Listen to NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly warning on KSM trial
When the Justice Department announced that the trial of Khalid Sheik Mohammed would take place at federal court in lower Manhattan, I didn't think much of it. Surely it was my "bring it on" Manhattanite attitude. Other terrorists have been tried there. So bringing the mastermind of 9/11 to the scene of his horrific crime seemed only fitting. But one person's unexpected opposition changed my mind: Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.
AP file photo
Kelly reclaimed the helm of the NYPD at the behest of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg when he took office in 2002. Not only did he have to protect the city from everyday crimes (you know, random murders, burglaries and assaults), but also from radical jihadists hellbent on carrying out more terrorist attacks on the Big Apple. Turf battles with federal intelligence agencies led Kelly to create his own intelligence gathering operation to provide him and the mayor with real-time information. There are more than 1,000 NYPD officers assigned to counterterrorism, including some officers stationed overseas.
Kelly is not easily spooked. So, when I read reports that he was voicing concern behind the scenes about the costs to the city, I listened.
It's not just the price tag of $1 billion it would cost over the five years of the KSM trial that concerns him. The NYPD, which will be 8,000 officers smaller than it was in 2001, would be stretched even further. A war on terror that is focused primarily on Manhattan would suddenly and necessarily stretch across all five boroughs. Kelly reportedly has said providing security during the trial would "suck the oxygen" out of the department's other initiatives.
If the trial is ultimately held there, New Yorkers more than anyone else could handle it. But the White House's call to have the Justice Department review its decision to hold the trial in Manhattan is still a good one.
| January 29, 2010; 3:25 PM ET
Categories: Capehart | Tags: Jonathan Capehart
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