July 11, 2002
The courthouse media center will open on Aug. 17 and will remain open until the so-called terrorist trials are over.
About 80 members of the media attended a meeting at the Lyceum in Alexandria on July 9, to learn about the rules and regulations that will govern media credentials and behavior during the trials of John Walker Lindh and Zacharias Moussaoui.
"Our primary concern is security," said acting U. S. marshal John Clark.
"Our goal is to provide security for the participants in the trial, courthouse employees, residents who live and work near the courthouse and the members of the media. While the security measures that we are taking are not unprecedented, they are certainly unusual. We are building jersey walls like those that you see on I-95 at construction sites. We will have delta barriers that can be raised and lowered on some public streets. Some streets around the courthouse will be closed, and others will be limited to those who have business in or near the courthouse. This security will be in place for the duration of these trials."
WHILE SOME OF THESE measures are being implemented now, by Aug. 1, the 1.2-acre piece of vacant property that is across from the federal courthouse and adjacent to Carlyle Towers will be prepared to house the media. There will be a maximum of 15 trailers, risers to accommodate standing media and a podium where official press conferences will take place.
"No one who does not have a credential will be given access to this site," said Barbara Gordon, Alexandria's public information officer. "As many of you know, some Alexandria residents wanted these trials to be moved. Having them here was a Justice Department decision, not a local decision. We are doing our best to accommodate the media and hope that this will also minimize the effect on the nearby neighbors."
The trailers will be 10 feet by 48 feet and will accommodate up to four office spaces, including a work area, phone lines and fiber optics. Members of the media can lease space in these trailers for a fee. Once they have been given work space, they can request that private phone lines be installed. The city does not yet know what the cost will be for these spaces at the site. These spaces will be available to members of the media who may not need a trailer work space but who do want standing-room space to cover press conferences.
THE MEDIA CENTER will be accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week. "We are not going to allow any transmission vehicles to be parked at the media center, and we are not going to allow floodlights," said Sarah Miller, Alexandria's public affairs officer. "There will be lights on the site that can be turned off and on as they are needed, but we don't want anyone to use floodlights."
The federal court is in charge of issuing media credentials. Anyone who uses the media center must have a credential. Those who wish to enter the courtroom must have a second level of credentials. "We have limited space in the courtrooms," said Ed Adams, the public information officer for the federal court. "Everyone who receives a credential must undergo a background check by the U.S. marshals and must have their credentials before they will be given access to the media center or the courthouse."
There are 45 spaces available for the media in the courtroom where Lindh's trial will be held and 110 spaces for the media in the courtroom where the Moussaoui trial will be held. Some of the spaces will be allocated for the entirety of the trials, and others will be given as day passes. These will be allocated based on a daily lottery.
The first trial is scheduled to begin on Aug. 26. Alexandrians should expect to see members of the media moving into their new headquarters the week before.