Published November 23, 2009
Former Vice President Dick Cheney suggested Monday that Attorney General Eric Holder wants a "show trial" for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other alleged 9/11 conspirators who are to be tried in a civilian court just blocks away from where the World Trade Center once stood.
In an interview with conservative talk radio host Scott Hennen on Monday, Cheney called it a "big mistake" to try Mohammed in a civilian court rather than before a military tribunal.
Cheney said the Obama administration has reverted back to a pre-Sept. 11 mindset, in which acts of terror are treated as criminal offenses or "law enforcement problems."
"We had 3,000 dead Americans that day. That is not a law enforcement problem. That's an act of war. And you need to treat it as an act of war," Cheney said in the interview.
The former vice president went on to question the administration's motives in making its decision, saying, "I can't for the life of me figure out what Holder's intent [is] here, in terms of having Khalid Sheikh Mohammed tried in a civilian court, other than to, to have some kind of show trial here."
"They'll simply use it as a platform to argue their case," Cheney said of the 9/11 conspirators.
Cheney also took issue with Obama for not yet announcing a decision on whether to send 30,000 to 40,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. The former vice president had previously criticized Obama for "dithering" on U.S. military strategy in the eight-year-old war.
"The delay is not cost-free," he said. "Every day that goes by raises doubts in the minds of our friends in the region about what you're going to do. Raises doubts in the minds of the troops -- I worry that the delay and that time that it's taken to come to the decision will be very costly."
"This is a complicated decision," Gibbs said during an afternoon briefing with reporters.
"I'm not going to re-litigate what we litigated when the former vice president offered his advice previously," he added. "There are a series of decisions that have to be made, and the president is working through many of those decisions in order to come to what he believes is the best way forward for our national security."
Obama called his national security team together Monday as he moves toward a decision on whether to send more forces -- the council's ninth meeting on the issue. Obama's announcement is expected as early as next week, according to administration officials.