Sunday, December 6, 2009

9/11 families, supporters, protest NYC trials

9/11 families, supporters, protest NYC trials: "NEW YORK — Several hundred people rallied in the rain near Manhattan’s federal courthouse complex Saturday to protest the plan to put major terrorism suspects on trial in New York City.Demonstrators at the Saturday event included the actor Brian Dennehy and a number of people who lost friends and relatives in the 9/11 attacks.Anger at the Obama administration ran hot in the crowd. One person held up a sign calling Attorney General Eric Holder ‘disgraceful and despicable.’

Another sign said ‘Obama/Holder ... Jihad from within.’Opponents of the plan say that a New York trial could again make the city a terrorism target, and that the five suspects should instead face a military tribunal.Addressing the crowd, Dennehy passed along a message from the father of murdered Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, who is opposed to a public trial for reputed terror mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed.The actor said he also believed the trial would be ‘an uncalled-for ordeal that could be used for political purposes.’‘This will provide the radicals with a huge forum,’ said Dennehy, a Marine Corps veteran. ‘Why should they have the normal constitutional protections?’Lee Ielpi, a retired firefighter whose son, also a firefighter, died on 9/11, said he believed the U.S. has been in a state of war since the attacks, and that a military tribunal was therefore the appropriate venue for justice.‘They deserve a fair trial in a military tribunal, not on our soil,’ he said. ‘Guantanamo is where it should be.’Other victims of the attacks disagreed.

Lorie Van Auken, who lost her husband at the World Trade Center, said in an interview before the rally that it was fitting the accused answer charges a short walk from ground zero.‘Opponents of the trial don’t represent all families,’ she said in a telephone interview on Friday.Another supporter of the trial plan, U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, said military commissions have a poor track record when it comes to convicting terrorism suspects.

The New York Democrat expressed confidence that U.S. prosecutors can win a conviction in a regular, civilian court.On Saturday, the protesters included 9/11 families, ground zero rescue workers and former World Trade Center executives.Greg Manning was a senior vice president at Euro Brokers, whose life was spared because he was on business outside the trade center. He said the decision to stage the trial in New York shows the government’s ‘casual attitude towards security.’He said Mohammed, who is accused of being the mastermind of the attacks, ‘is not the same as any defendant.’ Manning said that if Mohammed decides to defend himself, ‘he will exploit every right in the Constitution and use the trial as a platform.’"

(Via Air Force Times - News.)

Report: Crew error led to F-15E crash

Report: Crew error led to F-15E crash: "High above Afghanistan, in the dark, Capt. Mark R. McDowell pointed the nose of his F-15E Strike Eagle at a practice target on the ground. He thought the dry lake bed was 4,800 feet above sea level. It was 10,200 feet high.The F-15E went into a 31-degree dive going 515 mph. The jet’s ground collision alarm snapped on, lighting up display screens with arrows pointing up and a computer voice warning four times to ‘pull up.’McDowell and Capt. Thomas J. Gramith, his weapons systems officer, didn’t react. Three seconds after the alarm came on, the jet crashed, killing both airmen. They didn’t try to eject.

The Air Combat Command accident investigation board is attributing the July 18 crash, the first fighter-jet crash in Afghanistan since the war started, to aircrew mistakes.‘It was a tragic, human error,’ Brig. Gen. Harry D. Polumbo, the lead investigator, told reporters in a conference call.McDowell and Gramith, both deployed to Bagram Air Field from the 4th Fighter Wing, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., were in the second jet of a two-jet formation that had spent almost four hours flying on-call close-air support. As the uneventful sortie neared its end, the fighters received permission to practice what Polumbo described as one of the ‘most difficult and challenging things that an aircrew member does’ — a high-angle strafing run at night with the officers wearing night-vision goggles.

The airmen had used the lake bed, about 30 miles west of the town of Ghazni, as a training target before.The first F-15E, flown by pilot Capt. Kenneth Fryar and weapons systems officer Capt. Benjamin Hopkins, led the way to the lake bed. About 10 minutes before reaching the practice target, Hopkins checked its altitude using a digital map.

The computer display read 4,800 feet high and Hopkins relayed the information to McDowell and Gramith.As the Strike Eagles flew over the lake bed, none of the four airmen realized their jets’ radar altimeters and laser rangefinders showed the lake bed was 10,200 feet high, Polumbo said.The lead F-15E made the first run but aborted the attack because the dive was not steep enough. The second F-15E, the one flown by McDowell, started its dive 22 seconds later. And crashed.Fryar and Hopkins have continued to fly and neither faced disciplinary action, Polumbo said.Air Combat Command is reviewing pre-deployment night strafing training.The four airmen were all considered ‘experienced,’ but McDowell and Gramith had limited practice flying night strafing runs.A similar crash June 22 claimed the life of an F-16 pilot in a training mission over Utah."

(Via Air Force Times - News.)


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