Joined: Mar 17, 2005
Location: Staten Island
|Posted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 6:13 pm Post subject: 9/11 families & Victims of Terrorism Meet with Atty Gen
From Wed Jun 17, 2009 3:00 am to Sat Jun 20, 2009 2:59 am (included)
|9/11 families and Victims of Terrorism Meet with Attorney General Eric Holder
Attorney General Eric Holder, members of the Guantanamo Review Task Force and the Detainee Policy Task Force met with family members of victims of terrorist attacks in Washington, DC on June 15,2009. Attorney General Eric Holder discussed the Guantanamo detainees and the government plans.
Here is a brief synopsis of the meeting which lasted over 3 hours. Attorney General Holder took questions from all family members and expressed his sincere condolences to all the family members for their grievous losses of their loved ones.
"Guantanamo Review Task Force" was formed to examine thoroughly the status of each and every detainee individually with a prompt, and comprehensive review. They would gather all the evidence from every agency involved (e.g. FBI, CIA, DOJ, Armed Forces, etc.) pertaining to each detainee. They would then determine the status of this particular detainee.
Basically, the Task Force would select one of 3 options for the detainee:
1. Transfer or Release to U.S.A. or another country after intense scrutiny - over 500 Guantanamo detainees have been released since 2002. Only if deemed NOT a threat to National Security.
2. Prosecute the detainee. (either Military Commission, Modified Military Court, Federal courts, etc.) This would be the case if Guantanamo Task Force determines enough evidence to prosecute.
3. Continued Detainment, is the last case scenario where there isn't enough evidence to prosecute and detainee is considered to be a danger to national security and a risk. Asked about how long they would be held and said they couldn't be released until they were no longer a threat.
"Detainee Policy Task Force" was established to get a broader picture and review of the whole process. They would document the apprehension,detention, trial, transfer, release or prosecution of the detainee. They would give an overall outlook on the entire process from beginning to end.
Also discussed were the five (5) changes to the Military Commissions Act of 2006. They are as follows:
1. Hearsay evidence : Government must establish veracity
2. Detainee has right to select Counsel (Military)
3. Torture evidence or harsh methods used (evidence is tainted and No Good)
4. Defendant makes statement ,but does NOT face cross examination , then Judge can NOT tell Jury that he won't testify as it makes defendant look guilty
5. Military Judge will determine if trial or case before him deserves to be there.
Guilty plea in Military case? Some feel that there must be a trial in death penalty case,you can't plead guilty without trial. Others contend that you can. The Court will come to a decision shortly. I think it is the Supreme Court.
Many questions were raised by the family members in this meeting. Attorney General Holder and his staff stayed for the meeting and listened intently, promising to hear all our concerns and to help them make their decisions. There were many different views, but the meeting was a great step forward in transparency and hopefulness for accountability after 7 long years.
Attorney General Eric Holder told us that Guantanamo detention center in Cuba is set to close in January 2010 as per President. Obama's executive order. He feels that we are safer with its closure as staying open is a rallying point for Islamic fundamentalists to recruit other Muslims.
The issue of Military Commission trial or federal trials was brought up. Some were afraid that all the evidence in federal trial would be lost because the terrorists were not read their rights . Also, they feared the terrorist's access to many documents during a federal trial . The Attorney General assured us that his team would make the best decision on a case by case study. We discussed what was a harsh interrogation. That also would be determined by the task force, judges, and legal teams. Family members were also very concerned about the release of these detainees . It was noted that a fair percentage have returned to the battlefield. We told them to err on the side of caution before releasing them. No countries were given large amounts of money to take the detainees. Families insulted that picture in NY Post showed freed terrorists in Bermuda swimming. Attorney General Holder told us that the Chinese detainees had been cleared by the Bush administration and also by Obama administration and were not a threat to the USA. Not sent back to China because they would be tortured or executed. The status of each detainees case would be made individually (whether it be Military Commission or federal) As each case was reviewed, they would then know which court it would be tried in. The trial lawyers of these cases have now been working close to seven years ion the prosecution of KSM and other 9/11 terrorists. It was brought up that the expertise and long hard work of these lawyers be put to good use and not discarded.
All the family members were happy to be included in the process and their voices were heard by A. G. Eric Holder. There were many different views and at times the meeting was very emotional. One common bond came out of the meeting. All the family members have waited so long for justice. We place our trust in the hands of Attorney General Holder and his staff and Task forces. We wish them the best of luck in their arduous endeavor to achieve some long awaited justice for the murder of our loved ones. The doors of communication are wide open and it is finally great to be heard. We are waiting to see what happens and if swift and certain justice will come to those who aided and abetted terrorism . Time will tell.
Deputy Chief Jim Riches FDNY
Father of Firefighter Jimmy Riches Engine 4 FDNY 9/11/01