The Guantanamo Bay detention camps have been attacked by many, including our own president, as contrary to American Values, as not “who we are” and a “recruitment tool for our enemies.”
For those of us who have been there, who have observed the terrorists in court at Camp Justice, who have witnessed the great lengths our judiciary goes through to provide due process to the likes of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) the red bearded, evil, boastful mastermind of the 9/11/01 attacks that murdered 2,976 individuals and shattered countless lives, GTMO is a symbol of American goodness and greatness.
Please, Mr. President:
I am honored to be part of a small group of 9/11 family members chosen to observe the pretrial proceedings. Objections to this facility and these proceedings, in my opinion, are unfounded.
Eight of us arrived at Andrews Air Force Base, Saturday morning February 13, hopeful but apprehensive about our trip to Guantanamo to face the murderers of our family members. Aside from the deaths of our beloved brothers, husbands, fathers, sons and cousins, we all brought something in common; the pursuit of justice.
After a most rewarding week, we parted perfectly unified with the utmost respect for the prosecutors, our fantastic military, for American Justice and for one another. We took home with us hope, a more steely resolve for justice than ever, spiritual connections and a renewed sense of pride in America.
Those are the American values I was raised with but have been lost on this president.
This is a president who has authorized hundreds of deadly drone strikes resulting in thousands of deaths. Unlike rights afforded at GTMO, none of those droned was provided any due process nor were they allowed a seat before a just Military Commission.
This is a president whose trusted Attorney General for six years, Eric Holder, engineered the politically driven 1999 Clinton clemencies to the convicted terrorists of the FALN. This Puerto Rican terror group murdered my father, Frank Connor, at the 1975 Fraunces Tavern bombing among over 115 bombings and five murders.
Is releasing unrepentant terrorists now “who we are?”
This president pushes the normalization of relations with terror supporter, Cuba (even planning a state visit) without demanding the return of convicted fugitive FALN bomb maker, William Morales or BLA cop killer Joanne Chesimard who have received safe harbor for decades in Cuba.
So whose values does this president represent and whose values does he condemn?
The proceedings at GTMO provide boastful, unrepentant terrorists with more due process rights than most Americans receive. From the very best defense attorneys, to endless legal motions and access to potentially classified information, prayer mats in court, praying five times a day, these proud terrorists are being allowed to drag the process on indefinitely.
They are akin to suicide bombers. Using America’s quest for justice against us and knowing they are likely to one day die at GTMO, these terrorists are taking with them the lives of the prosecution, military, media, 9/11 families and even their own defense teams as they drag on the proceedings year after year. As a member of the prosecution team said last week. “We want the trial done during the lives of the living.”
The terrorists are allowed “hired guns” to view the proceedings. KSM’s mitigation attorney, sponsored a guest, Scharlette Holdman, (who has represented the Unabomber and the Boston Marathon bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnev) standing in the gallery at the back of the courtroom next to the youngest members of our 9/11 family, bowed, saluted and traded friendly hand gestures with the terror leader.
When Holdman audibly referred to KSM as her “buddy” and the killer made eye contact, tauntingly smiling at the kids whose fathers he murdered, we had enough. Our family stood together and saw to her removal along with the translator KSM was trying to add to his defense team.
We witnessed pure evil in the courtroom that morning; the same evil the good people of our armed forces serving in Guantanamo Bay have dedicated their lives to bring to justice. Despite our president’s rhetoric, rightly or wrongly, we as a nation have bent over backwards for the rights of these terrorists.
The United States did not ask for this fight. Our family members were barbarically murdered on 9/11 by a ruthless enemy with no country or borders. In the past, such captured fighters would hang. Today, Obama simply drones them with no due process. But Guantanamo Bay neither hangs nor drones. It tries.
Whether or not we believe the terrorists deserve such just treatment, GTMO houses these terrorist combatants as they are brought to justice; the very essence of who we are.
We all should be proud of the magnificent work being done at GTMO and of the great Americans dedicating their lives in bringing justice for our loved ones.
Mr. President, the great people at GTMO epitomize our American values. You could learn from them.
The camps must remain open.