Friday, January 29, 2010

Ford Statement on Proposed New York City Terror Trial

The scheduled trial for the 9/11 conspirators in New York City should be moved. I have held this opinion since the White House and Justice Department announced its decision to hold the trial in New York City almost two months ago. For two reasons, I oppose a trial in New York.

Before stating those reasons, I want to applaud and align myself with both Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly for their courage and honesty on this issue. Their question and point - New York City can handle this trial but why impose this cost and disruptiveness on the city - has yet to generate a convincing answer.

First, why make us more of a target in New York than we already are. We face enough security challenges in New York as is, and to place this additional bullseye on us is unnecessary and dangerous.

Second, Bloomberg and Kelly are right, it costs too much. The estimated $215 million annually it would cost to hold the trial in New York City smacks of wasteful spending during a time of painful city and state budget cutbacks, a record federal deficit and a continued bearish economy for big parts of New York. The $200 million being set aside federally to pay for the trial could surely be used for noble purposes, like cutting business taxes for New York small businesses, paying for health care for sick 9/11 first responders, enabling homeowners to renegotiate mortgages or putting people back to work. Further, the disruptive impact a trial would have on Lower Manhattan would certainly curtail business activity and potentially lower real estate prices in the area. This can and should be avoided.

I'm pleased that the White House is reconsidering this decision, and would hope serious consideration is given to holding the trial in a military tribunal or on a military base where the trial would be far less costly and disruptive.