Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani accused the Obama administration of "repeating the mistake of history" by bringing the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks and his accomplices to New York for a civilian trial, saying the administration has definitively reverted to a "pre-9/11 approach."
The mayor who oversaw rescue and recovery efforts in the wake of the attacks on lower Manhattan told "Fox News Sunday" the president is only granting the "wish" of Khalid Sheikh Mohammad at the expense of the American people and that the conspirators should be tried in a military tribunal.
He questioned why the administration would use the tribunals for other suspects but not the Sept. 11 conspirators.
"What the Obama administration is telling us loud and clear is that both in substance and reality, the War on Terror from their point of view is over," Giuliani said. "(Mohammad) should be tried in a military tribunal. He is a war criminal. This is an act of war."
The Obama administration's decision Friday to bring the alleged conspirators to New York has triggered a backlash from those who say a civilian trial affords the defendants rights they do not deserve, treats them as ordinary criminals and could be used as a platform to spew anti-American rhetoric as well as critique the actions of the Bush administration.
Giuliani said the biggest problem is that the United States is treating terrorists as it did after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, which was followed by a string of other terrorist attacks on Americans overseas and finally by the Sept. 11 massacre.
And he suggested that such a high-profile trial in New York City would burden New York City both with the added risk of an attack and the added cost of security expenses.
"Of course it's going to create more security concerns. Just wait and see how much New York City spends on this in order to protect him," Giuliani said. "This gives all the benefits to the terrorists and much less benefits to the public."
Former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey has also criticized the decision.
But others are standing by the Obama administration, arguing that a federal civilian trial held according to the standards of U.S. law is a victory for the United States against terrorism.
Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., told "Fox News Sunday" that, contrary to Giuliani's claim, a military tribunal trial would grant Mohammad's wish to be seen as a "holy warrior."
"If we try him before military officers, that image of a soldier will be portrayed by the Islamic community. That's not the image we want," Reed said.
He said that acquittals in the case are "highly unlikely," and that convictions reached in civilian court will deal a blow to those who sought to wreck American society. When the jury hands down the verdict, Reed said, "He will know he's lost."
White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod told CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that nearly 200 terrorism cases have been tried in the courts since 2001 with a 91 percent success rate, and that "we're very confident" about the upcoming New York trials. He said the decision was made by Attorney General Eric Holder, in concert with Defense Secretary Robert Gates.