Downtown Leaders Want Terror Trials Moved, But Where To?
By Suzanne Ma
MANHATTAN — The message from the residents of Chinatown and lower Manhattan is clear: Move the 9/11 terror trials out of the neighborhood.
But where to?
Community Board 1 has already weighed in, so DNAinfo surveyed politicians and activists who support moving the trials of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other accused 9/11 terrorists to find out their preferred venue.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg:
"Since it is ultimately their decision, the mayor leaves it to the federal government to decide where the trial should be held," spokesman Jason Post told DNAinfo.
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer:
"I do think it's important to have the trial closer to where the attack happened. But the location that is currently under consideration is going to cause too much economic hardship for our businesses and community, and to a city that is already grappling with major deficits," Stringer told DNAinfo. "I think we should rely on security experts and others to come up with contingency plans and weigh the security costs."
Congressman Jerrold Nadler:
"I have no personal preference regarding one judicial district versus another," Nadler said in a statement to DNAinfo. "It's been our understanding that the indictments were being brought in the Southern District — which is logical because of the many 9/11 deaths that occurred here and given this district's leadership in trying other terrorists successfully — and we've heard nothing to the contrary. However, in making an ultimate specific site decision, I certainly believe the [Department of Justice] should consider and assess relative safety and security needs, impacts to the local communities and costs in order to ensure that an optimal site is chosen.”
City Councilwoman Margaret Chin:
"Council Member Chin has made it clear that she supports the recommendations put forward by Community Board 1," said spokesman Jake Itzkowitz. "Either Governors Island or some of the other sites upstate. She doesn't have a preference — just keep the trials out of Manhattan."
City Councilman Peter Vallone, Jr., chair of the Public Safety Committee:
"It should be a military tribunal in Guantanamo Bay. Terrorists don't deserve taxpayer-funded criminal attorneys," Vallone told DNAinfo. "They are human scum and shouldn't be tried in the same courtroom as criminals in the United States."
Marc Ameruso, assistant secretary of Community Board 1:
"Personally, I think this should be tried as a military tribunal," Ameruso said. The terror suspects are "already in the system, in Guantanamo Bay. The trials should be held in any army base that's easily secured. Governors Island is an option, as is West Point."
Jan Lee, Chinatown resident and activist:
"The Stewart Air Force Base [in Newburgh, N.Y.] is out of the way, and the area is not populated heavily. It appears to be the best option while still keeping the trials in the Southern District."
Gov. David Paterson, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and state Sen. Daniel Squadron all didn't have a personal preference for where the trials should go, their spokespeople told DNAinfo.
Instead, they hoped the federal government would make a decision after consulting the communities that would be impacted.
Meanwhile, Sen. Charles Schumer has said that the trials shouldn’t be held anywhere in the state.
"At this point, it's obvious that they cannot have the trials in New York," Schumer told the Associated Press on Monday. "I'm familiar with three sites listed upstate. I don't think any of those could be suitable."