Unfortunately, the remarks I originally prepared to present, after yesterday’s surprise announcement by the Attorney General, no longer seem adequate. I had planned to come here today to press our case for justice--for our beloved families, friends and co-workers, all the magnificent people whose loves were cut short so suddenly in the horrific and savage attacks that will forever be known, simply, as, “9/11.”
My appeal was to be a humble one. How, I planned to ask, after all we witnessed and experienced, individually and as a nation, on that terrible, dark day, can we be satisfied to let justice founder?
Americans answered the call. Firefighters, police, and other first responders answered without hesitation, some knowing they would not survive, but rushing in, urged on by the duty and hope of saving just one life. At the Pentagon, those who survived rededicated themselves to avenging their lost comrades and protecting the country. The passengers and crews on airplanes all took courageous action, their lives changing in the blink of an eye. We saw people from all over America work for months in a recovery effort. Some of them are now dying because they would not leave their fellow human beings beneath 1.8 million tons of toxic rubble.
How, I planned to ask, can we, who survived that day, forsake their courage, their dignity, their decency, by letting justice fail?
How can it be that Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, aka, KSM, has not been brought to justice? ...10 YEARS AFTER 2,976 human beings were torn to pieces, four years after KSM bragged about his central role in their destruction and in the unspeakable murder of journalist Daniel Pearl?
We, the families--mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers and friends--waited patiently, many without even the grief-softening help of a simple burial, for something called “justice.” Yesterday we were told by the highest law enforcement officer in the land, Attorney General Eric Holder, that justice is finally on the way.
So, why was the attorney general’s speech such a bitter disappointment? Why, after the last two years of anguish and uncertainty, did the attorney general’s speech feel like yet another heavy burden instead of welcomed relief?
While the media treated the announcement as another opportunity to keep score--was this or was this not a humiliating capitulation for the president and his law man, Mr. Holder--most reporters seemed not to notice the fundamental dishonesty of his actual words and message.
Yes, the victims will get their justice, but let us be clear, not the best justice. “The best venue for prosecution was in federal court,” Mr. Holder scolded. “I stand by that decision today,” he said defiantly. Indeed, the attorney general spent the entirety of his speech telling us that he was delivering justice to these poor families, but of an inferior sort, not the “powerful,” “well- researched and documented” case which, not only would have proven the guilt of the accused, but would have allowed us to “adhere to the bedrock traditions and values of our laws.”