Several years after the two most high profile and recent terrorist attacks against the United States, family members of the victims lost were able to meet with a president to voice their concerns over how justice is being carried out. Friday, President Barack Obama met with families of the victims of the bombing on the USS Cole and the terrorist attacks on September 11. It was more or less an impromptu meeting with the president that he called in response to the charges of one suspect being held in Guantanamo Bay being dropped, and the proceedings of the trials taking place in Guantanamo Bay.
According to a few different Obama’s aides, this is “something he really wanted to do,” and is the first such meeting with any president of the past three administrations that the victims of the USS Cole have had, and the first time some victim’s family members from 9/11 met with a president. The meeting, which was held in the Dwight D. Eisenhower Building adjacent to the White House, lasted about an hour and was longer than what was initially intended. President Obama first shook hands with the close to 50 people in attendance, and then said his peace promising swift justice for terror suspects held at Guantanamo Bay prisons, which he intends on closing. He then took over a dozen questions from the families. Many came out feeling satisfied, but still look to the future for further answers. This process is one that Obama will hold dearly in the next few years, as he told the families that “this is just the start of our dialogue.”
Information was made public Thursday that the government was to drop the charges against Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, one suspect being held at Guantanamo Bay who admitted to masterminding the plot on the USS Cole. Al-Nashiri has been in U.S. custody since the 2002, but his arraignment was scheduled to get underway this week. This is the type of delayed judicial process of Military commissions in Guantanamo Bay is part of the reason why Obama’s seeking to shut it down. Another reason is the image Guantanamo Bay has portrayed around the world, which the president related public perception to that of Abu Grab. The military trials there are flawed he said, and all of the previous reasons add up to why he wishes to put the “pause” on the proceedings there.
Not for nothin’, but on the surface it may appear that things would be going south with charges being dropped and Guantanamo Bay closing, but it is important to look past the headlines. Terror suspects that are captured are not going free unless they are innocent. If there will not be a Guantanamo Bay then there’ll be another location where terrorist will be held. If they are dropping charges, then it’s done for a valid reason, whether to ensure a legal trial or to keep human rights advocates off the case or to prevent double jeopardy from happening. What we can all take away from this is that, it is the start of a new relationship.