Ailsa Chang is an award-winning journalist who covers criminal justice, terrorism and the courts for WNYC. She found her way into public radio after practicing law for five years, and can definitely say that walking the streets of New York City with a microphone is a lot more fun than being holed up in the office writing letters to opposing counsel.
No Security Disruptions As Lower Manhattan Prepares For First Guantanamo Detainee Trial
Friday, September 24, 2010
Jury selection is under way in the trial of the first Guantanamo detainee transferred to the civilian system. But residents around the federal courthouse in Lower Manhattan say they haven't noticed any increase in security in their neighborhood.
Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani was allegedly a bodyguard for Osama bin Laden, a document forger for Al Qaeda and a co-conspirator in the 1998 American embassy bombings in East Africa that left 224 people dead. He spent two years in secret CIA jails, known as "black sites," and was allegedly tortured for national security information.
But look around the federal courthouse and you'll see nothing like the 2,000 checkpoints that had been proposed for the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the other 9/11 defendants. In fact, you'll see no street closures and no extra police officers.
"The NYPD is saying that he's not a great security risk," says Julie Menin, president of the neighbhorhood community board. "The Foley Courthouse has tried many terrorist suspects over the years."
Menin says residents are not reporting concerns to her about this trial. But Ghailani's trial is widely seen as a test for the Obama administration, as it begins to make good on its promise to bring at least some Guantanamo detainees to justice in civilian courtrooms.