KSM and His Great Traveling Terrorist Trial Is on the Move
A small, upstate New York town would welcome Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his fellow 9/11 plotters, but is Guantanamo back in play as a trial venue?
January 31, 2010 - 12:00 am
Some things never seem to go away. These are generally held to include old luggage, herpes simplex type 2, and the idea of holding civilian trials for terrorists in New York.
As I reported earlier in this space, reactions from New Yorkers have been mixed, but the idea seemed to be dying a rapid death after New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg decided the big show would be bad for business. The governor pronounced it a flop, and Republican congressional leaders said the idea was all but dead.
But just because the Big Apple was being taken off the table, denizens of the Empire State may not be off the hook just yet. Nicholas Valentine, Republican mayor of heavily Democratic Newburgh, New York, has volunteered his home turf to host the trials.
At first glance, Newburgh might not seem like the most obvious choice for an alternate venue. With a population of roughly 28,000, it is decidedly un-Gothamlike in appearance. Nestled along the Hudson River, some 90 minutes from New York City, their dealings with violent criminal activity should generally run more along the lines of determining who started a fight at the local watering hole last week or which kids set a fire in the dumpster outside the Dairy Queen.
Appearances can be deceiving, however, since what Newburgh lacks in size, it at least partially makes up for in capabilities. It is home to Stewart Air National Guard Base, which has been used in the past to transport terror suspects and has a recently constructed courthouse with upgraded security facilities. Still, it’s quite small as cities go, with limited accommodations for the hordes of press that would doubtless descend on the region, and a corresponding lack of roads and parking for such a crowd.
Reactions to the mayor’s generous offer from the various local players arrived in a fast and furious rush. State Assemblyman Marc Molinaro (R-Red Hook) has been frequently mentioned as a potential contender for either the Senate or the governor’s office and he was clearly not a fan:
I am absolutely stunned that we could actually have elected officials welcoming terrorists to the Hudson Valley. It is insulting to cite economic gain out of the loss of thousands of lives and the loss of a global economic symbol.
Congressman Maurice Hinchey, who currently represents the district, took a somewhat more sanguine approach:
I don’t know for sure what he’s thinking about, but if there were adequate security and things were done in the appropriate way, it might be effective, but I would have to learn more about what he is suggesting.