Unplugged: Will 9/11 Trials Put New York In Danger?



Attorney General Eric Holder's decision last week to try five detainees from the Guantanamo Bay prison facility in New York City, among them self-proclaimed Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, has come under fire from many Republican lawmakers and some family members of those killed in the terrorist attacks.

Most Democrats are defending the decision, noting that New York has been the setting for other high-profile terrorism trials. But Republicans argue that the detainees are war criminals and should be tried in military tribunals.

Several questions have been raised since the announcement, chief among them this: Will New Yorkers be in more danger than they otherwise would be when the trials takes place? And on the other side, will it serve to illustrate the ideals of the American legal system?

On Monday's "Washington Unplugged," Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, the former Commanding General of the Coalition Military Assistance Training Team in Iraq and now a Senior Advisor with the National Security Network, and Hamilton Peterson of Keep America Safe, who lost his father and stepmother on United Flight 93, debated the issue.

"I think it is an extreme disappointment," Peterson told moderator John Dickerson of the decision. "I believe we are putting the residents of New York in severe danger of attack…I cannot understand why, when we're on the cusp of a guilty plea, which he acknowledged in our family's presence, that we would endanger New York."

Maj. Gen Eaton responded that "The problem with Guantanamo is that it is a primary recruiting tool for al-Qaeda. You cannot buff Guantanamo enough to make it shine. It is, I regret, a flawed piece of real-estate when it comes to all things related to our detainees."

Asked if there are any benefits to the trials being held in New York, Peterson suggested there are not.

"I am afraid that this will turn into the ultimate recruiting platform for al-Qaeda," he said. "I think we are aiding and abetting our enemy."

Dickerson asked Eaton about the possibility of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed becoming a martyr.

"I think this is going to be a non-event, as far as a recruiting opportunity for al-Qaeda and it pails in the face of the recruiting opportunity that Guantanamo represents and will continue to represent," he said.

Watch Monday's "Washington Unplugged" above. It also features an interview with Rev. Al Sharpton, Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who are on a tour of America's public schools.

"Washington Unplugged" appears live on CBSNews.com each weekday at 12:30 p.m. ET. Click here to check out previous episodes.

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