I Have To Give Credit When Credit Is Due

Jon Gold

Yesterday, President Obama met with several 9/11 Family Members. Those that are familiar to us would be Sally Regenhard, Lorie Van Auken, Mindy Kleinberg, Patty Casazza, and Kristen Breitweiser.

Washington Post reports:

Lorie Van Auken, a leader of September 11th Advocates, a group headed by four New Jersey women who lost their husbands in the attacks, called the meeting "impressive," saying Obama gave detailed answers to their questions and allayed many of their concerns. She said the president did not rule out some form of military commissions in the future and acknowledged shortcomings in dealing with terrorism suspects in regular criminal courts.

"He acknowledged this was quite a mess and it really needed to be looked at by his legal team and by him," said Van Auken, whose husband, Kenneth Van Auken, was killed in the World Trade Center and whose group supports closing Guantanamo Bay. "I think everybody recognized, no matter which side of the issue they're on, that this is a quagmire that will not be solved easily."

Mindy Kleinberg, another member of the group, said Obama also made clear that "nobody is just going to get freed by the closing of Guantanamo."

"I think the point was that you have to make sure they have a system in place that can actually work," said Kleinberg, whose husband, Alan Kleinberg, also died in the World Trade Center. "I think even the people who came to the meeting who wanted to keep it open could understand his point of view."

Sally Regenhard had this to say:

"He said that he's going to make sure that justice is done regarding the terrorists," she said in a telephone interview. "And we'll have an open line of communication with the White House regarding the family members. That's revolutionary."

"He assured us that he wants the same things that we want," Regenhard added.
Now, I'm no fan of President Obama, but the fact that he was willing to give time to the families, and promised them "an open line of communication with the White House" is as Sally Regenhard said, "revolutionary." Especially when you take into account how the previous White House treated the 9/11 families.

So thank you President Obama for giving them the time of day.

Okay ...

I've been holding on to my hope with this man, and I am impressed that so quickly he met with the families. It remains to be seen what if anything is done. This comment worries me: "He said that he's going to make sure that justice is done regarding the terrorists."

Which terrorists? Those alleged to have done the crime, or those that actually fooled the world and got a way with it? If he meant the former, I think we can give up all pretense of hope at all for real justice from this administration.

Fan of Obama

This meeting would never have happened under the Bush or McCain administrations (if McCain had won.) It has been my impression that they were very careful to only give audience to supporters and never to critics.
Obama's people had to have known about the positions of the family members they invited, so that in itself signals signals they are sympathetic to their views and leaving the door to justice open.
BTW I recently read "Dreams from my Father" by Obama and he seems to be very different from the typical Washington politician. (I know I'm not American so I may not be qualified to comment on this.) Sure he has had to compromise and pander to the usual special interests on his way up but considering the possible alternatives he is the closest thing to an "average citizen" or outsider based on his upbringing and life choices and that is what differentiates him from the usual career politicians.
So yes, credit to Obama for being revolutionary and let's hope his revolutionary ideas grow and spread.
BTW2. He seems to be in an almost no-win situation, inheriting the mess left behind by the Bushies, not to mention having Cheney still lurking in the shadows, sending out thinly veiled messages and warnings of "terror attacks." If you read between the lines, these messages could be interpreted as warnings to Obama to watch his step with regard to hidden truths.
That's my humble support for your current President.


Getting a little bit of flack for this slight bit of praise.

Sometimes the way I look at things is through the eyes of a family member. Think about what these people have gone through. Now think about the chance they were given. For them, this was a good thing, and THAT is what I'm praising him for.

Whether or not this was just a PR stunt, only time will tell.

Edit: I will say this... if Obama promised them the world, and doesn't deliver, I am going to come down on him like a ton of bricks. I remember when I listened to Curt Weldon speak. I thought he was the "real deal" and "really cared" about 9/11. That he would contact me, etc... Never heard from him.

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?

>>that justice is done

>>that justice is done regarding the terrorists


Yes, this says it all.

It looks like the meetings are not going to be about reopening 9/11 -- except to perhaps to revisit the specifics of the failures, like the radios and how to finally correct the problem of one intelligence agency speaking to the other (jeesh!) -- but will be about how to change the process for the future attacks, when Arab men in caves try again to kill people in the US because they hate us.

If we increase the now doubled funding for the NSA, increase the other agencies' funding too, that will be a first step toward keeping track of Arab and other terrorist men who are even now plotting to do even worse terrorist damage that can take out our entire military with nothing but a good plan. Mainly we need to fix the computer systems for these agencies . . .

But first, what to do about the bad guys in Guantanamo. These are the real threats to the US . .. .

I hope I'm being cynical, but usually, it turns out I'm not.

Washington Post excerpt you left out Jon --

Obama told the group that he was only hitting the "pause button" when he sought the suspension of proceedings against 21 detainees, including Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks. And he assured the group that he wants the swift prosecution of those responsible for the terrorist attacks and their facilitators.

Summary of 9/11 Families Meeting with President Obama - 2/6/09


Summary of 9/11 Families Meeting with President Obama - 2/6/09 **

February 6, 2009: 9/11and USS Cole Families Meeting with President Barack
by Deputy Chief Jim Riches FDNY

President Obama met on Friday Feb. 6,2009 in the Executive Office Building
with 40 family members from the 9/11 WTC, Pentagon, Shanksville and the USS
Cole attacks.

President Obama came in and met each family member and shook hands and
talked for a little with each family.

President Obama expressed his thoughts on our great sacrifice for the loss
of our loved ones. He then explained that he had dropped the charges against
USS Cole terrorist, but that he would not let him go free and would recharge
him as he was an evil man and dangerous.

Next, President Obama told us that Guantanamo was a stain on the reputation
of the United States and that many associated it with Abu Gahraib. He told us
that the 9/11 and Cole trials were basically moving very slowly and not the
way that he thought it should be going. He said he and his team of lawyers
are looking over all aspects of cases and during this 120 day cooling off
period, come up with their selected process of prosecution. My opinion is that he
is not too happy with the Military Commissions and probably will move cases
to another process or modify them. He cited the delays and Supreme Court
decisions and then the prospect of overturn by appeal if the trials were to
continue in Military Commissions.

President Obama then took questions from the family members for about 40

Here is a sampling of some of the Questions & Answers:

Q: Consider keeping Gitmo open , have his team go there?

A: President Obama shot that down and said it will close within a year as
per his executive order.


Q: People were afraid of terrorists coming to US soil for trial ?

A: President Obama said that he was elected to protect us for the next 4
years and that he would protect our cities, twin towers, etc.


Q: I told him that I, Deputy Chief Jim Riches, FDNY, picked up the bodies
at WTC in 2001 and 2002. I saw the results of their evil actions. There has
been no accountability after 8 years; I saw these thugs at Gitmo in 2009 admit
their guilt, say they were proud of 9/11 and calling for Jihad in court, I
asked him if there would there be more transparency and showing of the trials
so that all of America and the world could see the outrageous behavior of
these terrorists. I also asked him to catch Bin Laden.

A: President Obama said there would be transparency in his administration
and the trials and would hope to not let these evil men be released and
promised me SWIFT and CERTAIN JUSTICE and his job was to keep America safe.


Q: concerns about classified documents getting in terrorists hands if moved
to federal court.?

A: President Obama said they would make sure we were safe and keep
classified documents away from them which would endanger America.

Q: Torture evidence? What would happen?

A: President Obama said some evidence obtained by torture may not hold up
in court, but they would craft solutions to this to assure guilty parties are
not freed.


Q: Can we have access to the numerous pages of 9/11 Commission reports that
have been blacked out and never released.?

A: President Obama said he would look into it.


Q: USS Cole families request 9/11 type Commission and also want to know why
compensation from lawsuit that they won,has been appealed only by the Dept.
of Justice?

A: President Obama said they would look into Commission and knew nothing
about DOJ appeal and would get back to them.


Q: Asked if the Hague could be involved in prosecution?

A: President Obama said probably not because it was for war crimes and very
technical concerning terrorist attacks

President Obama promised to keep dialogue with families open as his aides
will be liaisons and he took e-mail addresses and phone numbers of all in
attendance. President Obama said he hoped to have 9/11 and Cole families as part
of process.

Q & A: Again asked to keep Gitmo open and reconsider, but he said the
Detention Center will be closed within 1 year as per his executive order.


There were other questions , but the main point is he is against Gitmo and
feels it is a stain on America.

Now, we must wait , he says no longer than the 120 days to find out his
plan to prosecute and bring these terrorists to justice. President Obama
promised "swift and certain justice!" President Obama said it is not the time to
look back, but to look forward.

The families were all very grateful and thanked the President for taking
time out of his busy schedule in these rough economic times while still trying
to forge an economic stimulus package, to allay our fears, to answer our
questions, console us, talk to us and let us be a part of the process.

I left the meeting feeling that President Obama was sincere in what he said.
I believe that President Obama will assure the prosecution of those who have
aided, abetted or committed acts of terrorism. Hopefully, the terrorists
will be tried with the fundamental fairness as exemplified in the history of
American justice. Only time will tell as we await justice for our loved ones who
were MURDERED on 9/11/01.

We wish President Obama every success in the stewardship of our beloved

God speed. God bless America.

Deputy Chief Jim Riches FDNY father of Firefighter Jimmy Riches L114 9/11