Think what you get for a condo in this building... (photo: wallyg)

Think what you get for a condo in this building... (photo: wallyg)

I remember the President closing his State of the Union address with the phrase “I won’t quit.” I replied, “So don’t.”

On at least one level, he is quitting, or at least relenting:

The White House ordered the Justice Department Thursday night to consider other places to try the 9/11 terror suspects after a wave of opposition to holding the trial in lower Manhattan.

The dramatic turnabout came hours after Mayor Bloomberg said he would “prefer that they did it elsewhere” and then spoke to Attorney General Eric Holder.

“It would be an inconvenience at the least, and probably that’s too mild a word for people that live in the neighborhood and businesses in the neighborhood,” Bloomberg told reporters.

“There are places that would be less expensive for the taxpayers and less disruptive for New York City.”

The financial impact is a somewhat legitimate argument, but it’s not usually taken into account when determining where to site a criminal trial. New York happens to be the scene of the crime. There were two others, at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, PA, and so you could presumably hold the trial at or near one of those locations. But there’s an opportunity, says Jeralyn Merritt, to move it virtually anywhere, because the offenses of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the others began outside the country.

Since the offenses were begun outside the U.S. and the defendants have not been arrested or brought before a U.S. court, is venue proper in whatever district the U.S. flies them to and officially arrests them in? Or should it be in the District of Colombia?

Seems to me the charges should be brought in one of the districts where the offense — or at least an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy — was committed. That’s probably a lot of districts, giving the Government pretty free reign.

9/11 plotters were located in multiple locations throughout the country.

It’s not exactly a sign of strength that Bloomberg’s objections were enough to disrupt plans that DoJ had for months. Needless to say, the newly forthright post-SOTU Presidency isn’t off to such a bold start.

I remember the President closing his State of the Union address with the phrase “I won’t quit.” I replied, “So don’t.”

On at least one level, he is quitting, or at least relenting:

The White House ordered the Justice Department Thursday night to consider other places to try the 9/11 terror suspects after a wave of opposition to holding the trial in lower Manhattan.

The dramatic turnabout came hours after Mayor Bloomberg said he would “prefer that they did it elsewhere” and then spoke to Attorney General Eric Holder.

“It would be an inconvenience at the least, and probably that’s too mild a word for people that live in the neighborhood and businesses in the neighborhood,” Bloomberg told reporters.

“There are places that would be less expensive for the taxpayers and less disruptive for New York City.”

The financial impact is a somewhat legitimate argument, but it’s not usually taken into account when determining where to site a criminal trial. New York happens to be the scene of the crime. There were two others, at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, PA, and so you could presumably hold the trial at or near one of those locations. But there’s an opportunity, says Jeralyn Merritt, to move it virtually anywhere, because the offenses of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the others began outside the country.

Since the offenses were begun outside the U.S. and the defendants have not been arrested or brought before a U.S. court, is venue proper in whatever district the U.S. flies them to and officially arrests them in? Or should it be in the District of Colombia?

Seems to me the charges should be brought in one of the districts where the offense — or at least an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy — was committed. That’s probably a lot of districts, giving the Government pretty free reign.

9/11 plotters were located in multiple locations throughout the country.

It’s not exactly a sign of strength that Bloomberg’s objections were enough to disrupt plans that DoJ had for months. Needless to say, the newly forthright post-SOTU Presidency isn’t off to such a bold start.

UPDATE: The White House is pushing back on the multiple news reports, saying they were just putting in place contingency plans. Justice Department officials denied there was an order to move the trial, though they are “considering other sites” because of the expense.

Incidentally, nowhere in any of these articles does it say that the White House is ordering a change in the type of trial, from a criminal trial to a military commission, for example. This is just about the venue. It’s annoying that they’d shift course on NYC, but moving it to a military commission would be a true capitulation. This is quite a bit less than that.

David Dayen

David Dayen