Perhaps it’s not surprising that President Obama would think nothing of subjecting Manhattan to the spectacle of a civilian court trial against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. This is the administration that thought having an F-16 trail Air Force One around Ground Zero on a workday morning was a good idea.
On the other hand, perhaps we should view KSM as Obama’s consolation prize for failing to secure the 2016 Olympics on U.S. soil. (How much tourism revenue will KSM’s trial bring to lower Manhattan?)
To try KSM and his four co-conspirators in federal court, New York will have to create a de facto Guantanamo Bay—one that is smaller than but as secure as the real thing. The city will need to spend millions of dollars ensuring extra protection for the courthouse, the densely populated neighborhood—indeed all of downtown—including shipping in hundreds of U.S. marshals from other jurisdictions. They will have to make special efforts to protect the judge, prosecutors, jury, federal agents, and witnesses, all of whom will receive death threats and will need armed protection.
As Rudy Guiliani noted, trying those who planned 9/11 in a civilian court in lower Manhattan is like trying those who planned Pearl Harbor in a civilian court in Hawaii.
The trial will drag on for years and New York will face extra, unnecessary risk during every day of the circus. Manhattan will be placed in the international spotlight and become a prominent stage for jihadists to stage a suicide or car bombing. Would-be attackers won’t have to do it right in front of the courthouse—anyplace in Manhattan would capture headlines and give encouragement to the Islamist cause worldwide. read more »