9/11 KIN MEETING WITH PREZ ON GITMO
By CARL CAMPANILE
New York Post
February 6, 2009
President Obama, under fire for suspending trials of suspected terrorists and for phasing out the Guantanamo prison in Cuba, has invited relatives of 9/11 victim's to the White House for a meeting today.
Family members, who will attend a 3:30 p.m. get-together in the Roosevelt Room, told The Post they hope to urge the president to swiftly prosecute the suspects, including those who bragged of plotting to blow up the World Trade Center.
Retired FDNY Deputy Chief Jim Riches - whose firefighter son, Jimmy, died at Ground Zero - was ticked off by Obama's Gitmo decision.
Riches last month visited Gitmo and attended the trial of Khalid Sheik Mohammed and other alleged 9/11 plotters, who stood up and admitted their guilt.
"We saw these people face to face," he said. "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 to happen to anyone else.
"Let's bring these guys to trial. Eight years is long enough. I want them tried, convicted and, if they killed my son, I want the death penalty."
Debra Burlingame, whose brother, Charles, was the pilot of hijacked American Airlines Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon, was eager to hear from the president.
"I'm hoping it's a substantive meeting," she said.
The White House has also invited relatives of victims of the terror attack on the USS Cole to attend.
Long Island Rep. Peter King, the ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, commended the White House for its outreach.
"The fact that he's meeting with the 9/11 families is a positive thing," he said. "He realizes that this is complicated and there are legitimate emotions involved."
King opposes Obama's call to close Gitmo and the president's order to ban controversial interrogation practices, such as water boarding.
Obama vowed during the presidential campaign to close Gitmo, complaining that some detainees were tortured - violating US ideals and giving the country a black eye in world opinion.
He said America can both prosecute war criminals and uphold human rights.
Meanwhile, the judge overseeing terror trials at Gitmo dropped charges yesterday against a suspect in the bombing of the Cole who's being held there.
Abd al Rahim al Nashiri is the alleged mastermind of the 2000 attack. He claims he confessed only after being tortured.
The move brings the base into compliance with Obama's request for a 90-day delay in legal proceedings.
The Saudi national will remain at Gitmo, and could be re-charged at a later date, officials said.
Seventeen US sailors died on the Cole when al Qaeda suicide bombers steered an explosives-laden boat into the destroyer, which was at anchor in a Yemen port.