May 06, 2011

Senator Calls on Feds to Implement new Security Measures at Moynihan U.S. Courthouse

Gillibrand: “New Security Upgrades Critically Needed to Protect High-Profile U.S. Court, New Yorkers”

New York, NY –This week, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) urged a federal agency to move forward with a project to upgrade security at Lower Manhattan’s Daniel Patrick Moynihan U.S. Courthouse. Moving the Courthouse’s in-house security screening outside would help prevent dangerous individuals, attacks, and explosives from reaching the building and protect the area’s employees and visitors. Since March, Senator Gillibrand has urged lawmakers to ensure that federal funds are specifically allocated for the Courthouse’s security screening pavilion. Without federal funding, construction would be halted.

Senator Gillibrand wrote to General Services Administration (GSA) Administrator Martha Johnson, “I am writing to request that the General Services Administration (GSA) moves forward with the planned renovation of the Moynihan Courthouse in New York to construct a new security pavilion.  As you may be aware, the President requested $28 million for this project in his FY2011 budget request. The FY2011 Continuing Resolution provided $280 million to the GSA for repairs and alterations for federal buildings and courthouses.  This allows the GSA to fund projects, such as Moynihan Courthouse, that were included in the President’s request.  The Moynihan Courthouse project, in particular, is of the utmost importance to ensure the security of the federal judiciary and one of the nation’s most high profile federal courthouses.”

As Congress debated over the budget this past March, Senator Gillibrand wrote to Senators Dan Inouye (D-HI), Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and Thad Cochran (R-MS), Ranking Member of the Committee, expressing security funding concerns for one of the most active federal courts in the country and urging Senate budget leaders to ensure that funds for Moynihan Courthouse are included in the FY2011 Continuing Resolution, a Congressional measure that would keep the federal government running through the end of the fiscal year.  The resolution did in fact include a sum of $280 million for repairs of federal buildings and courthouses but did not detail specific projects that the money will go towards. To ensure that funds go towards this project, Senator Gillibrand urged GSA today to designate a portion of money to implement the U.S. Court’s new security measures.

The Moynihan U.S. Courthouse, which serves as the courthouse for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, continues to conduct the nation’s most high-profile trials, including terrorism suspects and individuals involved in international security and organized crime prosecutions. Currently, all security screening of those entering the building is conducted inside the Courthouse, leaving dozens of federal judges and thousands of employees and visitors vulnerable to potential attacks. General Services Administration (GSA) agreed to start construction of a security screening pavilion later this month, which was designed by the building architects and approved by the Court Security Committee.

Senator Gillibrand’s full letter to GSA Administrator Martha Johnson is below:

 

Dear Ms. Johnson,

I am writing to request that the General Services Administration (GSA) moves forward with the planned renovation of the Moynihan Courthouse in New York to construct a new security pavilion.  As you may be aware, the President requested $28 million for this project in his FY2011 budget request.

The FY2011 Continuing Resolution provided $280 million to the GSA for repairs and alterations for federal buildings and courthouses.  This allows the GSA to fund projects, such as Moynihan Courthouse, that were included in the President’s request.  The Moynihan Courthouse project, in particular, is of the utmost importance to ensure the security of the federal judiciary and one of the nation’s most high profile federal courthouses.

The Moynihan Courthouse serves as the courthouse for the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, as well as the temporary courthouse for the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.  The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York is one of the most active federal courts in the country and has presided over major national security cases, such as the trial of Ramzi Yousef, the convicted World Trade Center bomber.  Because of the nature of the matters that come before this court, and its location in lower Manhattan, it is imperative that we take all appropriate measures to ensure the security of the building and its inhabitants.

Thank you for your attention to the important matter of protecting federal properties.  I hope that you will give this request the highest consideration.