Attorney General Eric Holder didn't consult the Department of Homeland Security before he made plans to try alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York City, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Wednesday.
"We were not consulted before, but we have been part of a process to do cost estimates of what the security costs would be after the decision was made," Napolitano told Senate Homeland Security Chairman Joe Lieberman.
White House officials have said that President Barack Obama is urging Holder to find somewhere else to hold the trial.
Napolitano said she has not been involved in any talks about using an alternative site.
"I have not personally participated in any discussions in that regard," she told the committee.
The DHS budget includes $200 million to provide the security for the trials. But the money has become a political football.
"There is no way that Congress is going to appropriate $200 million to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York City," said Sen. Susan Collins, the panel's top Republican. "It is not going to happen."
Collins and Lieberman are both pushing the department to use the money to restore the budget's $75 million cut in Coast Guard funding.
Napolitano said the money will be needed to handle security surrounding KSM's civilian trial, wherever it is held. "There will be costs associated for those trials," Napolitano said.
Lieberman, an independent, suggested that using military commissions to try the alleged conspirators would be far cheaper. "If the decision was made to take the Khalid Sheikh Mohammed trial out of New York City and for example ... try him in a military commission ... it wouldn't cost $200 million," Lieberman said.
"I think you would do a reassessment," Napolitano said.
Justice officials had promised New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly that the federal government would cover the security costs associated with the trials.
The courthouse in Shanksville, Pa., is emerging as the most likely alternative to New York because it is the only one outside a densely populated urban area. The city of Alexandria, in the Washington metropolitan area, doesn't have the underground tunnels between its jail and its courthouse that New York City's complex has. Suspects have to be driven back and forth to each day's proceedings, snarling traffic and increasing costs.