No polls have been released on Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to hold the trials of key Al Qaeda suspects in New York City, but you can bet it won’t be a popular decision in the area of the country hardest hit by 9/11.
New York City cops that I’ve spoken with are furious about the move, despite the fact that Commissioner Ray Kelly is acting like a good soldier and supporting Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s decision to go along with the trials. Some cops note that 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed asked to be brought to New York when he was first arrested. Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani wonders why and notes: “I didn’t think we were in the business of granting the requests of terrorists.”
Aside from the obvious security concerns, a real risk is the trial turning into a farce. “The terrorists are going to do everything they can to disrupt it and make it a circus and allow them to use it as a platform to push their ideology,” says Michigan Rep. Pete Hoekstra, the ranking Republican on the House intelligence committee.
The decision to take the most high-profile defendants and put them in civilian courts appears strange and hardly necessary, since the Obama administration is already using military tribunals — a system codified in law by Congress in 2006 – to try other terror suspects. Former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy, writing at National Review Online, offers a theory about Attorney General Holder’s agenda, which amounts to putting U.S. counterrorism efforts on trial along with the Al Qaeda defendants.
Says Mr. McCarthy: “The continuing investigations of Bush-era counterterrorism policies coupled with the obsession to disclose classified national-defense information from that period, enable Holder to give the hard Left the ‘reckoning’ that he and Obama promised during the 2008 campaign. The defendants will demand every bit of information they can get about interrogations, renditions, secret prisons, undercover operations targeting Muslims and mosques, etc., and — depending on what judge catches the case — they are likely to be given a lot of it. The administration will be able to claim that the judge, not the administration, is responsible for the exposure of our defense secrets.”
‘John Fund is a columnist for Wall Street Journal’