AP: Feds to Offer $200 Million in Security to City Hosting 9/11 Terror Trials

The AP reports that on Monday, President Obama will release a budget request that includes $200 million in security for the city that ends up hosting the 9/11 trials. While no official announcement has been made, it appears Manhattan has been scrapped.

The other day I set out the applicable constitutional and statutory provisions on venue. Most likely, the Government will pick a city in which an overt act in furtherance of the 9/11 conspiracy was committed. Here's a partial list: [More...]

From the military charge sheet against the five 9/11 defendants the Government will seek to try together: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Walid Muhammad Salih Mubarak Bin 'Attash, Ramzi Binalshibh, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali and Mustafa Ahmed Adam al Hasawi:

  • San Diego, CA
  • Newark NJ
  • Atlanta, GA
  • Decatur, GA
  • Venice, FL
  • Sarasota, FL
  • Miami, FL
  • Orlando, FL
  • Ft. Lauderdale, FL
  • Delray Beach, FL
  • Boynton Beach, FL
  • Batavia, OH
  • Phoenix, AZ
  • Washington, DC
  • Laurel, MD
  • Portland, ME
  • Boston, MA
  • Dulles, VA
  • Arlington, VA
  • Shanksville, Somerset County, PA

Since most of the witnesses at trial will be from the East coast, I'd rule out California and Arizona.

Boston successfully prosecuted 'shoe-bomber" Richard Reid, but he wasn't huge news and while the city has 6.5 million residents, it practically shuttered downtown during the 2004 Democratic convention. I don't think layout- wise it would be a good choice.

The Pentagon plane that went down predominantly affected those living in Virginia, Maryland, and D.C. I think it would be too hard to pick an impartial jury in D.C., since it only has 600,000 residents, but the Eastern District of Virginia has hosted many terrorism trials, including that of Zacarias Moussaoui. Its also experienced in housing prisoners in terror cases.

Newark, NJ might be convenient for the trial participants -- it's close to New York and has 8 million residents, enough to pick a jury from.

Miami should seriously be considered. The 9/11 hijackers received flight training in South Florida and many wire transfers were sent to Florida bank accounts. Since none of the planes crashed there, selecting a jury could go faster and more smoothly. Miami successfully tried "Dirty Bomber" Jose Padilla. And, there would be a jury pool of over 6 million from which to try and find impartial jurors.

While New York would have been the best place for the trials, as it has a bevy of experienced prosecutors, judges and defense counsel to handle them, a large and diverse prospective jury pool and national media is already centered there, there are plenty of other options.

I think the DOJ's most likely options, if New York is out, are Miami and Virginia. How about Newark? Your thoughts?

Update: Here's more, with exhibits showing places with venue.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Why are we so chicken? (5.00 / 0) (#17)
    by ricosuave on Sun Jan 31, 2010 at 09:45:18 AM EST
    I find it appalling that people are too scared to hold a civilian trial of these guys.  I believe that expresses a complete lack of confidence in our constitution, our freedom, and our form of government.  Furthermore, saying that we are too scared to hold a fair civilian trial in our biggest city just tells the world we are a bunch of pansies who are quaking in our baby booties over these guys.

    Why not hold it in the middle of nowhere? (none / 0) (#1)
    by Dadler on Sat Jan 30, 2010 at 07:19:27 PM EST
    Move the trial to Montana.  At this point, it might as well happen on a spacecraft.  

    move the jurors (if any) (none / 0) (#2)
    by diogenes on Sat Jan 30, 2010 at 07:41:05 PM EST
    If you must have a civilian trial, sequester the civilian jurors (if used) as well as judges and pay them ten thousand dollars a month to live at GITMO.  Give people five hundred dollars a day plus airfare to be screened for the jury if the screening is in Cuba.  It would be a lot cheaper than two hundred million dollars for security in a US city.  Safer too.

    violates the law (5.00 / 0) (#4)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Jan 30, 2010 at 08:09:15 PM EST
    please read the constitution/statutes/rules, I provided the links. Otherwise, you are wasting our time.

    Does that depend on interpretation (none / 0) (#9)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Sat Jan 30, 2010 at 10:41:48 PM EST
    Since the attack was conceived, planned, and directed outside the US, then holding the trial outside the US would seem to be OK.

    From your earlier post:

    ....if no such residence is known the indictment or information may be filed in the District of Columbia.

    Emphasis added.

    Note that filing is not required in the district, only allowed.  

    A fairly simple solution is to for the administration to administratively include Gitmo in the DC district.  Then the trial can be held in Gitmo, your concerns have been addressed, and the $200,000,000 can be put to better use.


    No it can't be Gitmo (none / 0) (#10)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Jan 30, 2010 at 10:51:01 PM EST
    That would violate the Constitution which gives the Defendant the right to be tried in a district where the crime (or some part of it) was committed. See here.

    How would that be a violation (none / 0) (#11)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Sat Jan 30, 2010 at 11:00:24 PM EST

    if Gitmo and DC were in the same district?

    they are not in the same district (none / 0) (#12)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Jan 31, 2010 at 01:06:03 AM EST
    now or when the crimes were committed. More importantly, and this is my last response along this line:

    Article III, Section 2, Paragraph 3:

    The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.

    These crimes were committed in the U.S. The plan formulating them may not have originated here, but the crimes, including deaths of 3,000 Americans did occur here, and overt acts in furtherance of the conspiracies occurred in many states. (Flight training, money transfers, etc.)


    However, (none / 0) (#18)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Sun Jan 31, 2010 at 10:14:39 AM EST
    What is to prevent the merger of Gitmo and DC into one administrative district?  

    A "district" is not defined by the constitution, and in any case is a political (Detroit, or the fourth circuit) rather than geographic (Mississippi watershed, or elevation above 5,000 feet)designation.  

    So to say DC and Gitmo are not in the same district is true only as long as the political process chooses to treat them that way.  The moment the political process decides to make them one district, they would in fact be one district.

    ...not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.

    All of the planning, training, and recruitment occured outside the US, so it seems pretty clear that Congress may direct by law where to hold the trial for such activity.

    Rather than showing the trisl may not be held in Gitmo, you may have shown the steps congress must take to do so.


    the flight training all occurred in the US (none / 0) (#20)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Jan 31, 2010 at 10:26:19 AM EST
    The money was wired into the U.S. The phone calls were made to and within the U.S.

    That (1.00 / 0) (#25)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Sun Jan 31, 2010 at 11:32:12 AM EST

    That some crime was within the US and some outside the US is not in dispute.

    Some posters have suggested Upstate NY (none / 0) (#3)
    by Politalkix on Sat Jan 30, 2010 at 07:47:04 PM EST
    Why can't it be held there. Why does it have to be a big city?

    for one thing, (none / 0) (#5)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Jan 30, 2010 at 08:12:20 PM EST
    you would almost certainly need an overt act committed there. For another, there might not be a big enough jury pool. Plus, it's inconvenient for the participants -- lawyers and witnesses. And the courthouse has to be big enough that regular court business won't be disrupted.

    On the news they were making (none / 0) (#6)
    by nycstray on Sat Jan 30, 2010 at 08:31:39 PM EST
    suggestions like West Point etc. Not just local news. Have no clue where it's coming from though. How would it be more inconvenient than FL?

    Thanks Jeralyn (none / 0) (#7)
    by Politalkix on Sat Jan 30, 2010 at 08:42:58 PM EST
    If it is held in Florida, the state may move from hanging chads to a hung jury...

    no secure jail at westpoint (none / 0) (#13)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Jan 31, 2010 at 01:12:53 AM EST
    no courthouse big enough. Too far to schlep the defendants.That's a problem with upstate NY as well. The places that have jails don't have federal courthouses and the places that have courthouses don't have secure jails. And Governor's Island, the defendants would have to take a ferry every day. Not safe.

    We have so many places we could hold these trials, legally for venue, and for security.

    In addtion to those I mentioned, I forgot the Middle District of Florida (Orlando area) which did fine with the al Arian trial which lasted forever (it seemed) and even MN and OK (where Moussaoui trained for flight school and was arrested.)


    al arian trial was (none / 0) (#14)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Jan 31, 2010 at 01:13:55 AM EST
    Tampa but same district as Orlando which has a lot of ties to the 9/11 hijackers.

    Thanks (none / 0) (#26)
    by nycstray on Sun Jan 31, 2010 at 12:33:31 PM EST
    The mayor of Newburgh NY wants the trial there. (none / 0) (#15)
    by steviez314 on Sun Jan 31, 2010 at 06:23:07 AM EST
    You could also make the case that the diversion of the planes' (from Boston) flight path happened approximately there (or Albany area).

    He's a Republican and wants the $200M.  It's also close to Stewart Air Force Base, where I assume the defendants could be housed securely.


    I think Newark (none / 0) (#8)
    by Lil on Sat Jan 30, 2010 at 08:56:02 PM EST
    will be a problem, since it is so close to NYC. It is almost like an extension of the Big Apple, even though Newark would hate that characterization. Also, I can't help but think that the wave of New Yorkers who objected due to the anxiety would also effect the folks of Newark. It is just too close and too many people knew someone who was over there or lost someone (all the same issues as NYC). Also the traffic nightmare is very similar to Manhattan. Upstate is probably the way to go.

    Interesting times (none / 0) (#16)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Jan 31, 2010 at 08:12:38 AM EST

    comment suggesting Newark (none / 0) (#21)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Jan 31, 2010 at 10:27:40 AM EST
    is appropriate was deleted for profanity.

    Re security around the trial (none / 0) (#22)
    by DFLer on Sun Jan 31, 2010 at 11:07:41 AM EST
    Everyone on the MSM speaks of it as if we have to prevent some kind a sympathetic terrorist attack around the trial/courtroom, whatever.

    I have heard no one say what has been my thought from day one: it's more likely that someone (say a bereaved relative/cop/fireman) would go after KSM to exact revenge, taking the law into their own hands.

    Am I the only one who thinks this is a possibility?

    Venice Fla. (none / 0) (#23)
    by fly on Sun Jan 31, 2010 at 11:15:03 AM EST
    Several of the hijackers trained to fly in Venice Florida..it is a smaller town ..but could call upon a good jury pool.

    According to authorities, all of the hijackers who committed the 9/11 crimes trained as a pilots at Huffman Aviation Venice Flight School pilot training Florida in Venice, Florida and Virginia Gardens.
    I think it would be easy to secure the area ..and go where the started the crimes!

    If Manhattan is out, I would expect... (none / 0) (#24)
    by Jerrymcl89 on Sun Jan 31, 2010 at 11:31:33 AM EST
    ... that they will choose the venue likely to produce a jury pool that will do what they want. I would think Northern Virginia or Florida would be considered more favorable for that than Newark.