Michael Bloomberg stuck the knife in the Justice Department’s plan to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, one of the 9/11 plotters, in New York City. Bloomberg’s main concerns appear to be costs and disruption to Lower Manhattan.

The mayor’s reversal was a political blow to the White House’s efforts to resolve a landmark terror case a few blocks from where Al Qaeda hijackers rammed planes into the World Trade Center, a trial that the president saw as an important demonstration of American justice.

Mr. Bloomberg said that a more secure location, like a military base, would be less disruptive and less costly. His remarks echoed growing opposition from Wall Street executives, the real estate industry and neighborhood groups, who have questioned the burdens that such a trial would bring to a heavily trafficked area of the city.

“It’s going to cost an awful lot of money and disturb an awful lot of people,” Mr. Bloomberg said at a news conference in Brooklyn. “My hope is that the attorney general and the president decide to change their mind.“

For what it’s worth, a Justice Department spokesman immediately said that “Our federal courts have a long history of safely and securely handling international terrorism cases,” which has the benefit of being true. And Bill Burton, the deputy press secretary, said today that the President has not changed his opinion, in support of the Attorney General’s decision to try KSM in New York.

But establishment types like Andrea Mitchell and Chuck Todd were almost giddy from this news. Bloomberg’s opposition follows a letter signed by a bipartisan group of Senators asking Holder to abandon the plans. The letter came from the usual suspects: Joe Lieberman, John McCain, Blanche Lincoln, Susan Collins, Lindsay Graham, and Jim Webb. Dianne Feinstein followed that up today by saying that the trial should be moved. But like the Group of Six Wankers, their case was not based on the economic cost to New York, but silly and false claims that somehow KSM would use the trial as a platform for his propaganda.

“I think the administration should listen to the mayor and, candidly, make a change,” she said, referencing New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s urging the administration to move the terror trials out of the city.

“There are other places to try it in the U.S. that are much more remote, much less a target, and much less a squatting ground for propaganda around the world,” Feinstein explained, though she declined to suggest to where else the administration might move the trials.

This is just nonsense. The lack of cameras in the courtroom would be one issue. So would the fact that KSM’s rantings would have little purchase among those not otherwise predisposed to jihadism.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand just appeared on Andrea Mitchell’s show and offered a far more measured take on why Lower Manhattan is problematic for the trial – it’s purely about the economic costs:

Gillibrand: Well, the concern is that, if you do have the terror trials in New York City, that it will be an overwhelming financial burden to the city. So one of the things I’ve been advocating for, is that if they are located in New York City, we have to be re-compensated. We need to make sure that the cost of the massive security operation that will be required will be paid for by the federal government. I’m also worried about the communities and the small businesses that will be affected in that area. Because when you have a security lockdown, it’s going to be very difficult for business people to be able to keep their businesses open and families to get where they need. So that’s the biggest concern.

That’s perfectly valid and legitimate. And at some level, it’s Bloomberg’s position as well. But it’s being used by pants-wetters among the wanker set to justify a ridiculous fantasy of KSM being a superhero who will convert the world to his cause and rampage through the streets with his followers. In addition, the pure politics, of delivering “a blow” to Obama on a national security issue, is completely out of touch with how the criminal justice system ought to be administered. In fact, if anything, Obama should do more in this regard.

…And now Republican Rep. Peter King, from Long Island, is introducing legislation to basically block the KSM trial. Great.

David Dayen

David Dayen