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No KSM trial in Manhattan, after all?

So, Khalid Sheik Mohammed may not be going to the Big Apple after all. After initially supporting the decision to prosecute the 9/11 mastermind in Manhattan's federal court -- located in the heart of Wall Street, just blocks from the site of the World Trade Center -- New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Chief Ray Kelly now say that the trial and the necessary security measures may be more costly and disruptive than first imagined. The two, along with a dozen or so federal lawmakers, have asked the Obama administration to reconsider a Manhattan trial.

The White House has now ordered the Justice Department to do just that -- and it is right to do so. Where KSM is tried is not as important as that he be tried in a legitimate forum operating under clear and fair dictates of law. The administration could have held KSM accountable in a military commission, which, because of new rules adopted last year, provide many of the same protections and procedures as do traditional federal proceedings. The Justice Department made a judgment call, however, that it had enough solid evidence to win a conviction in federal court. Looking in from the outside and not knowing exactly what evidence prosecutors have in hand, it seems like a reasonable option.

Bloomberg and Kelly said at the time that they were comfortable that the city could handle the challenge. They're not so sure now and worry about costs (upwards of $1 billion, according to Bloomberg) and the possibility of paralyzing the financial district with road closures and other security measures. These concerns have to be taken seriously, and the location should be changed if the feds and local officials agree that the original site is unworkable.

The Obama administration shouldn't automatically cave to the demands of local officials. Terrorism trials have been held on U.S. soil without incident, including the Manhattan-based trial of those responsible for the 1993 attack on the Twin Towers and the Alexandria, Va., trial of al Qaeda operative Zacarias Moussaoui. Some officials and residents in Virginia objected vehemently to the Moussaoui trial. But in this case the White House and the Justice Department are simply being responsible by taking newly-documented concerns into account.

By Eva Rodriguez  | January 29, 2010; 12:52 PM ET
Categories:  Rodriguez  | Tags:  Eva Rodriguez  
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Next: Listen to NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly warning on KSM trial


It will be very hard both financially and emotionally to hold the trials of the terrorists who planned the WTC attacks in NYC. However, it is important that they be held in this way here NYC. The very nature of these trials will strike a hard blow at the jihadist terrorist movement throughout the world. The fundamental underlying mindset of the jihadist terrorist and those who support them is that the US is at war with Islam and that they are soldiers in that war striking back at the US. Holding and trying these people in military courts and prisons reinforces the idea that these terrorists are soldiers fighting in a war. By treating them as criminals and holding them in common criminal prisons (maximum federal security of course in isolation) we undermine the idea giving support to these terrorists in the Muslim world. These people committed these crimes primarily here in NYC. It is right and just that they stand here and face those against whom they committed their crimes.

Ideas are very powerfull. If we treat these people like the criminals they are so will others across the world.

Posted by: kchses1 | January 29, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Why do we keep forgetting that 9/11 happened in Washington, too? And that the target was the Pentagon.

NY has had its share of terrorist trials already. Although we are still sad as a nation, New Yorkers have had to deal with the particularly keen grief of this happening to the other people they knew and loved.

They face daily the reminder of what it is like to rebuild after that and move on.
Why aren't you holding these trials in the other place it happened?

Washington is constantly perceived by the rest of alienated America as sloughing off its fair share and relentlessly indifferent to what Americans go through.
Especially at the executive level.

How is this any different?

We just heard Obama talking more of the talk, This would be a very good way for him to start walking the walk.

This terrorist specifically attacked commerce in NY and power in DC. So why isn't it more appropriate that he be tried at the power point?


Posted by: gala1 | January 29, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

If, in fact, the estimate that this trial will result in the expenditure of ONE BILLION dollars, that, alone is sufficient reason to move it to a venue where it could be conducted, just as fairly, but at significantly less cost.

Remember this is a trial the Fede4ral government has decided to pursue for many idealogical reasons; a Democratic Administration with an AG whose credentials include support for civil rights at all costs in part to "prove" the Democratic Party stands for protection on rights regardless of the facts of a situation.

Wednesday night President Obama said we were going to see a new era of fiscal responsibility under his watch. Here is a great place to start. Only the Federal government with its fingers firmly in the piggy banks of the taxpaying public would ever consider spending this much on any trial regardless of cause and defendant. It is, in a word, INSANITY.

Posted by: bobfbell | January 29, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Well, it's official. Americans are cowards. What are we afraid of? When did we cower from those want to harm us? It's okay to send some off to war, but please don't ask the rest of us to participate in some way. Now we're afraid to try a terrorist in our courts, or bring them to prisons on our soil. The soil they attacked. Just stay hidden in your homes. The rest of us will go in harms way so you don't miss a shopping day.

Posted by: jckdoors | January 29, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

One of the great advantages that the administration discarded when they bound KSM to a civilian trial is that security would have been much easier on a military base.

There is nothing inherently unfair about military justice.

Posted by: edbyronadams | January 29, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

NYC cannot afford the expense of a trial or the inconvenience of locked streets, gridlocks, horrendous traffic, etc... Ship KSM somewhere else.

Posted by: Gatsby10 | January 29, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Our enemies are watching. Now is not the time to lose one's nerve. Stiff upper! A nation with a will to fight would not be paralyzed with fear by the notion of a trial in NYC!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: onyxblackman | January 29, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

They tried Moussaui in the Eastern District of VA and he was one of the 9/11 conspiracy. It worked fine. The security there is already quite tight -- lawyers can't even take phones into the courthourse. Let's get on with it.

Posted by: fmjk | January 29, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

As New Yorker, I'm more curious as to the precipitous about-face executed by our mayor and police commissioner. What sudden revelation could have compelled them to change their minds in such dramatic fashion?

I wasn't at all surprised when this issue became yet another needlessly-partisan brouhaha, but I am surprised at this eleventh-hour development from City Hall.

Posted by: Itzajob | January 29, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

"The Justice Department made a judgment call, however, that it had enough solid evidence to win a conviction in federal court. Looking in from the outside and not knowing exactly what evidence prosecutors have in hand, it seems like a reasonable option."

It was a very dumb call because KSM and others had already entered a guilty plea in the military tribunals that Obama's own people said was a worthy venue of law.

What happened was Holder and some other Lefties at Justice became infatuated with the notion of how much the Europeans and leftist human rights groups would be impressed that we gave them full US Constitutional Rights to show the world how nice we are, and to "treat" NYC to seeing the attackers "convicted!!!

They lost all common sense about this. As have many Lefties who refuse to believe there are enemies that actually seek to attack us and that somehow if we only have lawyers say they are not armed enemy but civilian criminals - we magically diminish the credibility of their Jihad in the eyes of fellow Muslims.

It doesn't.

The debate in Islamic countries is not if they are or are not warriors on Jihad...they are. As sure as Apaches called braves on the warpath warriors and not criminals - no real doubt. What they DO debate is if the warriors are legal - if their methods and targeting civilians makes them unlawful soldiers not just in Western or Asian Law, but also in Koranic Law.

Calling them civilian criminals is at odds with the growing Islamic sense that they are criminal soldiers. Our efforts to call them "mere common criminals" actually is counterproductive because it is consonant with the hated Israeli practice of branding all resistance to their Occupation and Settlements as "common civilian criminal acts".

Posted by: ChrisFord1 | January 29, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Wow, the justice department thinks they can win...Don't they always feel that way? if not, why prosecute? I think it's the wrong decision but Obama and the justice department will have to defend if anything goes wrong. Security will be a major issue no matter where it's held...Should have thought of that before. Who pays for that?

Posted by: larry40 | January 29, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Oh, my other questions is if found guilty, then what? If there is enough evidence then he's a war criminal/traitor, and just have him put to death. What could possibly uncovered from the US stand point? He has so much more to gain, the spotlight, hero in his home land. waste of taxpayers money with Obama and Justice department trying to make a circus of the whole ordeal..... Why not a public hanging?

Posted by: larry40 | January 29, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Youa re right, no administration should cave in immediately to criticism or public outcry...However, in very important decisions like this, with the obvious repercussions for security, etc, etc...they should have first studied the issue before make it public. Instead, they announced with fanfarre and arrogance, slapping Bush's ghost in the face, to score political points with their constituents and now have to doesn't make them look thoughtful but amateurish at best, cynical at worst, because now they have it both ways. They can say they tried to the left, and tell the center/right, they have reconsidered. Governments should not play politics with national security.

Posted by: mbejar | January 29, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

so this is what, like the 4th or 5th time the president's instincts on national security have been shown to be out of step with national sentiment and good policy?

1. closing gitmo

2. giving foreign terrorists 4th amend. rights (but dont you DARE give the real criminals, american corporations 1st amend. rights, justice Alito!!)

3. signing an exeuctive order that outlawed waterboarding while reserving the right to use it in exceptional circumstances (good god man, give it up)

I'm forgetting a couple, but im sure they will come to mind.

Posted by: dummypants | January 29, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

"But in this case the White House and the Justice Department are simply being responsible by taking newly-documented concerns into account."

Concerns that NYC could be a terrorism target are new? What a load of crap.

I think it is funny that the same liberal New Yorkers who hated Bush for not bringing KSM to a civilian trial are so opposed to it taking place in their neighborhood.

Kind of like Teddy Kennedy opposed windmill turbines near his house. Alternative energy was a national imperative, until it messed up his view.

Posted by: bobmoses | January 29, 2010 11:03 PM | Report abuse

This is total cowardice. It might cost $1 billion? After we've spent more than a trillion invading Iraq and Afghanistan? It's chump change. The U.S. should just reimburse NY and get on with our normal justice procedure. Justice must be done.

Posted by: caphilldcne | January 30, 2010 8:53 AM | Report abuse

The decision to move the trial now is indicative of the incompetence of this administration, from the top down. Obama can't even correctly identify the source of quotes in his speeches (citing in his SOTU the Constitution instead of the Bill of Rights when speaking of all men being created equal). I see nothing but blunder after blunder from this White House and Congress.

The very decision to try enemy combatants in civil rather than military courts is beyond my comprehension.

Posted by: Eddo1 | January 30, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Police head Kelly didn't find out costs would be "more that first imagined" (though this makes it sound better for Obama..), he said that he presented the whole plan together, and local politicians who had to absorb everything in one summary became more worried. That led to pressure on Dem. ringers.
You are trying to avoid the key issue of why Obama and Holder did not think cost and safety issues, which were VERY predictable, were important two months ago, but now that they are in deeper political trouble, they suddenly are crucial.
You are finding a reason to praise Obama (again), as the anti-Bush (again) by claiming this shows "responsibility".
Can you get any less objective?

Posted by: johnL1 | January 30, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Bloomberg and others are cowards, fraidycats. Why not use the trials of the terrorists as opportunities to bring secret Al Qaedists in the country into the open while the FBI's constant surveillance tracks them down and eliminates their threat?

Posted by: polfilms1 | January 30, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Rodriquez you are brain dead... You lie to us about anything and everything.. Just so you can make some money and sleep next to hubby...

"But in this case the White House and the Justice Department are simply being responsible by taking newly-documented concerns into account."

To say that is an intellectual lie and a gross misuse of journalistic power.

You must be terminated from the Washington Post.. This is a bad as Matthews forgetting for a while that Obamba is black....

Posted by: robinhood2 | January 30, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal... endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights. BLAH BLAH BLAH, YADDA YADDA YADDA

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld | January 31, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

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