Commentary: Holder made right decision on civil trials for 9-11 suspects

Three years after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, a New York City jury convicted Ramzi Ahmed Yousef of plotting the attack. He also was convicted of planning to bomb airplanes.

In 1995, Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and nine other men were convicted in a New York court of scheming to attack city landmarks, including the United Nations building.

The federal courts in New York City have tried terrorists and delivered justice.

These have been long, complicated trials, involving extraordinary security measures. But the proceedings have demonstrated that the American justice system can provide even the worst of U.S. enemies with full and fair process under our Constitution's framework.

This must have informed U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's thinking as he opted for civilian trials for five men alleged to have conspired in the 9-11 terror attacks.

Holder on Friday said that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Walid Muhammed Salih Mubarak Bin Attash, Ramzi Bin Al Shibh, Ali Abdul-Aziz Ali and Mustafa Ahmed Al Hawsawi, all of whom have been charged before military commissions with taking part in the 9-11 plot, would be prosecuted in New York.

It could not have been an easy decision. Strong legal and tactical considerations, as well as political forces, would support either the criminal courts route Holder picked or trials before revised military commissions with somewhat different procedures.

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