Mueller made the remarks at a Wednesday luncheon, but an aide said later Mueller "did not intend to imply" decisions had been made about alleged mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed or the other accused al-Qaida conspirators, the Washington Post said Thursday.
Mueller's remarks bolster previous indications the government is reluctant to attempt more criminal prosecutions like the one against alleged al-Qaida operative Zacarias Moussaoui, who has frustrated federal officials with his courtroom antics and has brought the case to a halt with demands to call the alleged conspirators as witnesses.
A Pentagon spokesman said no decisions have been made about trying Mohammed or any other suspects in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. A White House spokesman declined to comment.
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