Published February 05, 2010
Republicans aren't the only ones opposed to a civilian trial for Sept. 11 conspirator Khalid Sheik Mohammed and his alleged four accomplices.
Attorney General Eric Holder's decision not to use a military commission to bring them to justice has driven a wedge between him and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, whose opposition is grounded in politics, according to the New Yorker.
"There was a lot of drama," a source told the magazine, explaining that Emanuel wanted to placate Sen. Lindsey Graham, a leading advocate of military commissions, who had helped Obama on other issues, such as the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
"Rahm felt very, very strongly that it was a mistake to prosecute the 9/11 people in the federal courts, and that it was a mistake to prosecute the 9/11 people in the federal courts, and that it was picking an unnecessary fight with the military-commission people," the source said.
The internal battle comes as the Obama administration is seeking a $200 million fund to help pay for security costs in the city, yet to be determined, that will host the trials. Last week, Graham introduced a bill in the Senate to block the funding.
Emanuel believed the South Carolina Republican when he said he won't support the closing of Gitmo if the terror suspects weren't tried in military commissions.
According to the source, Rahm said, "'If we don't have Graham, we can't close Guantanamo, and it's on Eric.'"
Holder spoke with Graham several times at Emanuel's insistence but they were unable to reach an agreement.
"It was a nonstarter for me," Graham told the magazine. "There's a place for the courts, but not for the mastermind of 9/11."