Big Smoke

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What is wrong with Lower Manhattan as a site to hold the Khalid Shiekh Mohammed trial? Mayor Bloomberg cites cost overruns in security upgrades. Seriously?

Several points bear asking. First of all, why does it cost $1 billion to secure Lower Manhattan for one trial? It cost $75 million for Obama’s inauguration – and that was with a flood of almost two million people!

Second, why would NYC foot the bill? It’s a federal trial. Let the feds pay for it. Actually, while they’re at it, let them bail out the state, too, so we don’t have to keep cutting city services, damnit.

Third, what’s with the obsession that terrorists are reactionary when it comes to doing such attacks? Why would they work on our schedule – you know, when security is tightest? We could have pipebombs in the subways now. Isn’t the whole point of terrorism to attack when least expected? We spent years checking people’s shoes and missed a guy lighting his underwear on fire.

Fourth, what’s with the obsession over security in the first place? We’re never going to be totally secure against any and all attacks. Never. Not with our entire GDP locked up in military expenditures and security details. Not with airport enemas and subway strip-searches. We spent years checking people’s shoes and missed a guy lighting his underwear on fire.

Fifth, doesn’t this needless delay further harm our rule of law? We have these trials because all people – even foreign nationals – are created equal and are afforded the rights of due process. To say that this is a special case not only weakens our moral standing – KSM is less than human yet is a superhuman criminal mastermind – but proves to the world that everything enemy propaganda says about us is true: We don’t believe our own values, we’re inconsistent and aggressive, and more than everything else their attack was effective.

The best of all possible messages we could impart is that we are secure enough in our values that this can be dealt with by our justice system as it is, such that we are not turning it into a kangaroo court where he is found guilty not by the evidence submitted but by the popular vote of an angry populace whipped up by a cynical propagandist media. We want a trial, not a stoning, and we have a federal court just for that purpose right in downtown Manhattan.

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