November 3, 2009
Dear Families and Friends,
Over the weekend we were notified of the very disturbing news that there was a break-in and fire in the Chapel at Memorial Park, the temporary resting place of the unidentified remains of thousands of World Trade Center victims. According to authorities, a 26 year-old law school graduate turned himself into police on Saturday evening. We are outraged by this senseless act that sadly affects so many of our families. We will advocate for tighter security and keep you informed as more details are available. More.
Many of you are aware that the five accused of planning the 9/11 attacks are currently charged and await trial before military commission at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. There have been 12 sessions thus far of their military commission. The commission began on June 5, 2008 and held its most recent session on September 21, 2009. While President Obama directed a halt to all proceedings in January 2009, he permitted the team prosecuting these men to continue to do business pending a joint Department of Justice and Department of Defense review. Last week, the reformed Military Commissions Act of 2009 was signed into law by President Obama. The commissions were initially created by Executive Order, in November 2001, and were first enacted into law in October of 2006 with the passage of the Military Commissions Act. The new Military Commissions Act adopts some of the changes sought by the administration.
By mid November the the Attorney General in consultation with the Secretary of Defense will make a decision as to whether the case will continue in the military commission or move to a federal court here in the United States.
A link to the Military Commissions website can be found here. At this site, you can view the charge sheet against the five accused, and familiarize yourself with military commissions law.
Please contact Karen Loftus, the Director of the Victim and Witness Program, Office of Military Commissions, for further information. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at 703-695-0869.
You can also visit the Department of Justice website for victims of al Qaeda attributed attacks at www.usdoj.gov/nsd/ovtvictiminfo/. You will need the user name and password to access the site. The user name is ovtinfo and the password is May0109. You can also contact Heather Cartwright, Director, Office of Justice for Victims of Overseas Terrorism (OVT), National Security Division, U.S. Department of Justice. The email address for OVT is email@example.com and the phone number is (202) 532-4100.
Nationwide, the Justice Department and its U.S. Attorney’s offices have prosecuted many terrorism cases in recent months and years . Last year, Human Rights First published a comprehensive study on prosecuting terrorism in federal court from 9/11 through the end of 2007. The study, entitled: "In Pursuit of Justice: Prosecuting Terrorism Cases in the Federal Court," found that federal prosecutors achieved a conviction rate of more than 90 percent in the set of terrorism cases examined by the report’s authors. The study examined a specific set of 257 defendants charged with terrorism related violations in the United States between 9/11 and the end of 2007. Of the 160 defendants from this group who had their cases resolved, 145 were convicted of at least one count, either by a verdict of guilty after trial or by a guilty plea.
Since Jan. 1, 2009, more than 30 individuals charged with terrorism violations have been successfully prosecuted and/or sentenced in federal courts nationwide.
A link to the U.S. Department of Justice can be found here. At this site, you can view a Fact Sheet: Prosecuting and Detaining Terror Suspects in the U.S. Criminal Justice System.
For news and information to keep you informed about Guantanamo Bay please visit our website. We’d like to hear your thoughts about Guantanamo Bay on the Voices of September 11th forum: Guantanamo Bay Military Tribunal vs. U.S. Federal Court Trial. Click here
On Wednesday, November 18th, the NYC Firefighter Brotherhood Foundation along with the FealGood Foundation will hold a rally at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. The rally’s goal: to urge Congressional leaders to bring the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2009 to the House and Senate floor for a vote this year. September 11th first responders, concerned Americans and elected officials are encouraged to attend. The legislation was named after the first World Trade Center (WTC) rescuer to die from toxic exposure at Ground Zero. The act is intended to create a much-needed $10-billion fund for the long-term monitoring and health care of those affected by exposure to toxins during the recovery efforts. A firefighter and two police officers who worked at Ground Zero in the days and weeks after Sept. 11 have died of cancer in the past week according to the Daily News. Family members and advocates are blaming their deaths on toxins released into the air after the twin towers collapsed. More
Mary and the Voices Staff