Atty. Gen. Draws Criticism from 9/11 Families

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Attorney General Mark Holder told lawmakers on Capitol Hill Wednesday he is confident the accused architect of the 9/11 attacks will be convicted - and executed.

Holder defended his decision to hold the trial in a civilian court in New York City, but that decision drew sharp criticism.

Holder: 'He'll be Seen for the Coward He Is'

Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he stands by his decision to bring self-proclaimed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four alleged accomplices to New York City to stand trial in civilian court.

"I have every confidence that the nation and the world will see him for the coward that he is," Holder said. "I'm not scared of what Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has to say at trial, and no one else needs to be afraid either."

However, the families of those who died on 9/11 were among his biggest critics.

"Have we gone absolutely crazy?" exclaimed one family member. "I mean it just makes no good sense at all."

Critics questioned whether, after being tried in New York, these terrorists would end up walking its streets.

"Having that possibility of a hung jury, or a judge that just allows him to make a mockery of the system or -- what if he just walks on a technicality?" said John Owens, a Long Island man whose brother died in the north tower of the World Trade center.

"I can't begin to tell you how incensed individuals are," conservative talk show host Janet Parshall said. "To somehow categorize terrorism in the same category as any other crime in America is ludicrous."

Returning to a 'Pre-9/11 Mentality'

Holder told the committee failure to convict is not an option.

"I don't know how you can make a statement that failure to convict is not an option, when you got juries in this country. I think a lot of Americans thought O.J. Simpson ought to be convicted of murder rather than being in jail for what he's in jail for now," Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, responded.

The ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., accused Holder of returning to a "pre-9/11 mentality."

"Mr. Holder, I don't think these are normal defendants. These are people we are at war with. We are dropping bombs on them this very day," Sessions said.

"He's alleged not to be a common criminal, but who has a desire not for ill-gotten gains, but for the destruction of our country," he said. "The correct way to try him is by military tribune."

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., concurred saying, "We're making history and we're making bad history. "

Graham went on to ask Holder where, if Osama bin Laden were captured, would he be tried?

There was no celebration over the New York trials at Cuba's Guantanamo Bay prison.

An admiral at the prison told ABC News the alleged conspirators seemed unsurprised saying simply, "Thank you for the information."

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CBN News
Mark Martin

Mark Martin

CBN News Reporter

Mark Martin is a reporter and anchor at CBN News, covering various issues from military matters to alternative fuels. Mark has reported internationally in the Middle East and traveled to Bahrain to cover stories on the U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower. Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkMartinCBN and "like" him at