Decisions to try accused terrorists before U.S. civilian courts have drawn condemnation and outrage from conservatives in recent months. The scheduled trial of alleged "Sept. 11 mastermind" Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York's federal court has been especially controversial. Similar terrorists civilian trials occurred several times during President Bush's administration with hardly a peep of protest.
So it is a surprising victory for conservatives seeking to paint President Obama as soft on national security that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, typically a supporter of the trials, now demands it be held elsewhere. Why did Bloomberg flip? And what does it mean for the ongoing conservative call to forbid trials for terrorists?
- Absent from State of the Union As the Atlantic Wire reports here, National Review's Pete Hegseth remarks that "the president didn't mention closing Guantanamo Bay, or prosecuting KSM in New York City. Not sure if that's a sign of shifting winds on those issues, but I sure hope so." Commentary's Jennifer Rubin does too. "Perhaps he is leaving room to escape."
- Bloomberg Gets Company Politico's Ben Smith reports that two New York Democrats, Sen. Kristen Gillibrand and Rep. Nydia Velazquez, are also coming out against holding the trial in New York City. "This is now well on its way to becoming a problem for the White House," he writes.
- Could This Kill the Trial? NBC News's Mark Murray suggests it's possible. "This is a BIG blow politically to the president and Attorney General Eric Holder. Does this mean the KSM trial will NEVER see the light of day in NYC?"
- Congress Can Make That Happen Conservative blogger Allahpundit quotes House Minority Leader John Boehner: "There is not going to be a trial in New York, I guarantee it. There is no appetite for the trials in Congress." Allahpundit muses, "You know what? I think he's right. [...] Scotty B[rown] campaigned hard against civilian trials for terrorists and did okay even in the bluest of blue states. Chastened by his experience, [Democratic Senators] Jim Webb and Blanche Lincoln both signed the GOP's letter to Holder demanding that KSM be transferred to a military tribunal."
- Why'd Bloomberg Flip? Everyone seems to agree Bloomberg didn't do it because he suddenly adopted GOP hysteria. Spencer Ackerman thinks he balked at the massive price tag. "It's an economic issue for Bloomberg, not a security issue." Foreign Policy's Joshua Keating cites business interests, "the Downtown Manhattan community board and real estate associations are opposed to the trial so Bloomberg may be under local pressure."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.