Two of the family members offered that they also oppose execution in this case.
Rodriguez, who lives in White Plains, N.Y., said she’s morally opposed to the death penalty “in this case or any case. I don’t think the government has a right to take a life.”
Sellitto, a Naples snowbird from Morristown, N.J., had a different motive. Give them life sentences, she said.
“We would control when they eat, when they pray, when they exercise,” she explained. That way, they would be confronted day in and day out with “the culture they tried to destroy.”
Baluchi’s death-penalty defender, Jay Connell, who invariably mentions at press conferences that the victims are in our “thoughts and meditations,” said it was a painful but important meeting.
“People cried. People expressed themselves beautifully.”
Was it hard?
“Anything involving Guantánamo is hard — from opening one’s email to talking with people who have lost loved ones.”
“There was crying,” confirmed Lt. Col. Sterling Thomas, a career Air Force lawyer who said he was among those who teared up.
Later, John Woods, a Rockland County, N.Y., man who served as a Marine in Vietnam, said he chose to stay away.
He lost his 26-year-old son, Jimmy, in the World Trade Center, too, and could barely choke out, “He was a great guy,” when speaking to reporters about what brought him to Guantánamo Bay.
His wife Joyce, Jimmy’s mother, finished for him: “We miss him every second of every day. We’re here to bear witness, hopefully to see justice.”
But the path to justice is proving to be a slow one.
Rather than focus on the terrible crime that took their loved ones’ lives, these court proceedings are about the rights of the men accused of carrying out the crime. Legal motions argued in court Monday discussed the protective order controlling classified evidence in the case, and the addition of Los Angeles defense lawyer Gary Sowards to Mohammed’s case and alleged al Qaida lieutenant Walid bin Attash’s apparent decision to fire Marine Maj. Bill Hennessy from his team.
Mohammed and Bin Attash wore camouflage jackets atop their traditional white tunics to court, and sat mute as the judge asked them about the changes in their defense team.
Meantime, Justice Department lawyer Joanna Baltes noted in court, the process of turning over classified evidence in the case to the defense lawyers has not yet begun. An actual trial before a tribunal of military officers is likely a year or more away.