9/11 Families for a Safe & Strong America

We remember

September 9, 2007

FDNY operating in the South Tower on 9/11

by @ 9:03 am. Tags: , ,
Filed under 9/11, FDNY, World Trade Center

Flight 175 just before impacting the South Tower

At 9:03 a.m., on 9/11, terrorists crashed United Airlines Flight 175 into the World Trade Center’s South Tower. Four minutes later, the FDNY’s Battalion 7 Chief, his aide, and five firefighters from Ladder 15 — led by my wife’s brother — arrived in that tower’s lobby. While a FDNY City-Wide Tour Commander set up the command post there, a Deputy Chief (4 Bravo) moved from there to Tower 2’s staging area at West and Liberty Streets and the Battalion 7 Chief attempted to establish communications with the Battalion 1 Chief at the command post in the North Tower.
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September 9, 2009

The heroes and victims of 9/11 – 2,977 men, women, and children

Please take whatever time you need to remember them all.
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June 13, 2013

Debra Burlingame on Benghazi, War on Terror, and Obamacare, guest hosting for Tammy Bruce

Debra Burlingame filled in yesterday for the vacationing Tammy Bruce and interviewed a great lineup of guests. After first providing her perspective of the War on Terror since 9/11, Debra spoke with John Rosenthal, author of The Jihadist Plot: The Untold Story of Al-Qaeda and the Libyan Rebellion. Why did Benghazi happen? In Libya, President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton switched sides:
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Bill Roggio, Managing Editor of the Long War Journal, joined Debra to talk about the current state of the war. Is al Qaeda on the run? No, but that does not fit the Obama administration’s narrative:

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Betsy McCaughey, former Lieutenant Governor of New York and the author of Beating Obamacare; Your Handbook for the New Healthcare Law, was next up. Repealing or modifying Obamacare will take an act of Congress and the President’s signature. What do you need to do to survive until (if ever) that happens?
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Diana West, syndicated columnist and the author of American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character, talked about the past 80 years of betrayal by our government. We won World II and the Cold War? Listen, read Diana’s book, and think again:
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April 23, 2013

Debra Burlingame to Paul Ryan: Why are you paling around with FALN terror apologist Luis Gutierrez?

Office of Cong. Paul Ryan
FAX: (202) 225-3393

April 23, 2013

Dear Congressman Ryan,

This message is to let you know how disappointing it was to see the news story dismissing the Boston bombings relevance to an effort to push through immigration reform without due consideration of the contents of the legislation. This dismissal was especially chilling given the fact that your immigration reform partner, Luis Gutierrez, was the chief spokesman for the political wing of the FALN terrorist organization, which carried out 146 bombings in a 25 year period, killing nine people and injuring and maiming dozens. [Ed. --See pdf file listing attacks, injuries, and damages.]

As I outlined in a lengthy piece for the Wall Street Journal, [Ed. -- No pay wall.] Rep. Gutierrez was the chief advocate for the pardoning of 16 convicted FALN members, whose sentences ranged up to 90 years. These men and women were so dangerous, they were shackled for their trial and the presiding judge wore a gun under his robes because they had threatened to kill him in open court.

Rep. Gutierrez, against all evidence (including FBI undercover videotape of these people making bombs), called them “political prisoners” and threatened to marshal the Puerto Rican community against the Clintons, and Vice President Al Gore, then preparing a presidential run.

It is not surprising, therefore, that Mr. Gutierrez would not be alarmed by the fact that a wannabe terrorist under scrutiny by the FBI would be a candidate for U.S. citizenship. Terrorists have a history of defrauding the U.S. immigration system, gaming the political asylum process, and using the guest worker program to gain temporary access to the U.S., only to disappear into the population. Our overburdened system doesn’t bother to look for them. Several of the 1993 bombers came in through the Ag Jobs program. The 9/11 hijackers overstayed tourist visas. The Millennium bomber gamed the immigration system in Canada, and tried to enter the U.S. through Port Washington. He was only stopped because of an astute border agent.

Please be warned that Luis Gutierrez is NOT a good faith partner in this effort, and his history with the FALN is proof of that. The record is replete with his letters, and threats. I am including the piece I wrote for the Journal. All of my source documents were found in the Congressional investigation that took place in the wake of these pardons. Among the people I interviewed was the chief FBI agent, Rick Hahn, who hunted the FALN for years, as well as the NYC bomb squad officers who were permanently disabled in the bombings.

I have informed Joseph Connor, whose father was killed in the FALN Fraunces Tavern bombing in New York City, of your partnership with Mr. Gutierrez and your joint affirmation that the Boston bombings have no relevance to immigration legislation.

Very truly yours,

Debra Burlingame
Co-founder, 9/11 Families for a Safe & Strong America

March 4, 2013

Senate should oppose D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals nominee Caitlin Halligan


In 2009, current D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals nominee Caitlin Halligan donated her legal services pro bono and co-authored amicus brief which argued that the 2001 AUMF did not authorize indefinite military detention of captured unlawful enemy combatants.

The Honorable Senator Mitch McConnell
United States Senate
Washington, D.C.
March 4, 2013

Dear Senator McConnell,

We are writing today to express our strong opposition to the appointment of Caitlin J. Halligan to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. We do so because we have seen, first hand, how judicial activism can thwart efforts by the executive and legislative branches of government to protect this nation in matters of national security. We have observed judges on the D.C. Circuit inexplicably dismiss compelling evidence in Guantanamo detainee habeas cases and order the detainees released, only to have those same cases overruled at the appellate level. As the threat of terrorism by groups and individuals inside the U.S. homeland continues to rise, it is essential that the American people continue to be protected through laws crafted and enacted by their sworn representatives, not by unelected judges who serve lifetime terms, accountable to no one.

The D.C. Circuit Appellate bench has jurisdiction over military commission appeals. Ms. Halligan has a public record dismissing military commission as inferior courts. Indeed, the New York City Bar Association Committee on Federal Courts, on which she served, published a report which she signed, describing military commissions as outside the “rule of law.” As you well know, the Detainee Treatment Act and the Military Commissions Act were nothing less than the result of a vigorous, hard-won bi-partisan effort to create a fair, reasonable, and effective legal framework within the confines of the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) that dealt with an unconventional, asymmetrical existential threat to this nation. Despite the fact that the MCA and indefinite detention was upheld by the United States Supreme Court, Ms. Halligan, working pro bono, submitted an amicus curiae brief in the 2009 case of Ali Saleh Kahlah Al-Marri v. Spagone, arguing that the AUMF did not authorize the seizure and indefinite military detention, without criminal trial, of a resident alien who allegedly conspired with Al-Qaeda to execute terror attacks on the United States.

We regret that the Constitutionally-required process of Advice and Consent has become politicized, and that activist nominees to the bench try to thwart exposure of their legal philosophy through ambiguous or incomplete testimony. But Ms. Halligan has taken this to a whole new level. She has attempted to remake herself entirely. We believe that she has affirmatively misrepresented herself to the Judiciary Committee, thus lowering the bar on candor and honesty even further. If the Senate votes to affirm her nomination, in our view, it will be complicit in this deception. Worse, the American people, who count on our representatives to act on our behalf, will be even more discouraged. We are tired of political expediency in matters that affect our lives, and the lives of our children and grandchildren. When judges take these matters away from the people, where do we then go?

We urge you and your fellow senators not to allow President Obama to wear you down. As you have before, we urge you to vote “no” against cloture in the nomination of Caitlin Halligan.

Respectfully submitted,

Debra Burlingame
Tim Sumner
Co-founders, 9/11 Families for a Safe & Strong America

Related reading:

File – Caitlin Joan Halligan, Nominee, United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, January 19, 2011 (document file)

THE INDEFINITE DETENTION OF “ENEMY COMBATANTS”: BALANCING DUE PROCESS AND NATIONAL SECURITY IN THE CONTEXT OF THE WAR ON TERROR The Association of the Bar of the City of New York Committee on Federal Courts February 6, 2004 (pdf)

October 18, 2012

Recall President Obama’s foreign policy; Constitutional rights to 9/11 war criminals

Between now and Election Day 2012, 9/11 Families for a Safe & Strong America will take a look back at President Barack Obama’s foreign policy. Today, we remember this:

November 2009:

Attorney General Eric Holder wants to fly Khalid Sheikh Mohammed into New York City, cloak him and his four “co-defendants” with liberties they would deny every American, and gamble he can get the worst of the worst past a gauntlet of federal judges and Supreme Court Justices.

Lower Manhattan is hallowed ground. … Twelve days after 9/11, [my family and I] attended a meeting of families and firefighters near Ground Zero. As I stepped from the car, my shoes sunk down into perhaps inch-deep pulverized concrete. It was seeded with the molecules of several thousand precious souls and the blood of hundreds of heroes; that dust also covered nearby Foley Square and the same federal courthouse where Eric Holder wants to give war criminals due process.

In the air and on the ground, those were all war crimes. Military Commissions were created by Congress to prosecute them and protect national security, both Presidents Obama and Bush have signed the Military Commissions Act into law, and the Supreme Court has recently confirmed them as Constitutional. 9/11 was not a tragedy or homicide; it was an act of genocide committed by war criminals.

It is also worth recalling that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has freely admitted his war crimes. Stark evidence proving his assertions was found with him when he was captured:

March 15, 2007: WASHINGTON (CNN) — Admitted 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed told a U.S. military tribunal he personally beheaded Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002, the Pentagon revealed Thursday.

“I decapitated with my blessed right hand the head of the American Jew, Daniel Pearl, in the city of Karachi, Pakistan,” said a Pentagon transcript of Saturday’s hearing. “For those who would like to confirm, there are pictures of me on the Internet holding his head.”

The admission was part of testimony that was originally removed from a Pentagon transcript of Mohammed’s tribunal at the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

He also said he was the mastermind behind the September 11, 2001, attacks.

“I was responsible for the 9/11 operation, from A to Z,” Mohammed said through a military representative.

According to the 26-page transcript, a computer hard drive seized during Mohammed’s capture contained photographs of the 19 hijackers and a paper listing the pilot license fees for Mohammed Atta. Atta, the alleged ringleader of the attacks, flew one of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center.

October 2, 2012

9/11 Families: Thomson Prison Purchase First Step to Bring Gitmo Detainees to U.S. Soil (Updated with DOJ filing)

Updated 6:05 PM EDT, Oct 2, 2012: The Department of Justice filed a notice of condemnation in U.S. District Court today to take possession of Thomson Prison. In part, the purpose of the acquisition reads as follows:

“… as well as to provide humane and secure confinement of individuals held under authority of any Act of Congress, and such other persons as in the opinion of the Attorney General of the United States are proper subjects for confinement in such institutions.”

The detainees at Guantanamo are being held under an Act of Congress, the Authorization to Use Military Force of 2001.

9/11 Families: Thomson Prison Purchase First Step to Bring Gitmo Detainees to U.S. Soil

Oct. 2, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact:
9/11 Families for a Safe & Strong America
Debra Burlingame media@911familiesforamerica.org

New York, NY, October, 2, 2012 — 9/11 families strongly object to the Obama administration’s plan to purchase Thomson Correctional Facility in Thomson, Illinois without Congressional approval. As stated in our July 27 letter, signed by more than 100 family members, to House Speaker John Boehner, 9/11 families believe this purchase is a back door effort to circumvent Congress and the will of the American people. Though Senator Dick Durbin and Attorney General Eric Holder have denied that the prison would be retrofitted to receive Guantanamo detainees, this would not be the first time the Department of Justice defied Congress in an effort to bring terrorists inside the Homeland.

Recent news that the terrorist attack on the American consulate in Benghazi was led by a former Guantanamo detainee has underscored the dangerous profile of current detainees. They continue to pose a serious national security threat to the U.S., and should not be viewed as political pawns which can be moved from a safe, secure off-shore military installation to the heart of America in order to satisfy a small, left-wing political constituency. This is the same constituency that agitated for the release of prior detainees who have returned to the battlefield and who engage in anti-U.S. propaganda and terrorist recruiting.

Mr. Durbin admitted in today’s announcement that the purchase, made in open defiance of the House subcommittee which overseas federal prisons, was unprecedented. Coupled with President Obama’s 2011 signing statement on legislation barring funds to transfer Gitmo detainees to the U.S. — calling the legislation “an extreme and risky encroachment on the authority of the executive branch” — we have no confidence that the Obama administration will defer to the wishes of the American people and their elected representatives on the matter of Guantanamo.

This misappropriation of funds and flouting of Congressional authority goes to the very heart of the public’s distrust of the Obama administration and the ever-widening gap between what it says and what it does.

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September 17, 2012

Obama living in a Muslim country did not make us safer

by @ 7:08 am. Tags: , , , ,
Filed under 9/11, Barack Obama, Egypt, Libya, September 11

It was fantasy, one sold as fact to the American people on November 21, 2007 by then Presidential candidate Barack Obama during an interview:

Living in Malaysia for a few years when he was young could not possibly have equipped Obama with all he needed to know about Islam to make America safer 30 years later.

The world changes.

It changed dramatically on September 11, 2001 when Islamic terrorists executed a terrorist plot — born during the Clinton administration — by slamming commercial airliners into the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and Pennsylvania field.

Osama bin Laden was a very rich man. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was well educated. The 19 hijackers all came from middle to upper middle class families. What drove them to mass murder was their ideology and hatred of all non-Muslims.

Barack Obama did not learn that lesson. On September 19, 2001, he wrote this in the Hyde Park Herald about the 9/11 attacks:

Such a failure of empathy, such numbness to the pain of a child or the desperation of a parent, is not innate; nor, history tells us, is it unique to a particular culture, religion, or ethnicity. It may find expression in a particular brand of violence, and may be channeled by particular demagogues or fanatics. Most often, though, it grows out of a climate of poverty and ignorance, helplessness and despair.

Three year later, in the 2004 preface to his autobiography, Dreams From My Father, Obama added this:

I know, I have seen, the desperation and disorder of the powerless: how it twists the lives of children on the streets of Jakarta or Nairobi in much the same way as it does the lives of children on Chicago’s South Side, how narrow the path is for them between humiliation and untrammeled fury, how easily they slip into violence and despair. I know that the response of the powerful to this disorder-alternating as it does between a dull complacency and, when the disorder spills out of its proscribed confines, a steady, unthinking application of force, of longer prison sentences and more sophisticated military hardware-is inadequate to the task. I know that the hardening of lines, the embrace of fundamentalism and tribe, dooms us all.

President Obama now blames the September 11, 2012 attacks upon our embassies in Libya and Egypt on an obscure video made by a petty criminal in California.

We are not safer.

August 9, 2012

Andrew McCarthy on purging ‘Islamophobia’ from U.S. government vernacular

Former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy, who authored The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America and who prodigiously writes for the National Review Online and Pajamas Media, spoke yesterday at the National Press Club in D.C. The topic was the Muslim Brotherhood and U.S. policy.

In addition to his prepared remarks, Mr. McCarthy fielded a good many questions. (Full video including Q & A here.) At one point, he was asked about the purging of ‘Islamophobia’ from U.S. government training and vernacular. Here is that exchange:

He was also asked about the relationship between the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda:

The Muslim Brotherhood is out to subvert liberty, to convert the world to their brand of Islamist totalitarianism, and supports terrorist organizations — including al Qaeda — towards that end.

July 27, 2012

9/11 Families Urge Congress to Withhold Funding for Thomson Prison

9/11 FAMILIES URGE CONGRESS TO WITHHOLD FUNDING FOR THOMSON PRISON

July 27, 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contacts:
9/11 Families for a Safe & Strong America
media@911familiesforamerica.org
Debra Burlingame, 914.844.3146

9/11 Families Alert Congress: President Obama Will Use Thomson Prison Buy to Shut Gitmo

Washington, D.C., July 27, 2012—In a strongly worded letter to House Speaker John Boehner, more than 100 9/11 family members urged Congress to use its appropriations authority to prevent the Obama administration from purchasing Thomson Correctional Facility in Thomson, Ill. The families warned that acquiring the state prison would provide President Obama with a place to move 168 terrorist detainees currently held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba inside the U.S. homeland, and would put Americans at risk.

“We believe that if Congress clears the way for the Thomson purchase,” the letter stated, “the President will invoke executive authority, defy the wishes of the American people and close Guantanamo Bay detention center without notice, despite bi-partisan opposition from Congress.” They called on members of Congress to join Rep. Frank Wolf, Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, in rejecting the administration’s request for hundreds of millions of dollars to purchase and retrofit the facility.

In 2010, the Obama administration planned to purchase the Thomson prison and move detainees there but was repeatedly rebuffed by Congress. In 2011, Congress passed bi-partisan legislation barring the use of funds to transfer terrorist detainees into the country for any reason. The families’ letter cited the President’s signing statement on that legislation in which he called the provision “an extreme and risky encroachment on the authority of the executive branch.”

The President’s extensive use of executive authority to nullify acts of Congress has led families of terrorism victims to believe that President Obama will circumvent Congress to fulfill his 2008 campaign promise to close Guantanamo.

“The Obama administration has a track record of trying to end run Congress,” said Debra Burlingame, co-founder of 9/11 Families for a Safe & Strong America. “The Department of Justice tried to sneak two Gitmo detainees into Virginia in May of 2009 despite the fact that both had admitted attending terrorist training camps in Tora Bora, Afghanistan led by terrorist leader Abdul Haq.”

The families’ letter rejected the Obama administration’s claim that the prison project will create an economic boon to the small rural community, calling it a “specious pretense” and “speculative.” The federal government has spent more than $500 million to house terrorist detainees in a state-of-the-art facility at Guantanamo Bay, which includes a court house for detainees being tried under military commissions.

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The Honorable John Boehner
Speaker of the House
United States Congress

July 27, 2012

Dear Mr. Speaker:

We have learned that the Obama administration, through the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Prisons, has revived its plan to purchase the Thomson Correctional Facility in Thomson, Illinois. In 2009, we vigorously opposed President Obama’s plan to purchase the Thomson facility in anticipation of closing the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and ship nearly 200 terrorist detainees to Illinois. We believed then, and believe now, that bringing hardened terrorists into the U.S. mainland would needlessly put Americans at risk.

We believe that if Congress clears the way for the Thomson purchase the President will invoke executive authority, defy the wishes of the American people, and close Guantanamo Bay detention center without notice despite bi-partisan opposition from Congress. Indeed, while signing a 2011 Defense Authorization bill which included a provision barring the use of funds to transfer Gitmo detainees to the U.S. for any reason, the President signaled his views in a signing statement, calling the prohibition “an extreme and risky encroachment on the authority of the executive branch.”

In an April 4, 2011 letter to the Illinois delegation denying its intention to use the Thomson facility for Guantanamo detainees, the Obama administration nevertheless repeated its position that it considers Thomson sufficiently secure to house detainees and opposes Congressional restrictions on funding it.

Attorney General Eric Holder’s recent testimony before the U.S. Senate, stating that the administration will not seek to move detainees to Thomson, has not reassured us. The President is in no way bound by the Attorney General’s sworn statement. The administration’s practice of using executive authority to nullify Congressional legislation, coupled with its continued insistence that Thomson is a perfectly appropriate place to relocate more than 100 known terrorists, has compelled us to speak out.

We call on Congress to restrain the President in the only way it can under the circumstances — through its appropriations authority. We urge members of Congress to join Representative Frank Wolf, Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, to stop President Obama from using this ploy to avoid being held accountable to the American people for bringing terrorists to the U.S. In poll after poll, the public has adamantly rejected the plan to close Guantanamo and bring terrorists to the homeland. In December 2009, a Gallup poll found that 68% opposed closing Gitmo and moving terrorists to the U.S. In December 2010, a Rasmussen poll found that 84% of voters worried that closing Gitmo would set dangerous terrorists free.

The Detainee Review Task Force found in its final report that 95% of the entire detainee population as of January 2009 had a connection to Al Qaeda. We have learned from JTF-GTMO officials that the current final group of 168 detainees consists of the most radical leaders, trained operatives, and ideologically dedicated Islamists of the entire original Guantanamo population.

Moving these dangerous individuals to Thomson under the transparently specious pretense of creating a speculative “federal jobs program” while our troops continue to take casualties and sacrifice their lives on the very battlefield where these terrorists were captured is an outrageous insult to the troops and their families.

We reject the extravagant claims that spending hundreds of millions of federal dollars to purchase, refit and operate the facility will rescue the economy of this small, rural community. In fact, studies show that prison enterprises aimed at injecting dollars into failing communities repeatedly fail to live up to expectations. (See http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/2010/0315/Can-a-terror-prison-spark-a-boom) Rural communities like Thomson are sometimes worse off, in part because local economies are displaced, volume suppliers are large companies from far away, and residents don’t have the skills or qualifications to work as prison guards or administrative staff. This would certainly be the case if Thomson were converted to a maximum security facility operated by the U.S. military and unionized federal employees.

The detention facility at Guantanamo Bay is the most secure facility in the world. Located on a remote island, protected by land mines, and guarded by military personnel with state-of-the-art equipment and weapons, no one can come within miles of this secure facility unless the U.S. military wants them to. The U.S. government has spent more than $ 500 million for this facility, which includes a state of the art courtroom for those detainees who are being tried in military commissions.

In light of the above facts, the case for closing Guantanamo, indisputably a superbly-run detention center, can only be reduced to one factor: politics.

As Americans whose loved ones were murdered by the very individuals who are now securely detained at Guantanamo, and as citizens who have watched more than 7,000 of our valiant armed forces sacrifice their lives in battle since that dark Tuesday morning almost eleven years ago, we regard the politics behind the effort to close Gitmo as nothing more than a cynical maneuver aimed at fulfilling a 2008 campaign promise.

Mr. Speaker, we urge you and your colleagues on both sides of the aisle to stand firm with the American people, and prevent this lawless and irresponsible plan from going forward.

Respectfully submitted,
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