No Manhattan Terror Trials?


According to Scott Brown’s pollster Neil Newhouse, one of the big reasons for Brown’s win was the concern among Massachusetts voters about Obama’s terror policies. It seems numerous Democrats have begun at least to consider, that voters may be distrustful of their poster on national security. How serious is the shift? Michael Isikoff says Congress may be ready to pull the plug on Manhattan terror trials:

Top administration officials are getting nervous that they may not be able to proceed with one of their most controversial national-security moves: trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other accused 9/11 conspirators in federal court in New York City. Last November Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. portrayed the trial as a way to showcase the American justice system to the world—and to accelerate President Obama’s stalled plans to shut down the U.S. prison at Guantánamo Bay. But because of shifting political winds in Congress, the trial is now “potentially in jeopardy,” a senior official, who did not want to be named talking about a sensitive situation, tells NEWSWEEK.

The chief concern: that Republicans will renew attempts to strip funding for the trial and, in the aftermath of the bombing attempt aboard Northwest Flight 253, pick up enough support from moderate Democrats to prevail. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham says he will force another vote on his amendment to stop the trial (which was defeated 54-45 in November) once Congress reconvenes. “With Detroit and everything else going on, we’ve got a pretty good chance of winning this thing,” says Graham, adding that he’s privately heard from a number of Democrats, saying “they’re with me.” GOP Rep. Frank Wolf says he plans a similar move in the House. “I’m afraid it’s probably going to pass,” says Democratic Rep. Jim Moran, who has strongly backed the administration on the issue.

If the Brown win convinces Democrats in Congress not to put New Yorkers at greater risk than they already are, it will have done the nation – and the Obama administration – a service. If Obama is able to go through with his plan, it’s simply one more political burden to hang around the necks of all Congressional Democrats – especially those in the tri-state area.

And if Democrats needed more of an excuse to reconsider, they can point to the recent vote of the lower Manhattan community board that would be home to the trials:

A lower Manhattan community board, whose members are outraged over the plan to hold a 9/11 terror trial in their neighborhood, called on federal officials yesterday to move it to Governors Island.

The executive committee of Community Board 1 passed a resolution demanding the shift after hearing from more than 20 downtown residents who loathe the idea of terror threats and massive security lockdowns. The full board will have to approve it.

“We’re right next door to [the federal courthouse at] 500 Pearl St. Now we’re going to be 20 yards away from the new Ground Zero,” said area resident Walter Coddington…

“It’s self-evident this trial should not be here,” said Mark Ameruso, the board member who first proposed the idea.

“I just hope common sense and compassion for our neighbors trumps ideology.”

So far, ideology has been trumping common sense and compassion. But now that the voters of Massachusetts have rejected their ideology, maybe Congressional Democrats will give common sense a try. I won’t hold my breath.

Update: There’s much more on last night’s Community Board meeting here, in a firsthand report by RS’s own Mark Impomeni. Check it out.