Anger, sighs as families watch terror hearing

By Verena Dobnik and Samantha Gross, AP

NEW YORK — Lee Hanson became deeply angry as the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks and co-defendants tried to undermine their arraignment on 3,000 counts of murder at a military court in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Hanson’s son, daughter-in-law and 2-year-old granddaughter, the youngest 9/11 victim, were killed in the terror attacks over a decade ago. All were aboard United Flight 175, the second plane to crash into the twin towers. “They praise Allah. I say, ‘Damn you!’” said the silver-haired retiree from Eaton, Connecticut. When it comes to justice, “it seems like it’s an afterthought,” said his wife, Eunice Hanson. Moans, sighs and exclamations erupted Saturday as Hanson and other relatives of Sept. 11 victims watched the closed-circuit TV feed of the court hearing at a movie theater at Fort Hamilton in New York City. It was one of four U.S. military bases where the arraignment was broadcast live for victims’ family members, survivors and emergency personnel who responded to the attacks. “It’s actually a joke, it feels ridiculous,” said Jim Riches, whose firefighter son, Jimmy, died at the World Trade Center. “It looks like it’s going to be a very long trial.” About 60 people representing 30 families were in the theater at Fort Hamilton, where the military provided chaplains and grief counselors, Riches said. Several people who viewed the proceedings said they had little sympathy for the defendants’ complaints about their treatment. Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times and subjected to other measures that some have called torture. “My brother was murdered in the cockpit of his airplane, and we will have to stand up for him,” said Debra Burlingame, who attended the viewing on behalf of her brother, Charles Burlingame, who piloted the jet that hijackers crashed into the Pentagon. “They’re engaging in jihad in a courtroom,” she added. The other bases providing feeds were Fort Devens in Massachusetts, Joint Base McGuire Dix in New Jersey and Fort Meade in Maryland, the only one open to the public. At Fort Meade, about 80 people watched the proceedings at a movie theater on the base.

Six victims’ families chosen by lottery traveled to Guantanamo to see the arraignment in person.

The trial is probably at least a year away. But New York police Detective Marc Nell said the viewing at Fort Hamilton more than a decade after 14 men in his unit were killed brought a sense of satisfaction, “a great feeling.” “It was a feeling of pride, being proud knowing that those guys were (being) brought to justice,” he said.