White House: Look at other places for terror trials

January 29, 2010 4:27:14 AM PST
The White House appears to be changing course on two major decisions regarding September 11th. First, sources say the Obama administration has asked the Justice Department to consider other places to try the 9/11 terror suspects after a wave of opposition to holding the trial in lower Manhattan.

The Daily News reported that the action came hours after Mayor Bloomberg called Attorney General Eric Holder to say he would "prefer that they did it elsewhere."

Officials have told Eyewitness News and ABC News that the White House has asked the Justice Department to make contingency plans for criminal trial venues for the accused 9/11 terrorist defendants in case Congress and/or New York prevent the trials from taking place in Manhattan.

No decision has been made, officials said.

Officials said the apparent action by the White House does not mean the trials will be moved from federal court in Lower Manhattan, but they're now at least looking at other venues.

Earlier on Thursday, Gov. Paterson told ABC's The View that he opposed a Manhattan trial because of the price tag and the burden it will put on the downtown residents.

"I think New Yorkers have been through enough," he said.

Meantime, the White House has apparently also boosted funding for ailing 9/11 first responders.

This action came after the administration outraged New York lawmakers by not backing a permanent plan to help the dying Ground Zero responders.

Members of the New York Congressional delegation met with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Wednesday to discuss the federal government's programs to provide medical treatment and monitoring to those who are sick because of the 9/11 attacks.

Secretary Sebelius said that the Obama Administration could not support the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act due to the bill's provisions that would require mandatory annual spending on federal 9/11 health programs.

After several lawmakers expressed their anger at the decision, officials confirmed to Eyewitness News that the White House would more than double the budget for treating ill responders to $150 million in 2011.

However, the administration is still not backing a permanent plan, they said.