Congresswoman wants U.S. to pay up for bombing trial

WASHINGTON — A Michigan congresswoman wants the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to provide federal funds to defray any state and local costs from the trial of a man accused of trying to blow up a Detroit-bound flight on Dec. 25.

U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, a Harrison Township Republican and a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, said struggling state and local governments shouldn’t have to bear the additional costs of security for a civilian court trial for Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

Miller sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano reiterating her belief that Abdulmutallab should not be tried in a criminal court but as an “unlawful enemy combatant” whose case should be heard by a military commission.

But, she said, since U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and the federal government decided to try Abdulmutallab in Detroit, “then the costs to local and state government must be borne by the federal government.” She said neither the City of Detroit nor the State of Michigan — with their own financial problems — are “in a position to absorb the additional security-related costs of holding this trial.”

No estimate of the security costs involved have been released. But Miller noted that up to $200 million may be included in President Barack Obama’s budget to be spent on security for terror trials, specifically that of Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who was to be tried in New York City for his alleged connection to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. That plan is now off, however, and Mohammed may be tried before a military commission.

Clark Stevens, spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, agreed that the $200 million — if it remains in the president’s budget through the congressional appropriations process — is there “to help offset state or local security costs for the trials of terror suspects tried in the U.S.”

He did not specifically mention Abdulmutallab’s pending trial, but presumably the funding could be available to be used in Detroit.

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