No 9/11 kin will witness Gitmo arraignments, thanks to DoD and a NY Daily News ‘reporter’

Within his report ‘9/11 kin barred from Gitmo trial’ yesterday for the New York Daily News, James Gordon Meek questioned Debra Burlingame’s objectivity. Yet is creating a controversy, reporting the outcome, labeling some but not others within that report, and filing it as news ethical journalism?

When the architects of the 9/11 attacks are charged this week at Guantanamo Bay for killing nearly 3,000 Americans, the victims’ families won’t be allowed to witness it.

The Defense Department outraged 9/11 families by belatedly disclosing that just one victim’s relative – GOP loyalist [all emphasis here added mine] Debra Burlingame, whose brother Charles died in the attacks – was secretly invited to attend. “This government cannot be upfront and honest,” said Rosemary Dillard of Detroit, whose husband, Eddie, died aboard the hijacked jet that struck the Pentagon. “It was very underhanded.”

The stunned families learned of Burlingame’s invitation to the arraignment of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and four of his henchmen at the U.S. naval base in Cuba only after the Daily News made inquiries on Friday. Widow Monica Gabrielle, whose husband, Rich, died in the twin towers, said, “They’re pitting family against family. It’s outrageous.”

Burlingame, a staunch defender of the Bush administration, spoke in support of the President at the 2004 GOP convention and has personally savaged other 9/11 family members who questioned his decisions.

She was invited as an “observer” to offer a political counterpoint – alongside conservatives from the American Legion and Judicial Watch – to human rights watchdogs critical of the untested military system for trying terrorists, a red-faced defense official said. She [meaning Debra Burlingame] did not respond to a request for comment. … READ THE WHOLE THING

Mr. Meek failed in his report to mention Monica Gabrielle is a member of the ‘Jersey Girls,’ that in 2004 the ‘Jersey Girls’ flew around with John Kerry on his Presidential campaign, or the following statement, by them, issued on April 3, 2008, when the ACLU launched its “John Adams Project”:

September 11th Advocates
Patty Casazza, Monica Gabrielle, Mindy Kleinberg, Lorie Van Auken
[Click on that link while noting that even the ACLU recognizes all four women as ‘Jersey Girls’]

While Mr. Meek did not explain how Debra Burlingame “personally savaged other 9/11 family members who questioned” President Bush’s decisions, here are both his and my words, our exchange of emails, last night:

To: Meek, James
Sent: Tue Jun 03 20:33:10 2008 [8:33 PM EDT] Subject: Will any 9/11 family member get to view Gitmo arraignment?

Mr. Meek:

After reading your article this morning, I wonder: 1) if you were attending the arraignments Thursday at Guantanamo? 2) if any 9/11 family member will attend the arraignments? 3) if any 9/11 family member will view the arraignments via closed-circuit TV?

— Tim Sumner
9/11 family member
From: “Meek, James”
Date: Tue, June 03, 2008 9:16 pm [EDT] To:

Hi Tim.

Regret my report wasn’t more clear. No 9/11 family member – including Debra Burlingame, who was dis-invited – will attend the arraignment on Thursday. Yes, I will be there at Gitmo either inside the courtroom or watching on closed-circuit tv from the press filing center nearby. No, there will be NO family members watching anywhere else. If you’re not at GTMO, you don’t get to watch. However, when – and IF – the trials begin, families will be allowed to watch from viewing sites in NYC, Boston, DC and possibly other sites.

Cheers, James
To: Meek, James
Sent: Tue Jun 03 21:22:30 2008 [9:22 PM EDT]

From: “Meek, James”
Date: Tue, June 03, 2008 9:29 pm [EDT] To:

Sorry. I did everything I could to pressure the Pentagon into bringing a group of 9/11 relatives. I failed.
To: Meek, James
Sent: Tue Jun 03 22:37:14 2008 [10:37 PM EDT]

Which group? I do not recall seeing one mentioned in your article.
From: “Meek, James”
Date: Tue, Jun 03, 2008 11:00 pm [EDT] To:

Not an organized group, Tim. I just meant more than one family member. The Pentagon should have been prepared to do a lottery like the Justice Department did at certain phases of the Moussaoui trial, so that the families would be represented. They had three months to organize it.

Debra Burlingame is a 9/11 family member. Perhaps she readily accepted an offer to witness every moment of the prosecution of those accused of murdering her brother. Maybe, as a former attorney, she wanted to assess the viability and fairness of the Military Commissions.

Indeed, the Department of Defense failed in its promise to all 9/11 family members:

“We’re going to broadcast in real time to several locations that will be available just to victim families,” Army Col. Lawrence Morris, chief prosecutor for the controversial war crimes court, said at the naval base recently.

But everything is now “fair” because James Gordon Meek “did everything” he could “to pressure the Pentagon into bringing a group of 9/11 relatives.”

If Mr. Meek wears his keffiyeh while at Guantanamo, perhaps no one will mistake him for a journalist merely there to report the news and not looking to create it all on his own.

Update: 11:03 AM EDT: “They’re pitting family against family.” Who are the ‘they’ she was talking about?

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