Another setback for the Obama administration: Unexpectedly, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has raised objections to the Justice Department’s plan to try accused 9/11 terrorist Khalid Shaikh Mohammed at a federal courthouse just blocks from where the World Trade Center stood. Bloomberg’s objections have nothing to do with concerns about trying KSM in a civilian court.
He says that the massive security would block traffic and harm businesses in an already-buy part of downtown Manhattan: the Wall Street corridor.
The dispute over a trial location, touched off when Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York complained of costs and disruption, threatened to reopen the divisive question of how those accused of plotting the murder of more than 3,000 Americans should be brought to justice.
Republicans in the Senate and House said they would try to block financing for civilian criminal trials for the alleged terrorists, seeking to force the administration to place them on trial before a military commission in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, or on a military base elsewhere.
Opponents of civilian trials said they hoped new doubts about a New York trial and increased fears of terrorism since the attempted airliner bombing on Christmas Day would win more Democratic support for such measures.
The apparent collapse of what had seemed since November to be a settled decision to hold the trial in Lower Manhattan was clear when New York’s senior senator, Charles E. Schumer, a Democrat, said on Thursday that he was encouraging the Obama administration “to find suitable alternatives.”
Even though Bloomberg’s concerns have nothing to do with the controversy over trying KSM in a civilian court, nevertheless, his objections will give Republicans another reason to attack the Obama administration’s decision. In fact, the GOP has already signaled it will do so.