[JURIST] US President Barack Obama said Sunday in an interview [video] with CBS News that he hasn't ruled out a civilian trial in New York City for accused 9/11 co-conspirator Khalid Sheikh Mohammed [JURIST news archive]. However, Obama stressed that he was considering the logistical and security issues that have been presented in making the decision. The Obama administration has faced growing objections from New York City and state officials, and criticism over the planned trials since they were first announced [JURIST reports] in November. Responding to those critical of his plans, Obama stated:
I think that the important thing for the public to understand is we're not handling any of these cases any different than the Bush administration handled them all through 9/11. They prosecuted 190 folks in these Article III courts, got convictions and those folks are in maximum security prisons right now. And there have been no escapes.Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) [official website] responded [AP report] shortly after the interview, saying that the logistical and security concerns rendered the administration's current plans infeasible, and that the plans should be dropped. Congressman Pete King (R-NY) [official website] echoed these sentiments [Daily News report], adding that Mohammed should be tried by the military, instead of putting New Yorkers at greater risk.
In January, a senior administration official announced that the White House was considering moving [JURIST report] the trials of Mohammed and other high-profile terror suspects out of New York City. Two days before, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg [official website] cited costs and potential disruptions to the lives of New Yorkers in urging [JURIST report] the federal government not to use the city as a venue for the trials. Earlier this month, Bloomberg claimed [JURIST report] that providing security for the trial in New York would cost the city more than $216 million in the first year and $206 million in any additional years. Bloomberg originally backed the idea of trying some of the terrorists currently held at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] in Manhattan due to its proximity to ground zero and the symbolic significance of convicting the suspects there.