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Amid Protests,9/11 Dad Wants City Terror Trials

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 15, 2009 9:16 pm    Post subject: Amid Protests,9/11 Dad Wants City Terror Trials Reply with quote

Amid Protests,9/11 Dad Wants City Terror Trials

"Treat Them Like Criminals"


When retired and active first responders protested Dec. 5 in lower Manhattan against the planned Federal trial for alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shiekh Mohammed, saying that he and other terror suspects should face a closed military tribunal, retired Fire Department Deputy Chief Jim Riches, a 9/11 first responder whose firefighter son died in the attacks, was present to offer a dissenting view.

Mr. Riches, who has been vocal on many issues related to 9/11 - from criticizing former Mayor Giuliani's 9/11 record when he ran for President last year to questioning the Obama's administration's decision to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay - voiced support for the Federal trial at both the protest and in an op-ed in the Daily News, saying, "New York is where they perpetrated their crimes; New York is where they must face justice."


While some family members of 9/11 victims as well as first responders ,such as ,retired Firefighter Tim Brown, who is the founder of the web site, TheBravest.com, argued that terrorists are war criminals and therefore do not have the right to a civilian trial, Mr. Riches countered that nearly 300 terror suspects have been tried and convicted in civilian courts, while three have been successfully convicted in military tribunals.

Mr. Riches said in a Dec 11 telephone interview that he attended the protest in order to give his side of the story to several television media outlets, including CNN and Fox News. He maintained that his support for keeping the facility at Guantanamo open while also favoring federal court trials was consistent because the Obama administration assured him an a meeting with 9/11 victim's family members that the terror suspects would be brought to justice.


"My concern wasn't where the trials were; I wanted them tried," he said, "I wanted the trials to go forward."

Mr. Riches also argued that a civilian trial in federal court would bring justice to those who perpetrated the attacks.


"The Federal courts have a superior record in prosecuring high profile terrorist cases without compromising national security," Mr. Riches wrote in the op-ed. "In Guantanamo, the military prosecutors assured me that there is much evidence that does not rely on any information that was obtained through torture or by confessions. I take them at their word."

He also dismissed the idea that the terror suspects should be treated like soldiers in a war. While supporters of a military tribunal believed a civilian trial was unjustifiably good treatment for alleged terrorists. Chief Riches believed that a military tribunal would grant what he called "criminals" an undeserving title of soldier.

Mr Brown and other activists said during a press conference last month that a civilian trial would allow terror suspects to make a "mockery" of the American justice system., but Mr. Riches argued that military tribunals were no alternative, judging by one such tribunal at Guantanamo. "The terrorists made a mockery of the military courtroom with frequent outbursts," he wrote. "They asked to have their foot shackles removed, requested softer seat cushions and wanted chairs and computers in their cells. They got everything that they asked for. Yet, eight years later , there is no accountability for their heinous crimes."


In the interview, Chief Riches said the claim that having the trials in the city would make Manhattan a terrorist target was illogical. "Bringing them here doesn't make us any more of a target," he said.

On the subject of people like Mr. Brown, Chief Riches said, " I think they're blinded by their hate for Obama. They are not looking at the facts, I think it's wrong."

Patrolman's Benevolent Association President ,Patrick J. Lynch has called for a military tribunal, saying "It is our belief that the attack on the World Trade Center was an act of war and that those who participated in that attack are war criminals." Uniformed Firefighter Association President Steve Cassidy did not denounce the civilian trail, but said that having it in the city was a safety risk and suggested that a different venue be chosen.

Some lawmakers, such as U.S. Rep. Peter King, have blasted the Manhattan terror trials, saying that they pose a security risk. The Federal Protective Service said that it did not have enough city based members to secure the courthouse along with the nYPD, and that it would have to bring staff in from other regions.

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer and Rep. Jerrold Nadler, whose district includes Ground Zero, have both endorsed the administration's decision to hold the trials in Manhattan federal court.


"The bottom line is these are Federal terror cases that will bring to justice, in Federal Court, the evil men behind the attack on our nation on 9/11," Senator Schumer said in a statement responding to Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly saying that the trials

could cost the Department more than expected. He continued, "It's common sense that the Federal Governmant pay for the security costs, because these trials will place a significant burden on the NYPD and the city to keep lower Manhattan safe and secure. Additionally, the tools and resources needed for a trial of this scale are enormous. Attorney General Eric Holder told me that he will press to fully reimburse the city's security expenses and I will hold the administration's feet to the fire to do just that-- no matter what the cost."

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