Friday, January 29, 2010

Momentum builds to move terrorist trials out of Manhattan

The Obama administration has directed the Justice Department to look for alternate venues for the trials of Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four 9/11 co-defendents.  From New York Daily News:

The White House ordered the Justice Department Thursday night to consider other places to try the 9/11 terror suspects after a wave of opposition to holding the trial in lower Manhattan.

The dramatic turnabout came hours after Mayor Bloomberg said he would "prefer that they did it elsewhere" and then spoke to Attorney General Eric Holder.
Fox News reports:

The White House denied a New York Daily News report that it ordered the Department of Justice to find a new location for the trials, which are sure to attract massive publicity and require intense security preparations wherever they are held.

However, senior administration officials confirm alternative trial locations are being sought because Congress is almost sure to deny President Obama the funds necessary to conduct the trials, as originally planned, in the federal courthouse mere blocks away from the Twin Towers, the epicenter of the 9/11 attacks that took the lives of nearly 3,000 civilians.

"The discussions are under way in case the option of holding the trials in New York City is foreclosed upon at either the state or the federal level," an Obama administration official said.

Up to now, the Obama administration has stood by Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to move the suspects, including self-professed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to New York to be tried in federal court rather than before a military commission, as many Republicans have demanded.
It is very interesting to watch the flip-flopping by the Democrats on this issue since the historic GOP senate win in Massachusetts.  New York Senators Schumer and Gillibrand both signaled their support for alternative trials sites after Mayor Bloomberg reversed his support for the Manhattan trial on Wednesday.

Representative Peter King has introduced legislation to deny funding for the trial if it is held in New York:

King's legislation already has backing from Republicans in the House and Senate. Some Democrats also say they want to keeps the terror trials out of lower Manhattan.

"It's I believe the most irresponsible decision any pres or attorney general has ever made," said King.
The White House and the Justice Department need to wake up to the political reality that Americans do not want these trials to be held in criminal courts within our borders.  To the extent that they continue to pursue other U.S. venues, they can only expect this controversy to grow.  That will not help the Democrats in the mid-term elections in November.

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