AP/Yahoo: Obama meets families of USS Cole, Sept. 11 victims
President Barack Obama has told relatives of victims of the bombing of the USS Cole and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that his most important responsibility is keeping the U.S. safe.
Obama met with about 40 family members on Friday. The White House says he explained why he believes closing the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, will make the country safer and ensure justice for the terror suspects being held there.
Obama is concerned that terror suspects have been held for years without trial. He has signed an executive order to close the facility within a year.
One woman who attended the meeting says Obama assured them he wants the same thing they do — justice for their loved ones.
And then there's reporting the news, because the families are furious and MSM is refusing to report about their anger:
Foxnews: Families of Cole Victims Worry White House Meeting Is Window Dressing
President Obama is meeting Friday afternoon with the families of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks and the bombing of the USS Cole -- but some invited guests say they worry that the gesture is window-dressing, since the administration has suspended trials of detainees at Guantanamo Bay and a military judge on Thursday dropped charges against a suspect in the 2000 Cole bombing.
[image from here]
The military charges against suspected Al Qaeda bomber Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri marked the last active war crimes case at Guantanamo Bay. New charges can still be brought against al-Nashiri, and he will remain in prison for the time being.
But at least two Cole families complained to FOX News that Obama should have met with them first, to hear them out, before a final decision was reached on the charges.
"We've already waited eight years for justice. Justice delayed is justice denied," said retired Navy Cmdr. Kirk S. Lippold, the commanding officer of the Cole when it was bombed in Yemen.
Lippold expressed disappointment that he learned from FOX News, not the administration, that the charges in the al-Nashiri case had been dropped. Lippold, who is a fellow with Military Families United, said he would be among family members of victims who are meeting with Obama at the White House on Friday afternoon.
Gary Swenchonis, a Texas resident whose son, Gary Jr., was killed in the Cole bombing, told FOX News he turned down an invitation from the White House to meet with Obama.
Swenchonis said he received the invitation Thursday, and that he did not care to travel from Texas to Washington on such short notice to hear the "bad news" that charges were withdrawn in the al-Nashiri case.
Swenchonis and his wife Deborah wrote a letter to Obama last week expressing their concerns about the halting of military trials at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.
"President Obama, now I fear these sailors who died in the service of the United States will be abandoned again," they wrote. "It will be one more tragedy in a long list of tragedies in the Cole attack. ... Our fear is if the terrorists are tried here in our federal courts, they will go free."
Diane McDaniels, whose son was killed in the Cole bombing, also declined an invitation to meet the president, saying she was too disillusioned with Obama for dropping the charges.
"My son was blown up along with 16 others. I buried body parts for three years," she told FOX News. "I'm still suffering and now he's withdrawing the charges?
"There's nothing he can say to make me feel better," she explained, adding that Obama is sending the wrong message to the American people. "He may be the president but he's wrong."
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Friday ahead of the meeting that the president is still interested in "swift justice" for those responsible and that he wanted to take time to hear the cares and concerns of the families.
Thursday's legal move by Susan J. Crawford, the top legal authority for military trials at Guantanamo, upholds Obama's Jan. 22 executive order to halt terrorist court proceedings at the U.S. Navy base in Cuba, while the administration reviews the cases and how to go about closing the prison there.
Groups representing victims' families were angered by Obama's order, charging they had waited too long already to see the alleged attackers brought to court.
Conservatives in Congress have suggested that dangerous terrorists would be released under Obama's plan -- a scenario that Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he could not imagine -- and that Guantanamo Bay is a cushy deal for prisoners.
Texas Rep. Lamar Smith, the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, issued a statement expressing his concerns about dropping the charges against al-Nashiri.
"Justice for the families and the victims has already been delayed too long. We must be careful not to send a message to our enemies abroad that we are letting up in our prosecution of the war on terror," Smith said. "The Obama administration's decision to close Guantanamo Bay was premature at best and dangerous at worst."
In a YouTube video posted from the prison this week, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., said detainees' access to dental work, colonoscopies and other medical procedures is proof they aren't being mistreated.
"These people are much better taken care than they have been in their entire lives," he said.
Crawford's ruling also gives the White House time to review the legal cases of all 245 terror suspects held there and decide whether they should be prosecuted in the U.S. or released to other nations.
Seventeen U.S. sailors died on Oct. 12, 2000, when Al Qaeda suicide bombers steered an explosives-laden boat into the Cole, a guided-missile destroyer, as it sat in a Yemen port.
The Pentagon last summer charged al-Nashiri, a Saudi Arabian, with "organizing and directing" the bombing and planned to seek the death penalty in the case.
In his Jan. 22 order, Obama promised to shut down the Guantanamo prison within a year. The order also froze all Guantanamo detainee legal cases pending a three-month review as the Obama administration decides where -- and whether -- to prosecute the suspects who have been held there for years, most without charges.
Two military judges granted Obama's request for a delay in other cases.
But a third military judge, Army Col. James Pohl, defied Obama's order by scheduling a Feb. 9 arraignment for al-Nashiri at Guantanamo. That left the decision on whether to continue to Crawford, whose delay on announcing what she would do prompted widespread concern at the Pentagon that she would refuse to follow orders and allow the court process to continue.
Crawford was appointed to her post in 2007 by President Bush. She was in the news last month when she said interrogation methods used on one suspect at Guantanamo amounted to torture. The Bush administration had maintained it did not torture.
Last year, al-Nashiri said during a Guantanamo hearing that he confessed to helping plot the Cole bombing only because he was tortured by U.S. interrogators. The CIA has admitted he was among terrorist suspects subjected to waterboarding, which simulates drowning, in 2002 and 2003 while being interrogated in secret CIA prisons.
I'm pissed, I don't know how Democrats aren't. Terrorists are about to be set free, people who have murdered Americans - now how is that supposed to make anyone safe? Just a feel good day for ACLU extremists. And the extremist in the white house.