Saturday, February 7, 2009

Obama Promises Terror Victims Families That His Top Priority Is Protecting America

The President used another "charm" offensive on the families of victims of 9/11 and the USS Cole bombing.

Certainly, we congratulate the President for being the first of three on the job since the Cole bombing to meet with the families.

However, we remain skeptical of his real motivation. That's not to imply that he doesn't care about the families, per se, we just do not agree with his national security policy thus far.

Gary Swenchonis, who lost his son in the USS Cole attack, has this to say:

  • Why attend a meeting when you already know the inevitable outcome. And President Obama has already signed the order to close Gitmo, and a request to stop the trials. Which they did. With only one judge who had the strength, courage and conviction to stand up for the murdered sailors and say that al-nashiri's arraignment would go forward. So anyway I asked the aide if he would please get my letter to Obama instead. He said he would if I faxed it. I had wrote Obama a letter the previous week pleading with him to change his mind. I faxed the letter later that same day. I knew that I would have to tell my wife later on when we got home that our murdered son's trail had become a victim of petty politics. And that she would be upset and hurt yet again.

Please, support Gary's fight for justice.

Fox News reported:

Obama promised the roughly 40 family members who attended that the meeting would be the first of many.

Some of the victims' relatives said they welcomed Obama's gesture. Still, they aren't entirely convinced that his decision to close the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, facility, where terrorism suspects are being detained, and halt legal action on their cases is the right thing to do.

Obama has expressed concerns about the fact that detainees have been held for years without trial. He has signed an executive order to close the facility within a year while the administration reviews other options for seeing that the detainees get their day in court.

Retired Navy Cmdr. Kirk S. Lippold, commanding officer of the Cole at the time of the Oct. 12, 2000, bombing, said he was disappointed when he first learned of the decision and remained skeptical. He also faulted Obama for not consulting the families ahead of time.

"In principle, his reason for closing it may be good," Lippold, a defense
adviser to Military Families United, told reporters after the hourlong
meeting. Lippold said Obama's stance is "well-intentioned, but the problem I have remains that we still don't have any procedures" for what will become of the terror suspects after the detention center is closed.

The White House said the meeting was the first the USS Cole victims have had with a president.

Lippold said the meeting was very emotional, and that the discussion largely focused on how to deal with the detainees, the impact of the decision on trials and what it would mean to the U.S. image abroad.

He said he expected the families would be asked for input after the 120-day review period.

"I'm looking forward to working with them as we have never had an opportunity as families to help shape policy when it comes to keeping our nation safe," Lippold said.

John Clodfelter, an Air Force veteran who lost his son, Kenneth, on the USS Cole, said he went into the meeting with a negative attitude.

"I didn't vote for the man," he said, still emotional hours after the meeting. "But ... the way he conducts himself, the way he talks, you can't help but believe him."

Clodfelter also expressed frustration with the lack of a trial for al-Nashiri eight years after the attack.

"We should have already had this man tried and executed if that's what the case is," he said. "I can't imagine an American that's in one of our prisons for eight years without anything being done for him."

Sally Regenhard, who lost her son, Christian, during the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on New York's World Trade Center, said the families had a good experience with Obama.

"He said that he's going to make sure that justice is done regarding the terrorists," she said in a telephone interview. "And we'll have an open line of communication with the White House regarding the family members. That's revolutionary."

"He assured us that he wants the same things that we want," Regenhard added.

Like Swenchonis, not everyone is thrilled.

The NY Post reports:

Retired Deputy Fire Chief Jim Riches - whose firefighter son Jimmy died at Ground Zero - was ticked off when Obama ordered those actions. Riches last month visited Gitmo and attended the trial of Khalid Sheikh Muhammed and other alleged 9/11 plotters, who stood up and admitted their guilt.

"We saw these people face to face. I want to tell the president what happened at Gitmo. That these detainees were laughing about what they did. I wish these trials were on TV. Americans would be outraged."

"I don't want what happened to my son happen to anyone else," Riches said.
For the sake of these families, we hope the President is sincere in his efforts to bring these murderers to justice.

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