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New York Embraces Super Bowl in 2014, But Would City Be Terror Target?

3 years ago
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It's been generally understood in the United States since before there were any united states that New York is the economic wheelhouse of the nation and perhaps, the world. It's always been all about those Benjamins, especially in Manhattan. And now we can add a new chapter to the city's cutthroat reputation: selling out for the fun of a football game after copping out on the responsibility of a terror trial.
Lost in the uproar over the National Football League's announcement early this week that the 2014 Super Bowl will be played in East Rutherford, N.J. -- just on the other side of the Lincoln Tunnel from Manhattan -- was the cynical political turnaround it marked over the issue of "inviting" terror targets to the area. The choice that New York-New Jersey has just made -- with hardly any meaningful public discussion of what it means to the region -- says a lot about its willingness to embrace the profitable at the expense of the noble.
New Yorkers celebrate getting Super Bowl in 2014A Super Bowl just across the Hudson will bring perhaps hundreds of thousands of additional people into the New York metro area. With the game held on a Sunday evening, many of them will be in and around Manhattan for part of that weekend and perhaps longer. Surely every reasonable national security expert would agree that such an event would generate additional attention on the part of our enemies who still seek to do us harm, and would potentially create a "rich" target for a terror attack. Indeed, Hollywood itself already has contemplated terrorism at a Super Bowl in the otherwise forgettable 1970s movie, "Black Sunday."
On the other hand, a trial at Foley Square in Lower Manhattan for al Qaeda mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed would bring only a 1,000 or so journalists and perhaps an occasional demonstration or two. The untelevised trial would have been held in a courtroom in a secure federal courthouse in an even more secure, cordoned-off area downtown. The defendant, who already has confessed publicly to his crime and has shown no propensity for violence since he was water-boarded in 2003, would be secured by our most efficient federal marshals. Al Qaeda bandits have successfully been put on trial before in New York -- during the African Embassy bombing trials. And so have henchmen around the country since the terror attacks of September 11, 2001.
Yet look how differently these two events were treated by local officials. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the tabloids, the talk shows, the cable channels, and faceless state bureaucrats in New Jersey and New York -- they all rubbed their budget-impoverished hands with glee this past week and rushed to embrace the idea of inviting a few hundred thousand partying people into the tri-state area for a football game. There was precious little talk of the increased terror threat a Super Bowl just a few miles from Ground Zero would necessarily create. There was even less talk of the price of security for such an event. Four days after the announcement, a Google search with the words "New York" and "Super bowl" and "terror threat" did not match any documents.
When, on the other hand, a federal civilian trial for Mohammed was pitched by Attorney General Eric Holder back in November, these very same tribunes, in and out of office, quickly rushed to adopt a "not-In-my-back-yard" approach to bringing justice to this man. After initially agreeing to host the trial, these rootless leaders copped out. As Jane Mayer reported in The New Yorker:

The death blow was struck by New York's mayor, Michael Bloomberg, who had previously pledged his support to Holder. On Jan. 27th, Bloomberg distanced himself from the Justice Department, saying that a trial in New York would be too expensive. For months, companies with downtown real-estate interests had been lobbying to stop the trial. Raymond Kelly, the commissioner of the New York Police Department, had fortified their arguments by providing upwardly spiralling estimates of the costs, which the federal government had promised to cover. In a matter of weeks, in what an Obama Administration official called a "classic City Hall jam job," the police department's projection of the trial costs went from a few hundred million dollars to a billion dollars.

H
ow can the people responsible for the public safety of New York and New Jersey countenance the luxury of a Super Bowl -- and the peril it surely brings -- without being willing to endure the responsibility of judging Mohammed? There is a reason that the federal rules of procedure require prosecutors to bring criminal cases in the districts where the crimes have occurred. Most jurisdictions fight like hellcats to keep criminal trials close to where most of the victims are. Usually it's the defendant who seeks a venue change and not the bereaved government or townspeople.
Both the Super Bowl and a Mohammed trial would increase New York's terror threat matrix, I suppose. But how much higher can it really go? And it's true that a terror trial would last months while the Super Bowl festivities these days are actually about two weeks long. Is traffic congestion in Lower Manhattan really enough of a reason to refuse to accept both the burden and the privilege of seeing Mohammed tried, convicted and sentenced?
Alas, the Super Bowl's date with New York teaches us that it's not really about always protecting the city better from terror attacks. If it were all about security, municipal leaders in good conscience never would have tried to host such an international event. It's about money. Some experts predict the 2014 Super Bowl will bring hundreds of millions of dollars to the tri-state area. Even though the federal government promised to pay the costs of a Mohammed trial there, New Yorkers couldn't figure out how to make a profit off a federal terror trial. But everyone knows how to make money off a Super Bowl, right?

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36 Comments

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jerrel830

people need to stop being afarid and act like adults. too much of ooh the boogie going to get me going on

June 01 2010 at 5:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jerrel830

the game is not in new york !!! read a map people

June 01 2010 at 5:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
snrar

New York is and will always be a prime target , Will someone please tell the President that .

May 30 2010 at 2:35 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
lwmfrank@yahoo.com

Seems reasonable, without any "name-calling", that this event is different from a "terrorist trial", and is a srtrictly "economic" venture.

Thus New Yok City/New York State/New Jersey would have no right to American tax-payer dollars to handle, or even "help with" security. Hopefully, the Federal government could be retained with appropriate fee, payable to the U.S. Treasury, to "consult", and/or to give whatever amount of physical assistance is wanted, and that the parties contract for.

May 30 2010 at 1:28 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
ibpat711

The Super Bowl will NOT BE IN NEW YORK !!!!!

May 30 2010 at 12:12 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
slvrdrgnwngz

How many football, hockey, baseball and basketball games are played in and around NYC and in the Meadowlands? That comes to how many opportunities for some group to use at least one of those games as a terrorist attack? What about Times Square, The Empire State Bldg & other tourise attractions? Wall Street? Why single out the 2014 Super Bowl? Because you're an idiot. The tunnels and bridges are swamped every day. They can pick any day of the week, any holiday, any sporting event. Remember, a normal day was picked to fly into the World Trade Center.

May 30 2010 at 11:53 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to slvrdrgnwngz's comment
hairhofla

Given all that is true...BUT how many events draw so much national and international attention? Certainly more so than a mere terrorist trial

May 30 2010 at 2:13 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
dstack9781

What the hell are New Yorkers getting so wild about? The 2014 Super Bowl is being held in New Jersey where both "NY" teams play! And it will be NJ taxpayers who will wind up fronting the bills too, unless those excited New Yorkers kick in some cash of course.

May 30 2010 at 11:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jerrel830

TOO BAD THE GAME IS NOT IN NYC ITS IN JERSEY

May 30 2010 at 11:37 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
atlasusa

Fascinating analysis. In many ways, it says so much. While money makes the world go around and the economic benefits that Superbowl brings to the area, especially during a quiet time of year, what about the importance of the statement about our zero tolerance to be intimidated by terrorists, by holding the trial at the courthouse in lower Manhattan? We live in a free, capitalist society- where we can and should promote both protecting our freedom and way of life.

May 30 2010 at 9:36 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Tommy

Where did you get this writer? Did Dr. Suess have layoffs? NYC will ALWAYS be a target, Super Bowl or not. You can only put 80,000 people in the stadium during the Super Bowl, which the Jets and Giants do EVERY game. So if these Muslim animals wanna create havoc, they can do it any week.

May 30 2010 at 8:24 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Tommy's comment
Rosemary

Could not have said it better

May 30 2010 at 11:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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