As Chairperson of Community Board 1 in Lower Manhattan, representing the area that is slated to hold the KSM trial, I wrote today, on behalf of my Community Board, to Attorney General Eric Holder asking him to reconsider the decision to hold the Khalid Sheikh Mohammed trial at the federal courthouse in lower Manhattan.
The New York City Police Department analysis of the security that will be needed for this trial indicates that costs will be over $200 million per year and that over 2,000 checkpoints will need to be installed around Lower Manhattan. We believe the Lower Manhattan Foley Courthouse is not a suitable location for the trial for a number of reasons, including the fact that the neighborhood is the financial capital of the country (and the fourth largest commercial business district in the country), has already been attacked twice by terrorists, and is next to a dense residential neighborhood. This community endured the ravages of September 11th and is already high risk given its history and the presence of numerous sensitive sites including Ground Zero and the soon to be built September 11th Memorial, which will bring over 5 million visitors a year to the neighborhood. In addition, it makes no sense to potentially spend up to $1 billion on this trial.
We recognize the fact that jurisdiction for this trial rests in the Southern District, and we therefore are asking Attorney General Holder to examine the feasibility of holding a federal trial at other locations within the southern district, including but not limited to: Governors Island, Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and the Bureau of Prisons jail complex at FCI Otisville. Any feasibility study should examine the costs, security and community impact of the trail. Since a federal trial is deemed to occur where the federal judge presides, there is no reason why a federal court trial cannot be held on a military installation. A military location arguably would provide better security at less cost and not impact as many people. It also provides a political compromise between those that favor a military tribunal and want a less public setting and those, like myself, who favor a federal court trial to uphold the rule of law. It is time to move this trial outside of New York City.