Despite the fact that Senators Diane Feinstein and Senator Jim Webb want the trial of Khalid Sheik Mohammed moved out of New York City, the Obama administration is determined to hold the trial in that venue. Webb urged Attorney General Eric Holder to to rethink his decision in a letter was endorsed by Republican Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Susan Collins and Blanche Lincoln and Joe Lieberman. Webb said that:
The attacks of 9-11 were acts of war, and those who planned and carried out those attacks are war criminals. Today, those who subscribe to the same violent ideology … continue to plan and execute attacks against innocent civilians all over the world. It is not in our national interest to provide them further publicity or additional advantage.
In a separate move, Dianne Feinstein the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee urged the administration to reconsider its decision to try KSM in New York City. “In my view, from an intelligence perspective, I think the situation has changed with the Christmas attack,” Feinstein said on MSNBC, citing confidential intelligence briefings. Earlier Mayor Bloomberg urged the White House to reconsider its plans, citing resultant security threats to the city.
Despite the representations of two high ranking Democratic officials and the Mayor of a city with a very large liberal constituency, the White House signalled its determine to proceed as planned. Deputy White House press secretary Bill Burton signaled from Air Force One that the President has not changed his mind.
The White House has not changed its view on the decision to prosecute Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in New York City, despite new criticism from Mayor Bloomberg and others in Manhattan.
“Let me start by saying that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is a murderous thug who has admitted to some of the most heinous crimes ever committed against our country,” Mr. Burton said. “The president is committed to seeing that he’s brought to justice. He agrees with the attorney general’s opinion in November that he and others can be litigated successfully and securing in the United States of America, just like others have – like Richard Reid. Currently our federal jails hold hundreds of convicted terrorists and the president’s opinion has not changed on that.”
As the President said, “I don’t quit.” The problem with trying KSM in civilian court, let alone New York City are well known. Former Justice Department official John Yoo says is it will provide an “intelligence bonanza” for al-Qaeda and explains why. Mayor Bloomberg is concerned the city will become a magnet for attackers seeking to send a message of support to the 9/11 mastermind. About 200 million dollars per year will be spend in security for the trial alone. Yoo makes his case in the video below.
Not that it’s going to change anybody’s mind. Oops. Apparently it has partly changed President Obama’s mind. The civilian trial is going forward but at another unspecified location outside New York City.
The order to consider new venues does not change the White House’s position that Mohammed should be tried in civilian court.
“President Obama is still committed to trying Mohammed and four other terrorist detainees in federal court,” spokesman Bill Burton said Thursday.
“He agrees with the attorney general’s opinion that … he and others can be litigated successfully and securely in the United States of America, just like others have,” Burton said.
Burton referred questions about the location debate to the Justice Department.
Officials there have apparently been caught off guard by the fiery opposition in New York, an insider told the Daily News.
“They’re in a tizzy at Justice over Bloomberg,” a federal law enforcement official said. “It’s like a half-baked souffle – the plan is collapsing.”