Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani says New York can handle the security that will surround the trials of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the 9/11 conspirators, but that he thinks the decision is "one of the worst decisions that the administration has made."
Giuliani called parts his reaction to the decision "almost personal" and said that "knowing many of the people who died that day," and having stayed in close touch with survivors, "there's no reason to put them through what will become a much more intense reliving of what happened with the terrorists getting an equal chance to explain their side of the story," in a setting "where their lawyers would be unethical if they didn't pursue every avenue of acquittal," which will probably include "putting the government on trial" and, potentially, creating an atmosphere "of moral equivalence, which will be very upsetting."
On whether or not New York will be safe: "If there were no other choice but to try these people in civilian court...I would say that New York City could handle it, because I believe that New York City...today, even more so, is the best prepared city in the country for dealing with whatever terrorists might do or might plan to do." Giuliani noted that New York has the largest police force in the country, with lots of training on how to deal with terrorism-related threats.
"Having said that, it is clearly true that New York City is a prime target, and there is no reason to add...to what already makes New York City a target when you don't have to do that, when you clearly have another approach [military trials] that would avoid that possibility," Giuliani said.
Giuliani, of course, guided the city (and helped guide the nation) through the terrorist attacks in 2001. But, as a former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York--where the alleged 9/11 conspirators will be tried--his legal experience makes him an interesting voice on the matter as well (on the call today, he cited military tribunals as a legitimate legal option, pointing out that the administration had deemed them acceptable for other terrorists, likening 9/11 conspirators to Japanese pilots who attacked Pearl Harbor).
Meanwhile, New Yorkers narrowly support the location of the trials, according to a Marist poll.
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