Justice long time in coming for victims of infamous terror attackMy dad called the other day, and said he’d just seen my friend Gordy Haberman — who lost his daughter Andrea in the North Tower on Sept. 11, 2001 — being interviewed by a reporter on Fox News.
By: By Mike Nichols, Superior Telegram
My dad called the other day, and said he’d just seen my friend Gordy Haberman — who lost his daughter Andrea in the North Tower on Sept. 11, 2001 — being interviewed by a reporter on Fox News.
I assumed it was because the anniversary of the tragic event.
Actually, my dad told me, it was for a story on Tropical Storm Isaac. Gordy and his wife, Kathy, were being evacuated from Guantanamo Bay down in Cuba after the judge presiding over the impending trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four co-defendants cancelled pre-trial motion hearings out of fear of what was at the time still being described as a potential hurricane.
I was surprised because I hadn’t even known Gordy was there. And I was a little embarrassed because it took a storm, a serious but fleeting occurrence, to bring my focus back to Gordy and Kathy and Andrea and their interminable wait for justice.
When he got back home to West Bend, I sat down with Gordy in the kitchen where we’ve spent many hours talking about Andrea and New York for the book I wrote, “Just a Few Sleeps Away.” People ask him why he goes to Gitmo, he told me. Every parent knows why.
“If somebody came up and shot one of your children on the street for no reason, or abducted them and tortured them, then killed them, I think I know you enough you couldn’t just put that in a box and just say ‘Ok, whatever happened happened . . . ’ It’s not going to govern my life the rest of my life. But the human face, my kid’s gone, under terrible circumstances. You don’t put that in a box,” said Gordy. “You’d want to see justice, I think, for the person. So for me it’s just a logical way to go; and for my wife, too.”
That justice has been a long, long time in coming. It took years to catch Mohammed and the other terrorists, years for the politicians to decide where to hold the trials. Earlier this summer, the judge postponed the pre-trial hearings out of respect for Ramadan. At one point, a train derailment in Maryland knocked out a secure, fiber-optic line between the Pentagon and the war court, causing yet another delay. Then came Isaac.
Some of the most significant delays, though, stem from the fact we are a country with laws and due process. We don’t just drag terrorists out back, pull out a gun and make them kneel in the dirt. We give them lawyers and every chance in the world to raise concerns and quibbles — even if they never gave people like Andrea a second thought.
If patience is synonymous with passivity Gordy does not have it. He has more of a determined patience that stems partly from his certainty that the terrorists down in Cuba will eventually, hopefully in 2013, be convicted and either spend the rest of their days in holding cells or be put to death. Either, he says, would be OK — though he’d prefer death.
He’ll wait forever, if necessary, to see justice because he knows al-Qaida would wait forever for a single chance to once again attack us.
“Anything I’ve learned over the last ten years, these people (have) patience,” said Gordy. “I think I said it in the book. One of bin Laden’s quotes: ‘Patience, patience, patience until God has no patience.’ These guys are still fighting jihad.”
But he and Kathy are fighting in their own way, too. They will return to Cuba in October for the re-scheduled motion hearings. And as they always do, they will spend this Sept. 11 in New York, visiting the headstone for Andrea, who is now eleven, long years gone.
For more information about “Just A Few Sleeps Away” and how to donate to 9/11 charities, go to www.justafewsleepsaway.com.
Mike Nichols is a syndicated columnist who spent 18 years writing about Wisconsin for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He is now a senior fellow at the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute. This column represents only his personal opinion. Contact him at MRNichols@wi.rr.com.