Biden to NYC: KSM Trial Won't Cost Much

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With the capture of Taliban chief Abdul Ghani Barada in Pakistan and Vice President Joe Biden's triumphant showdown with Dick Cheney on Sunday's "Meet The Press," this week seemed to be shaping up to be a win for the Obama administration's volative national security narrative. Unfortunately for the White House, Biden's fast-and-loose barbs against Cheney on the Khalid Sheikh Mohammed trial are coming back to bite him, revisiting the controversy over trying KSM in New York City. As Marcia Kramer at CBS 2 New York writes, Biden "took a swing" at Mayor Michael Bloomberg, accusing him of inflating estimates of the trial's security costs:

It’s a sign of just how angry the White House is at having its plans to hold terror trials in New York City thwarted. Vice President Joe Biden took a swing at Mayor Michael Bloomberg, accusing him of inflating estimates of the trial’s security costs. Both Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly put the estimate at $200 million a year for five years, saying it would be an expensive proposition for the City. Biden, however, disputes the numbers. 'The mayor came along and said the cost for providing security to hold this trial is x-hundreds of millions of dollars which I think is much more than would be needed,' Biden said. Biden’s surprising outburst is an indication of just how upset President Barack Obama is at having one of his foreign policy goals – showing a kinder face to the Muslim world – meet a solid wall of opposition in New York.

Plenty of journalists--like New York City officials--are "irked" at Biden's statement. However, instead of rebuking Biden for reopening the subject, many writers are choosing instead to remind their readers why holding the trial in NYC is a problem, regardless of cost.

  • This Is Deeply Personal writes Andrew Cohen at The Atlantic. Cohen believes that the opposition to the trial has nothing to do with cost, but a "deeply personal, almost instinctual rip tide--secret, swift, dark--that the Obama administration has been fighting" since the White House announced the Lower Manhatten location after Thanksgiving:
It is clear from some of the reaction to the KSM trial that a vast number of Americans, and certainly a huge portion of New York's population, are still emotionally (and quite naturally and justifiably) shattered by the events of 9/11. They fight against a terror trial in the city not because it's expensive (the feds would pay) or because it's unsafe (New York will be a fortress during the proceedings) or because they feel it will give our enemies some sort of political platform (it won't). They fight against it truly because consciously or subconciously they cannot bear the thought of reliving in their midsts, almost exactly 10 years later, the worst day so many of them have ever had on Earth.
  • Tone-Deaf to New Yorkers  Jennifer Rubin at conservative magazine Commentary slams Biden's "unsubstantiated, losing arguments" while reminding readers that "no city or state" will want to host the KSM trial: "It's hard to believe Biden would be arguing the point because no one thinks the KSM trial will take place in New York."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.