Ten years after the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil, there is still no public timetable for the trial of the suspects at Guantanamo Bay, according to a Defense Department letter obtained by Fox News
Sent to the families of Sept. 11 victims by the Office of Military Commissions, the Aug. 26 letter reads in part: “Although we are not able to give you a more precise answer on when to expect a decision by the Convening Authority (the body that oversees the military trials), we will continue to provide updates."
Lee and Eunice Hanson, who lost their son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter at Ground Zero, say the letter confirms what they told Fox News in February -- there may not be a trial in their lifetimes.
“I don't know how many years I’ve got left,” Eunice Hanson said with her husband by her side. “I would like to see some justice before I pass on and it's just not happening, it's not happening. “
“We look pretty weak in that we can't bring these people to trial,” Lee Hanson added.
Al and Maureen Santora, who lost their son Christopher, a New York City fire fighter in the attack on the World Trade Center, told Fox News that as the anniversary approaches, it's painful that justice has not even started.
"What a terrible message we are giving people of the free world and what a message we are giving to those who are out to harm us. We will wait as we have no other choice but we wonder why,” he said. “What else is more important."
In November 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder said the five suspects would be tried in a New York City federal court. After fierce opposition from area residents and from a bipartisan coalition in Congress, Holder reversed the decision in April and sent the case back to the military justice system at Guantanamo Bay.
"We simply cannot allow a trial to be delayed any longer for the victims of the 9/11 attacks or for their family members who have waited for nearly a decade for justice," Holder told reporters at a Justice Department news conference at the time.
Those who follow the Sept. 11 prosecution say the hold-up is unfortunate but maybe in the best interests of the case. Before the trial begins, defense teams are being asked to explain why it should not be a death penalty case.
“This approach although it takes a long darn time, takes off the table many appellate issues that could result in the case being overturned a decade from now which would bring them right back to today,” former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Detainee Affairs Cully Stimson, now a scholar at the conservative Heritage Foundation, told Fox News.
One relative of a Sept. 11 victim said she wanted to scream when she read the latest letter about the delay because -- she never imagined that a decade after the attacks -- there would still be no trial -- given the suspects tried to plead guilty in December 2008.
When asked whether they had anything to add to the letter, a spokesman for the Office of Military Commissions did not immediately respond.
National Correspondent Catherine Herridge's bestselling book "The Next Wave: On the Hunt for al Qaeda's American Recruits" was published by Crown on June 21st. It draws on her reporting for Fox News into al-Awlaki and his new generation of recruits – al Qaeda 2.0. It is the first book to full investigate al-Awlaki’s American life, his connections to the hijackers, and how the cleric double crossed the FBI after 9/11.
Catherine Herridge is an award-winning Chief Intelligence correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) based in Washington, D.C. She covers intelligence, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Herridge joined FNC in 1996 as a London-based correspondent.