Politico: Chances dim for swift 9/11 decision


Chances dim for swift 9/11 decision
By: Josh Gerstein
June 20, 2010 07:07 AM EDT

Attorney General Eric Holder said the decision over where to hold the trial for alleged 9/11 plotter Khalid Sheikh Mohammad was “weeks away” — three months ago.

Now advocates on both sides of the issue say they expect the Obama administration to punt the decision until after the November midterm elections— when the controversial plan could do less damage to the political fortunes of endangered Democrats and might face less resistance on Capitol Hill.

Holder last week explicitly denied the midterms had anything to do with the timing but would only say discussions are continuing. The White House had no comment.

Any further stalling could pose a serious political problem for President Barack Obama on the left – where advocates cheered his administration’s plan to break from the Bush administration and give top al-Qaida figures trials in American courtrooms, a sign to the country and the world that U.S.-style justice was enough to try to men accused of the worst crimes in the nation’s history.

The White House already signaled that it's dumped Holder's plan for a 9/11 trial in Manhattan after a firestorm of local opposition. But it's still unclear whether Obama will OK a civilian trial elsewhere – or move toward recently revamped military commissions, where the rules of evidence are different and the legal procedures largely untested.

To many, such a move would make Obama’s approach largely indistinguishable from President George W. Bush's handling of the 9/11 cases.

Advocates say the signs of foot-dragging are evident. The Democrats’ political fortunes have dipped further, talks on the broader issue of Guantanamo closure have ground to a halt and the House took a little-noticed vote to block transporting any Gitmo detainees to the United States, for any reason.

That measure passed last month by an overwhelming majority, a clear warning shot that Republicans – and even some Democrats – are prepared to fight Holder’s plan if he continues to push for civilian trials, a roadblock that by itself could be enough to squash any short-term announcement.

“The worst possible outcome is not making a decision….There’s a genuinely weird paralysis I would not have predicted,” said Ben Wittes, a Brookings Institution scholar who has urged Obama to announce that there will be no trials for the 9/11 suspects. “It’s disgraceful and they should be embarrassed by it. There are pros and cons of any approach you take, but there is no good argument to let this fester indefinitely.”

Tom Malinowski of Human Rights Watch, an advocate for civilian trials, said a delay until November or later now seems almost inevitable. “I have assumed for some time that that’s the decision,” Malinowski said. “There was a period earlier this year where they were indeed struggling to make this decision—and the sounds of struggle have ceased.”

While “swift and certain justice” once was a regular part of the White House lexicon on Guantanamo and detainee trials, that catchphrase has now vanished along with the prospect of anything swift happening to most of the prisoners slated for continued detention or trial.

“Both the 9/11 and the Cole families had the president look them in the eye and say, ‘We’re going to close Gitmo, move forward with this process, and hold people accountable,’ ” said Commander Kirk Lippold, a proponent of military trials who was the commanding officer aboard the U.S.S. Cole when it was attacked in Yemen in 2000.

“When does an unfulfilled political promise become a lie?” Lippold asked. 

Defense sources say a military commission for the alleged mastermind of the Cole bombing, Saudi Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, put on hold by Obama after he took office could ramp up again at Guantanamo late this summer.

In November, Holder announced his plan to try KSM and four other accused 9/11 plotters in Manhattan. However, when local leaders backed away from that idea in January, the White House pulled the plug and announced it would review other options for resolving the cases.

In March, Holder expressed optimism that a resolution would be arrived at quickly.

“I think that we are weeks away from making that determination. I don't think we're talking about months,” Holder told a House appropriations subcommittee on March 16. White House officials also endorsed the “weeks” frame. 

Asked last week if a decision had been made to put off the issue until after the elections, Holder said: “No decision has been made with regard to where the trials will be held, but the conversations that we are having are ongoing, and the political thing that you mentioned, the fact of the elections, is not a part of the conversations at all.”

However, the political attractiveness of delay for Democrats is pretty straightforward.

“It deprives [Republicans] of a cheap 30-second spot about moving the most dangerous people in the world to U.S. soil. On the other hand, it makes Democrats look like they can’t handle the issue,” Malinowski said.

Part of the delay on 9/11 trials has been caused by the White House’s desire to explore what some call a “grand bargain”— one bill or a series of measures that would bring about Guantanamo’s closure by providing money for a prison at Thomson, Ill.; authorize bringing current Gitmo inmates there; overhaul the rules for detaining the prisoners; and likely involve green-lighting a military commission trial for the 9/11 prisoners and civilian trials for others.

Earlier this year, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and White House Counsel Bob Bauer had detailed talks with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) about such a compromise. But in the last couple of months the White House has “gone dark,” a Congressional source close to Graham said.

“They [the White House] can’t figure out what they want to do,” the source said.

Some reports have suggested that most White House officials have sided with Emanuel, who is said to favor military trials. However, at meetings with human rights and civil liberties groups earlier this year, White House Office of Public Engagement Director Tina Tchen strongly hinted that Obama is inclined to back civilian trials if the practicalities can be worked out, a source said.

While there is clearly significant resistance in Congress to civilian 9/11 trials, lawmakers haven’t tied Obama’s hands on the issue—at least not yet. When Graham forced a Senate vote last November on blocking such trials, the measure failed, 54-45. But then there was the underwear bomber, Scott Brown’s victory in his Massachusetts Senate campaign in part on an anti-civilian trial message, and, last month, the Times Square car bombing attempt.

Of course, Obama could veto any legislation sent to his desk that ruled out civilian trials for the 9/11 suspects or anyone else at Gitmo. But that would put the terrorism issue at the center of national political debate—something the White House has assiduously tried to avoid. Since delivering a speech on the issue of terrorism suspects at the National Archives 13 months ago, Obama has been nearly mum on the issue.

Still, the House bill may prove a significant obstacle. As members rushed to leave for the Memorial Weekend, the House adopted a motion by Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) that would effectively bar the transfer of any Gitmo prisoner to U.S. soil. In the 282-131 vote, Democrats defected en masse, with 114 backing Forbes’s motion.

The plan to close Gitmo also is stalled. At a press conference in Chicago last month that received little national attention, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who favors moving Gitmo detainees to Thomson, Ill., seemed to concede that movement on the issue wouldn’t come anytime this year.

“We have to resolve that Guantanamo issue at another time,” Durbin said, according to a video posted on the Fox News website. Asked if that meant “a non-election year,” Durbin replied: “Well perhaps it’ll be easier. That’s a pretty cynical view—and very accurate.” 

Others say that while a delay lowers the profile of the issue of a trial for KSM and his cohorts, it doesn’t sweep it off the table. “I think they want to take it off the table in the election, then they want to sneak it in or think we’ll have a different playing field or people will have softened on this,” said Debra Burlingame, who strongly opposes a civilian 9/11 trial. Her brother was an airline pilot killed aboard one of the 9/11 flights. “We are not going to go away," she insisted.

Some analysts, such as Malinowski, surmise that the protracted delay signals that the White House may well opt for civilian trials in the end, since there would be little political downside to announcing a move to military commissions now if that were the decision. Others say that after eight years of frustration another six months of delay isn’t a big deal.

“I think a civilian trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is in the best interests of the United States and I’m prepared to wait for it,” said Ken Gude of the Center for American Progress.

Full Story:  http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0610/38754.html


The Burlingame family may have some dark stuff to keep hidden...

Chic Burlingame was the Captain of AA77 on 9/11/2001. Its also reprted that approximately one year earlier he was involved with an analysis of the strengths and weanesses of the defense system used to protect the Pentagon...noteably by the use of hijacked aircraft being used as airbourne bombs crashing into the Pentagon.

Now, I am not positive of the reliability or original sources of this information and if anyone has any confirmation it would be good to get this on the record. I know that I would appreciate it alot.

From an air traffic controller's point of view, AA77, once it was lost to positive radar contact over eastern Ohio, no aircraft at any time, in any location, or by any radar facility has ever positively identified any other airvehicle as being AA77. Its only media fueled SPECULATION that the high speed target first??? noticed by Danielle O'Brien at Dulles Tower/Potomac TRACON heading towards WDC was AA77.

Current OCT "proof" of this airvehicle being the real AA77 comes from the crash site and works itself backwards to the first observation of the unidentified high speed primary radar target. However, it seems that the FDR found? at the crash site has significant issues regarding it actually being the FDR that was onboard the original AA77...see Aidan Monaghan's work on the subject.

And there also seems to be valid questions about the authenticity and origins of the debris and DNA samples found at the Pentagon crash site. Therefore, if there are questions about the "evidence" establishing the identity of the debris and body parts found at the Pentagon as being those of the original AA77, then consequently, there are similar concerns about the primary target being that of the original AA77 based upon that crash site evidence .

So, both the failure of anyone to positively identify the primary radar target as being AA77 when it was west of WDC coupled with the questions about the evidence found at the crash site create competent doubts about the media touted "perception" that the primary radar target in question was indeed that of AA77.

To me there remains no conclusive proof presented that establishes the identity of the airvehicle [s] that crashed? or flew over?, or whatever activity? or combined activities? happened on 9/11/2001 at the Pentagon as being that of AA77.

Additionally, there is a building case that this primary target was "seen" [an FAA term] or "tracked" [a NORAD term] by some radar facility well before it was first observed by O'Brien travelling west-to-east when it was south of Dulles airport, or well before the "50 miles out" position made famous by the Mineta-Cheney dialogue down in the PEOC. More later.

And, the NTSB Flight Path Study establishes that AA77, before it was lost to positive radar contact in eastern Ohio, was seen to have begun a descent from FL350. However, niether the FDR nor the associated animation about the flight of AA77, as presented by Pilots for 9/11 Truth, shows the beginning of such a descent. This establishes that the FDR found at the Pentagon site was either tampered with or perhaps was even NOT the original FDR for AA77. And obviously, the animation [which doesn't even match the FDR data] is therefore an innacurate representation of the flight of AA77. In each case, both the FDR and the animation, the data shows that AA77 remained level at FL350 during a FULL left turn that AA77 performed? just before being lost to positive radar contact over eastern Ohio.

BTW...the NTSB study also establishes that AA77 was last seen heading in a southwesterly direction before being lost to radar contact...yet the FDR and animation show that it completed the left turn in level flight and then headed eastbound.

Something has to give here because we have three different sources of flight path data...and none of them match with each other.

Additionally some RADES radar data that I have seen attempts to paint a picture of constant radar "observability" of the primary target in question from the point of the loss of positive radar contact over eastern Ohio to the point where it was seen by Danielle O'Brien. However, that radar data over the central West Virginia region, also provided by RADES [and in some instances by the FAA radar data], shows primary targets so close to each other [400 feet at 100+ miles from the radar site] that it fails the smell test because long range radars are not that accurate considering their different locations, distances and radar sweep arcs involved. Therefore, since the radar targets are presented as being so very close from VERY different radar antennae sites, its clear to me that one set of radar data has been FABRICATED atop of, or directly from, the other set of radar data. Again, something has to give here...more later...

Finally, if it is shown that AA77 was NOT the airvehicle that struck?, went over?, or whatever? happened at the Pentagon, and consequently the question also arises as to "where did AA77 go?" and further, "Where did the passengers go and what could have happened to them?", then the beginning of the search needs to be over eastern Ohio where the real AA77 was lost to positive radar contact.

This reality, IE: that it wasn't the original AA77 that crashed?, flew over?, or whatever? at the Pentagon, if established, would then obviously lead directly to Chic Burlingame as Captain of AA77 because:

If there was an airvehicle swapped-IN replacing the original AA77, its clear that AA77 would need to have been "swapped OUT" in one way or another. Its also well understood that in any "swapping scenario", the pilot of the aircraft which was "swapped out" has to be a "friendly to the activity" because the aircraft "swapped OUT" had to go somewhere...regardless of its eventual safety or outcome of hull, crew and passengers.

Enter Chic Burlingame...and his family's need to keep this information, or eventual inquiry buried or blocked respectively.

The AA77 saga is the Pentagon's "achilles heel", which is why they are so secretive about things such as the video tapes etc., and Chic Burlingame flying left seat of AA77 on 9/11/2001 is way, way too coincidental to be overlooked. Again...more later...

9/11 Truth for World Peace and Justice

Robin Hordon
Kingston, WA

The usual rigamarole

'Now advocates on both sides of the issue say they expect the Obama administration to punt the decision until after the November midterm elections— when the controversial plan could do less damage to the political fortunes of endangered Democrats and might face less resistance on Capitol Hill.'

They weren't 'endangered' when they first got in with a big majority, and in strong position to change course from that of the preceding administration. They're looking for an excuse. Now it's, 'we risk losing too many seats if we push this approach now.' After November, whether Democrat losses are few or many, the fact that Republicans have gained will the risk of further political fallout will then be the excuse for why they just can't push for civilian trials for the suspects. This is the case that they want to be able to make to their party's base, to keep the rank and file believing that they want to do the right thing but just can't for reasons of practical politics.

Ready for a fight?

The mass murderers must keep 9/11 out of the news. Any public discourse related to 9/11 perpetrators must not be allowed. The subject of 9/11 is now an unstable force of nature and can only be raised in a highly controlled context. First they ridicule you, then they fight you, and then you win. We are between ridicule and fight. Get ready.