Money and fear

January 29, 2010 1:59:48 PM PST
So what happened? Why have all the public officials who so embraced the idea of trying the 9-11 terror suspects at the scene of the crime, in Lower Manhattan, suddenly abandoned the notion, and now want the trial moved out on the first thing smokin'?

Two words. Money and fear. (Is that three words?)

The first salvo was fired a couple of weeks ago, when New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg wondered aloud about the City not being able to afford the estimated $200 million security price tag for the trial.

Then it became clear that federal authorities were less than committal about coughing up the money.

The battle over the money (at a time of huge City budget deficits) was paralleling another battle - this one over fear.

The Christmas Day attempted airplane bombing catapulted the fear of another terrorist attack to the front burner. Again. It was as if much of the country had been lulled into a false sense of security; the holiday terror attack attempt snapped everyone back to reality.

The Alice-in-Wonderland part of this is that some of the people who were snapped were some of the biggest proponents of having the terror trials (admitted 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four Al Qaeda colleagues) in Lower Manhattan and in a civilian federal court.

Their stance drew much criticism from the right, which offered that a military tribunal should be the venue, where a defendant's rights are limited and the Constitution is a foreign language document.

It seems unlikely that these trials will be moved out of federal court. But it seems tonight very likely that the trials will not be held in New York City. The NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly - who along with Mayor Bloomberg dismissed any suggestion that the City couldn't handle the trials and touted the justice in holding them here - now says he no longer thinks the trial will be in New York City. It's "unlikely" he told reporters today.

Maybe it's a good idea to move them - I've no dog in this hunt. And maybe it's admirable that all these folks are able to change their minds. But when you come out of the chute so sure of yourself, so dismissive of any contrarian view, and then flip flop, it comes across as suspicious.

I'm just sayin'.

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