By Mark Memmott

Attorney General Eric Holder will tell the Senate Judiciary Committee this morning that the upcoming trial in New York of the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks will not give Khalid Sheikh Mohammed an effective platform to spread his agenda.

"I have every confidence the nation and the world will see him for the coward he is," Holder says in a written version of his remarks obtained by The Associated Press. "I'm not scared of what (Mohammed) will have to say at trial -- and no one else needs to be either."

As the AP writes, critics of Holder's decision to bring Mohammed and four others to the United States for trial "mostly Republicans, have argued the trial will give Mohammed a world stage to spout hateful rhetoric."

Holder, AP adds, will say that "we need not cower in the face of this enemy. ... Our institutions are strong, our infrastructure is sturdy, our resolve is firm, and our people are ready."

The committee's hearing is set to get started at 9:30 a.m. ET, and is to be webcast here.

We'll pass along highlights. Click your "refresh" button to make sure you're seeing our latest additions.

Update at 2 p.m. ET: During questioning, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told Holder that the Obama administration is "making bad history" with the decision to bring Mohammed and others to New York for trial.

"You're criminalizing the war," Graham said.

"I know that we are at war," Holder said.

Update at 10:35 a.m. ET. Here are two quick clips from the opposite sides:

Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., who opposes bringing Mohammed and his alleged co-conspirators to trial in a civilian court:

And Holder:

Update at 10:02 a.m. ET:

Holder is using his opening statement to address critics of his decision and to clear up what he says is "misinformation."

"I'm not scared of what Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has to say at trial and no one else needs to be afraid either," he said.

Mohammed, Holder believes, will have "no more of a platform to spew his hateful ideology than he would have in a military commission." Federal judges, he says, can control their courts and the suspects brought before them.

"We know that we can prosecute terrorists in our federal courts safely and securely because we have been doing so for years," Holder said, noting that more than 300 convicted terrorists are now in U.S. prisons.

The attorney general's official statement -- as prepared for delivery and much longer than what he delivered orally because it covers a variety of subjects -- has now been posted here.

Update at 9:49 a.m. ET: Laying out the position of critics, the ranking Republican on the committee -- Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama -- just called the decision to bring Mohammed to the U.S. for trial "dangerous" and "misguided."

For Mohammed to be "treated as a common criminal in U.S. courts," Sessions said, signals that "fighting global terrorism is not the priority it once was" and a "return to a pre-9/11 mentality."

Instead, the senator added, Mohammed and others like him should be tried by military tribunals.

Update at 9:39 a.m. ET: Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., is using his opening statement to reaffirm his support for Holder's decision to try Mohammed and four others in New York City.

"They committed murder here in the United States and we will seek justice here in the United States," Leahy just said.

Update at 9:35 a.m. ET: The hearing is indeed underway.

categories: National News

9:01 - November 18, 2009