Waiting in the witness room adjacent to the courtroom, I remember explaining to my 15-year-old daughter, Monica, that our American justice system is fair and impartial.
We watched the Zacarias Moussaoui trial and followed the proceedings until the final verdict. This was a lesson in constitutionality that I will not forget.
But my family, the Cliffords of Cork, along with the rest of the 9/11 victims are still waiting for President Barack Obama to make good on his promise to bring the 9/11 terrorists to trial.
President Obama met with the victims’ families two years ago this month, in Washington, D.C., and promised “swift and certain justice” for the terrorists. The group of 30 people who met with President Obama was told that we were “the conscience of the country.”
These words were used in a White House press release to the public that afternoon. This was the exhortative news that this postdiluvian group needed to hear.
Since then, however, nothing effectual or determinative has been accomplished in order to move forward with a trial.
It’s now nearly 10 years since the 9/11 violent carnage of innocent victims, and still there are no scheduled proceedings to bring the terrorists to trial.
It is both shameful and disgraceful that the U.S. government has not moved forward with a trial. It is cruel to all of us who have lost family and friends, and speaks volumes to the global fore. We must see proper justice dispensed for this collective heinous crime.
My sister, Ruth McCourt, and her daughter, Juliana, were on United Flight 175 from Boston en route to California. Both my sister and my niece were cold-bloodedly murdered along with everyone else who perished on that tragic day.
This attack was launched on U.S. soil, in a plan orchestrated, guided, and executed by people from other regions of the world. We know who these people are, and they are interned in Guantanamo by U.S. military forces.
The investment in accumulating the evidence needed to institute a trial has already been made, yet advancing with the proceedings is stalled by constitutional discussions and political indecisiveness relative to the type of court to be used, a lack of agreement on admissible evidence, the secured trial venue, and the list lengthens with each passing day.
On 9/11, I was on my way to a meeting in the World Trade Center when I witnessed the annihilation firsthand, as I tried to rescue a badly burned victim, Jennianne Maffeo.
I guided Jennianne to helping hands, through a street littered with the remains from planes used as missiles to attack New York City. She was burned over 90% of her body, and died 40 days later. On that day, at the base of the Twin Towers, I saw death, I smelt death, I heard death, and I have relived these deaths daily since that morning.
My situation is further complicated because I felt the shudder of the second plane striking the north tower—the plane that carried my sister and niece—as I struggled for my own life on the ground below. Ruth and Juliana were on their way to Disneyland.
I was called as a witness for Zacarias Moussaoui, the 20th bomber, and watched the bizarre and threatening courtroom behavior of Moussaoui throughout the trial held in Alexandria, Virginia. With my daughter seated next to me, we observed the U.S. judicial system at work, and how it served to put this evil man away for life.
I have tried to understand the arguments and political wrangling over the trial and particularly, the closing of the military prison in Guantanamo Bay. President Obama has said that he wants to close it, but the U.S. Congress has fought him not to sanction bringing the detainees to prisons within the United States. Why won’t President Obama make a decision to go ahead with the trial and invoke an executive order to combat any barriers that stand in the way of justice?
This trial will have an extraordinary impact on the legal perimeters under the current laws and precedents must be set in order to deal with future acts of terrorism against the United States of America.