9/11 Defendant Mourns Father's Death

Within the last week 9/11 defendant Ammar al Baluchi learned that his father died in Kuwait. The cause of death is unknown. Emergency motions filed by his attorney, James G. Connell III, sought to allow Mr. al Baluchi to communicate with his mother and, if he wanted, to waive his presence at Monday’s military commission hearings since he was “in mourning.” Army Col. James L. Pohl, the chief judge of the military commissions, denied both requests.

On Monday the judge and attorneys engaged in a lengthy conversation about the defendants’ right to voluntarily waive their presence during the hearings. Ultimately the judge ruled in favor of the defense, and today, Mr. al Baluchi exercised his right to not attend the hearings. In Monday’s press conference Mr. Connell explained, “I know how I would feel if I had just learned that my father had died, and I look at him as a human being and treated him in the way I would want to be treated.”

Advertisement

I’m not sure if a “high-value” detainee has ever been allowed communication with a family member, but why not allow it under these circumstances? Mr. Connell convincingly invoked the Golden Rule. Mr. al Baluchi is charged with the most serious offense, but he is still a human being. If I were in his situation, how would I want to be treated? This is a lost opportunity for the government to show its commitment to humane treatment for those accused of even the worst crimes.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

The latest from america

An anti-Brexit supporter stands by European and British Union flags placed opposite the Houses of Parliament in London, on March 18. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Parliament is being asked for the first time in history to enact something that it does not believe in.
David StewartMarch 20, 2019
The question of trust, of giving ourselves to something outside ourselves, is quite fundamental. It goes to the nature of who we are as human beings. One might pose the question this way: Are we clams or clovers?
Terrance KleinMarch 20, 2019
Catholic parents should vaccinate their children for the good of their children and the community said the Pontifical Academy for Life.
(iStock/JannHuizenga)
A nun’s ability to find humor rather than outrage, to remain humble while believing oneself to be in possession of the truth, is something we can use more of in today’s church.
Addison Del MastroMarch 20, 2019