Mayor Michael Bloomberg won praise Friday from elected officials and political experts for suggesting the Obama administration rethink its plans to prosecute five alleged 9/11 suspects in New York City.
Late Friday, Obama administration officials said the plan for a trial in New York had been abandoned, adding that they are considering "other options." A new venue had not been announced late Friday.
"He's absolutely right," former Mayor Ed Koch said of Bloomberg. "The public loves it."
Bloomberg at first said he supported the Obama administration's plan to hold the trial in federal court in Manhattan. The mayor said this week that the alternative of a military base was "probably a good one." The city estimated that holding the trial in Manhattan at $216 million in the first year, and $220 million each year thereafter.
Others said the president would be right to reconsider.
"It looks worse for him if he doesn't change," said Hank Sheinkopf, a Democratic political consultant. "It's not a question of him looking weak, it's a question of what a large portion of the public is asking him to do."
But a reversal by the administration could be perceived as another national security misstep, observers said. Koch noted the controversy over the terrorism trial comes on the heels of admissions of intelligence failures leading up to the attempted Christmas bombing of a Detroit-bound airliner.
Nonetheless, members of Congress from New York said the president appeared to be on the right track.
"The president appropriately responded to the legitimate concerns of the mayor, police commissioner and local New Yorkers once logistics and costs became clear," said Rep. Gary Ackerman, (D-Roslyn Heights).
Democratic U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said in a statement that the president is "doing the right thing" by considering alternatives.
With Tom Brune and
Anthony M. DeStefano