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Dispatches on the 9/11 Hearings

 The U.S. Department of Defense arranged for 9/11 victims’ families, first responders and others to view a live feed of the Sept. 11 trial at Fort Hamilton Army Base in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn. That courtesy was extended to the 9/11 Memorial Museum staff, who are helping to preserve the history of 9/11 and its continued impact on the world in which we live.


October 15, 2012 


The judge heard three pre-trial motions. Most of the time was spent determining whether defendants had a right to not attend their trial. The judge ruled as long as they understood the possible consequences from not attending, they were free to not come. 


I was fascinated by the visual disconnect of these five men dressed traditionally, while being defended by Americans largely in military uniforms, in a computer-filled room that was otherwise dull. There was one notable exception, a female defense attorney dressed in a full-length hijab.

The defendants answered “yes” to one question, “I understand” to another. They voiced concerns. They needed to be explained certain terms. They shuffled papers. They huddled with their lawyers. Some spoke English, some didn’t. In a capital case involving the killing of thousands, swirling with allegations of torture, the banality was striking.


Another viewer noted that Khalid Sheikh Mohammad looked evil. Evil implies an impulse bigger than yourself, a culpability that lies elsewhere. I didn’t see that. I saw an angry man, a possibly unwell man, a criminal. I saw someone in the midst of the minutia of our legal system.


By Noah Rauch, Manager of School and Family Programs