NEW YORK: Opposition to the US government’s plans to hold the Sept 11 terrorist trial in New York City intensified a day after Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he had changed his mind and now hoped the trial would be held elsewhere.
Last month, the Obama administration announced that professed Sept 11, 2001 terror mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others would be tried in the federal court in lower Manhattan.
Bloomberg said he called Attorney-General Eric Holder on Thursday to lobby for moving the trial outside lower Manhattan. Both sides declined to comment afterward.
Bloomberg initially supported the Manhattan trial decision, declaring: “It is fitting that 9/11 suspects face justice near the World Trade Centre site, where so many New Yorkers were murdered.”
But the mayor this week reversed from what he said in November, when the Obama administration announced its plans.
“There are places that would be less expensive for the taxpayers and less disruptive for New York City,” Bloomberg said Thursday.
Republican Congressman Peter King said Thursday he has introduced a bill to bar Justice Department funds to try Guantanamo detainees in federal civilian courts. He called it “one of the worst decisions ever made by any president” and said terrorist suspects should be tried by military commissions.
In addition, six senators on Tuesday wrote to Holder and urged him to abandon the idea.
The letter read, in part, “You will be providing them one of the most visible platforms in the world to exalt their past acts and to rally others in support of further terrorism.”
It was signed by Senators Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut; John McCain, Republican of Arizona; Blanche L. Lincoln, Democrat of Arkansas; Susan M. Collins, Republican of Maine; Jim Webb, Democrat of Virginia; and Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina.
Gov. David Paterson said that although he’s certain New York City will be safe, he thinks there should be a discussion with federal officials over whether to move the trial.
“It’s going to cost an immense amount of money, it’s going to tie up traffic, it’s going to destroy the economic development that’s been recovered in lower Manhattan,” Paterson said.
“Every time there is a loud noise during the two years of those trials it’s going to frighten people, and I think New Yorkers have been through enough.”
“We were the epicenter of the attack on this country on Sept. 11, and in my opinion maybe we all need to sit down and see if there isn’t another venue that would enhance the public safety of that area, which went through probably the worst attack this country has ever sustained.” -- AP