It has been ten long and painful years since the eleven short seconds it took the 200,000 tons of steel formerly known as the World Trade Center Towers to collapse, crushing 2,595 innocent fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, husbands and wives. It has been ten years of mourning for the friends and family members of the 266 innocent Americans whose ordinary travel day ended with their full-throttled jets crashing at 550 miles per hour into solid buildings or a field in Pennsylvania. Three hundred sixty-six innocent firemen and policemen bravely doing their jobs rushed into the World Trade Center buildings moments before those buildings were erased from the New York skyline. It has been ten empty years for thousands of innocent American children who have had to cry softly on Christmas mornings or at their birthday parties because their mommy or daddy couldn't be at events no parent wants to miss. It has been ten years of simmering anger and an unquenchable thirst for justice since 200 people chose leaping to their death from 100 stories in the air to concrete below over the agony of a death in the blast furnace of burning jet fuel. Ten long years.
Fourteen hundred miles to the south of Ground Zero sits the man responsible for all of the horror. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, a key member of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda organization and the second-most famous terrorist in history, sits in relative luxury. Known as KSM, the self-confessed mastermind behind the horrors of 9/11 is the planner of 31 terrorist attacks, including the World Trade Center 1993 bombings, the Operation Bojinka plot, an aborted 2002 attack on the U.S. Bank Tower in Los Angeles, the Bali nightclub bombings, the failed bombing of American Airlines Flight 63, the Millennium Plot, and the murder of Daniel Pearl. Ten years after 9/11, America still suffers while Khalid Sheikh Mohammed enjoys taxpayer-funded privileges and amenities some of his victims don't even have access to.
The perks at Guantanamo Bay include an outdoor basketball court and a 6,000-book library, from which detainees can check out everything from hobby magazines like Bird Watcher's Digest, to commentaries on Islam, to Agatha Christie thrillers. The latter come complete with white stickers blocking the author's photo, lest the detainees deem the author too alluring. The man responsible for the worst terrorist attack in history can check out unlimited DVDs featuring newly-released movies, nature documentaries and international soccer matches. A state-of-the-art flat-screen television is available for his viewing pleasure, while the best some of his innocent American victims can muster is the purchase of a dated tube television at the local Salvation Army. And, KSM has access to a special classroom where he can take academic and vocational courses and learn English, Arabic, or Pashtu.
Extra efforts are taken to ensure that KSM is allowed to practice his religion and the tax dollars of his victims' families provide KSM with a kit containing provisions including necessities as well as luxuries like prescription glasses and electric razors on selected days, prayer beads and oils, and a Koran that guards are not permitted to handle. KSM's recreation yard provides him with news bulletins from the Middle East as well as a copy of the Geneva Conventions. While Gitmo is not officially governed by the treaties, the military makes every effort to make sure that KSM is treated in accordance with them.
Ten years after the Towers fell, many of KSM's young victims are grown and some of the widowed have remarried. The building which replaces the World Trade Center is nearly completed, and time marches on. Yet, the mastermind behind the atrocity has not yet been brought to justice.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was captured in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, on March 1, 2003, by the Pakistani ISI, possibly in a joint action with agents of the American Diplomatic Security Service, and he was turned over to the U.S. military for a swift war crimes trial. In September 2006, the U.S. government announced it had moved Mohammed from a secret prison to the facility at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.
In November, 2009, while KSM was on the fast track for a military tribunal, Eric Holder inexplicably and against the wishes of most Americans and virtually everyone involved in the process, referred the prosecution of KSM to federal courts and a trial in New York City, the same as if he had robbed a Queens Quik Trip. As a result of the Obama Administration's decision to seek a civilian prosecution, Bush-era military charges that had been pending against the five suspects were summarily dismissed. The mistake was short-lived, however, as local officials in New York City balked at the security, political, and logistical complications of the bone-headed decision. Holder's decision, made without any preparation, forethought, or background work, will go down in history as one of the worst legal decisions of all time. The Obama administration had made closing Guantanamo Bay and trying terrorists in civilian courts a huge priority both in the 2008 campaign and the early days of Obama's administration. Although it was lapped up by his ultra-liberal supporters, we see it now as a failure of epic proportions, and a key reason why the victims of 9/11 have been denied justice.
The simmering debate over how to bring justice to terrorists and the victims of 9/11 came to a head last year with the case of Ahmed Ghailani, the first Guantanamo detainee to be tried in civilian court. Ghailani was convicted of only one conspiracy charge but acquitted of more than 280 other charges related to his role in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa. Liz Cheney, chairman of the board of directors of the group Keep America Safe, said in a statement that President Obama "rolled the dice in a time of war" with Ghailani's trial, and the results are "embarrassing" and "dangerous."
In 2011, Congress passed legislation curtailing funding for and effectively barring the Administration from transferring anyone from Gitmo to federal courts. The Ike Skelton National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011 prohibited use of funds to transfer defendants from Guantanamo Bay to the United States. The Obama administration appeared increasingly unsure and inept with regard to what to do with KSM.
In April of 2011, Eric Holder referred KSM to the Department of Defense, which has since been in the process of setting up a military commission to try him. In announcing that KSM and four co-conspirators would once again be tried by military commission rather than in a civilian court, the Obama Administration and Eric Holder quickly tried to scapegoat Congress for the decision. Eric Holder said the policy reversal was due to congressional interference in executive counterterrorism efforts and “needless” drumming-up of controversy.
Despite the expensive and time-consuming flip-flop, the Obama Adminstration made sure that justice would still be elusive for the victims of 9/11. Retired Brig. Gen. Thomas Hemingway, a former top legal adviser to the commission convening authority, said that President Obama unilaterally amended the Manual for Military Commissions by executive order. The change requires that defendants facing capital charges in military tribunals have access to a “learned counsel” — a lawyer experienced in death penalty cases. We are told that an on-going search for such a rare "learned" lawyer with sufficient security clearance has been unsuccessful. Instead of moving forward at light speed to obtain justice and closure for families and friends of 9/11 victims, the inept Obama Administration, as it so often does, pandered to the radical America-hating left, put politics and political correctness ahead of country, and spent time and resources striving to ban the word "terrorism" from our lexicon and replace it with ridiculous, fuzzy terms like "man-caused disasters."
"Justice delayed is justice denied" is a legal maxim which means that if timely legal redress is unavailable for either the accused or the victims of a crime, it is the same as no justice at all. It is the foundation of our Constitutional right to a speedy trial and it underpins the unfairness to any crime victim who is denied a speedy resolution. According to the father of Todd Beamer, the hero of United Flight 93, “The families had no say, no voice, no champions inside the Holder Justice Department. We were ignored, tolerated, overlooked, and misled.” It is too late now. More than a decade after the worst terrorist attack in history, for the victims of 9/11, justice has been and forever will be, denied.