Sept. 11 suspect to be tried in New York City

November 13, 2009 2:10:10 PM PST
I suppose there's something fitting about having the trial of the self-described master-mind of the Sept. 11 attacks here in New York City.

Khalid Sheik Mohammad, who says he brought Osama bin Laden the idea of hijacking airplanes and then crashing them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, will be transported from Guantanamo Bay to a federal holding cell in Lower Manhattan, not far from Ground Zero.

There, he and four others will face murder charges for the attacks - and they'll likely face the death penalty.

Mayor Bloomberg called the whole thing fitting that the trial would be at the scene of the crime. But others aren't so sure. Some of the 9-11 families have called the whole thing insensitive. And then there is the security question. New York City's already U.S. target number one for terrorists, and now it's magnified in the bulls eye.

The Mayor praised the NYPD and fairly dismissed any suggestion that security is an issue. But there are many New Yorkers who aren't as convinced, including Bloomberg's predecessor, Rudy Giuliani, who thinks these men should be tried in military court, not criminal court where their rights adhere to the Constitution, not to the military code of justice. Tonight at 11, reaction and the latest on the upcoming criminal cases.

Also at 11, Meteorologist Lee Goldberg is tracking the nasty Nor'easter that's blowing through the tri-state tonight and tomorrow. The worry is coastal flooding and erosion.

And Tappy Phillips has the story of a woman from New Jersey who won a new car in a giveaway contest. Or at least she thought she had won a new car, because she never got it.

The sponsor says it's because of her low credit score. But what does that have to do with not winning the car? The woman turned to Tappy for help, and got 7 On Your Side.

And two other items worth noting in this space.

New York taxi drivers are not supposed to use their cell phones while driving - a rule that any taxi rider knows is followed not at all. If the drivers are caught, there's a $200 fine. There was a proposal on the table to increase the fine and require drivers to take a driver's ed course, focusing on distracted driving. If they were caught a second time, their license would be suspended.

That proposal was delayed today - for at least six months - as "industry leaders" argued they could convince drivers to put down the phones.

We'll see.

And finally, a personal note about a man in the news today. Evangelist Tony Alamo will spend the next 175 years in prison for "marrying" young girls. The actual crime was taking underage girls across state lines for sex. But Alamo's victims claim that, as children, he "took them" as his brides.

Disgusting is simply far too placid a word to describe this man.

I met him once - and I remember arguing with him - back in the late 1960s. My best friend and I had gone to one of his "churches" in Hollywood to see why another friend of ours had decided to affiliate himself with Alamo's religious cult. Our wayward friend was something of a lost soul, looking for answers to questions that were, perhaps, unanswerable.

But Alamo provided an easy fix, in the form of born again fanaticism.

My pulse shot up and the blood rushed to my head as I argued with the hair-puffed Alamo, and his bleached blonde wife. We walked out of there feeling like we needed to shower, pronto.

I had, partly because of that encounter, casually followed the controversies of Alamo over the ensuing years, including the allegations of child molestation that have now landed the 75-year-old in prison for the rest of his life.

How repentant is this supposed man-of-god? Today, his lawyers said they'd appeal the judge's sentence. As for Alamo, the wires quote him as saying he's glad who he is, and not of the "deceived people in the world."

Sheesh.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11, right after 20/20.

BILL RITTER


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