Like New Year’s for a Year

Whether or not you think Khalid Sheik Mohammed deserves to be tried in a civilian criminal court, you have this to look forward to when the trial gets under way next year: checkpoints, lots of police officers in the streets, and rooftop snipers lurking above, along with plainclothes police officers, and perhaps, motorcades for the judges and prosecutors.

The Times compares it to New Year’s Eve, but if the defendants do, in fact, want attorneys, it could be a full year of New Year’s-like lockdown. The Attorney General has assured Senator Chuck Schumer that ““New York should not bear the burden alone,” which means the federal government is likely to pick up some of the city’s estimated $75 million dollar tab.

Will that be enough to keep the city safe?

The consensus, at least among non-hysterical-right-wing-New-York-haters, seems to be yes. That doesn’t mean it will be convenient.

Former mayor Ed Koch told me last month he didn’t think the trials would make the city less safe, although he disagreed with the decision to bring them in civilian courts. “[A]llowing New York City to be a base where you incarcerate terrorists is not going to increase the danger in my judgment.”

Mary Jo White, the former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, the office that’s now prosecuting the case, said that–though military commissions are “more optimal”–she thinks  New York is uniquely suited to handle the case and all the requisite security. “[T]here is no better place to have it done on the planet that the Southern District of New York. You’ve got the track record, the experience with the prosecutors, the defense attorneys, the judges, the marshals, the Bureau of Prisons. You do have in my judgment the best and the brightest there applying themselves to the very, very difficult, very, very important cases.” 

Like New Year’s for a Year