
A. All records concerning the decision to prosecute Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other conspirators in the September 11, 2001 attacks in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
B. All communications from the Office of the Attorney General regarding the prosecution of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four accused co-conspirators in the September 11 attacks, including, but not limited to briefings of offices of the state of New York, officials with the Department of State, officials with the Department of Homeland Security, and the White House.
The Justice Department acknowledged receipt of the request on December 11, 2009, but failed to provide any documents within the required 20-day period. In fact, this request has not been responded to in any manner.
The Obama administration has changed its position regarding the prosecution of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his conspirators several times over the last few months. First, Attorney General Holder announced in November 2009, that the terrorists would be tried in a New York federal court. In January 2010, press reports suggested the White House had abandoned its plans for a New York trial after a "wave of protests" from the citizens of New York. In an interview with CBS News’ Katie Couric that aired during the Super Bowl, President Obama said he had not "ruled out" holding the trials in New York. And then on February 12, The Washington Post reported that President Obama had inserted himself into the decision making process and that the military commission option is still on the table.
According to a Quinnipiac poll released mid-February: "By a 59%-35% margin, voters prefer that 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his cohorts be tried by military tribunals instead of in federal courts." Meanwhile, a group of 18 Senators (including two Democrats) has proposed legislation that would strip the Obama administration of its funding for a civil trial.
"Most Americans oppose the Obama administration’s decision to bring the 9/11 terrorists into a New York courtroom," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. "The Obama administration’s ongoing mishandling of these terrorists is alarming. And it doesn’t help that the Holder Justice Department is stonewalling, in violation of the law, the release of documents about its terror trial decision-making. The American people deserve to know the truth about how and why this terrible decision was made."