My commentary appears in the New York Daily News this morning. Here it is; please take a few minutes to read it, join us if you can Saturday 12/5 at noon in Foley Square, and co-sign our letter to President Obama:
My brother was Charles (Chic) Burlingame, captain of American Airlines Flight 77, which was hijacked and crashed into the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.
Now I am one of the organizers of a rally being held at noon this Saturday in Foley Square to stop President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and members of Congress from bringing sworn enemies of the United States into this country – from bringing war criminals captured on the battlefield, lawfully held as war detainees, into civilian court.
It doesn’t have to happen. We who are opposed to the decision must make ourselves perfectly clear to the powers that be that we will not tolerate this decision.
Two weeks ago, 300 family members of 9/11 victims sent a letter to the President telling him we adamantly oppose this dangerous and unnecessary act. The letter was never acknowledged. Then, one hour after the attorney general made his stunning announcement that unlawful foreign combatants would be tried as civilians, the number of signers to that letter jumped to 45,000. By the end of the day the number was 100,000. Our Internet server couldn’t handle the volume of Americans who had somehow found out about this letter and wished to stand with us.
The attorney general has suggested that those who oppose prosecuting these men here in New York City are afraid – that we somehow don’t have the courage to face Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in court.
How dare this man, who didn’t have the decency to notify victims’ families of his decision to bring these monsters here, imply that we lack courage. Courage is carrying on after watching your loved ones die, in real time, knowing that they burned to death, were crushed to death, or jumped from 100 flights high. Courage is carrying on, even as we waited, in some cases years, for something of our loved ones to bury. More than 1,100 families still wait.
How dare the attorney general suggest that the firefighters who oppose this trial need to “man up” and let this avowed enemy of America mock their brother firefighters in the country’s most magisterial setting, a federal court.
Let me refresh the attorney general on the meaning of courage. Courage was going into those buildings that day, knowing they might not come out alive. Courage was digging for nine months on hands and knees, breathing in toxic smoke, to find the ravaged remains of brother firefighters, police officers, citizen responders and office workers. This courage was not summoned from false bravado; it sprang from an abiding love of their fellow human beings and a sense of obligation to them, their families and their beloved country.
The attorney general has glibly, and most insensitively, called the perverse spectacle he wants to invite on this city and this nation, the “trial of the century.” Well, Mr. Attorney General, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed has put you on notice. He’s going to give it to you. His trial will be lawyer-assisted jihad in the courtroom.
We understand that to the terrorists, jihad is more than spilling American blood, it is forcing us to change our lives, divert our limited resources. When we spend hundreds of millions of dollars on rooftop snipers, kevlar vests and armored vehicles, that’s jihad. When we barricade our buildings, lock down our streets, and close our transportation systems, that’s jihad. When we grant a confessed war criminal access to platinum due process, so that he can use it to rally his fellow terrorists to kill more of our citizens and target our military, that’s jihad.
Mr. Attorney General, this doesn’t have to happen. You have called the military commissions system “lawful, fair, and effective” and “consistent with our highest standards as a nation.” We agree. We think that is far more than these sworn enemies of America deserve.
Debra Burlingame is the co-founder of 9/11 Never Forget U.S.