Obama Reportedly Orders Justice Department to Consider Alternative Sites for Terror Trial

Attorney General Eric Holder suffered an embarrassing setback yesterday when the White House ordered the Justice Department to find another location for the trial of the 9/11 suspects. If true, this would be a troubling intervention of the White House into a pending criminal case and seems to follow political pressure on the venue for the trial.

New York Michael Bloomberg yesterday complained about the inconvenience and expense to New Yorkers if the trial were held in Manhattan. This follows opposition from Democratic and Republicans senators in even giving these defendants a fair trial in federal court — as opposed to a military tribunal that does not afford them the full rights under our Constitution.

Bloomberg stated that he would “prefer that they did it elsewhere.” Objecting that “[i]t would be an inconvenience at the least, and probably that’s too mild a word for people that live in the neighborhood and businesses in the neighborhood . . . There are places that would be less expensive for the taxpayers and less disruptive for New York City.”

It is very troubling to see such decisions being made by the White House under political pressure. The choice of venue is supposed to be made by prosecutors on the basis of the most logical venue after considering the location of the crime and other factors. We just ended a period in which the Justice Department was politicized by the Bush Administration to an unprecedented degree.

This story follows Obama’s statements that virtually assured the public of convictions, here. It also followed a very political press conference by Holder where he seemed to go out of his way to describe why a Manhattan venue would maximize the bias of a jury at the trial.

It also creates some serious logistical problems. Holder picked the New York prosecutors to handle the case over such rivals as the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. If they move the trial outside of New York city, these prosecutors will have to move much of their offices or a new team selected.

It is also disconcerting to see such wavering in a major case. These are important decisions that should be made after thorough vetting and analysis. To order such a change at this stage not only shows political influence but a lack of planning within the Justice Department.

Sen. Chuck Schumer’s office said he was “pleased” with the decision and stressed that the change occurred after he spoke “with high-level members of the administration and urged them to find alternatives.”

According to the report below, the change caught prosecutors off-guard and one federal official observed “[t]hey’re in a tizzy at Justice over Bloomberg. It’s like a half-baked soufflé – the plan is collapsing.”

The problem is whether political pressure will now mount for a tribunal and, to paraphrase a popular song, “if you can’t make it in New York, you can’t make it anywhere.”

For the full story, click here and here.

36 thoughts on “Obama Reportedly Orders Justice Department to Consider Alternative Sites for Terror Trial”

  1. From what I saw of this discussion between the President and the Republicans A quote I saw came to life:

    “Most people assume the fights are going to be the left versus the right, but it always is the reasonable versus the jerks.
    Jimmy Wales, Keynote Speech, SXSW 2006”
    Permalink 01/29/10 @ 19:57 “

  2. eniobob: “Lottakatz: “ (I) didn’t catch this until tonigt.maybe you saw it,if not check it out. (link to rep retreat)


    —–We absolutely elected the smart one. And no teleprompters. I saw experts tonight and the Republicans looked like the second-stringers they are acting like. It was a political masterpiece. I almost hate to watch him because if I think of him as a typical politician it’s easier to hate his inactivity and disrespect him for failing in the areas I think are crucial to the Republic. But then to see the Republicans at the SotU address and watch him walk into that nest of vipers armed with his wits alone (and factor in the Blue Dogs) and it’s impossible to maintain ALL of my ideological purity. Stacked deck.

    It’s just amazing that the DNC is fumbling the ball so badly, they need to go back to the 50 state strategy instead of abandoning it as Rahm Emanuel advocates; obviously there needs to be 61 real liberals in the Senate to get anything done. It would be a wonderful thing to see a smart President with an unshakable majority in the Senate. Between the Republicans, Blue Dogs and cheap ho’s in both houses I fear the Republic is lost.

    I’ll read the transcript, thanks for the link

  3. Bdaman

    “It’s because they realized it was the same ol B.S.”

    I’m sure that’s why (from the article about the event)”…a Republican official and other GOP aides had confided to him that allowing the “cameras to roll like that” was a “mistake.”

  4. Mespo,

    Very well stated, perhaps the best justice, although I respectfully disagree. Good Thoreau quote.

  5. FFLeo:

    “If defendant KSM receives a fair, transparent trial and he is convicted, how many opponents of the death penalty would agree to a penalty of death for him?”

    Not me. Let him see the triumph of Western justice tempered by mercy rather than the perverted “justice” of his own barbarism that he so ruthlessly craved.

    “If you would convince a man that he does wrong, do right. But do not care to convince him. Men will believe what they see. Let them see.”

    ~Henry David Thoreua

  6. Go git ’em Katz…

    If defendant KSM receives a fair, transparent trial and he is convicted, how many opponents of the death penalty would agree to a penalty of death for him?

  7. “So effective was the president that Fox News cut away from the broadcast 20 minutes before it ended”

    It’s because they realized it was the same ol B.S.

  8. Various posters: “NIMBY is a pretty lame reason to indict the American justice system and assume it can’t handle these trials.” … “it would be too difficult to impanel and impartial jury.” … it would be too difficult to impanel and impartial jury.” … “I don’t want it in my backyard. I don’t think anybody wants it in their backyard.” … “I certainly would not want it held here, would you?” … “Do these whiners really, actually believe that America is so weak that we can’t simply do the right thing and hold these criminals responsible through our imperfect, but generally excellent criminal justice system? Are they that afraid?”

    ——Impartial juries? There are few if any impartial juries in high profile crimes. I recall reading an editorial after one of the trials that came out of Watergate wherein the writer said he had absolute faith in the (guilty) verdict because it took so long to get a jury selected. It took so long because the lawyers were both aiming to get people that didn’t read or watch news about Watergate. the writer postulated that after 2 years + can one even imagine the depth of apathy, insulation or stupidity of the jury? And even they knew lawbreaking when the saw it. LOL. We’ll find the best jury we can because we’ve done it before. We’ll make do.

    ——-The better half and I were watching Giuliani yesterday and he was talking about how bad of a decision this trial being held in NY was and how the possibility terrorism in such a target-rich place needed to be factored into the decision and it just made me angry enough to eat glass.

    After much revision my subsequent thoughts on the matter devolve into a rant, I’m just going to go with the rant:

    If I were Eric Holder I’d address the matter on national TV and I’d say:

    Stop listening to Giuliani, he’s too stupid to be giving advice about this or anything else. This is the same guy that put the emergency response command center in the Twin Towers AFTER it was hit the first time and ignored the mandate to make sure Police and Fire radios could cross-talk; he got a hundred plus firemen killed- F*** him, stop listening to him.

    Get off your knees, stand up and stop cowering in fear, Americans don’t cower. If you want to find a dark hole and cower then go join Al-Qaeda, go live in a cave with them. Americans that cower before their enemies are traitors. America doesn’t base its actions on appeasing traitors.

    We are going to move the place of trial. We’re going to hold the trial in the hole where the Twin Towers stood. We’re going to bring in folding chairs and tables for the court and put the court where the crime was done.

    We will spare no expense on security or any expense to get it done. Anybody can watch if they want to bring a chair and sit behind the fence. Justice should be public, not tucked away on some island somewhere out of sight using some shortcut system where the fix is in. KSM will get the chair, walk, or the case will be thrown out because we tortured him, it doesn’t matter; win, lose or draw, justice will be done. It’s all about the justice.

  9. FFLeo:

    “May I suggest Crawford or Dallas Texas…”


    You’re a genius!

  10. BREAKING NEWS: To All College Football Fans

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is considering several steps that would review the legality of the controversial Bowl Championship Series, the Justice Department said in a letter Friday to a senator who had asked for an antitrust review.

    In the letter to Sen. Orrin Hatch, obtained by The Associated Press, Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich wrote that the Justice Department is reviewing Hatch’s request and other materials to determine whether to open an investigation into whether the BCS violates antitrust laws.

    “Importantly, and in addition, the administration also is exploring other options that might be available to address concerns with the college football postseason,” Weich wrote, including asking the Federal Trade Commission to review the legality of the BCS under consumer protection laws.

    Read More: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/football/ncaa/01/29/obama.bcs.ap/index.html?xid=si_ncaaf#ixzz0e3LEU7OO
    Get a free NFL Team Jacket and Tee with SI Subscription

  11. eniobob
    1, January 29, 2010 at 8:32 am
    Never in my lifetime can I remember a president being dealt a deck of cards like the ones dealt to President Obama.

    —-I agree, and regular readers here know I’m no longer a fan of the President. This guy asked to sit in on a game that was rigged so far against him that just getting out of it alive will be a victory.

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