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US may set up military tribunal for 9/11 suspects

Reports that the White House may use military tribunals to try key terrorism suspects linked to the September 11, 2001, attacks drew a sharp rebuke from civil rights groups on Friday.

world Updated: Mar 06, 2010 07:47 IST
DPA

Reports that the White House may use military tribunals to try key terrorism suspects linked to the September 11, 2001, attacks drew a sharp rebuke from civil rights groups on Friday.

The Washington Post reported that President Barack Obama's legal advisers were set to recommend that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the 2001 attack, and four alleged co-conspirators, be tried for their crimes in a military tribunal.

The recommendation, if approved by the Obama administration, would reverse an administration pledge made in November to try the September 11 suspects in a civilian federal court in New York.

Officials in New York City, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, have strongly opposed the trial, while conservative Republicans have argued the suspects attacked the US and should remain in military custody.

The White House has said it is reviewing the case, but insisted that no final decision has been taken on how to move forward. The American Civil Liberties Union strongly warned against abandoning the civilian courts option.

"If this stunning reversal comes to pass, President Obama will deal a death blow to his own Justice Department, not to mention American values," said Anthony Romero, executive director of the rights group.

Obama would "demonstrate that his principles are up for grabs and lose all credibility with Americans who care about justice and the rule of law," Romero said.