The Obama administration’s decision to try admitted terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in federal court in New York “dramatically” increases danger to New Yorkers, former FBI official James Kallstrom tells Newsmax.
New York already was the No. 1 target for terrorists, says Kallstrom, who was assistant FBI director in New York and became Homeland Security director for the state after leaving the bureau.
“Without, question it adds dramatically to the possibility New York will be attacked, whether by al-Qaida or lone wolves or by self-taught radicals who are looking at the Wahabi sect and radicalizing themselves. New York is where press coverage is going to be the greatest. You just take another Broadway theater and make it ten times bigger. That is the stage we’ve handed them.”
The trials could last up to five years, says Kallstrom, who now is on FBI Director Robert Mueller’s advisory board on science and technology.
“There’ll be closed subway stations,” he says. “There’s going to be tremendous, tremendous inconvenience, cost, and risk. Do I have a lot of faith in the lawyers of the Southern District? Absolutely. I spent almost three decades with them, and they’re the best. But why these folks have constitutional rights as citizens or resident aliens of this country is beyond me. We’ve never brought a battlefield combatant into our civilian judicial system. I have not heard any explanation that passes the laugh test, quite frankly.”
Although New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly have expressed confidence they can handle the security, “The New York City Police Department cannot stop events that are staging outside of New York City,” Kallstrom says. “We don’t search every truck that comes across the George Washington Bridge. The whole notion that New York can be protected from an attack is more bravado than common sense.”
Significantly, Mueller, the official most responsible for stopping terrorist attacks, has not expressed his opinion publicly on the decision. Nor has Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. explained why, as outlined in the Newsmax article, Obama Is Leaving America Unprotected, the administration kills foreign terrorists such as Mohammed on sight with Predator drone aircraft but thinks that, when such terrorists are captured, they should be afforded the same rights as American citizens.
Calling the decision to try terrorists in federal court “nonsensical,” Kallstrom notes that Congress created the military tribunal structure in accordance with a Supreme Court decision.
“They’re planning on bringing numerous other people before the military tribunals, so the explanation of why you’d bring these five to the Southern District of New York and put them in the civil system just defies logic,” Kallstrom says.
In Kallstrom’s view, the decision represents a return to pre-911 thinking, when the government thought it could handle the terrorist threat with a law enforcement approach. That only led to the 9/11 attacks, Kallstrom says.
“I don’t see where it makes any sense on any level,” Kallstrom says. “Inconvenience the entire city of New York, spend hundreds of millions of dollars, take the chance of all the disclosure, and run government people, who have done nothing but try to protect this country, through the hot coals, and give lawyers from the National Lawyers Guild who are going to defend this guy an opportunity to raise holy hell on discovery, why would you do that? The only thing I can think of is you want some sort of theater.”