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​RUSS  J. ALAN

SATURDAY, JANUARY 30, 2010

Birmingham, Alabama: Proposed New Location of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Trial

Although President Obama's popularity continues to plunge among fellow democrats and the leading New York democrats' objections to the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) in their city has caused the tumble to increase speed, don't expect the President to hand him back to the U.S. Military for tribunal. This president will not, on principle, reverse his decision regarding the closing of Guantanamo Bay nor his belief in the rights of [those who conservatives correctly call "terrorists"] to a trial by jury.

Conservatives have been against the concept all along. Over 120,000 people signed a petition circulated by HumanEvents.com asking Atty. Gen. Eric Holder to move the KSM trial out of New York, but now, political support from prominent Democrats appears to be collapsing on every front for the Obama administration's plan to try KSM and other accused 9/11 co-conspirators in federal court in New York City.

Among the latest leading Democrats to join the growing political wave urging that the trial be moved to a different location is Senate intelligence committee chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who up until now has been a supporter of President Obama's counter-terrorism policies. In a letter sent on January 29th to the White House, Feinstein urged President Obama to reverse his decision to try KSM in New York City, citing objections and concerns regarding the trial that have been expressed lately by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other local officials.

Regarding the headline of this article, it is I who would like at this time to propose the Federal Courthouse in Birmingham, Alabama for the new trial location for KSM and other terrorists.

"Birmingham, Alabama?!" you say. Yes Birmingham, Alabama. They will take him, trust me. Here is a city who will do anything for news and their place on the map. Go ahead. Call them. Call Birmingham's own ABC 33/40 Newsstation. Trust me.

I was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, where I spent the first 18 years of my life. Later in my life I accumulated approximately 12 more total years in or near Birmingham, a grand total of 30 years. During that time, I witnessed a city who is hungry for news, desperately trying to rise above itself, sitting 140 miles west of Atlanta, a city who knows it is better than Birmingham, and Birmingham knows it, and has lived in its shadow since the civil war reconstruction. Atlanta even outdid Birmingham during the civil war --Atlanta actually saw action, but not Birmingham... sure there was Union General James H. Wilson whose troops cannonballed the Tannehill Furnaces 60 miles west, burned down the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, during which he cooled his heels in the lush Arlington Antebellum plantation home in Birmingham's "5 points west" section, but Atlanta got burned down. Nothing like that every happens in Birmingham, and over the years, it's really gotten to them.

When they were debating which city would get a major expansion to their airport, and it came down to Atlanta or Birmingham, Atlanta got the huge international airport expansion. Birmingham to this very moment hasn't gotten over that.

Birmingham will never outlive it's civil rights struggle torn past. They are still fighting the black-white issue. Drive through Birmingham (on your way to Atlanta) and turn on the radio. John Ed Willoughby or Doug Layton or somebody will be talking about the school situation (Alabama either has or is among the states with the lowest achievement test scores). You will be amazed to find, that any conversation on any topic, including whether a snowflake will hit the town or whether or not a similar disaster can happen in Birmingham, or why construction paper can't be purchased in a Jefferson County elementary school, the conversation will always turn to RACE--and I don't mean NASCAR. Many years ago, Atlanta got the biggest NASCAR racetrack, and the fastest one went to Talladega.

Atlanta got the Falcons. Birmingham tried to compete, couldn't get the NFL interested, so they got the World Football League. I will never forget--The Birmingham Americans founded in 1973. In 1975 Birmingham nearly made it when they signed Kenny Stabler, former quarterback for the Oakland Raiders, and several linemen from the Dallas Cowboys, but before the 1976 season when Stabler and the linemen were to start, the club folded. Not enough turnout for the games.

Next they tried the American Football Association. The Alabama Vulcans (named after Vulcan, an iron statue designed by Italian artist Giuseppe Moretti and cast from local iron in 1904 (the only time Birmingham "one-upped" Atlanta, until Atlanta later got Mt. Rushmore's Gutzon Borglum to carve Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson on Stone Mountain)) The Alabama Vulcans lasted one year, 1979.

Next came the Birmingham Stallions, of the US Football League, 1983 -1985, followed by the Birmingham Fire of the World Football League, 1991-1992.

When all else fails in the deep south city of Birmingham, Alabama, there's always the good old Canadian Football League! The Birmingham Barracudas (no barracuda's in Birmingham or Canada) lasted one year, 1995.

Yes, granted, they had a good run with a professional ice hockey team, the Birmingham Bulls in the World Hockey Association from 1976 to 1979 and the Central Hockey League from 1979 to 1996, and in 1994 Michael Jordan made his short-lived baseball debut with the minor league baseball team, the Birmingham Barons.

Trying and trying for some kind of pro ball team to compete with Atlanta, Birmingham contracted with Vince McMahon of World Wrestling Entertainment and NBC, and brought in the Birmingham Thunderbolts, an XFL team. It also lasted one year, 2001.

Next came the Alabama Steeldogs of the Arena Football League which did best of all, a seven year run, 2000-2007.

They haven't had anything for the last three years other than calling their bookies to bet on University of Alabama Crimson Tide (who took their home games from Legion Field in Birmingham back to Tuscaloosa) and Auburn University Tigers football games and University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) sports, but they are now about to launch the Birmingham Blackbirds of the United National Gridiron League, slated for this year.

Every time there is a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico or a snow storm in Missouri, James Spann, the legendary weatherman at ABC 33/40 begins preparing his fellow "Birminghamians" for the worst. "Could it reach Birmingham?! Could we too also [please] be in danger?!" Once I saw one of the downtown Birmingham ABC 33/40 correspondents on TV, positioned on top of their building "atop Red Mountain" (the mountain that has separated the "have's" (those that live "over the mountain") from the "have-nots" who live in the valley which contains the Birmingham Metropolitan) since the 1800's when iron and steel mills first opened there)). James Spann asked the reporter if he saw any snow coming in. The reporter said "James we are infact and indeed experiencing snowfall here in Birmingham! Cameraman, can you get a zoom on my glove? See here on my glove James, and hopefully you folks there at home can see this snowflake on my glove..." A single snowflake fell on the reporter's glove. The next morning, there was no accumulation, but all the Birmingham City and Jefferson County schools were closed and I-59, I-65 and I-20 were shutdown, until they realized it wasn't feasible, because the heavy traffic trying to get the heck out of Birmingham couldn't get to Atlanta, Chattanooga, Mississippi or Florida.

And then there is the tornado envy. Every time a cloud appears in the sky -- forget clouds -- every time someone blows a smoke ring... James Spann calls a tornado watch. Yes they have had a few killer tornadoes, but sorry James, you aren't in Kansas anymore.

Every time a major disaster happened anywhere in the world... ABC 33/40's Pam Huff or FOX6's Janet Hall or some news anchor would say, and you could bet money that they would, "Could [whatever it was] happen in BIRMINGHAM?!"

When two jet airliners hit the two World Trade Center towers in New York City on September 11, 2001--you guessed it, "Could airplanes crash into the Harbert Plaza or the Southtrust Tower in Birmingham?!" Uh, no, sorry.

Despite their hopes, no matter how terrible, no, it won't happen in Birmingham.

They did have the Natalie Holloway missing in ARUBA story for a good while and I must say, my heart has continually grieved for the Twitty's; but it was another sad day for "Birminghamians" when they lost Juran Vandersloot to Peru.

I was not there two weeks ago, but I would bet, that when the magnitude 7 earthquake hit Haiti, scattering folks all over the city of Port-au-Prince, somebody on TV in Birmingham said "Could an earthquake happen in Birmingham?!"   NOPE.

Birmingham's former mayer, Larry Langford, who also had been a Birmingham TV news anchorman in the 1970's and who was elected to be the mayor of nearby Fairfield, Alabama in 1988 and managed to bring a "theme park" named "Visionland" (probably had something to do with Civil Rights), (later named Alabama Adventure) to the city, finally to compete with Atlanta's Six Flags over Georgia, was recently found guilty of 60 federal felony charges of bribery, fraud, money laundering, conspiracy, and filing false tax returns (I think they were just mad because Langford was against the proposed dome football stadium that they believed would bring visitors from Atlanta (keep dreaming). While this news has been good for Birmingham by ranking the city among other larger, more notorious cities, Birmingham needs more negative publicity still.

What Birmingham needs now is something BIG. President O'bama, please call Birmingham's new Mayor, William Bell and Birmingham's ABC 33/40 and FOX6 News, and I promise you, you will have your change of venue for the Khalid Sheikh Mohammed trial.

The news anchors have probably already been asking their viewers the rhetorical question, "Can a terrorist be tried in Birmingham?!" Yes Birmingham, this time, it can happen.

...but please, please, please President Obama, don't let Atlanta get this one too.