Families of 9/11 Firefighters want a meeting with Barack Obama



Families of 9/11 firefighters want Barack Obama meeting

Urge President to reverse his decision to suspend the trial of five detainees in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The Associated Press

8:41 PM EST, January 25, 2009


Three families of firefighters killed at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 want to meet with President Barack Obama to urge him to reverse his decision to suspend the trial of five detainees in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, who admit roles in the terror attacks.

In a meeting with reporters at their attorney’s office on Sunday, the families deplored what they called “delays and confusion” in the former Bush administration’s effort to prosecute suspects in the 2001 attacks, which killed about 3,000 people, saying they want “a firm commitment” that the same process won’t continue under Obama.

“Seven and a half years is a very long time for 3,000 families to wait,” said Maureen Santora, whose son was among the 343 firefighters killed when the twin towers collapsed after being struck by two hijacked jetliners.

Nearly 2,800 people were killed at the World Trade Center, another 184 when a third hijacked jetliner struck the Pentagon and 40 when a fourth plane crashed in a field near Shanksville, Pa. The totals don’t include the 19 hijackers.

Along with Santora and her husband, Al Santora, a retired deputy fire chief, the delegation included retired deputy chief Jim Riches and his wife, Rita Riches, whose son was killed on Sept. 11, and Sally Regenhard, whose son also perished at the trade center.

The families’ position was spelled out in a brief letter mailed Sunday to Obama, requesting a meeting “at your earliest convenience.” There was no immediate comment from the White House on Sunday.

Obama, in his first week in office, ordered the Guantanamo Bay prison closed within a year, CIA secret prisons shuttered and abusive interrogations ended.

The families’ attorney, Norman Siegel, former director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, noted that Obama, along with announcing his intention to close the prison in eastern Cuba, declared a 120-day cooling-off period to study how to proceed with trials of those suspected of taking part in terrorist acts against the United States.

Siegel said the administration of former President George W. Bush had “screwed up every possible option” for swift and effective prosecution of the Sept. 11 terrorists in part by creating a Military Commission to try the suspects that subsequently was ruled unconstitutional in some respects by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The options bypassed by the Bush White House, Siegel said, included defining the suspects as prisoners of war, which would make them subject to the Geneva treaties; submitting the cases to an international court of justice; and trying them in New York federal court, which has extensive experience with previous terrorism cases including the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center.

“So now Obama’s people, who I have confidence in, should look at this stuff, make some hard decisions and move judiciously,” he said. “These people (the victims’ families) should be involved in this. It’s a good test of the Obama rhetoric of listening to the people.” From a legal standpoint, the families — some 50 in all, according to those present on Sunday — have “standing and moral credibility” to be part of the proceedings, Siegel said.

“These 9/11 families can’t understand why it has taken so long in cases where ample evidence exists,” he said. He added that “the $64 million question” was why the five detainees who have openly acknowledged their part in terrorist acts in court were not simply ruled guilty and sentenced.

In the statement outlining their concerns and in separate comments, the family members told of sitting through the trial in Guantanamo and another trial in which so-called “20th hijacker” Zacarias Moussaoui was convicted, appalled by the defendants’ boasts of having taken part in the attacks.

“They showed absolute disdain for the system,” Al Santora said.

Jim Riches told of “seeing these murderers stand up in court, disrupt the court and say they were proud of what they did.” “I wanted to go through the glass and grab these guys,” he said.

Riches also quoted prosecutors at Guantanamo as saying they had “mountains of evidence” collected by methods that were untainted by allegations of torture or other factors and thus would not be an obstacle to further prosecutions.

Siegel said American law “does not allow people to sit in jail indefinitely,” and he did not understand “why, if they have independent evidence, they didn’t use it.” In their statement, which accompanied the letter to Obama, the families stressed that their interest was in legal proceedings, before the Military Commission or in federal courts, that were “forthcoming, open and fair.” “Our hope is that a change of policy on the Guantanamo detainees can bring about the eventual prosecution and conviction of those responsible for the horrific and despicable acts of terrorism endured by innocent victims,” it said.


3 Responses to “Families of 9/11 Firefighters want a meeting with Barack Obama”

  1. olotliny Says:

    Special Dispatch – No. 2211
    January 26, 2009 No. 2211

    Video Message from Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula Commanders – Among Them Former Guantanamo Detainees

    On January 23, 2009 the Islamist website Al-Faluja posted a video message from Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula that consisted of messages delivered by four commanders in the organization – two of them former prisoners at the GuantanamoBay detention camp. In the messages the commanders urged Muslims to assist the Palestinians in Gaza, called for attacks on Western interests in order to pressure them to stop aiding Israel, warned imprisoned mujahideen about the Saudi “counseling program to reeducate extremists,” [1] and warned the Saudi regime to stop protecting Western embassies, churches, and military bases.

    This report is provided free of charge from MEMRI’s Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM). However, in the future only paid subscribers will be able to view JTTM clips and reports. To register as a JTTM subscriber, visit

    Deputy Emir of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and Former Guantanamo Prisoner: We’ll Continue Jihad Until “We Set Up an Islamic State and Establish a Caliphate… And Until the Law of Allah Is Implemented”

  2. olotliny Says:


    Second Thoughts
    The ‘most transparent administration in history’ buries a Gitmo report.
    by Stephen F. Hayes & Thomas Joscelyn
    03/16/2009, Volume 014, Issue 25

    At 12:01 P.M. on January 20, 2009, minutes before Barack Obama was sworn in as president, the first post went up on the Obama White House website. It included a reiteration of a campaign promise Obama repeatedly made: “President Obama has committed to making his administration the most open and transparent in history.”

    Two days later, Obama ordered the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay closed. And two days after that, on January 24, Newsweek’s Michael Isikoff wrote about a Pentagon study that will provide an early test of this promise: “The report, which could be released within the next few days, will provide fresh details about 62 detainees who have been released from Guantánamo and are believed by U.S. intelligence officials to have returned to terrorist activities.”

    The report was not, in fact, released within the next few days. On February 2, Commander Jeffrey Gordon, the Pentagon spokesman who handles inquiries about Guantánamo, told us that the report would likely be released later that day. We were told to consult the website–defenselink.mil–that afternoon. No report. When we asked where it was, Commander Gordon wrote: “Nothing today, please check back with me in a couple days.” We did. No report.

    This pattern has repeated itself for a month. So what explains this failure to produce the report? According to Gordon:

    there may be a misunderstanding between when the updated threat analysis was delivered from DIA and the completion of an interagency review process prior to public release.

    My understanding is that several requests have been
    received by our OSD FOIA office and it is being processed for a decision concerning release. If you would like to submit a FOIA request as well, below is a link for your convenience.

    Right. So a report that was to have been released on February 2 was suddenly and inexplicably withheld.

    The most transparent administration in history apparently realized that releasing a report about the recidivism of Guantánamo detainees could only complicate its effort to shut down the facility. The approximately 247 detainees still held there are the worst of the terrorists captured by the United States since 9/11. Those thought to have been low-risk releases have already been let go. And many of them turned out not to have been low-risk at all. Saudi Arabia recently published a list of its 85 most wanted terrorists; 11 of them had been detained at Guantánamo Bay.

    Said Ali al-Shihri, who disappeared from his home in Saudi Arabia after spending months in a Saudi jihad rehabilitation program, recently showed up in a video posted on a jihadist website. He is now the deputy leader of al Qaeda’s Yemeni branch, which bombed the American embassy in Sana’a in September 2008. That attack killed 13 civilians, as well as six terrorists.

    Mohammed Naim Farouq was released from Gitmo in July 2003. In 2006, the Defense Intelligence Agency listed him as one of the 20 most wanted terrorists operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    Abdullah Saleh al Ajmi, a Kuwaiti, was detained at Gitmo, released, and then blew himself up in Mosul, Iraq, in March 2008. The attack killed 13 Iraqi soldiers and wounded dozens more.

    (click on link to continue reading about the documented recidivism-return to terrorist activities upon their release from Gitmo.)

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