Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Manhattan May Be Spared Terrorist Trial Yet

Too close for comfort
Too close for comfort


By GARY BAUMGARTEN
Paltalk News Network


NEW YORK - Bloomberg is reporting that a spokesman for the government is hinting that there's still a chance that the trial of the five Guantanamo Bay detainees charged in the 9/11 terrorist attacks may be moved from New York City.

Seems the administration makes announcements - presumably setting things in stone - and then - under public pressure - backs off.

You'll recall that President Obama said, as he announced the surge of 30,000 additional troops for Afghanistan, that they'd start coming home in 18 months. That set off cries of protest - mainly from Republicans - who said you shouldn't be telegraphing that to the enemy. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates then said that 18 months was a goal - not a deadline. Just days after the commander-in-chief's announcement, the administration backtracked.

The same may be happening with regard to Attorney General Eric Holder's announcement last month that the Gitmo 5 would be tried in federal district court in Manhattan. Almost immediately, New Yorkers began protesting the decision. They didn't want such a high profile, possibly terrorist-attack-attracting trial, held in easy walking distance to Ground Zero.

Then came word that the White House hadn't even consulted with Mayor Mike Bloomberg nor Police Commissioner Ray Kelly before Holder's announcement. The burden for protecting the detainees falls on the federal government. But the bigger job of protecting New York's citizens during the trial - and providing an adequate security perimeter around the courthouse - would be shouldered by the city.

If you're not familiar with the courthouse and its environs - it's located alongside numerous other courthouses and municipal buildings - including Manhattan Borough Hall, City Hall and One Police Plaza, New York's police headquarters.

It's also just a couple blocks away from Chinatown. People who live or have businesses in the densely packed neighborhood want no part of this trial. They suffered from toxins that blanketed their community when the towers fell. Many people who live there are still suffering ill effects. Now this - another disruption to their lives by terrorists - is too much to fathom.

Let's hope that - like its change-of-heart about an Afghan withdrawal date - the administration seriously reconsiders the decision to hold this trial here.

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Photo/http://www.flickr.com/photos/fotoscanon/3768853408

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