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Debate Continues over 9-11 Trial Locations

Friday, January 29, 2010

There are reports that high-level members of the Obama Administration are rethinking the decision to hold the trial of accused Sept. 11 mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, in Lower Manhattan.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg says it would be an expensive headache for Lower Manhattan businesses and residents. But, he says it's up to administration officials to make the final decision.

"It's their call, and they'll make announcements. I'm not here to second guess them, I will be as supportive, and the city will be as supportive as possible, period. I can tell you I'd prefer if it was done elsewhere," Bloomberg says.

The mayor was speaking on his WOR radio show and says he thinks the trials should be held on a military base.

Leading House Republican, Ohio Congressman Mike Pence, also thinks the trials should be moved. He told ABC's Good Morning America he believes some Congressional Democrats will join Republicans in legislation to block funding for security costs, if the Obama Administration doesn't renege.

New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly no longer thinks the trial will be held in New York. He says because of a political backlash it appeared "unlikely" the case would go forward in the city. The NYPD has said it would need $200 million a year to protect the city during a trial and residents say the plan to close streets and set up security checkpoints would hurt businesses and disrupt daily life.

Gov. Paterson says he's "elated" the federal government is thinking of moving the terror trials. "We're worried about the effects of mass law enforcement in Lower Manhattan, congested traffic, resources that have to be spent by our city government and our state government," Paterson says.

The governor is meeting with federal officials on Monday to discuss possible alternative trial sites. The Justice Department says it's developing a contingency plan for other possible sites.

Meanwhile, the mayor of the Hudson Valley town Newburgh, Nicholas Valentine, says he's more than happy to host the terror trials. Valentine says his financially strapped city would be a good venue because of its proximity to a federal prison, Stewart Airport, and other transportation links.

"It was a risky decision on my part but I will tell you I've gotten overall a very very positive response from both my residents and businesses, from by City Council government," Valentine says.

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