GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba – Some Americans who lost loved ones on September 11 oppose the death penalty for accused terrorists facing trial at Guantanamo Bay. Glenn Morgan is not one of them.
“They are killers,” said Morgan, whose father, Richard Morgan, died when the World Trade Center south tower collapsed while responding to the incident as part of the management team. from Con Edison’s emergency room. “I won’t be sad if these people aren’t alive.”
But Morgan says he also wants to rise above his own thirst for retaliation. And with that in mind, he donated art supplies for the use of Guantanamo detainees and guards. Earlier this month, the military officials who run the prison accepted its latest batch of supplies, a small act of grace in one of the most ruthless places in the world.
“Glenn’s commitment to sending art supplies to high-value inmates and the guard force is another example of how he cultivates humanity among those who may appear to be on opposing sides,” said Tammy Krause, who works as a liaison between the victim’s family. members and defense team of avowed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
KSM, as it is called, appeared in court last week with four other conspirators accused of 9/11 as the ninth year of pre-trial hearings resumed in a war crimes case that many legal experts say is a national embarrassment. A new judge in the case faces a steep learning curve as pre-trial petitions regarding CIA torture and other issues mount. No trial date is in sight.
The frigid pace of military commission proceedings is a matter of deep frustration for Morgan and others close to the 9/11 victims. Even though the accused terrorists are in jail, families want their day in court.
“For me justice is telling the world, at a trial, what these terrorists did to murder so many people,” said Paul Berry, whose brother-in-law, New York Fire Captain William F Burke, Jr., died in the North Tower of the World Trade Center while trying to help a paraplegic get to safety.
“A trial is a place where not only the family members of the victims, but the American public and the entire world can witness the truth and see America live up to its ideals,” said Terry Rockefeller, whose sister, Laura, also died in the North Tower.
“My mother died while awaiting a verdict; my father’s sister died while awaiting a verdict; my father’s brother died while awaiting a verdict, ”he said. “I’m 59 and I don’t want to die without a verdict.”
This, Morgan said, would be a victory for the accused terrorists.
But in the meantime, he said, he also wants to make a positive difference. He had the idea to donate art supplies in 2018, he said, after speaking to his daughter, who is an artist.
“I can choose to do what’s right or I can choose to do what’s easy, and I choose to do what’s right,” he said.
He says he spent “north of $ 1,000” on supplies. Due to the cover of secrecy surrounding the Guantanamo Bay prison, he has no idea which inmates, if any, used them. U.S. Southern Command Joint Task Force Guantanamo, which manages the prison, did not respond to an NBC News request for information.
The detainees have been making art in Guantanamo for years. In 2017, the President’s Gallery of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City organized an exhibition called “Ode to the Sea,” featuring 36 works created by prisoners.
After that exhibition, the Pentagon launched a review of how it handles inmate art and issued a statement saying the art remains the property of the U.S. government, according to the New York Times.
After successfully donating supplies in 2018, Morgan decided to try again.
“It’s hard,” he said. “A lot of people must have said ‘yes’ to that.”
It’s hard to overstate the culture of secrecy that permeates the military and judicial bureaucracy surrounding the 39 detainees who remain in prison at Guantanamo. The Joint Task Force publishes almost no information, and security measures around its operations are remarkably intense, given that prisoners are locked up at a military base in a remote corner of Cuba.
Defense lawyers, although they hold Top Secret security clearances, are not allowed to communicate with their clients by phone or video conference, for example.
And during a recent authorized media tour of the courtroom and surrounding facilities, a military guard confiscated a drawing from the courtroom’s licensed designer – and berated a reporter for touching a chair on which the courtroom one of the 9/11 defendants is normally seated.
Regular Guantanamo observers say bureaucratic prudence has become increasingly suffocating over the years. So Morgan was somewhat surprised two weeks ago when he got permission to donate more art material.
“I was told I had the opportunity to send them on the next trip, so I rushed out and bought a lot of art supplies,” he said.
Morgan hopes this will improve things a bit for everyone.
“Maybe people who see themselves as natural adversaries can see themselves as standing on the other side of a bridge,” he said. “When you see someone’s art, you have a window in there. It’s like, ‘Oh my God, this person is human. I might want to punish this person, but it’s still. a human.'”