Two key senators said Friday they weren't aware of any final decisions by the Obama administration to move the location of trials for terrorism suspects.
Both Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), one of the GOP's point people on terror trials, said they hadn't been notified of any final decisions by the administration to abandon plans to try suspects in terrorism cases in New York City.
Officials "have not notified me," Levin said during an appearance on MSNBC Friday afternoon, while Graham said he didn't know that any decisions had been made.
The Washington Post reported Friday that the White House appeared set to abandon the Justice Department's decision to try top terrorism suspects, including Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, in Manhattan amidst a barrage of political criticism.
"They have not notified me, and I think the Justice Department should be making the decisions as to where people are tried and what they are charged with," Levin said. "I think any political interference in that is not the right thing to do."
Graham, who favors moving the trials but also closing the terror detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, said he hadn't been told of any decisions either, though he praised the potential news more than Levin.
"I really don't know, but I think it would be welcome news by most Americans that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed would not be tried in New York City," he said.
Graham has been pushing for the administration to set up a military tribunal procedure to govern terrorist suspect who are held as enemy combatants. But he denied that he was working with the administration to trade off moving the trials in exchange for his help in building consensus in the Senate for closing the detention facility in Cuba.
Graham said that a decision to move the trials from New York would help facilitate an agreement, though.
"If this report is correct, I think it helps us immensely get detainee policy back on track so we can find some bipartisan solutions to this very difficult policy we face," he said.
Levin, by contrast, said the Congress should effectively but out of the entire process.
"I just don't think there should be political interference from Capitol Hill on the question of what to charge people with, and where to try them," he said. "I have not gotten into that thicket, because I think it should not be a legislative issue; it should be an executive decision on each case."