9/11 Family Member Describes Experiences At GITMO

9/11 kin sees face of terror; condemns plan to shut Gitmo
After seeing suspects brag about attacks, she's stunned when trial is suspended

Source: silive.com

Sunday, February 01, 2009

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- It was little more than 24 hours between the time Lorraine Arias-Beliveau boarded a plane and the moment she came face-to-face with the five men accused of masterminding the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The former New Springville resident sat in a courtroom at Guantanamo Bay on Jan. 19 with several other family members who lost loved ones in the Twin Towers. They were selected in a lottery to observe pre-trial hearings.

She was stunned by what she heard: The suspects, switching back and forth between Arabic and English, shrugged off potential death sentences and proclaimed they were proud of their role in the attacks.

Their words forced her to step outside of the courtoom for a few minutes.

"It was surreal, it was chilling," said Mrs. Arias-Beliveau, whose brother, Adam Arias, a 37-year-old Dongan Hills resident and vice president of operations for Euro Brokers, was seen standing outside Tower 2 helping firefighters direct New Yorkers away from the building when it collapsed.

"These men were responsible for the deaths of 3,000 people and they stared right at us and laughed. We just stared right back." But what was even more stunning, she said, was what came in the next 24 hours: A day after he was inaugurated, President Barack Obama suspended all terror trials for 120 days -- a cooling-off period to study how to proceed with trials of those suspected of taking part in terrorist attacks against the United States.

Obama also ordered the detention center -- notoriously known as Gitmo -- closed within a year.

"The safest place to have those trials is at Guantanamo Bay," said Mrs. Arias-Beliveau, who now lives in Barnegat, N.J.

"I am very fearful of Gitmo being closed and of bringing these prisoners into the United States," she said, referring to Obama's plans to possibly try terror suspects in traditional military or civil courts here. "We have Homeland Security in place to keep them out and now he's talking about bringing them in."

Originally, she opted not to enter her name into the lottery.

"I thought it would bring up too many feelings and would be a very emotionally draining experience," she said.

But when another brother was selected and asked her to join him on the trip, she changed her mind. She had to go for Adam, the youngest of six, an unassuming, funny guy who loved to sing.

"I was meant to go," she said, simply.

Mrs. Arias-Beliveau, and her brothers, Donald and Andrew Arias, were flown from Washington to Cuba on the evening of Jan. 16 on a commercial airliner that took off from Andrews Air Force Base. Also on board were two fathers who lost their sons, journalists, witnesses and court staff.

When they arrived, they were dropped off at townhouses on the base. Security arrangements were already under way to transport the alleged Sept. 11 co-conspirators, including Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the attacks, into court.

Separate arrangements were being made for the trial of Canadian Omar Khadr, accused of killing a U.S. serviceman in Afghanistan.

The Sept. 11 families were picked up at 7 a.m. on Monday and were seated in court by 9. They were in court for eight hours that day. There were no proceedings in honor of Obama's inauguration on Tuesday. The trials were put on hold the next morning.

On Thursday, Mrs. Arias-Beliveau boarded a plane back home.

"I don't care if they sentence them to life in prison or to death. I just want to see the trials expedited and I want to see them tried and convicted. My parents are in their 80s. I want them to see justice in their lifetimes."

Stephanie Slepian is a news reporter for the Advance. She may be reached at slepian@siadvance.com.

Face to face with evil: 9/11 family member tells of close encounter with Gitmo terrorists

Source: nydailynews.com

By Lorraine Arias-Beliveau
Sunday, February 1st 2009, 4:00 AM

My brother was killed in the World Trade Center on 9/11. I have been waiting for justice ever since. Last month, I went to Guantanamo Bay to try to find it.

What I witnessed was shocking. I saw a place where prisoners toy with the authorities, read the newspaper and get one hour breaks for prayer. I saw a place where detainees are treated far better than many ordinary American criminal defendants - and, as far as I'm concerned, far better than they deserve.

I looked straight into the eyes of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the man who masterminded the attacks that killed my brother and almost 3,000 other Americans. I was there when President Obama was inaugurated - and, soon thereafter, when he called a four-month halt to the criminal trials that were just getting underway.

I left with a deep fear that some day the men we now hold in custody will be free to inspire others who hate - if not to continue to kill innocent people themselves.

My presence at Guantanamo was rare. My brothers were chosen by lottery to be among the small number of family members able to observe the proceedings there; with their one remaining slot, they invited me. In retrospect, it turns out we may have been among the very last civilians to set eyes on the detention camp as we know it today.

The proceedings began at 9 a.m. on a Monday morning, in a state of the art courtroom. My brothers and I sat behind glass, a curtain separating us from the press. Much of what we watched appeared on two closed circuit TVs, which edited out information that might be classified.

Then the detainees arrived. "Detainees" - it's a mundane word. These were the five co-conspirators of 9/11, all under one roof. Five men who have celebrated the taking of innocent lives by the thousands. They arrived in well-appointed traditional garb - white linen, I presumed. Someone asked, "Where are the orange jumpsuits?"

My focus that morning was on one of the five men. I could hardly believe my eyes when he came into focus: Khalid Shaik Mohammed, the man who boasted of having masterminded the attacks. He sat there in front of us, preening his beard. Did he seem humbled or chastened? Hardly. He looked like, deep inside, he was laughing in our faces.

What we then saw unfold was less of a trial than a farce. Mohammed dismissed his council - only to call them back. He sat there at the table, in front of his personal computer, complaining about something he had read in The Wall Street Journal - holding up the newspaper for the rest of us to see.

Before long, the scene was overwhelmed by a steady stream of what sounded to me like legal minutiae and trivialities. It was sickening. It was surreal.

I will never forget what interrupted that: Khalid Shaikh Mohammed's defense declaring to the court that their client was requesting a cushion because his seat in the van had been too hard. A debate unfolded: the prosecution claimed the cushion had already been provided; the defense insisted he had not received one.

Was this really happening? I went outside for air. My on-base escort followed and asked me what was wrong. "Three thousand people are dead and they are arguing over a cushion," I answered.

Then came a two hour break - one for lunch, the second for the defendants' specially protected hour of prayer.

It wasn't long before the circus resumed. Back at trial, Mohammed burst out with this (according to my notes): "I did it I said I did it! I am proud I did it for jihad!! We say we are guilty just sentence me!"

The words were chilling but something cut even deeper to my core: his gaze. Mohammed turned to make eye contact with us. We stared back.

Before long, court was dismissed, and we were informed that, due to the inauguration of the new President, there would be no hearings the following day.

The following morning we heard the news over CNN: by order of the President, all the proceedings were now on hold. Others were angry that our opportunity to see justice done had been postponed. I shared some of that frustration, but I tried to remain hopeful. I am hopeful that our new government simply wants some time to examine all the issues.

Obama, you must never forget: residing at Guantanamo are confessed architects of 9/11. Please, Mr. President, swiftly fix the system if you must. Then turn to the much more important work of bringing these men and other hardened terrorists to justice - hopefully in military court. These men must never go free.

Arias-Beliveau's youngest brother Adam Arias was killed in Tower 2 of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

Chosen by lottery?

Where did the lottery take place? Is there video of this lottery? Who witnessed the lottery? Did they use ping pong balls?

I am very sorry that this person lost her brother in the attacks. I would also like to see justice. I just don't think they have caught the culprits yet.

KSM confessed to a long list of plots and crimes. Some of his claims have been proven to be dubious.


Apparently, only family

Apparently, only family members who believe the Official Myth were eligible.

That's usually...

How it seems to go with regards to this kind of thing. Debra Burlingame, and Mark Bingham's mom were the "go-to" family members after the 9/11 Report was released for whenever a network needed the opinion of a family member.

Do these people deserve to know how and why their loved ones were murdered? Do we deserve to know how and why 9/11 happened?

Pure Propaganda

Those men are being tortured, plain and simple. Cutting off the senses of sight and hearing to a person normally with those senses is torture. When they put the hoods and earmuffs on them, that's what they are doing...breaking them. It causes them to go insane. Try wearing ear muffs and a bag on your head for 3 hours...it will start to play on your mind and you even know that it's just an experiment.

They have cells, muffs, and black bags in store for many of us. Who's next?

Oh...and closing Gitmo is just so they can move the torture here, to the homeland. So they can intigrate it into our society.