Object to Court TrialsRetired Firefighter Tim Brown recently recalled the last time he saw Assistant Chief Donald Burns.
"I was in the lobby of Tower One immediately after it was hit by the first plane," he said. "At that time we knew there was a big accident, but we weren't so sure that it was done on purpose. But I'll tell you what, when that second plane came into the second tower, and Chief Donald Burns and myself went from the lobby of Tower One to the lobby of Tower Two, we looked at each other and we both said, ‘We are at war. ' ''
One Died, One Turned Activist
Mr. Brown went on to be the founder of a Web site for firefighters, called TheBravest.com. Chief Burns's name is now on the Memorial Wall of Fire Department members killed in the line of duty.
Mr. Brown joined elected officials and other activists Nov. 24 in lower Manhattan to protest U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to try alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other terror suspects in Federal court in Manhattan rather than before a military tribunal. They argued that the 9/11 attacks were an act of war and that the accused would use the trials to make a "mockery" of the American justice system and communicate with their followers.
"To bring these barbarians into our court system makes me sick to my stomach," Mr. Brown said.
Leaders of the ad hoc coalition against the trials said last week that they have petitions with several thousand signatures. They announced a rally Dec. 5 in Foley Square at noon.
"It's going to be a popular, grassroots uprising," Mr. Brown said.
See City At Risk
Uniformed Firefighters Association President Steve Cassidy in a statement last month did not question the idea of a civilian trial for the accused terrorists but rather the decision to hold the trials in the city, which he said would pose a security threat.
U.S. Rep. Peter King, who sits on the House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security, noted that the Federal Protective Service did not have enough staffing for the planned trials.
"Now, the NYPD and the U.S. Marshal Service and obviously other law-enforcement agencies in the state are going to be contributing to this, but the Federal Protective Service does not have the personnel right now," Congressman King said. "They say they will have to take personnel from other locations, they don't know where, and they don't know how that will handicap those locations."
A ‘Lawyer-Assisted Jihad'
He added, "Again, what it shows is the Attorney General went into this without even checking this with the Federal Protective Service. You're putting a Federal courthouse in New York City at risk [by] not talking to all the agencies involved."
Debra Burlingame, whose late husband was a pilot on the plane that was hijacked and crashed into the Pentagon, called the planned Federal trial "platinum due process," for "sworn enemies of the United States."
"We understand what you do not," she said, addressing Attorney General Holder. "This trial will be lawyerassisted jihad."