Thursday, December 3, 2009

Controversy over the 9/11 Trials

On Tuesday, December 3, I received the following communique from the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights:


The 9/11 Never Forget Coalition, a diverse group of 9/11 victims, family members, first responders, active and reserve members of the military, veterans, and concerned Americans, will hold a December 5th rally protesting the plan to bring the 9/11 terrorist conspirators to trial in New York City.

The Coalition formed to fight the decision of President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder to try the 9/11 co-conspirators in New York City’s federal court, effectively giving war criminals the same rights as American citizens while endangering the safety of all New Yorkers. Two weeks ago, we sent a letter signed by 300 family members of 9/11 victims to the President, Attorney General and Defense Secretary Robert Gates asking them to reverse course. The letter has now been signed by over 120,000 Americans and is posted at [such and such a website I do not wish to promote]. Please visit the site and add your signature.

What: Stop The Terror Trials in NYC Rally
Where: Foley Square, Manhattan
When: Saturday, December 5th
Time: 12 noon


Here is the letter I have sent to Catholic League president Bill Donohue in response:

Dear Mr. Donohue:

As a 23-year-old American Catholic author who has been on your email list for several years, I would like to express my gratitude for the existence and activity of the Catholic League. Although at times I may find your personal style a bit overbearing, I nonetheless appreciate your loyal defense of the rights of the Catholic Church in the United States; your robust leadership of this crucial organization; and your unshakable fidelity to the principle of fairness in representing Catholic interests in our radically secularist culture.

In virtually every case of anti-Catholic bias you have confronted in recent months, I have been heart and soul with the Catholic League's position and efforts, and have applauded your notable successes with Kentucky Christmas trees, Christopher Hitchens, and expelling abortion from a health care bill.

However, I must respectfully take issue with a press release I received yesterday from the League entitled, "RALLY IN FOLEY SQUARE STOP THE TERROR TRIAL IN NYC!" Here I feel the Catholic League has overstepped its bounds as the defender of our faith, since the issue in question has much to do with politics and little to do with the Catholic Church in the United States.

In the press release, you informed us that the 9/11 Never Forget Coalition will be holding a rally in New York City on December 5 to protest the trial of 9/11 terrorist suspects in a federal court there. You explained that the Coalition "formed to fight the decision of President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder to try the 9/11 co-conspirators in New York City’s federal court, effectively giving war criminals the same rights as American citizens while endangering the safety of all New Yorkers."

In my recently published book, America's Back-Door Enemy: Unmasking the Unknown Terrorists, I explain that terrorism--even on the horrific scale of 9/11--is a crime under U.S. law, not an act of war as the Bush administration contended. Therefore terrorist suspects remain noncombatants who have the same rights as other criminal suspects, including the right to a trial. This position is also in accord with international law, which our Holy Fathers John Paul II and Benedict XVI as well as our Catholic bishops have consistently urged us to abide by in confronting terrorism.

As for the second problem you raise with the imminent 9/11 trial, it is difficult to see how weaponless terrorist suspects who have spent eight years in the Metropolitan Detention Center, and who will now be transferred to a civilian U.S. court building, all the while under surveillance and maximum security of law enforcement, can pose a tangible threat to the safety of New Yorkers. I even argue in my book that if the United States ever finds Osama bin Laden, he should be captured, publicly tried and convicted before receiving his just punishment.

I have arrived at these conclusions about terrorism and terrorists through much prayer, study and research (America's Back-Door Enemy contains over 500 references). Our Lord has entrusted to me a stewardship--valuable knowledge and the responsibility to act on that knowledge. Thus I cannot in good conscience align myself with the Catholic League in this matter, support the 9/11 Coalition, or sign the online petition.

I feel that in this case, you have allowed emotional partisan fervor to overwhelm clear thinkng and good judgment, resulting in the inappropriate involvement of a religious advocacy organization in a political issue that the Church regards as subject to the prudential judgment of our national leaders and the individual lay faithful.

I would be happy to discuss this issue further or answer any questions you may have. For more information about international "Islamic" terrorism and America's response to it from a Catholic perspective, I'd encourage you to check out America's Back-Door Enemy from Tate Publishing, available on Amazon and through your local bookstore.

In the meantime, please be assured of my continued prayers and support for the Catholic League and its mission. God bless you.

Justin Soutar

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