Joined: Mar 17, 2005
Location: Staten Island
|Posted: Sun Feb 08, 2009 5:22 pm Post subject: Summary of 9/11 Families Meeting with President Obama - 2/6
From Sun Feb 08, 2009 3:00 am to Wed Feb 11, 2009 2:59 am (included)
|February 6, 2009: 9/11and USS Cole Families Meeting with President Barack Obama
by Deputy Chief Jim Riches FDNY
President Obama met on Friday Feb. 6,2009 in the Executive Office Building with 40 family members from the 9/11 WTC, Pentagon, Shanksville and the USS Cole attacks.
President Obama came in and met each family member and shook hands and talked for a little with each family.
President Obama expressed his thoughts on our great sacrifice for the loss of our loved ones. He then explained that he had dropped the charges against USS Cole terrorist, but that he would not let him go free and would recharge him as he was an evil man and dangerous.
Next, President Obama told us that Guantanamo was a stain on the reputation of the United States and that many associated it with Abu Gahraib. He told us that the 9/11 and Cole trials were basically moving very slowly and not the way that he thought it should be going. He said he and his team of lawyers are looking over all aspects of cases and during this 120 day cooling off period, come up with their selected process of prosecution. My opinion is that he is not too happy with the Military Commissions and probably will move cases to another process or modify them. He cited the delays and Supreme Court decisions and then the prospect of overturn by appeal if the trials were to continue in Military Commissions.
President Obama then took questions from the family members for about 40 minutes.
Here is a sampling of some of the Questions & Answers:
Q: Consider keeping Gitmo open , have his team go there?
A: President Obama shot that down and said it will close within a year as per his executive order.
Q: People were afraid of terrorists coming to US soil for trial ?
A: President Obama said that he was elected to protect us for the next 4 years and that he would protect our cities, twin towers, etc.
Q: I told him that I, Deputy Chief Jim Riches, FDNY, picked up the bodies at WTC in 2001 and 2002. I saw the results of their evil actions. There has been no accountability after 8 years; I saw these thugs at Gitmo in 2009 admit their guilt, say they were proud of 9/11 and calling for Jihad in court, I asked him if there would there be more transparency and showing of the trials so that all of America and the world could see the outrageous behavior of these terrorists. I also asked him to catch Bin Laden.
A: President Obama said there would be transparency in his administration and the trials and would hope to not let these evil men be released and promised me SWIFT and CERTAIN JUSTICE and his job was to keep America safe.
Q: concerns about classified documents getting in terrorists hands if moved to federal court.?
A: President Obama said they would make sure we were safe and keep classified documents away from them which would endanger America.
Q: Torture evidence? What would happen?
A: President Obama said some evidence obtained by torture may not hold up in court, but they would craft solutions to this to assure guilty parties are not freed.
Q: Can we have access to the numerous pages of 9/11 Commission reports that have been blacked out and never released.?
A: President Obama said he would look into it.
Q: USS Cole families request 9/11 type Commission and also want to know why compensation from lawsuit that they won,has been appealed only by the Dept. of Justice?
A: President Obama said they would look into Commission and knew nothing about DOJ appeal and would get back to them.
Q: Asked if the Hague could be involved in prosecution?
A: President Obama said probably not because it was for war crimes and very technical concerning terrorist attacks
President Obama promised to keep dialogue with families open as his aides will be liaisons and he took e-mail addresses and phone numbers of all in attendance. President Obama said he hoped to have 9/11 and Cole families as part of process.
Q & A: Again asked to keep Gitmo open and reconsider, but he said the Detention Center will be closed within 1 year as per his executive order.
There were other questions , but the main point is he is against Gitmo and feels it is a stain on America.
Now, we must wait , he says no longer than the 120 days to find out his plan to prosecute and bring these terrorists to justice. President Obama promised "swift and certain justice!" President Obama said it is not the time to look back, but to look forward.
The families were all very grateful and thanked the President for taking time out of his busy schedule in these rough economic times while still trying to forge an economic stimulus package, to allay our fears, to answer our questions, console us, talk to us and let us be a part of the process.
I left the meeting feeling that President Obama was sincere in what he said. I believe that President Obama will assure the prosecution of those who have aided, abetted or committed acts of terrorism. Hopefully, the terrorists will be tried with the fundamental fairness as exemplified in the history of American justice. Only time will tell as we await justice for our loved ones who were MURDERED on 9/11/01.
We wish President Obama every success in the stewardship of our beloved country.
God speed. God bless America.
Deputy Chief Jim Riches FDNY father of Firefighter Jimmy Riches L114 9/11 hero