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Changing Their Minds

January 29, 2010

Who saw this coming?

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.

Not that it really matters though, because the Administration still wants to give a civilian trial to an enemy combatant:

The order to consider new venues does not change the White House’s position that Mohammed should be tried in civilian court.

“President Obama is still committed to trying Mohammed and four other terrorist detainees in federal court,” spokesman Bill Burton said Thursday.

“He agrees with the attorney general’s opinion that . . . he and others can be litigated successfully and securely in the United States of America, just like others have,” Burton said.

It’s not whether he can be litigated, it’s whether he should, ya-di-ya-di-ya we’ve heard this before.  Anyway, some of us aren’t surprised by the backlash because we read the news.  Others, not so much:

But another insider told the Daily News that Justice officials have been caught off guard by the fiery opposition in New York.

“They’re in a tizzy at Justice over Bloomberg,” a federal law enforcement official said. “It’s like a half-baked soufflé – the plan is collapsing.”

Really?  They really thought people would just be fine and dandy with this?  This makes me think that the President’s point about how “[he] didn’t take on health care because it was good politics” is phooey.  If he didn’t realize that the people of New York would be pissed off about bringing the terrorist who contributed in the murder of 3,000 innocents back to ground zero, undermining security by stretching NYC’s police force thin, and failing to reimburse businesses for lost revenue during what’s sure to be a chaotic trial, maybe he’s even more out-of-touch with public opinion than we thought he was.  Hence the “people were upset with health-care reform because I didn’t explain it clearly enough” meme.  No, you did think health care was good politics, and you explained reform so thoroughly that it became intensely unpopular with a majority of the country.  Apparently it takes a year’s worth of bitching and moaning to get our President to realize what exactly public opinion is.  Not to suggest that public opinion always dictates what’s best for the country, but for a guy who’s supposed to be so tuned in, it’s becomes increasingly clear that he’s pretty tuned out.

In related news, the mayor of Newburgh, NY, sees the trials as a stimulus package:

Upstate Newburgh, whose Stewart Air National Guard Base has been mentioned as a potential location, is begging for the trials, and would like to hold them in a new state courthouse that the city is struggling ot pay for.

“If they want to have it here, we’ve got the state-of-the-art courthouse,” Mayor Nicholas Valentine — a Republican — told radio host Curtis Sliwa this morning. “I’ll offer it to them, but there’s got to be money attached.”

He cited the figure of $200 million floated by New York City officials.

“Two hundred million and something dollars to Newburgh would completely change this city around. It would double my police force. It would pay off my debt,” Valentine said. “Maybe it’s just crazy enough that we could pull something like this off.”

At least he realizes that it’s crazy.

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