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Andrew Cuomo Takes Terror-Trial NIMBYism to the Extreme

About a lifetime ago, the Justice Department announced that it would hold the trial of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York City, where plenty of terror suspects had been tried and convicted before without incident. But this time was different. Even politicians who supported civilian trials of terrorists somewhere just didn't want this one to be held in New York City, for numerous reasons, including the costs of securing a densely populated downtown area, the (even greater?) threat of a terror attack, and the emotional element of subjecting 9/11 survivors and victims' families to the trial. The Justice Department backed down, but with Attorney General Eric Holder finally "close to a decision" on where to hold the trial, the question of its possible location has returned. Attorney General and Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo, for one, said yesterday that he didn't want it in New York. And today, in response to a reporter's question, Cuomo clarified that he wasn't just talking about the city, but the entire state.


The incoming gov was asked why he took the stance against trying Mohammed in New York and whether it meant just the city, and Cuomo quickly replied, “New York State, writ large. Why? As governor-elect, I think this is an appropriate issue for the governor to address.

"I know the people in the federal government, Attorney General [Eric] Holder, [when] I was in the Clinton administration he was deputy attorney general, I was HUD secretary. So I will advocate forcefully for our position … I’m against it, period.”

Where should he be tried, then? Guantanamo?

“Not in New York, not New York. That’s their decision, that’s the attorney general’s decision, it’s his decision, but not New York,“ he said.

But why? The logistical problems that were unique to a downtown Manhattan trial surely wouldn't be an issue in other areas of New York, especially for one of the state's various military bases, like the one in Newburgh that mayor Nicholas Valentine offered up months ago. New York was the main target of the 9/11 strikes; it shed the most blood. If the governor wants to outsource the effort of bringing the culprits to justice, he should at least try to provide a compelling rationale.

Governor-Elect Andrew Cuomo: Next Question? [Daily Politics/NYDN]

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Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images