Lower Manhattan residents said at a Friday City Council hearing that they are still opposed to holding the September 11th terror trial in their neighborhood, as the White House denied reports that the case may be held before a military tribunal.
In a Friday editorial in the Washington Post, Attorney General Eric Holder says he still believes a civil trial for self-proclaimed September 11th mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four alleged co-conspirators is still the best option, but acknowledges the mounting pressure from New York officials.
President Barack Obama, who said he and his advisors would get more involved with deciding on where to hold the trial, also admitted that backlash from the mayor and other New Yorkers may force a change in location.
However, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs reportedly denied Friday that Obama and Holder are considering to have the case held by a military tribunal.
The Obama administration is also trying to head off a possible Senate vote that could stop any terror suspects currently held at Guantanamo Bay from being brought to the United States to face a civilian trial.
At a Friday City Council hearing on the issue, Republican U.S. Representative Peter King, a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security and a fierce critic of holding the trials in Manhattan, admitted he did not think that plan would come to fruition.
"I think the decision has been made to take the trial out of New York, but when they announce that they are going to have to announce where it's going to go," said King. "That is the real problem right now, I don’t know of any other jurisdiction that wants the trial."Lower Manhattan residents and business owners said at the hearing that they will continue to protest the possibility of the trials being held in their neighborhood.
“If we have the terror trials here in Lower Manhattan, it’s going to be a very bad idea, and it’s going to be a disastrous for Lower Manhattan and for New York in general,” said Manhattan Councilwoman Margaret Chin.
"It will make it close to impossible to live or work downtown with the over 2,000 checkpoints that will be required," said Catherine McVay Hughes of Community Board 1.
"We will be imprisoned in our own homes, not for a day, not for a week, not for a month, but for years. And no one, no one should be forced to live that way," said Lower Manhattan resident Vincent Imbrosciano.
Queens Councilman Peter Vallone Jr., the chairman of the Public Safety Committee, said officials need to hear from the public on the matter.
"We're giving people a chance to be heard. The decision was made with no input. Our senators supported the administration's decision without talking to our elected officials here. And they took their positions without talking to the people here," said Vallone. "Now it's time to rectify that."
A spokesman for Mayor Michael Bloomberg told NY1 on Friday that the mayor's office is waiting for a federal decision about the trial's location before speaking out any further about the plan.