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A Billion-Dollar Blunder

James Q. Wilson (a COMMENTARY contributor) reminds us of what the New York trial of KSM entails:

To protect the courthouse, the New York Police Department will establish a rigid inner circle bounded by Worth, Madison, Pearl and Centre streets. Vehicles entering the perimeter will be thoroughly screened and searched.

This secure perimeter will encompass several city blocks. Inside it will be a federal courthouse, the city’s police headquarters, a New York State Supreme Court building, other governmental buildings and St. Andrews Roman Catholic Church. Also inside the cordon will be Chatham Towers, two 25-story residential buildings with hundreds of residents and a public parking garage.

This means that everyone who wants to get to the city’s police headquarters, a court building or their homes in Chatham Towers will face road blocks, car searches, radiation monitors and pedestrian checks.

The cost of added personnel deployed year after year as the trial plays out is daunting. We’re talking over $200M per year. Wilson adds: “If the five defendants are found guilty, there will probably be an appeal that will be heard in a courthouse inside the secure area, which would require more months of stepped up security. And these figures do not count what the U.S. marshals, the FBI and other agencies will spend on activities related to the trial.”

You can understand that New York taxpayers might not want to get stuck with the tab. But neither should any American taxpayer. The solution, as Wilson points out, is simple: send KSM and his cohorts back to the military tribunal, where they can plead guilty or not and be dealt with in the safe confines of a military facility.

Cost is not the primary reason to oppose a civilian KSM trial, but neither is it insignificant. We’re talking about a tab approaching a billion dollars if a multiyear trial and subsequent appeal unfolds. It is yet another instance in which liberal elites, with an ideological bent toward expanding constitutional protections beyond any historical or legal necessity, seek to impose burdens on ordinary Americans. In this case, the burdens involve both their safety and their wallets.



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