Security for 9/11 Trials in NYC Will Cost More Than $400M

Cost of trying 9/11 terrorists could go as high as $600 million.

January 6, 2010, 6:15 PM

Jan. 6, 2010— -- New York City projects it will cost more than $400 million to provide security if the pre-trial preparation and trial of the suspects in the Sept. 11 terror attacks takes two years, which insiders say is virtually certain, according to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

It will cost another $206 million annually if the trial runs beyond two years, which some fear is possible, the mayor's office estimates.

In a letter to the director of the federal Office of Management and Budget supporting Sen. Charles Schumer's proposal for federal reimbursement, Bloomberg projected a first year security price tag of $216 million and an ongoing annual cost of $206 million.

"The City of New York's financial resources are in short supply," Bloomberg wrote. "Thus securing the trial will require us to pull existing personnel from crime prevention resources from around the city."

The civilian trial of the Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and five other suspects in the attacks that killed nearly 2,750 civilians will take place in a Manhattan federal courthouse just blocks from where the towers stood.

The November decision to prosecute the suspects in a civilian court sparked an intense political debate, with critics suggesting that as enemy combatants the suspects ought be tried by a military tribunal.

Schumer initially projected a cost of more than $100 million, an estimate that officials later called a quick, "back of the envelope" projection.

Schumer and other officials have since raised his estimate and called for a separate line in next year's federal budget to cover the reimbursement of resources spent on securing the streets of lower Manhattan, where City Hall, Police Headquarters, the FBI offices and the courthouse are all just a short walk from each other.

Each of those buildings was evacuated after 9/11, and most city operations were centered on a pier in the Hudson River. The FBI sought separate temporary sanctuary.

In his letter supporting Schumer's proposal, Bloomberg noted that the cost of securing the 2004 Republican National Convention exceeded $50 million. That took place from Aug. 30 through Sept 2, less than one week.

Security is expected to include the closure of many streets around the court house, a very heavy uniformed police presence, snipers, heavy weapons teams, undercover police officers and a massive federal and local intelligence and counter terror operation.

Schumer Presses for Feds to Pay for New York Terror Trial

Schumer released a statement today saying, "Not a nickel of these costs should be borne by New York taxpayers, because terrorism is a federal responsibility and this is a federal trial. I will do everything I can to see that the federal government fully owns up to its responsibility."

In addition to the Manhattan trial, sources familiar with the civilian cases told ABC News in December that another Guantanamo Bay detainee is expected to be tried in New York City's other federal court house in Brooklyn. However the Justice Department will not confirm that possibility.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the other terror suspects are currently being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The other terror suspects expected to be sent to New York include Walid bin Attas, accused of being selected as a hijacker but never made it to the mission; Ramzi Binalshibh who allegedly applied for flight training in Florida, but never entered the U.S; Mustafa Ahmad al-Hawsawi who is accused of helping to fund to the hijackers; and Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, a nephew of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed who is accused of providing support to the hijackers.

Critics of the plan to hold public trials in New York charge that the Obama administration is giving Mohammed and other accused terrorists a pulpit to expound on their jihadist ideology.

The plan has been assailed by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Vice President Dick Cheney, both Republicans. Cheney has said that trying Mohammed in New York will make him "as important or more important than Osama bin Laden."