Military Commission

Statement from 9/11 Families on the President’s Decision to Prosecute 9/11 Cases in Military Commissions

Media Advisory
April 4, 2011

Statement from 9/11 Families on the President’s Decision to Prosecute 9/11 Cases in Military Commissions

New York, NY — April 4, 2011 — We are relieved that President Obama has abandoned his plan to try the 9/11 conspirators in a civilian court on U.S. soil. Prosecuting war criminals, whose only connection to this country is the location of their victims, in military commissions, is the right thing to do. Justice, long overdue, is now in sight for the victims of this savage attack. We are grateful to the president for reversing his decision, conveyed to families just last month, to go forward with civilian trials and to seek repeal of congressional legislation that stripped funding for that effort. This enraged victims’ families, who are facing the 10th anniversary of the attacks this year.

We have great confidence in the military commissions legal framework, which is fair, lawful and effective and consistent with our tradition and values as a nation. We thank the American people for standing with us, and wish to express our profound gratitude to the prosecutors and staff at the Office of Military Commissions, who have never wavered from their commitment to these cases and to the pursuit of justice for our loved ones and this country.


Tim Sumner

Debra Burlingame

KSM trial non-decision angers 9/11 family members; Obama ‘changes’ stance on Gitmo tribunals

I participated in yesterday’s White House conference call briefing to 9/11 family members; they provided us nothing new as to when or where Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his lieutenant co-conspirators would be tried.

The Washington Times reported this morning:

Debra Burlingame, co-founder of 9/11 Families for a Safe and Strong America and a board member of Keep America Safe, said she was upset at the White House after participating in a conference call with families of the victims of 9/11. “What we heard today is that despite the fact that Congress has closed every loophole for trying Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and his co-conspirators in Article III courts, the White House is persistent in defying the will of the American people and plans to do it anyway,” she said.

The briefers stated to us, “President Obama remains committed to using Article III courts for terrorists,” and added, “The President will work with Congress to lift the restrictions imposed in December 2010.” Last month, the House passed legislation that would extend the bar to all federal agencies imposed against using DOD funding for transferring Gitmo detainees to the U.S.

All of the questions during the call came from 9/11 family members.

The White House could not say how the Justice Department would overcome objections by officials in New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania to 9/11 civilian trials in those states and reconcile such a decision with 6th Amendment requirements. They could not provide information as to when the decision would be made. They dodged questions about why Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his cohorts were not being tried by Military Commission, at Guantanamo, and not being placed at that “top of the list.” They disputed one family member’s assertion that the 9/11 plotters were not being given top priority but provided no evidence to support their counter-argument. One 9/11 family member tersely told White House briefers, “This call is a waste of time.”

Many aging parents of the 2,976 slaughtered on 9/11 will not live to see justice done for the war crimes committed against their loved ones. But President Obama is “taking the issue off the table” for the 2012 election campaign; it will be “all Congress’s fault” if they do not let him bring foreign enemies onto U.S. soil and bestow them with Constitutional rights.