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Silver’s Take on Terror Trials

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Earlier today we linked to a Weekly Standard piece suggesting State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was critical of Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to hold the upcoming 9/11 terror trial in Lower Manhattan. Via the Politico’s Ben Smith, a clarification.

Silver’s support for the trials quite clear. “The Attorney General’s decision to try these men in civilian courts is a victory for the constitution and the rule of law,” Silver says in the statement. “While I support the Attorney General’s decision and have no doubt our justice system and our police department will ensure a secure trial, as the Assembly member representing Lower Manhattan, including both the World Trade Center site and the federal courthouse and detention center where the 9/11 terrorist trial will take place, I have expressed my serious concerns about the transportation and access issues that may arise from a lengthy trial and the resulting impacts on residents and small businesses in the area.” Silver’s views haven’t been crystal clear to this point, and he wrote a letter to city and federal officials expressing his concerns, but a spokesman sends over a statement making Silver cited his letter to the Secretary of Homeland Security and Police Commissioner requesting a meeting “to ensure that all necessary steps are taken to mitigate any negative impacts brought about by the trial,” and added that he’s “optimistic that the Secretary and the Commissioner will work to ensure our community’s ongoing revitalization and recovery.” Which is to say that Silver may wring some federal assistance for his district out of the trials, but that — quite helpfully to the White House — no senior New York official seems to want to lead the charge against the trial.

Here’s Silver’s letter to Homeland Security Secretary Nepolitano and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly:

December 7, 2009

Secretary Janet Napolitano
U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Department of Homeland Security

Washington, DC 20528

Commissioner Ray Kelly
New York City Police Department
One Police Plaza
New York, NY 10007

Dear Secretary Napolitano and Commissioner Kelly:

As the Assemblyman representing Lower Manhattan, including both the
World Trade Center site and the federal courthouse and detention center
where the 9/11 terrorist trial will take place, I am writing to request
a meeting to discuss the potential impact of the trial on local
residents and businesses and to identify ways that we could mitigate
those impacts.

I am confident that the New York City Police Department will ensure the
safety of our community; however, I am deeply concerned with the
transportation and access issues that may arise from the trials being
held in Lower Manhattan.

As you know, eight years following the tragic events of 9/11, signs of
the physical, emotional and economic damage to our community are still
quite evident. Rising insurance costs, street closures, and the
economic downturn which hit Wall Street and Lower Manhattan
particularly hard, have forced many of our small businesses to close.

The very basic tasks of taking our children to school, delivering
groceries, or being picked up by a taxi is already difficult for
residents with so many streets closed or restricted due to both
security concerns and on-going infrastructure and street repairs. In
particular, the continued closure of Park Row makes travel and access
to and from Chinatown much more difficult and has hurt many local

Day to day life for Lower Manhattan residents and businesses is
challenging due to these on-going conditions and all steps must be
taken to mitigate additional impacts during what could be a lengthy
trial of the accused 9/11 terrorists.

Lower Manhattan has made remarkable strides towards a full recovery,
and I look forward to working with you to ensure that its
revitalization continues.

Very Truly Yours,

Member of Assembly

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