WASHINGTON, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama backtracked Wednesday after telling an interviewer Khalid Sheik Mohammed will be convicted and executed.
In an interview with NBC News, Obama defended his administration's decision to try Mohammed and four other accused plotters of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attack in a New York court. Critics have said it is offensive to afford Mohammed the same legal rights and privileges granted to defendants in U.S. courts but Obama said those critics will not find it "offensive at all when he's convicted and when the death penalty is applied to him."
The president quickly added he did not intend to prejudge the outcome of a trial.
"I'm not going to be in that courtroom," he said. "That's the job of the prosecutors, the judge and the jury."
Opponents of the decision insist Mohammed's case should be heard by a military commission.
"(What) I think we have to break is this fearful notion that somehow our justice system can't handle these guys," Obama said.
Testifying on Capitol Hill Wednesday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the decision to hold the trial in a civilian court was "a tough call" but said it will withstand "the judgment of history."
"We know that we can prosecute terrorists in our federal courts safely and securely because we have been doing it for years," he said. "There are more than 300 convicted international and domestic terrorists currently in Bureau of Prisons custody, including those responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the attacks on our embassies in Africa."