Trying To Restore Our Good Name

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This AP story today tells us that…

Plans to close Guantanamo are not sitting well with the Sept. 11 victims’ relatives who sat stunned while two alleged terrorists declared they were proud of their role in the plot.

The U.S. military brought relatives of three Sept. 11 victims to Guantanamo to observe pretrial hearings in the case of five men charged in the plot who could get the death penalty if convicted.

It is a potentially momentous time for the military detention center. President-elect Barack Obama – whose inauguration is Tuesday – has said he will close it, and many observers and some officials here expect him to suspend the war crimes tribunals for accused terrorists and move the trials to the U.S.

The five invited relatives of 9/11 victims oppose such a move.

I realize that I don’t have the right to tell the relatives of those who died on September 11th how they should feel and think and what they should believe, but I would like to merely point out the following.

This story from last month tells us that…

…Two dozen family members of Sept. 11 victims signed a letter Wednesday saying they don’t believe in the fairness of the military trials of five men charged with orchestrating the terrorist attacks, and some suggested their opinions cost them attendance at the proceedings.

While the family members who attended this week’s proceedings at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba expressed support for the tribunals, they also said “that many of us do not believe these military commissions to be fair, in accordance with American values, or capable of achieving the justice that 9/11 family members and all Americans deserve,” according to the letter released by the American Civil Liberties Union.

And from here, we learn that…

In advance of Thursday’s arraignment of alleged Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (pictured) and others at Guantanamo Bay, the relatives of seven victims of the 9/11 attacks are charging that the military tribunals are “tainted by political influence.”

In a June 3 letter to Susan Crawford, the judge who serves as the convening authority over the commissions, the family members claim that the latest example of the system’s “politicization” was a secret invitation to attend the proceedings that allegedly was extended only to Deborah Burlingame, who lost her brother in 9/11 and has supported the Bush administration’s position on the military tribunals.

Burlingame was also a featured speaker at the last Republican National Convention.

Though I don’t know for certain (and, God willing, I never will) I would suspect that, if I were a friend or family member of a victim of a terrorist attack, I would want to see the perpetrators prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law through entirely legal means that respected international treaties, conventions and protocols. To do anything less, in my opinion, would dishonor the memory of the victims (which is how I feel about Dubya’s “kangaroo courts” at GITMO).

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