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Attorney-General's news conference Add to ...

Because many cases could be prosecuted in either federal courts or military commissions, that protocol sets forth a number of factors, including the nature of the offence, the location in which the offence occurred, the identity of the victims, and the manner in which the case was investigated.

HOLDER: All of these things must be considered.

In consultation, again, with the secretary of defence, I have looked at all of the relevant factors and made case-by-case decisions for each detainee.

It is important that we be able to use every forum possible to hold terrorists accountable for their actions. Just as a sustained campaign against terrorism requires a combination of intelligence, law enforcement and military operations, so must our legal efforts to bring terrorists to justice involve both federal courts and reformed military commissions.

I want to thank the members of Congress, including Senators Lindsey Graham, Carl Levin and John McCain, who worked so hard to strengthen our national security by helping us pass legislation to reform the military commission system.

We will continue to draw on the Pentagon support as we bring cases against the alleged 9/11 conspirators in federal court. The Justice Department has a long and a successful history of prosecuting terrorists for their crimes against our nation, particularly in New York. Although these cases can often be complex and challenging, federal prosecutors have successfully met these challenges and have convicted a number of terrorists who are now serving lengthy sentences in our prisons.

And although the security issues presented by terrorism cases should never be minimized, our marshals, our court security officers and our prison officials have extensive experience and training dealing with dangerous defendants, and I am quite confident that they can meet the security challenges posed by this case.

These detainees will not be transferred to the United States for prosecution until all legal requirements are satisfied, including those in recent legislation requiring a 45-day notice and report to the Congress.

I have already spoken this morning to Governor Paterson and to Mayor Bloomberg and am committed to working closely with them to ensure that all security and related concerns are properly addressed. I have every confidence that we can safely hold these trials in New York, as we have so many previous terrorist trials.

HOLDER: For the many Americans who lost friends and relatives in the attacks of September the 11th, 2001, and on the USS Cole nothing can bring back those loved ones. But they deserve the opportunity to see the alleged plotters of those attacks held accountable in open court, an opportunity that has too long been delayed.

Today's announcement marks a significant step forward in our efforts to close Guantanamo and to bring to justice those individuals who have conspired to attack our nation and our interests abroad.

For over 200 years, our nation has relied on a faithful adherence to the rule of law to bring criminals to justice and provide accountability to victims. Once again, we will ask our legal system in two venues to rise to that challenge. I am confident that it will answer the call with fairness and with justice.

QUESTION: Mr. Attorney General, what do you say to those who say you have a $400 million facility down in Cuba that has been secured; why couldn't the terrorists be prosecuted there?

HOLDER: Well, we look at -- as I said, the protocol that we worked out with the Department of Defence and on an individualized basis made the determination that we can, I think, be most successful in bringing the cases involving the 9/11 detainees in federal court in New York.

QUESTION: How much of a factor for you was it that in the case of the five 9/11 detainees you're returning them basically to the scene of the crime?

HOLDER: Well, that is something that typically happens in the criminal law. The cases are typically tried in the place where the offence occurred, and so that was one of the factors.

There are a number of other factors that went into making that determination, including the nature of the people who were the victims: largely civilians in New York.

In addition to that, this is a matter that, as I said, happened in this country as opposed to overseas, which is different from what we might do with regard to those who are going to be tried in the military commissions.

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