NYC fearlessly ready for terror suspects

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Ellis Henican Newsday columnist Ellis Henican

Henican is a columnist for Newsday. He also is a political analyst at the Fox News Channel and

Here's the strange geography of terror fear: The farther you are from any real danger, the more jitters you are likely to feel.

Doubt me? Consider some of the political reaction to New York's coming terror trials.

Attorney General Eric Holder announced that 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others will be brought to federal courthouse in lower Manhattan. There, on high-security lockdown, they will face American justice in the form of a felony jury trial.

And the news was greeted with apoplexy in towns so tiny international terrorists couldn't find them with a platinum MapQuest account and a GPS.

The move will put "Americans at unnecessary risk," Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell fretted. "America already gives terrorists more constitutional rights than any other country," said Texas Rep. Lamar Smith.

It was New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg who actually understood.

We have to take precautions. These are dangerous people accused of dreadful crimes. We live, all of us do, with the pain of that horror every day. But it's the rule of law - isn't it? - that makes us different from our enemies, a uniquely American ability to be stern, secure and just all at once.

"It is fitting," Bloomberg said, "that 9/11 suspects face justice near the World Trade Center site where so many New Yorkers were murdered."

Rep. Jerry Nadler, whose district stretches into lower Manhattan, issued a plain-spoken challenge to the distant scaredy-cats. "I invite any of my colleagues who say that they are afraid to bring detainees into the United States to face trial to come to New York and see how we handle them."

Added the New York congressman: "Any suggestion that our prosecutors and our law enforcement personnel are not up to the task of safely holding and successfully prosecuting terrorists on American soil is insulting and untrue."

>> Walt Handelsman cartoon: 9/11 jury selection

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E-mail ellis@henican.com

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