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Father of 9/11 Hero Lambastes Obama Administration for Stance on Military Trials

5:07 PM, Apr 7, 2011 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
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Of course, the implication was clear. Military commissions are none of this. Worse, the “unwise,” “unwarranted” interference of Congress in limiting the president’s ability to bring terrorists onto U.S. soil has actually created the potential for harm to national security. How, he doesn’t say. We are simply left to ponder the “serious ramifications” of Congressional trespass, which is so dangerous, the Obama administration will continue to seek to reverse the irresponsible actions of the people’s representatives lest they attempt to deliver second-class justice in other Guantanamo cases.

Today, however, we are stuck with military commissions, and here, at last, is the bitterest pill Mr. Holder coldly serves: we have to miss this opportunity for the sort of grand justice only the federal courts are capable of delivering...because the families demand it.

The families, who had waited seven long years when President Obama ground these cases to a halt, were made to wait two more years by the administration’s incoherent process. Let us be clear: The families were already tired of waiting when the Obama team arrived on the scene. Alleged concern for the plight of the families is Mr. Holder’s most contemptible conceit. Let us be crystal clear. The families had no say, no voice, no champions inside the Holder Justice Department. We were ignored, tolerated, overlooked and misled. When it was apparent that we did not support civilian trials for the war criminals who slaughtered our families, as 200,000 troops risk their lives to fight this same enemy on this same battlefield, we were summarily dismissed from the process. We were not a cooperative bunch. Here’s why: the process was pre-ordained from day one, and those of us who were paying attention knew it.

Mr. Holder told you yesterday that he approached this case with an open mind, that his only goal was to look at the facts and the law and choose the venue where “swift and certain justice” could most effectively be achieved. What could be more swift and more certain than the defendants’ declaration, one month before Mr. Obama took office, that they wished to plead guilty to the charges and be executed? The families of the victims, some of whom were sitting in that courtroom when he made his proffer, were elated. At long last, we could begin the end of our terrible, agonizing journey.

President Obama prevented this from going forward. It was a campaign promise that the president made, and the attorney general--then a private citizen campaigning for his candidate-- told supporters Mr. Obama would fulfill as one of his first presidential acts. Indeed, on his second day in office, the newly- elected president signed sweeping executive orders which did away with all the work that Congress had accomplished in promulgating a legal framework for military commissions. And it nullified three years of case preparation by the Office of Military commissions when they were just months away from the conclusion of the case.

These campaign promises were made, and these executive orders were issued, without an examination of the evidence in these cases or in consultation with the lawyers most familiar it, namely, the attorneys drawn from both the Department of Defense and the Department of Justice who had toiled away for three years in preparation for trial. Neither candidate Obama, or President-elect Obama or newly-minted President Obama had seen one shred of evidence on these cases when he terminated them with the stroke of a pen. This was a raw exercise of executive authority without regard for the history we had all, as a nation, lived through, and without consultation with or regard for the people whose beloved family members had been so brutally taken from them on that catastrophic day.

The attorney general finished his press conference yesterday, leaving one final insult to the commissions and the dedicated prosecutors and staff at the Office of Military Commissions. He lamented the fact that federal courts don’t get the proper respect they are due, and made a final pitch for them, as if they, and not commissions, have been the object of years of unrelenting assault, by him, by his boss in the Oval office, and by the legions of lawyers, law professors, human rights activists, and anti- military propagandists whose appeal to moral vanity has found fertile ground in this Justice Department.

Mr. Holder’s words are a clear signal to these parties, that they have a friend in the White House and at the Justice Department, and their legal assaults on military commissions should continue apace after after the 10th anniversary of 9/11 is safely behind us.

For thousands of Americans the wounds of 9/11 will never heal. The policies of this administration cause us all to grieve anew.

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