NYC firefighter’s widow watching Guantánamo hearings

By Carol Rosenberg Miami Herald

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba — A woman whose firefighter husband was killed in the World Trade Center is observing this week’s war court hearings focusing on the confidentiality rights of the men accused of the September 11 terror plot and their lawyers.

“It’s painfully slow,” Eve Bucca told reporters Tuesday evening, adding she understood the deliberate pace of the process.

“The last thing you want to see is for something to come up later that could have been addressed now,” she said. “It takes as long as it takes. I don’t want anyone let off on a technicality.”

Her husband, New York Fire Marshal Ronald Bucca, 46, from a U.S. Army and firefighting family, made it to the 78th floor of the South Tower before he was killed in the building’s collapse. When U.S. troops invaded Iraq 18 months later, the military set up a desert outpost near Umm Qasr as a POW camp, and named it “Camp Bucca.”

Ronald Bucca was a 29-year military veteran who at his death was an Army Warrant Officer with a military intelligence specialty with the U.S. Army Reserves and 23-year veteran of the New York Fire Department where as a fire marshal he had law enforcement, arrest and investigation powers.

Reports at the time of his death said he had helped in the investigation of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. Eve Bucca is one of six people who got to Andrews Air Force Base ahead of last week’s blizzard to join a charter flight to Guantánamo for the hearings. Monday, court lasted just 70 minutes but the victims’ family members got their first glimpse in the flesh — through double-glazed soundproofed windows — of accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and his four alleged co-plotters in the coordinated hijackings that killed 2,976 people.

Mohammed came to court in a white turban, his big beard still dyed orange from prison camp berry juice, and a judicially approved hunting jacket made of woodland pattern camouflage. He came back to court for Tuesday’s session, along with two co-defendants. His nephew, Ammar al Baluchi, and Mustafa al Hawsawi voluntarily stayed away that second day.

Bucca has been watching the pre-trial hearings in the death-penalty case on a video feed to Fort Hamilton, N.Y., starting with their May 5, 2012 arraignment, the initial reading of charges. “From the arraignment until now they look much more relaxed. And healthier,” she said.

A New Yorker, Bucca said she supported holding the trial in Guantánamo, with a military jury, for security reasons. But she said she was waiting until after the trial to say what a fitting punishment would be if Mohammed and the others are convicted.

Bucca is the only one of the victims’ family members chosen by Pentagon lottery to publicly identify herself at Guantánamo this week. Victims, she said, are sometimes shy of press contact because they have had unpleasant consequences of earlier exposure or they didn’t like specific articles reporters wrote.

The others present this week include an American Airlines flight attendant who wore her uniform to court in solidarity with the air crews killed on September 11, 2001, and a 14-year-old boy who would’ve been a toddler at the time of the terror attacks.

There’s no age limit on who a victim family member can choose as a companion, said Army Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale, a war court spokesman. But the Pentagon seeks assurances from parents that they understand a child brought to Guantánamo could hear troubling things.

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