Several hundred people rallied in the rain near Manhattan's federal courthouse complex to protest the plan to put major terrorism suspects on trial in New York.
The demonstrators, including 9/11 families and their supporters, gathered in Foley Square, just blocks from the site of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. They say a New York trial could again make the city a terrorism target.
Last month Attorney General Eric Holder announced that .
Anger at the Obama administration ran hot in the crowd. One person held up a sign calling Holder "disgraceful and despicable." Another sign said "Obama/Holder ... Jihad from within."
Supporters of the 9/11 Never Forget Coalition say the five defendants should face a military tribunal instead.
A "statement of support" for the rally, posted on the coalition's Web site and signed by actors Robert Duvall, Brian Dennehy, Jon Voight, Danny Aiello, Robert Davi, Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Ben Stein, states that Holder's decision to try key figures in the September 11 attacks in a civilian court in New York City is "a travesty of our justice system" that puts the national security of the United States of America at risk.
The signers said the trial would give the defendants a platform "to spew their propaganda and hatred to the world from a courthouse just blocks from Ground Zero.
"We stand with 9/11 families, New York City's first responders and the U.S. military who will be forced to cope with the consequences of this dangerous decision if it is not reversed," the statement said.
Addressing the crowd, Dennehy said he didn't believe the men deserved "normal constitutional protections."
Lee Ielpi, a retired firefighter whose son, also a firefighter, died on 9/11, said he believed the U.S. has been in a state of war since the attacks, and that a military tribunal was therefore the appropriate venue for justice.
"They deserve a fair trial in a military tribunal, not on our soil," he said. "Guantanamo is where it should be."
But other victims of the 9/11 attacks disagreed.
Lorie Van Auken lost her husband at the World Trade Center. She said in an interview before the rally it was fitting that the accused answer charges a short walk from where the twin towers once stood.
John Feal lost half his foot at Ground Zero. He told the N.Y. Daily News, "If you're afraid of terrorists, then they've already won." He said trying the defendants in New York was "poetic justice."
Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., says military commissions have a poor track record when it comes to trying terrorism suspects. He expressed confidence that U.S. prosecutors can win a conviction in a regular, civilian court.
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