Less than a mile from where two hijacked planes brought down the twin World Trade Center towers more than eight years ago, killing thousands, hundreds of demonstrators gathered Saturday to protest the Obama administration’s decision to try key terrorism suspects in U.S. federal court.
Rallying outside the Manhattan federal courthouse where the trials will be held, protesters denounced the decision to hold trials for the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attack, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, and four others in a U.S. courtroom instead of a war tribunal, Reuters reported.
The protesters, consisting of relatives and friends of the Sept. 11 victims, called for the resignation of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, according to The Washington Independent.
Among the protesters: former assistant U.S. attorney Andy McCarthy, who successfully prosecuted 12 people for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
“We’re back here because [Holder] thinks it’s a crime and we know it’s a war,” McCarthy said. “You don’t bring your enemies to a courthouse.”
McCarthy, who serves as contributing editor of the conservative National Review and has criticized Obama in the past, told the rain-soaked crowd that the United States should not “wrap our enemies in the Bill of Rights.”
Demonstrators waved flags and signs, and chanted “U.S.A.” Speakers who took the stage said the trials would give terrorists a forum to spew hate. They argued that men who planned the attacks that killed thousands of Americans should not be afforded the same constitutional rights as U.S. citizens.
Actor Brian Dennehy read a letter from the parents of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, who was kidnapped and murdered by al Qaeda terrorists in 2002. Pearl’s parents wrote that they “refuse to accept the strategy” of Holder’s decision.
Holder has defended the decision to move the trials from the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. “At the end of the day, it was clear to me that the venue in which we are most likely to obtain justice for the American people is in federal court,” Holder said in a prepared statement last month to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Reuters placed the number of demonstrators at more than 1,000. The Associated Press said it was closer to several hundred.
Mohammed and his associates will be tried at the federal courthouse in Manhattan, although no date has been set.
The 9/11 Never Forget Coalition organized the rally.
See C-Span’s video of the rally here.