Letter from the September 11th Advocates re Guantanamo

Dear 9/11 Families,

There is a concerted effort by the Guantanamo Defense Teams, in conjunction with the newly appointed Convening Authority, to gather support from the 9/11 Families to agree to the removal of the death penalty charge in exchange for a “plea bargain”.

Please recognize that the government’s real, but unstated, goal in suggesting this “plea bargain” is to get rid of the trial processes and procedures.  It is important to understand that this is not about whether you are someone who supports or opposes the death penalty.  Rather, it is about whether you believe justice for the murder of 3,000 people during the 9/11 attacks requires a trial.  We think it does.

Let us explain:

This “plea bargain” proposal is really just an idea floated by the government with the goal of eliminating the need for trials.  Why does the government no longer want trials for the detainees?  For several reasons that were enumerated to us by some of the GITMO defense attorneys and defense outreach staff.  These reasons include:  the expense of running GITMO; the difficulty of traveling to and from GITMO with regard to the representation of such already “difficult” clients; the ad hoc military tribunal system that was put in place that has no set standards, procedures or historical precedent; the concern over the admissibility of evidence gathered via torture of the detainees; and the revelation of potentially embarrassing information pertaining to government failures surrounding the 9/11 attacks that might be unearthed during the evidentiary and trial process.  In short, a “plea bargain” erases many of the government’s problems, which they created by not using an established venue in prosecuting the 9/11 terrorists.  With a “plea bargain” in place, the government will do away with the trial phase and simply leave the detainees incarcerated at GITMO to live out the rest of their lives – which, frankly, is what they are already doing.

We believe trials are essential for the prosecution of the 9/11 terrorists and co-conspirators.  The United Sates is, first and foremost, a democracy and a nation of laws.  Therefore, trials are a cornerstone of our country’s legal process.  Trials are an essential way to secure the delivery of justice since they produce discovery and evidence that shed light on crimes and wrongdoing.  They also publicly hold accountable those who perpetrated crimes, thereby giving victims a valuable sense of justice.

We completely agree that any justice with regard to the 9/11 attacks has taken far, far too long.  However, we strongly disagree with the government’s proposed solution of a “plea bargain” eliminating the death penalty because we believe the 9/11 attacks warrant justice that can only be delivered with the trials of the perpetrators of the crime.

For 16 years, we have worked to hold accountable all those responsible for the deaths of our loved ones.  Evidence produced in the Guantanamo trials could be very important in achieving that goal.  For us, to allow the government to just permanently detain these men, with no trial, would actually be an INJUSTICE to all of us.

Please let the Convening Authority (waitingnolonger2017@gmail.com) know that eliminating the trials would be a miscarriage of justice.

Perhaps, if we all really want to fight for something valuable, we should consider fighting to bring these cases to our Federal Article 3 Courts.  They work, as proven by the many terrorism cases already tried and prosecuted by them.

September 11th Advocates

Kristen Breitweiser
Monica Gabrielle
Mindy Kleinberg
Lorie Van Auken

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