King says a security agency not ready for terror trialBy Anthony B. DeStefano
November 20, 2009
The agency that provides security for the Manhattan federal courthouse where the trial of the Sept. 11 suspects will take place doesn't now have the staff to handle the job, Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), asserted Thursday.
King, the ranking Republican on the House of Representatives committee on Homeland Security said in a statement the lack of personnel to handle courthouse security was disclosed at a hearing Wednesday.
Gary Schenkel, the head of the Federal Protective Service, told the committee his agency "does not have the staff to perform their daily functions and provide the additional security necessary for the courthouse," said King, in the statement.
The FPS is part of the Department of Homeland Security and provides security services and screening for a wide variety of federal buildings, including courthouses.
Neither Schenkel nor a spokesperson for the FPS could be reached for comment Thursday.
King said Schenkel's testimony was more evidence the decision by the Obama administration to hold the terror trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other suspects in Manhattan was poorly planned.
"They do not have enough personnel for New York even under ordinary circumstances," said King.
As a result the FPS would have to bring in staff from outside New York to beef up security for the trial, he said.
However, King acknowledged the FPS is only one element in the New York security plan that has several agencies will forge.
Among others are the U.S. Marshals Service and the NYPD, he said.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has said the NYPD would be ready to provide adequate security for any terror trial. Officials are estimating the trial of Mohammed and others would cost New York City about $75 million, an amount the federal government said it would help defray.
Still, King said he found Schenkel's testimony "disturbing," and wrote to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Wednesday for more information about court security for the trial.
King has been an outspoken critic of the decision to try the terror suspects in New York since it was announced a week ago. He believes any trial would only raise the threat level for the city.