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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Backlash Against Obama On Khalid Shaikh Mohammed Trial Plans

I never did understand how Barack Obama thought the idea of giving the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, a very public trial, in the middle of New York where the attacks occurred, was a good idea.

That particular brainstorm was initially met with overwhelming criticism and now is losing support, even from Democrats.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has reversed his initial tepid support of the idea and is now publicly coming out against it.

The mayor’s reversal was a political blow to the White House’s efforts to resolve a landmark terror case a few blocks from where Al Qaeda hijackers rammed planes into the World Trade Center, a trial that the president saw as an important demonstration of American justice.

Mr. Bloomberg said that a more secure location, like a military base, would be less disruptive and less costly. His remarks echoed growing opposition from Wall Street executives, the real estate industry and neighborhood groups, who have questioned the burdens that such a trial would bring to a heavily trafficked area of the city.

“It’s going to cost an awful lot of money and disturb an awful lot of people,” Mr. Bloomberg said at a news conference in Brooklyn. “My hope is that the attorney general and the president decide to change their mind.“

Two other NY Democrats are speaking out in opposition.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Nydia Velázquez have sided with President Obama’s GOP opponents in arguing the trial should not be held in New York City after all.

“I share the concerns from the Mayor and the businesses community, and I am open to alternative locations,” Gillibrand said in a statement this afternoon. “I do remain committed to bringing these heinous individuals to justice in the federal courts, and if the trial is held in New York, I will continue working to secure federal money for security costs so that New York taxpayers are not left with the bill.”

The funding issue, for the record, has been championed by New York’s senior senator, Chuck Schumer.

Earlier today, Bloomberg splashed cold water on holding the 9/11 trial in the city — even though he had supported it and pledged that keeping New York safe would not be a problem.

“If they were to move it elsewheres, I’d be very happy with that,” Bloomberg said, according to The Mouth’s supreme colleague Celeste Katz. “I mean, the suggestion of a military base is probably a reasonably good one, relatively easy to supply, to provide security.”

An Obama administration official went apoplectic over Bloomberg’s remark, reminding The Mouth of the last major security issue involving a U.S. military base - Fort Hood.

The GOP thinks that all terrorists should be tried by military commission, and Velázquez offered a somewhat different reason for siding with opponents of the civilian federal trial in New York.

Velázquez’s district covers parts of lower Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, and she wrote in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder that trying KSM and the other Al Qaeda detainees still holed up in Guantanamo Bay in Manhattan federal court would hurt businesses.

“The current plan would create a fortress-like perimeter around the courthouse,” and all the security blockades “will deter many visitors from shopping in the area,” predicted Velázquez, chairman of the House Small Business Committee.

“I believe the choice for a trial location has been made in an extremely shortsighted manner and I would respectfully request that you explore the possibilities of moving the trial to an alternate site,” she added.

House Minority Leader John Boehner states emphatically that the House has "no appetite" for these trials.

House Minority Leader John Boehner said Wednesday the Obama administration doesn't have the votes to change the law to move detainees to U.S. territory for trial or to spend $500 million to refurbish the Thompson prison in Illinois to host the detainees who would be held there while awaiting trial in New York City.

"There is not going to be a trial in New York, I guarantee it. There is no appetite for the trials in Congress," Boehner, R-Ohio, said.

The leader added that any effort to do so will be used in the midterm election campaign.

"This is a big issue ... and a big issue we will campaign on this year," he added.

Hot Air gets the quote of the day with their exit question:

Exit question: Remind me again, what was the name of that charismatic young ex-senator who thought a “full military trial” for KSM would be a pretty sweet idea? I can’t place it. Skinny guy, big ears…