President Barack Obama has not ruled out putting the suspected mastermind of the September 11 attacks on trial in New York City, but said he was taking into account objections of the city's mayor and police commissioner.
The Obama administration has come under strong criticism from Republican lawmakers and some residents and business owners in lower Manhattan for a decision by the Justice Department to try confessed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other suspects in civilian court.
Asked on Sunday in an interview with CBS News whether the administration still planned to hold the trial in New York City, Obama said, "I have not ruled it out."
"But I think it's important for us to take into account the practical, logistical issues involved," he added.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg originally said he supported the plan, but when costs for security reached an estimated $1billion, he said holding the trials elsewhere -- like a military base -- would make more sense. On Monday, Bloomberg said he was "skeptical" the federal government could come up with the money needed. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said he was never briefed by the Justice Department about its plans to stage the trials in lower Manhattan.
"If you've got a city that is saying 'no' and a police department that's saying 'no' and a mayor that's saying 'no,' that makes it difficult," President Obama said.
He also defended his decision to hold the trials in federal court just blocks from where the Twin Towers fell, noting that the administration of former President George Bush had also put terror suspects on trial in civilian court.
"They prosecuted 190 folks in these Article III courts, got convictions and those folks are in maximum security prisons right now. And there have been no escapes," Obama said. "And it is a virtue of our system we should be proud of."
Later Sunday, Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York responded: "Based on the security, logistical and cost concerns raised by the mayor and the police commissioner, it is not feasible to have the trials in New York. The administration should realize that and move on."