Is White House Moving NY Terror Trial Amid Bloomberg’s Flip-Flopping?
January 29, 2010
(ChattahBox)—New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg was for a 9/11 terror trial in his city before he was against it. Two months ago, when it was announced that the self-described 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was to be tried in federal court in lower Manhattan, Bloomberg praised the decision. “It is fitting that 9/11 suspects face justice near the World Trade Center site, where so many New Yorkers were murdered,” said Blomberg. But this past week, Bloomberg changed his tune, amid local pressure from business leaders and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. Bloomberg along with his advocates, flooded the airwaves charging that a terror trial in New York City, would cost the city an estimated $1 billion in security costs over the course of the trial and expose the city to terrorist attacks. Now, it appears that the White House may be looking into other less costly venues for the terror trial.
The tide began to change, when Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly spoke out against the trial of the 9/11 mastermind, before a group of Manhattan business leaders, fearmongering that the trial would destroy the city’s economy. Steven Spinola of the Real Estate Board of New York, then led the charge against the terror trial, complaining that business owners would not be reimbursed for lost revenue during the trial. “I believe it would destroy the economy in Lower Manhattan, said Spinola. And this past week, a lower Manhattan community board unanimously voted against having the terror trial in new York City.
Although Bloomberg has not specifically demanded that the White House not hold the terror trial in his city; he says he would “prefer that they did it elsewhere.” “It’s going to cost an awful lot of money and disturb an awful lot of people,” said Bloomberg at a news conference in Brooklyn. “My hope is that the attorney general and the president decide to change their mind.“
Against the backdrop of Bloomberg’s new opposition, Republican congressional lawmakers are also leading an effort to convince Attorney General Eric Holder to try Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in a military tribunal, rather than a civil court. And their voices will now get louder, if Bloomberg succeeds in having the terror trial moved from new York.
According to a report in the New York Daily News, the Justice Department may be bowing to the pressure from Bloomberg, and may now be looking into a change of venue for the terror trial. The Daily News reported that on Thursday evening, the White House ordered the Justice Department to consider other venues to try Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. But the trial of the 9/11 plotter would still be a federal civil trial and not part of a military tribunal.
White House spokesman Bill Burton, said “President Obama is still committed to trying Mohammed and four other terrorist detainees in federal court.”
The Justice Department must now find a new federal courthouse to hold the 9/11 terror trial, and with Mayor Bloomberg’s new opposition and the steady drumbeat of fearmongering by the Republicans, it may not be an easy task for the White House.
See The New York Times for more.