9/11 Victims' Families Challenge Legitimacy Of Guantánamo Military Commissions

December 10, 2008 12:00 am

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NEW YORK – The American Civil Liberties Union today released a statement from 31 9/11 victims’ family members challenging the legitimacy of the Guantánamo military commissions and their ability to achieve justice.

Below is the full text of the statement:


As family members who lost loved ones on 9/11, we feel compelled to speak out about this week’s proceedings at Guantánamo. Recently, the Guantánamo military commissions office announced that victims’ family members would be permitted, on a lottery basis, to attend the Guantánamo legal hearings of those accused of planning the 9/11 attacks. The lottery system inherently results in the granting of media attention to the select few who are chosen, and whose views are not necessarily representative of all victims’ families. The media coverage of Monday’s commission hearings included statements attributed to attending family members that the tribunals provided a fair hearing for these prosecutions and that family members “were struck by the extensive rights accorded the accused men.”

While we support everyone’s right to their individual opinions about these proceedings, including, of course, other family members who have suffered the devastation we have, we also feel obliged to make clear that many of us do not believe these military commissions to be fair, in accordance with American values, or capable of achieving the justice that 9/11 family members and all Americans deserve.

We believe that the secretive and unconstitutional nature of these proceedings deprive us of the right to know the full truth about what happened on 9/11. These prosecutions have been politically motivated from the start, are designed to ensure quick convictions at the expense of due process and transparency, and are structured to prevent the revelation of abusive interrogations and torture engaged in by the U.S. government. Unfortunately, any verdict borne of these proceedings will lack legitimacy and leave us wondering if true justice has been served. No comfort or closure can come from military commissions that ignore the rule of law and stain America’s reputation at home and abroad.

We are strongly encouraged by the incoming administration’s promise to end this shameful system, and we are hopeful for a fresh start for these and all other Guantánamo prosecutions in U.S. courts worthy of American justice. It is time for our nation to stop betraying its own values – and the values of so many who died on 9/11.

Anne M. Mulderry, Kinderhook, New York, mother of Stephen V. Mulderry

Terry Kay Rockefeller, Arlington, MA, sister of Laura Rockefeller

J. William Harris, Arlington, MA, brother-in-law of Laura Rockefeller

Loretta Filipov, Concord, MA, wife of Alexander M. Filipov

Alissa Torres, New York, NY, wife of Luis Eduardo Torres

Bob McIlvaine, Oreland, PA, father of Bobby McIlvaine

Wright Salisbury, Lexington, MA, father-in-law of Edward Hennessy, Jr.

Barbara and Jim Fyfe, Durham, NC, parents of Karleton Douglas Beye Fyfe

Robyn Bernstein, Bolton, MA, daughter of Roberta Bernstein Heber

Patricia J. and James L. Perry, M.D., Seaford, NY, parents of NYPD officer John W. Perry

Rita Lasar, New York, NY, sister of Abraham Zelmanowitz

Valerie Lucznikowska, New York, NY, aunt of Adam Arias

Marion Kminek, Cape Coral, FL, mother of Mari-Rae Sopper

Kate Walsh Calton, Tampa, FL, wife of James Walsh

Beverly Eckert, Stamford, CT, wife of Sean Rooney

Monica Gabrielle, wife of Richard Gabrielle

Lorie Van Auken, wife of Kenneth Van Auken

Dr. Robin S. Theurkauf, wife of Thomas Theurkauf

Andrea N. LeBlanc, Lee, NH, wife of Robert G. LeBlanc

Frank Tatum, Stillwater, NY, son of Diane Moore Parsons

Antonio Aversano, Hadley, MA, son of Louis F. Aversano, Jr.

Nissa Youngren, Rochester, NY, daughter of Robert G. LeBlanc

Paula Shapiro, Pala, CA, mother of Eric Adam Eisenberg

Patricia Casazza, wife of John Casazza

Mindy Kleinberg, wife of Alan Kleinberg

Sheila Rooney, Fayetteville, NY, sister of Sean Rooney

Rosemary Dillard, wife of Eddie A. Dillard

Blake Allison, Lyme, NH, husband of Anna S.W. Allison

Roxanna K. Myhrum, Cambridge, MA, niece of Sean Rooney

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