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9/11 Family Members Challenge Legitimacy Of Guantánamo Military Commissions

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December 11, 2008

Several press reports this week quoted people who lost loved ones on 9/11 and who were selected by the Pentagon to travel to Gitmo and attend legal proceedings for detainees accused of planning the terrorist attacks. The articles included statements attributed to those family members that the tribunals provided a fair hearing for these prosecutions and that family members “were struck by the extensive rights accorded the accused men.”

No one can imagine what it’s been like for these families and how it felt for them to sit through these proceedings. But the truth is that there are many other 9/11 families with many different viewpoints who weren’t afforded the opportunity to be there, and whose opinions weren’t represented in the initial press coverage. Many of them strongly believe that the prison and the military commissions are a miscarriage of justice that have been politically motivated from the start.

We at the ACLU have been so fortunate to meet and hear from so many incredibly courageous and strong people, who tell us that they believe no closure or real justice can come from a commissions system that allows secret evidence and evidence obtained through torture. Many of them tell us that the military commissions go against the values of the ones they lost.

In order to make their voices heard, more than 30 relatives of 9/11 victims signed on to a statement making it known that that they “do not believe these military commissions to be fair, in accordance with American values, or capable of achieving the justice that 9/11 family members and all Americans deserve.”

In addition, the ACLU teamed up with Robert Greenwald’s Brave New Films to produce this short video. It features four family members talking about why they believe Gitmo and the commissions should be shut down. These are people who have a tremendous amount at stake in seeing that justice is served in the prosecution of 9/11 suspects. What they have to say is truly powerful.

Please note that by playing this clip You Tube and Google will place a long-term cookie on your computer. Please see You Tube’s privacy statement on their website and Google’s privacy statement on theirs to learn more. To view the ACLU’s privacy statement, click here.

To learn more about the campaign to close Guantánamo and end the military commissions, go to