Former 9/11 Commission Chairman Criticizes Plan for New York Trial

In this 2004 file photo, Thomas Kean is seen testifying on Capitol Hill. (AP Photo)

In this 2004 file photo, Thomas Kean is seen testifying on Capitol Hill. (AP Photo)

The decision to bring Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other alleged Sept. 11 conspirators to New York City for trial will only give the self-professed mastermind of the attacks the platform for "propaganda" that he wants, the chairman of the 9/11 Commission said Tuesday. 

Thomas Kean, in his first public comments on the matter, criticized Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to bring the defendants into civilian federal court, saying the trial would help Mohammed fulfill his dreams of martyrdom in the eyes of the Muslim world. 

"I worry a little bit about the decision, because it's what Khalid Sheikh Mohammed wants. I mean, he wants a forum," Kean told WNYC radio. "I think he wants to be a martyr, so I think he's going to use the trial as propaganda ... and I think he wants to be Che Guevara or something like that. He's going to try to be a hero to the Muslim world." 

Kean, a former Republican governor of New Jersey, joins a slew of other officials expressing concern about the decision. 

New York Gov. David Paterson, a Democrat, said he would not have moved the suspects to New York for trial, while former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a Republican, told "Fox News Sunday" that the move would only grant Mohammed's "wish." 

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Meanwhile, Holder defended his decision Tuesday, saying his team reviewed the potential downsides for such a trial but determined federal court was the best place to prosecute the suspects. Holder said he's confident the cases will be "successful." 

On the same radio show with Kean, fellow 9/11 Commission member Richard Ben-Veniste backed up Holder's choice. 

"This is a crime that warrants prosecution, and the American justice system is up to the task," he said.