Get the hell out of here: No terror trial in city, but send funds for WTC sickEditorial
January 29, 2010
The precipitous and ill-conceived nature of Attorney General Eric Holder's plan to try the 9/11 masterminds in Manhattan Federal Court appears to have dawned on President Obama. Yesterday, the White House ordered a search for another trial venue.
The right answer would be to convene a military tribunal at the one place fully outfitted for the occasion: Guantanamo Bay.
Next best: a tribunal on a U.S. military base equipped with built-in security.
Don't hold your breaths. Neither is, at the moment, in the offing because of Obama's determination to bring worst-of-the-worst terrorists into civilian court. Which means that, following the dictates of the Constitution, the hunt for a venue will likely be confined to Manhattan, the Bronx, Westchester and five northern counties.
Such scouting is a fool's errand. There is no suitable place, and the concept of devoting as much as $1 billion over five years, as the NYPD estimates, to protect against enemy attacks is far beyond the pale of acceptability.
Whether the White House is acting in good faith or simply to placate local Democrats remains to be seen. What's clear is that the administration acted hastily after perversely standing ready to saddle taxpayers with a $200 million-a-year tab while refusing to adequately fund health care for the rescue and recovery workers sickened by the toxic aftermath of the attack.
On this matter, too, the White House faced an uproar and scrambled to commit to doubling the piecemeal contribution, for only next year, from $75 million to
$150 million. Which isn't good enough at all from a President who had vowed while campaigning to help the Forgotten Victims of 9/11.
If Obama believes the feds have the resources to stage a trial wherever, then the feds also have the wherewithal to pick up the health care bill.
Obama needs only to switch Khalid Shaikh Mohammed to a military tribunal and then to direct the savings into programs for the 9/11 sick.
Failing such a reversal, Congress needs to take command. Long Island Rep. Pete King got the ball rolling with a bill barring the Justice Department from holding terror trials in civilian courts.
That type of measure may be the only salvation. Mayor Bloomberg has come around to urging that the trial be taken somewhere else. And so have New York's duo of late-to-the-ramparts senators, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.
There they were, loyal Obama Democrats, who were sure their fellow loyal Obama Democrats would reverse the funding denials of the vanquished Bush
administration. There they were, supporters of civilian terror trials.
And there they were, stiffed by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who said, nope, there would be no long-term funding because, you know, these are tough times.
But there would be money to turn lower Manhattan into an armed camp for the duration - assuming Obama ponies up for the security rather than dumping the costs on the NYPD.
Gillibrand said she was stunned. McMahon said he was flabbergasted. Actually, they were betrayed and so were all those who were made ill by the malevolence of the very same man whose every right is being guaranteed. Now, Schumer, Gillibrand and the delegation have two tasks: Get the trial the hell out of here, and get the money.
Imagine, too, the rude awakening suffered Wednesday by those two along with Reps. Carolyn Maloney, Jerry Nadler, Eliot Engel, Michael McMahon and 10 additional members of New York's congressional delegation.