WAR COURT

American Airlines flight attendant wears uniform to Guantánamo war court

 
 
A helicopter flies over the Pentagon in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001 as smoke billows over the building.
A helicopter flies over the Pentagon in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001 as smoke billows over the building.
HEESOON YIM / ASSOCIATED PRESS

crosenberg@miamiherald.com

An American Airlines flight attendant and a 14-year-old boy who would’ve been a toddler at the time of the Sept. 11 attacks are among the victim family members watching this week’s 9/11 proceedings at the war court.

The military on Monday was not naming the six victim family members who were bought to this remote base by charter flight on the weekend. Five were chosen by Pentagon lottery; one brought the teen-aged boy as a traveling companion.

But Army Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale explained why a woman among them came to court in the attire of an American Airlines flight attendant: “She wanted to wear her uniform to show support for all of the flight crews lost on 9/11, and to remind them that she is thinking of them today.”

She works for American, the colonel said, adding he had no information on her relationship to a victim among the 2,976 people killed in the terror attacks that struck the World Trade Center, Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field on Sept. 11, 2001.

Two of the four flights commandeered by al-Qaida hijackers in the attacks belonged to American. One struck the World Trade Center and the other slammed into the Pentagon. The other two were United Airlines jetliners.

Victims of the al-Qaida attacks have carried photos of their dead kin to the Guantánamo court and worn military insignia. Monday marked the first time flight attendants were memorialized specifically. It also marked the first time a child was in attendance.

There’s no age limit on who a victim can choose as a family member companion, Breasseale said. But the Pentagon seeks assurances from parents that they understand a child brought to Guantánamo could hear troubling things.

The victims are drawn from a pool of people who volunteer to the office of the Pentagon’s war crime prosecutor to view the proceedings at Guantánamo and are given the individual choice of whether to release their identities to the media. None have so far this week.

The lottery chooses five victims and permits each to bring a relative as a companion. For this week's hearing, Breasseale said, some of the companions couldn't join the flight because of last week's blizzard.

Read more Guantánamo stories from the Miami Herald

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Miami Herald

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