No outcry over NY trial for bin Laden aide
WASHINGTON -- Some key New York politicians say they aren't objecting to the Manhattan federal trial of Osama bin Laden's son-in-law Sulaiman Abu Ghaith because it doesn't pose the same security issues as the proposed trial of 9/11 plotter Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, which they blocked in 2010.
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) also said New York officials weren't caught by surprise this time as they were with Mohammed because the administration consulted with local officials beforehand.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest confirmed the administration informed key members of Congress in advance about the indictment of Abu Ghaith and the decision to try him in New York.
Much has changed in the past four years. The specter of 9/11, though ever present, has receded some. And the little-known Abu Ghaith, despite his depiction as an al-Qaida spokesman, doesn't strike the fear or pose the threat that Mohammed did.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose opposition was key to the scuttling of Mohammed's trial, said on his weekly radio show Friday that Abu Ghaith's presence in a Manhattan courtroom would not disrupt the surrounding community, which includes Ground Zero.
"Is it disruptive? No street is going to be closed because of this," he said of the pending trial. "If you are in a federal court here in New York, you go from a holding pen to the courtroom underground."
Schumer also fought against Mohammed's trial but won't oppose one for Abu Ghaith because New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly "thinks it's OK to do it here."
The biggest threat to Abu Ghaith's trial could be opposition by congressional Republicans. Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), who helped cut off federal funds for Mohammed's trial, said he's against trying Abu Ghaith in New York in a civilian court -- but on principle, not for security reasons.
"While a federal court trial of Abu Ghaith in lower Manhattan would not present the same security issues as a trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, I strongly believe as a matter of policy that military tribunals are the proper venue for enemy combatants," he said in a statement.
King said he is keeping his options open on whether to try to defund the Abu Ghaith trial.