With the apparent decision by the Obama administration to throw in the towel on a New York trial for KSM, speculation has turned to what other locales might take on the burden of a public trial for the world’s most notorious jihadist. One suggestion has been Alexandria, Virginia, where the 2006 death-penalty trial of Zacarias Moussaoui was held. However, Gov. Bob McDonnell is having none of that. His spokesman, Tucker Martin, had this to say on the subject when I inquired as to the possibility of a trial in the federal court in Alexandria:
The governor is adamantly opposed to that trial taking place in Virginia. He has been unequivocal in his opposition to any trials of Guantanamo Bay detainees taking place in the Commonwealth. He will continue to make his strong opposition clear, and will work with Virginia’s congressional delegation to prevent any Guantanamo Bay detainees from setting foot in Virginia.
Martin referred me to McDonnell’s multiple statements on the topic during the campaign last year when, at one time, Virginia Congressman James Moran evidenced enthusiasm about hosting Guantanamo trials and accepting released detainees in his district. Back in May of 2009, when rumors circulated that the Uighurs might be coming to Virginia, McDonnell declared support for the “Keep Terrorists Out of America Act,” which would have required the president to certify that the detainee did not pose a security risk and to inform Congress as to why a specific location had been chosen. Again in August, then candidate McDonnell released a statement declaring:
I strongly oppose the trials of any Guantanamo Bay detainees being conducted in Alexandria, or anywhere in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The federal courthouse in Alexandria is located just feet from hotels, shops and apartment buildings. In 2006 the Alexandria trial of terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui demonstrated firsthand the tremendous burden such events place on the community.
The bottom line: if the Obami intend to relocate the KSM trial to Virginia, they will get quite a fight from the governor and, I suspect, other elected officials. And frankly, any governor of another state who takes a less adamant stance on the topic is likely to encounter a storm of criticism.
Perhaps it is time to return KSM and his associates to a secure, offshore location where he can be tried before a military tribunal with no risk or further financial burden on the American people. We have one built specifically for that purpose: Guantanamo Bay.