Exclusive: Finally, justice - 9/11 victim Ron Clifford prepares for Guantanamo trial


Though news reports earlier this summer predicted a protracted trial that could last years, Clifford says he’s confident legal proceedings will now move ahead quickly.

“We’ve evolved into one of the few societies that can do this,” Clifford said. “That’s based on our good Constitution.”

Clifford, who still retains his Irish accent, says he’s 100 percent Irish but “living the American dream.”

A software executive, Clifford specializes in startup companies. His love for his adopted country is apparent, as is his optimism for the future.

“I see how New York has bounced back,” he said. “We’ve got the battle scars and the war wounds, but I think we’re better people. I enjoy life—I respect life more, and I treasure the relationships.”

Clifford has undergone treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, induced by his experience in the World Trade Center. Although his symptoms have improved over the past decade, he still feels anxious in crowded places.

“If I hear loud noises, I hit the deck,” he said.

Clifford stressed the importance of his religious faith in his ability to “deal with” the aftermath of the tragedy, and remained stoic throughout his interview with the Irish Voice.

“Once you have faith, you can get through anything,” he said.

According to court documents, the hearings later in August will deal with several logistical and administrative procedures. The docket states that the government will motion to keep trial information that is “detrimental to public safety” classified, while the defense has in general promoted the release of redacted versions of trial information.

The defense will motion for the appointment of an additional lawyer for Hawsawi, for the defendants to appear in their own clothes, and for three specific witnesses to testify.

So far, the defense has filed motions stating that government restrictions on communication between the defendants and their lawyers are preventing the lawyers’ ability to provide adequate counsel.

The first witness requested by the defense, whose name is redacted from court documents, works in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, and is expected to testify on the CIA Rendition, Detention and Interrogation program.

The second witness, Larry Fox, is a professor at Yale Law School and is expected to give his opinion regarding the legal and ethical implications of overly restricting communication between attorney and client.

The third, Robin Maher, is director of the American Bar Association Death Penalty Representation project, and will testify on “capital representation guidelines.”

The selections hint that the defense intends to pursue lines of inquiry related to the prior interrogation—and allegations of torture—of the defendants. It seems the defense counsel will attempt to loosen government restrictions on communication between the defendants and defense attorneys, and to clarify the legal representation the defendants can expect should they be sentenced to death.

According to Clifford, these avenues of inquiry are to be expected from the defense lawyers, who “will try to play out every angle.”

“They’re just doing their job,” Clifford said.

Another hearing originally scheduled for September 8-12, has been cancelled due to its proximity to the August date. The court is expected announce a replacement date at the hearing next week.