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Transcript

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

QUESTION: You said that you are charging them with the most serious offences appropriate. You didn't come out and say specifically that they're going to be charged with the 9/11 attacks. Can you elaborate on that? I mean, are they going to be charged with that conspiracy specifically, or with something less than that or related to that?

HOLDER: They will be charged for what we believe they did, and that is to mastermind and carry out the 9/11 attacks.

QUESTION: General Holder, how close a call was your decision to send (inaudible) civilian court, given the gravity of the issue (inaudible) security, the classified evidence, the torture issue as has been discussed? How close a call was it (inaudible)?

HOLDER: I've only been attorney general for eight or nine months, and I think this is about the toughest decision that I've had to make as attorney general: trying to balance the need to ensure that we maximize our chances of success and hold accountable the people who committed these heinous offences, while at the same time adhering to what I think has been a guide for this administration, adherence to the rule of law -- balancing all those factors, taking into account the desires of the -- of the victims, trying to protect classified information; taking all these things into account.

It has been a very difficult decision, but I'm comfortable with the decisions that we have made with regard to the placement of people, both in civilian courts as well as the military commissions.

QUESTION: Attorney General, you say you're very comfortable with the legal reasons for these decisions and how you expect this to play out legally.

Are you -- how concerned are you about how this will play out politically? Because, obviously, there's the Hill and there's public opinion, which some polls suggest aren't really a fan of this idea of bringing people to trial.

HOLDER: My job as attorney general is to look at the law, apply the facts to the law, and ultimately do what I think is in the best interests of this country and our system of justice. Those are my guides.

To the extent that there are political consequences, well, you know, I'll just have to take my lumps, to the extent that those are set in my way. But I think if people will, in a neutral and detached way, look at the decision that I have made today, understand the reasons why I made those decisions, and try to do something that's rare in Washington -- leave the politics out of it and focus on what's in the best interest of this country -- I think the criticism will be relatively muted.

HOLDER: Having said that, I'm sure we'll hear a lot of criticism.

QUESTION: Attorney General Holder, will you (inaudible) address some of your concerns about the speedy trial act with these cases?

And, also, how much of these trials can we expect will be open to the public, given some of the classified information that (inaudible)?

HOLDER: Well, I don't want to speculate about any particular motions that might be filed.

With regard to the openness of the trials, I think we get a sense of that from other significant terrorist trials that have occurred, where they were largely open. Portions of them will likely be closed so that classified information, sources and methods are -- are not revealed. But I would expect that these trials will be open to the public, open to the world, and open to the survivors and victims of these -- of these heinous acts.

QUESTION: Will you try the suspects together and/or separately? And do you think they can get a fair trial in New York?

HOLDER: I expect that we will try them together. And I expect that through a really searching, complete voir dire process, that we can come up with a jury that will ensure that the defendants will get a fair trial in New York.

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