Obama may move 9-11 trials out of New York

NY Times:

Facing mounting pressure from New York politicians concerned about costs and security, the Obama administration on Thursday began considering moving the trial of the chief organizer of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks out of Manhattan, administration officials said.

President Obama said through a spokesman that he still believed a civilian criminal trial for Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who has admitted planning the attacks, and four accomplices could be conducted “successfully and securely in the United States.” He did not mention New York specifically.

Mr. Obama left the decision on possible alternate sites to the Justice Department, which was scrambling to assess the options, administration officials said.

A decision to move the Sept. 11 trial from Manhattan would be a retreat by the administration from its calculated choice in November to bring the defendants to a courthouse just blocks from where the World Trade Center stood.

The dispute over a trial location, touched off when Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York complained of costs and disruption, threatened to reopen the divisive question of how those accused of plotting the murder of more than 3,000 Americans should be brought to justice.

Republicans in the Senate and House said they would try to block financing for civilian criminal trials for the alleged terrorists, seeking to force the administration to place them on trial before a military commission in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, or on a military base elsewhere.

Opponents of civilian trials said they hoped new doubts about a New York trial and increased fears of terrorism since the attempted airliner bombing on Christmas Day would win more Democratic support for such measures.

The apparent collapse of what had seemed since November to be a settled decision to hold the trial in Lower Manhattan was clear when New York’s senior senator, Charles E. Schumer, a Democrat, said on Thursday that he was encouraging the Obama administration “to find suitable alternatives.”


Mr. Obama restated his support for a civilian trial, which supporters say would have more legitimacy than a military tribunal. A White House spokesman, Bill Burton, called Mr. Mohammed, the self-described Sept. 11 mastermind, “a murderous thug” and said “the president is committed to seeing that he’s brought to justice.”


The Supreme Court has already approved the legitimacy of the military commission trials, so it is an issue only in the minds of some lawfare liberals. It will not make a difference at all to the terrorist who have not been captured and for those to be tried, it only provides them with a stage to push their religious bigotry and wacky ideology.

At least now he is beginning to see the logistic challenge of the trials. He is on the wrong side of history and the voters on this issue and it will cost the Democrats if they do not go along with the GOP on withholding funding for the civilian trials.


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