The Obama administration is proposing a $200 million fund to help pay for security costs in cities hosting the trials of accused terrorists such as Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
A congressional aide familiar with the plan says the money will be included in the president's budget being released Monday. The aide spoke on condition of anonymity because the spending blueprint hasn't been announced.
The administration said late last year the trials would take place in federal court in lower Manhattan, near where the World Trade Center once stood. But there's growing opposition from the city, and it now seems likely that the White House will decide to hold the trial elsewhere.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has put the cost of tighter security at $216 million just for the first year after Mohammed and the others were to arrive from the U.S. military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. New York City officials had warned of massive gridlock in lower Manhattan due to the extraordinary security steps that would have been required to host the trial.
The money for terrorist trials is just one piece of a $3.7 trillion or so budget plan for 2011 to be released Monday.
Options for alternative trial sites include the northern Virginia city of Alexandria, which hosted the 2006 sentencing trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, who pled guilty to helping plan the 9/11 attacks.
Congress has yet to provide the $100 million sought by the Pentagon to implement Obama's request to shutter the Guantanamo facility and has imposed restrictions on tranferring its detainees into the U.S. — except to stand trial.
Minority Republicans have led the opposition to hosting Guantanamo detainee trials in the U.S.
But other states such as Illinois welcome the detainees since holding them is a source of federally-funded jobs. Democrats controlling the state government want to sell a prison in the rural northwest portion of the state to the federal government to house Guantanamo detainees.
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