Recently, the New York City Police Department released the cost estimates for security for the trial in Lower Manhattan -- upwards of $200 million a year for a multiyear trail. That amount of money simply cannot be justified and suggests that it will be difficult, if not impossible, to completely secure the Lower Manhattan federal courthouse. Fortunately, there is a potential solution to this problem: Governors Island. As I wrote in my op-ed piece in the New York Times on January 17th, Governors Island must be considered as a possible venue, which is why I've started a new site dedicated to changing the venue of the trial.
While I continue to believe that a federal, as opposed to a military, venue is the correct one, after listening to the voices on all sides of this issue, I believe that changing the trial's venue to Governors Island is a responsible alternative that both preserves and reinforces the rule of law, and protects those who live or work close to the neighborhood. Governors Island will also provide a safer and cheaper alternative that addresses the objections of those outraged over a terror trial in close proximity to the hallowed Ground Zero, and offers the backdrop of a military tradition to those supporters of tribunal justice.
Polls show that the nation is equally split on holding the trail in federal court versus a military tribunal, and that those differences generally fall along partisan lines. Holding the Khalid Shaikh Mohammed trail on Governors Island will afford a compromise bridge in many respects by preserving the federal option, but doing so in a venue that is arguably far more secure, less expensive and has a significant military history. A federal trial can be shifted to where the judge presides, and thus moving the venue to Governors Island is legally possible.
The debate in my Lower Manhattan community has reached a fevered pitch, as those who live or work close to the downtown federal courthouse fear for their security. They also argue persuasively that a community that has already dealt with some of the worst aspects of the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks -- years of rebuilding, environmental hazards and security checkpoints -- should not have to face additional burdens.
To those who are outraged at holding a trial on a site next to the hallowed Ground Zero, where families and the nation as a whole now go to mourn, and to those who object to spending what may amount to $1 billion on a multi-year trail, holding the trial on Governors Island, a site that served as a secure military installation for over 200 years, is an alternative that we must consider.
You can log on to www.trialongovernorsisland.org to voice your support to move the trial.