More than 20 years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people, including my own nephew, the frustratingly slow process of bringing to trial five Guantanamo prisoners charged with participating or planning the attacks still hasn't resulted in a trial.
Carol Rosenberg of The New York Times has been on this Gitmo story for years. Recently she wrote this account of those negotiations and what they might do to bring this long international nightmare to something of a close. As Rosenberg notes, a plea bargain would remove the possibility of the death penalty for anyone who agreed to such a deal. That's another reason to support this approach. Capital punishment should be used never, anywhere, ever, period.
In addition, here is an Associated Press story about all of this that quotes Terry Rockefeller, who has been an important leader in the group September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, to which I also belong.
That story quotes Terry as saying that a resolution would enable the defendants to testify in other criminal or civil cases related to the attacks.
“We’re almost to the 10th anniversary (or the arraignment of the defendants), and it’s not only clear to us that a trial, if it were to ever happen, would take years but it will face years of appeals,” said Rockefeller, whose sister Laura was killed in the World Trade Center. “And we believe pretrial agreements are the only way to get any measure of truth, justice and accountability.”
Imagine dragging out all of this for another five or more years. That's what 9/11 families don't need. What they do need is some kind of legal resolution that gives them a chance to hear from the defendants themselves about what they did and why they did it. That's still an accounting we don't have.
That's part of what I write about in my latest book, Love, Loss and Endurance: A 9/11 Story of Resilience and Hope in an Age of Anxiety. And it's something we need to figure out if we're to have any hope of avoiding additional extremist violence.
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A CATHOLIC RECKONING OVER INDIGENOUS ISSUES?
Indigenous people from Canada are meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican this week, and hope to extract an apology from the Catholic Church for what it did years ago to Indigenous children who were sent to various boarding schools -- often with disastrous and even deadly results. Here's an article by an Indigenous author that will provide some background to all of this. He writes this: "Their aim will be to address the church’s role in Canada’s residential school system and lay the groundwork for the Pope’s coming visit to Canada. For me, a Cree man who grew up deeply entrenched in the Catholic Church, this is a moment of tension and fascination, as I ponder how the meeting could unfold and what it might accomplish." I trust this pope not to make things worse and maybe even to begin a process of badly needed repentance and healing.