The Rotunda Murals at the Manhattan Supreme Court Building

Oh this is rich. After New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly got the residents and businesses surrounding the federal courthouse all ginned up with fear of holding the terrorism trial of Kalid Sheik Mohammed in NYC federal court, he has now brought a case to be tried in a New York state courthouse right next door.

After “Commissioner Kelly’s estimate that to make Lower Manhattan safe during the federal trial of the 9/11 suspects, it would cost $200 million a year. Community Board 1 was the first to question the collective wisdom of the U.S. Justice Department, the mayor, and the governor.” Julie Menin, the chair of Community Board 1 said, “And so we felt, certainly knew, when Ray Kelly got up there and said there will be 2,000 security check points in Lower Manhattan it did not take imagination for us to understand what that really meant.”

As I have pointed out before, lower Manhattan in a post 9-11 world is a hardened target. The new federal courthouse has been built to withstand attacks, and it is connected to the jail and US Attorney’s Office by hidden tunnels and underground garages that have hidden remote exits—think of the batcave.

Further, since 9/11, the major buildings downtown have been bomb hardened and largely brought up to the revised embassy construction standards and the roadways have a barricade system that can be deployed on virtually no notice. The NYPD and the U.S. Marshals Service have not exactly been sitting on their hands training and .

But Ray Kelly warned the local residents of how dangerous and inconvenient it would be to protect lower Manhattan when the US was going to be footing the bill. This led to Mayor Bloomberg and Sen. Schumer to reverse their original approval for trying KSM in NY. So, Eric Holder was overruled and KSM will not be tried here, because it’s too dangerous.

Now Ray Kelly wants to be FBI Director. It looked like he was being passed over because of his advanced age. So what has he done? Instead of cooperating with the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), he had the New York Police do a solo investigation and arrest two would-be terrorists. In the course of the investigation, one of the NYPD members of the JTTF was ordered, but refused to, take a file from the FBI without authorization. The terrorist’s trial will be held in NYS Supreme Court, New York County. This is the height of hypocrisy for Kelly, though not for Manhattan DA Cy Vance who is rightly demonstrating what Eric Holder tried to establish, that NYC is the correct venue for trials of terrorists who want to blow up New York.

What makes this particularly galling is that, unlike the federal courthouses which are up armored and have sophisticated alarm, fire suppression and ventilation systems; this trial –Kelly’s baby- will be held in the antique NYS courthouse.

Now, I love that courthouse. It is beautiful. It has a wonderful rotunda with frescoes depicting the rule of law throughout the ages. It is a veritable cathedral to the worship of law. It is also a rabbit warren of twisting back staircases and hidden offices and corridors that don’t go where you think they are going to go. It has outdated fire suppression and ventilation systems. It has inadequate fire egress. It has not been up-armored other than by the installation of a couple of bollards by the backdoor and metal detectors at the front and back entrances. The only in-street barricades protecting that building are on the side where it shares a road with the federal courthouse. If there were a fire or a poison gas attack in that courthouse it could be a big problem.

Did I mention that the state courthouse is right next door to the federal courthouse? So, the very same people in Community Board 1 who were so terrified when the KSM trial was going to be held in the modern hardened federal courthouse should be cool with this terror trial being held in the antiquated and vulnerable state courthouse? And how will they be less inconvenienced by the 2,000 checkpoints this time?

And this time the feds won’t be paying the security bill, so where’s the money going to come from to give Kelly the $200 million per year he said he needed for security during the pre-trial and trial phase?

Either he was lying about the KSM trial then, or he is lying and minimizing the difficulties now. If it was too dangerous, expensive and inconvenient to have a terror trial in a facility built to be strong and safe enough to do just that, how is it less dangerous, expensive and inconvenient to hold a terror trial right next door in a building built for beauty and inspiration rather than strength and security?