9/11 Families Push Obama on Gitmo Trials

Jan 26, 2009 4:12pm

The parents of three firefighters who died at the World Trade Center on Sep. 11, 2001, have written to President Obama expressing concern about his recent executive orders and presidential memoranda dealing with national security which, among other actions, ordered the closing the detainee center at Guantanamo Bay.

Specifically, the families want to meet the president to appeal his decision to suspend the trials of five detainees in Gitmo who have admitted they have some part in the terror attacks, a ruling the president made so as to determine the best way to move forward with prosecutions.

"We cannot understand why it has taken so long for the prosecution of the detainees in cases where substantial evidence exists of direct or indirect involvement in the Terrorist Attacks at the WTC, Pentagon and Shanksville … We have seen first hand — the admission of guilt by individual detainees, and have heard their statements indicating they are proud of what they did to our loved ones on 9/11," read a statement from the families accompanying the letter. "We would like a firm commitment that the delays and confusion that have occurred in the past concerning these prosecutions does not happen in the future."

The parents include Retired New York Fire Department Deputy Chief Jim Riches and wife, Rita, Retired Sgt. Al Regenhard and wife Sally, and Retired FDNY Deputy Chief Al Santora and wife Maureen. They are among the families of 343 firefighters who died at the World Trade Center.

"Seven and a half years is a very long time for 3,000 families to wait," said Maureen Santora at a meeting with reporters at their attorney, Normal Siegel’s, office on Sunday. Siegel is a former director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

"The families strongly believe these prosecutions should be open and fundamentally fair," said Siegel. "The family members respectfully are requesting a meeting with President Obama to discuss in greater details the issue regarding their concerns surrounding the prosecution of detainees at Guantanamo Bay."

Siegel added that the group had not received a response from the White House as of Monday afternoon.

– Huma Khan and Jake Tapper

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