On New Year’s Eve in Times Square hundreds of thousands will watch the ball drop and usher in the New Year. Protecting them, will be a deployment of New York City Police officers — simply, the best — among other emergency and security personnel. The cost for security is high, but worth it considering the tradition, the enjoyment, not to mention the positive economic benefit to the city with all those revelers spending money in hotels, stores, the theater and restaurants.
Now, assume that New York has to provide that same level of security day after day, month after the month. Only take away the celebrating citizens and the positive economic benefit. Add to it the daily concern of a potential terrorist attack, roadway checkpoints, snipers on rooftops, added patrol officers in the streets, plainclothes officers mingling in the streets, protection for jurors, judges and prosecutors. Also, it will not be in Times Square but around the Foley Court House in downtown Manhattan.
For what? The upcoming trial of September 11 terror attack suspects, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others. Several months ago it was announced that the terror suspects will be tried in federal district court instead of military tribunals. The decision sparked justifiable outrage across the spectrum. Many maintain that the decision to try terror suspects or war criminals in federal district court could lead to horrendous consequences, legal and otherwise. Let’s now add one more reason, or, shall we say, almost 100 million more reasons.
In recent reports, Commissioner Kelly, encumbered with this unjust burden, drafted a security plan that places the cost of providing the necessary security for the trial. According to some reports, The NYPD does not have enough officers to handle trial security. The only way to accommodate the need is to incur huge amounts of overtime and/or federal assistance. Therefore, at a time when the New York City is challenged with budget issues along with practically everyone else in America — not to mention the ever growing federal government — we must now plan on spending almost $100 million dollars for a circus trial.
Initial estimates were 75 million dollars but Commissioner Kelly says that costs will be considerably more than that. And, whether the bill is foot by New York City taxpayers or all taxpayers misses the point: The expense is unnecessary and unwise.
There is a solution. Try the September 11 attackers in Military Tribunals to preserve national security intelligence, spare the circus and save taxpayer money.
Happy New Year