Former Attorney General John Ashcroft said on Friday that trials for the Sept. 11, 2001, plotters could endanger the public and give anti-U.S. elements a public stage to voice their rhetoric, according to the Associated Press.
“If your top priority is the liberty and life of American citizens and the security of their lives and liberty, then this decision is less than optimal,” he told reporters at a Kansas fundraiser for Republican Rep. Todd Tiahrt’s campaign for U.S. Senate. ”I believe we are still in a very significant war on terror. The administration doesn’t appear to believe that we are in a war on terror.”
Last Wednesday, Ashcroft said that Holder technically lacks the legal standing to move alleged Sept. 11 plotter Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and other detainees to federal courts in New York City to stand trial.
“The attorney general doesn’t have the authority to mandate that the secretary of Defense turn somebody over to him and yield jurisdiction so that something that would have been done in a military setting is done in a civilian setting,” Ashcroft told the Chris Stigall show on KCMO radio, according to the Hill.
Notwithstanding Ashcroft’s views, the trials will be held in New York City; Holder made his decision in consultation with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, according to the Justice Department