Moving danger? So what if Obama is reconsidering moving 9/11 trials

“In what communities in the United States of America are children required to walk by military conveys and snipers on a daily basis on their way to school?” — unidentified lower Manhattan resident, addressing New York City’s Community Board 1 meeting, January 27, 2010, just before the Board voted 42 to 0 to ask the Obama administration to move the 9/11 trials.

Be very skeptical of reports saying the Obama administration is “strongly” considering moving the 9/11 trials out of lower Manhattan. Otherwise, this CBS report fairly describes what is going on. (My fellow co-founders of the 9/11 Never Forget Coalition, Debra Burlingame in cameo and Tim Brown briefly interviewed, appear within it):

Taking on the task of hosting the 9/11 terror trials and housing indefinitely detained terrorists in Newburgh, NY and Thomson, IL, respectively, outwardly appear as economic boons to those desperate economies. Why should the danger just be shifted from Chinatown and lower Manhattan to somewhere else? It would not solve the national security risks of a federal trial. It moves the danger to ill-equipped rural civilian populaces. It does nothing to lower the billion dollar cost for both the trial and detention. (The annual operating cost of the detention facility at Gitmo is $100 million.)

Congress must fix the law. It must restore national security solely to the elected branches, remove judges from the conduct of war, prosecute war criminals while protecting our secrets, detain captured enemies for as long as necessary, and isolate detainees from any civilian populace. Those are the things an overwhelming majority of Americans want done.

Barring those steps being codified in statute, terror trials and detentions should remain at Guantanamo. This is not a pipe dream yet it will not get done if America is lolled back to sleep thinking “we won” because the Obama administration is reportedly “strongly” considering moving the trials. To put it another way, I’ll remind you of an old Army axiom to troops: Stay alert; stay alive.

  3 comments for “Moving danger? So what if Obama is reconsidering moving 9/11 trials

  1. Robert Reeg
    February 2, 2010 at 8:45 am

    For all the reasons that have been discussed here, ad nauseam, I am vehemently opposed to any prosecution of KSM and the rest, other than in a military tribunal at GTMO. However, I am outraged by these New Yawkers who are now demanding a change of venue. Did it suddenly dawn of them that it might not be such a good idea to prosecute these blood thirsty maniacs in an Article III trial in Manhattan? Really, you don’t say? It takes some nerve to even think of dumping the expense, inconvenience and danger on another city. How dare them? Let’s not forget that this is what the President promised and this is what New Yawkers voted for.
    On another matter, Attorney General Erik Holder has been under some stiff criticism for is handling of the trial. Let me make this perfectly clear, Mr. Holder is only a stooge for the President. This entire business of moving the trials from the OMC jurisdiction to the DOJ has been orchestrated by President Obama. KSM and the other detainees are currently being held in a military instillation. The Attorney General doesn’t have to authority to order the Secretary of Defense to hand over KSM to the Justice Department; the order had to come from President Obama. Mr. Holder is merely an empty-headed puppet sitting on President Obama’s lap. Perhaps we should refer to him as Attorney General Jerry Mahoney?

  2. Adam Sadik
    January 31, 2010 at 11:56 am

    Suddenly the populus is beginning to realize a big reason why detainees are kept in Guantanamo — physical security — rather just some wonderfully-evil-conspiracy-theory related to torture and oversight avoidance.

    If Guantanamo is able to handle military commissions and Habeas Corpus federal hearings there’s no reason it can’t handle federal criminal trials. Secure teleconference abilities for classified information, video feeds, media viewing rooms, detention facilities for the detainees during hearings. They money has already been spent building and maintaining these facilities and the facilities are secure (if spartan for the journalists covering the trial) but, as usual, the government wants to spend more money on redundant facilities.

    Editor —

    Your point is a good one; a federal 9/11 trial could be securely conducted at Gitmo. Yet they would still take 2 to 4 years to prepare and conduct.

    Why wait? Obama and Holder have both stated that the changes made in 2009 to the Military Commissions Act of 2006 fixed them to become on par in fairness to federal trials. Not only did Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his four cohorts attempt to plead guilty in November 2008, their full trial was ready to begin in January 2009. In fact, it was reported last July that military commissions were ready to proceed at Gitmo against 66 detainees.

    Instead, President Obama is doing a takeoff of Henny Youngman, “Take my 9/11 trial, please, for $200 million,” along with all the dangers and disruptions to peoples’ lives in your community for the 2 to 4 years it we’ll take to conduct them. What a deal!

    It costs $100 million annually to run the detention facility at Guantanamo, it is highly secure, ready to conduct military commissions for KSM et al, their defense lawyers are ready to defend them, and we’d protect national security by conducting them in that manner.

    Here’s a wild idea: Let’s try them at Gitmo by military commission this year.

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