Obama’s NYC terror trial switch: Pragmatism or indecisiveness?
The Obama administration says it won’t hold the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other Al Qaeda suspects in Manhattan after all, mainly because of security costs and community backlash. But to some, it's another political misstep.
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Cost became a major factor. Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s estimate of $200 million in yearly costs to the NYPD for dogs, snipers, and overtime began to overwhelm the plans. Many New Yorkers also worried that the city that would once again become an inviting target for another attack.
Moreover, a trial in Manhattan would mean cordoning off heavily-trafficked areas with 2,000 metal barriers, upsetting daily life in Soho, TriBeCa, and Chinatown – areas directly affected by the 9/11 attack itself.
“In my view, trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York City presents an avoidable danger, very large costs, and undue burdens on the city,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) of California, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, wrote to Obama.
Supporters say Obama simply did the right thing.
“The White House and the Justice Department are simply being responsible by taking newly-documented concerns into account,” writes the Washington Post’s Eva Rodriguez.
On the other hand, the decision adds to criticism of the president’s governing strategy, and whether he's really in touch with public opinion.
“[The NYC trial decision] had a touch of arrogance, going against the grain, and a bit of the out-of-touch attitude that has plagued the Obama presidency.” writes Luisita Lopez Torregrosa, on the Politics Daily website.
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Where to now?
Though officials wouldn't discuss locations under consideration, experts have suggested Governors Island, which is a former military base in New York Harbor (video tour here); the U.S. Military Academy at West Point; or Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, N.Y., the Associated Press reports.
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