Wife of 9/11 Victim Finds Solace in Courtroom Minutia

Observer struck by how the accused can see in visitor gallery.

 In this pool photo of a sketch by courtroom artist Janet Hamlin and reviewed by the U.S. Department of Defense, the relatives of Sept. 11 attacks victims, and staff members of the Office of Military Commissions (OMC), watch from behind a glass window a hearing on pretrial motions for the death penalty case against Sept. 11 defendants at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base in Cuba, Monday, Jan. 28, 2013. They are, OMC's Patricia Moss, left, OMC's Domini McDonald, second left. Center row from left, Debra Strickland, Phyllis Rodrigues, Joyce Woods and John Woods. Front row from left, Loreen Sellitto, Matt Sellitto, Anne Gabriel and Christopher Gabriel.
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GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba—The pace of courtroom activity at Guantanamo Bay this week is "painfully slow," says the wife of a fireman who died on Sept. 11, but adds that she takes great comfort in knowing that "no stone is left unturned" that could produce a problem in a future trial.

Eve Bucca's husband, Ronald, was a fire marshal who on the day of the attack climbed 78 stories of the World Trade Center South Tower to rescue people trapped there. She and her son, a Special Forces sergeant first class, flew down to Guantanamo Bay to witness the legal proceedings first-hand.


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When asked about the slow pace of proceedings – mired in minutia over potential illegal monitoring of courtroom statements – Bucca says she is focused on getting to the truth.

"I would like to see justice be done to the guilty parties," she told reporters Tuesday evening. "But I would like to see the judicial process follow through, because I think it's one thing that separates our country from other countries."

The highly technical content of the hearings this week creates the solid foundation necessary for irrefutable legal proceedings.

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"If they don't resolve this and resolve this correctly, this is going to come up and cause issues later on," she says. "Better do it now than have it come up in a way later that it could damage the case."

"I don't want anyone let off on a technicality," Bucca says.

The atmosphere in the court is significantly different than the arraignment last spring for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the four other suspected terrorists, she says. The defendants look much more relaxed, healthier, and less strained, Bucca observes. They are also allowed to sit closer to their defending attorneys, creating a more convivial atmosphere.

The most striking shift is that the accused can see observers in the gallery. "That makes a big difference," she says.

Amid procedures marked by some terse courtroom exchanges, Bucca says she is impressed by judge Army Col. James Pohl's patience, saying she "was struck by how he is really looking for information."

Bucca's husband was 46 when he died. He had served in the Army for 29 years, in the 101st Airborne Division, in the Special Forces, and later in the 800th Military Police Brigade.

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He approached his task on Sept. 11 as a firefighter and as a soldier, Bucca says, citing the close bond among military members and firefighters and their permeating desire to help others as they would their own families.

Camp Bucca, which housed Iraqi detainees until 2009, was named in honor of Bucca's husband.

She now proudly wears two pins on her shirt, one designed by her mother and another by her husband's two brothers, in memory of his service. She continues to volunteer for firefighter and military organizations. Those two organizations were impacted by the 2001 attacks, and family members of those services are still feeling the impact, she says.

"We have a common bond of loss," Bucca says. "We've walked the same path."

Five other family members of victims flew to the island for this week's hearings. Bucca so far is the only one to formally address the media.

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When asked what she would tell others who are related to Sept. 11 victims, she said, "I would want to reassure the families."

"Even though they're frustrated with the process, I think what's going on here, before we get to the real essence of what we all want to be seeing, is a necessary groundwork to successfully get through a trial and not have to go through something like this again."

"I am so impressed by the dedication and commitment that I've seen from everyone involved in this from all sides," she adds. "Everyone is doing this for the long haul."

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