Thursday, January 28, 2010

Trial and Error

Mike Bloomberg has had a belated epiphany about the idea of holding a trail for Khalid Sheik Mohammad in NYC-but, of course, he was for it before he was against it. As Bloomberg News reports: "New York MayorMichael Bloomberg said he wants the U.S. government to move the trial of five suspects in the September 2001 terror attacks away from its intended site in lower Manhattan. Bloomberg said it would cost as much as $1 billion to provide security for the trial, should it proceed over several years, and suggested the U.S. Justice Department consider an alternate venue such as a military base outside the city."

Which raises the question of why he ever thought this made sense in the first place-and that's especially true given the incredible fact that neither the mayor or the police commissioner were ever consulted by the Obami before this stupid move was contemplated. As the NY Times tells us: "Mr. Bloomberg had steadfastly supported the location of the trial. When the news broke two months ago, he declared, “It is fitting that 9/11 suspects face justice near the World Trade Center site, where so many New Yorkers were murdered.”

So it now appears that the original decision was made without any forethought-and it goes hand in glove with the ongoing Bloomberg/Obama pas de deux. As Daily Politics reports, Bloomberg-against all evidence given some of his policy observations-grades the president's first term quite highly: "While admitting he doesn't always see eye-to-eye with President Obama, Mayor Bloomberg today gave high praise to the commander-in-chief as he marks his first full year in office and prepares to give his inaugural State of the Union address."

But, on his signature issue of health care reform, Bloomberg has opposed: "I think that both sides of the aisle and the Legislature, there's not been a lot of profiles in courage in being willing to stand up. The health care bill is a good example. You're not going to reduce the cost of health care unless you do tort reform." And remember the mayor bleated about the impact that the $500 billion Medicare cut would have on the city as well.

And then there's the bank tax-a signature issue of the faux populism that the president is reaching for: "That doesn't mean people - including the mayor of New York City - shouldn't disagree with the president, Bloomberg said, noting he has differed with Obama on the issue of bank taxes." KSM trial, health care reform, bank taxes, you kinda wonder what the hell the mayor's babbling about when he talks about giving the president high marks?

Bloomberg would have been right at home on the Nobel Prize committee-giving out high honors just for effort: "But the president's been willing to try some of these things. He's not going to succeed all the time." But, of course, it's hard to back away when, as a candidate for a third term, Bloomberg literally wrapped his arms around the president: "Bloomberg went out of his way to tie himself to Obama during the mayoral campaign. The president ended up giving only tepid support to the mayor's Democratic opponent, then-Comptroller Bill Thompson, who came closer than most expected to scuttling Bloomberg's bid for a third term."

But as far as the KSM deal is concerned, it's all about cost, not principle. As the Times points out, the principle objections are left to others-those with principles, we guess: "Congressional Republicans are threatening a financial maneuver to block the trials from being held in New York and are certain to seize on the mayor’s remarks. On Tuesday, six senators wrote to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and urged him to abandon the idea. The letter, signed by Senators Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut; John McCain, Republican of Arizona; Blanche L. Lincoln, Democrat of Arkansas; Susan M. Collins, Republican of Maine; Jim Webb, Democrat of Virginia; and Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, read, in part, “You will be providing them one of the most visible platforms in the world to exalt their past acts and to rally others in support of further terrorism.”

Which should have been obvious to the mayor before he started issuing woof tickets about the city's capabilities two months ago. Apparently, precisely because he isn't used to asking about costs before he buys anything, the idea of expense to the city never even crossed his mind in the first instance. But, given the city's fiscal condition, at least he was able to come to his senses-even if he's incapable of thinking clearly about the larger policy implications of trying this war criminal in a NYC court."

Here's hoping that the Bloomberg about face has an impact on this disastrous policy choice: "David B. Rivkin, a former Justice Department and White House lawyer in Republican administrations who favors military commissions, said that while the mayor’s view had no legal force, it had enormous political significance. “The administration is at a precarious point on this issue,” Mr. Rivkin said. If a quick solution is not found to the dispute over a trial site, he said, “this whole thing could come crashing down,” forcing the administration to reverse course and place Mr. Mohammed before a military commission at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba."

Let's hope so. We'll give the NY Post the last word on the inanity and insanity of this trial in NYC: "Make no mistake: We've always thought the decision to shoehorn KSM & Co. into the civilian justice system was a huge error. Terrorists aren't common criminals, and shouldn't be treated as such. But if such a trial must be conducted -- all things being equal -- New York City, the epicenter of al Qaeda's butchery, seemed a logical venue. It was the scene of the "crime," and New Yorkers are a particularly tough lot. Yes, a trial would entail sacrifices: Securing against the increased likelihood of an al Qaeda attack -- for the five years the trials are expected to take -- will require a massive police presence. Is that reasonable? No, especially since it has now become clear that the trials will cost New York City in excess of $1 billion over five years -- $200 million per trial, according to Mayor Bloomberg."