Relatives of the Sept. 11 Victims React to Moussaoui Sentencing
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RAY SUAREZ: Family members of the 9/11 victims played a key role in the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui. Rosemary Dillard lost her husband on the day of the terrorist attack; Abraham Scott lost his wife. Both spoke at today’s sentencing.
Carie Lemack lost her mother. She watched most of the trial with other family members on closed-circuit TV in Boston.
And let me welcome you all and begin by getting your reaction to today’s sentencing — Carie Lemack?
CARIE LEMACK: Well, I have to tell Rosemary and Abe, that, in Boston, we clapped when you spoke, and we were so proud to have you represent us there. And I know it took a lot of courage for you to do that.
But for us in Boston, I think we felt a sense of relief that it’s over. Today was the last day we have to go to the court, the last day we have to hear from Mr. Moussaoui. And as Rosemary said, we hope that we never see his name in headlines after tomorrow.
Because at the end of the day, the best way to honor my mom and to honor our loved ones is to make sure that what happened to them never happens again. And we don’t want to have to do that by focusing on Zacarias Moussaoui; we’d rather do that by focusing on capturing the real villains of 9/11.
RAY SUAREZ: Abraham Scott, did you share that sense of relief?
ABRAHAM SCOTT: Yes, my sentiment, also. I feel like there was not a major chapter, but a chapter that has closed on the event of 9/11; positive, not in my favor, but it was a positive closure in that particular chapter.
Now, it’s time for us to move on and, attempt to get our lives together, and do things positive to make something real good come out of this evil tragedy, in terms of doing things to keep their memory alive and also doing things to upkeep, bring our young ones up to make sure that they get their education, in terms of providing scholarships for them. And that’s one of the things that I’m doing right now in honor of my wife.
Family members addressed Moussaoui
RAY SUAREZ: And, finally, Rosemary Dillard, what was your reaction to the verdict and the sentence?
ROSEMARY DILLARD, Wife of September 11th Victim: The verdict and the sentencing were difficult. Initially, I felt emotionally drained. I just kind of sat there mutely, and I was trying to decide: How did I feel?
And I still don't know how I feel, because I'm still very angry with him. I'm angry with the way he disrespected our court system; I'm angry with the way he disrespected the families; I'm angry that he disrespected the judge.
He played a game with us, because he waited each time until the judge had left the courtroom and the jury had left the courtroom before he made his outbursts. And they were always uncalled for.
I think he looks like the devil. I think all you need to do is put a set of ears on him, and you would know: This is an evil person.
RAY SUAREZ: Yet, as Neil Lewis told the story just before we began to speak, you were one of the people who decided to address him directly today. Why did you do that? Why did you open yourself to his scorn and ridicule that you just described?
ROSEMARY DILLARD: Because I wanted him to know there are strong people out there that he cannot take verbal words and hurt, and that we live in a society -- we live in America -- where it counts what you say, where it counts what you do, and that you do, at the end of the day, pay for your sins.
And that is what's happened to him: He will pay dearly. I mean, just think of the loss of the sun in your life; think of the loss of seeing the stars at night; and only being in one room for the rest of your life; and not having contact with another human being. He's getting exactly what he deserves.
And the only thing that I hope cannot happen is that I read that the French government or his mom may ask the French government if America will send him to a prison in France. I hope that doesn't happen.
RAY SUAREZ: Abraham Scott, you also chose to speak to Zacarias Moussaoui today. Why did you decide to do that? And what came to you to say to him?
ABRAHAM SCOTT: I wanted to speak on behalf of my wife. I wanted him to know that, even though his rhetoric and smart comment, very uncalled-for comment in the court room, did not deter my spirit. I might be mourning for my wife, but my spirit's still there, to go on, to make sure that her legacy, my wife's legacy, continue during my lifetime.
RAY SUAREZ: But as someone who was frequently in the courtroom, I'm sure you knew that he was someone who could, you know, return your words with ridicule, make like nothing that you could say could affect him. Why did you feel that it was important to talk right to him?
ABRAHAM SCOTT: I felt that it was important because he was -- throughout my visitation in the courtroom, my focus was not on the jury; my focus was not on the people in the courtroom; my focus was on him, and I would continuously stare him down.
And I was just really, really anxious and very energetic wanting to say something to him. And this morning, the judge gave me that opportunity. And I was a little hesitant, but, when Mrs. Dillard jumped up, that gave me the courage to follow her on after Lisa Dolan spoke to him.
Was Moussaoui a bit player?
RAY SUAREZ: Carie Lemack, have your ideas, your conclusions about the involvement of Zacarias Moussaoui in the plot, in the carrying out of the attacks on September 11, 2001, changed over the course of the trial? Was any of the evidence that was put on anything that forced to you reconsider the conclusions that you've come to over time?
CARIE LEMACK: Well, I've been following the case for a long time, because we wanted to make sure that all of the evidence of what happened on 9/11 got out, so that we can figure out what was wrong on those planes, how did those knives and pepper spray get through.
And so I've been following it, and I knew that Zacarias Moussaoui was not the 20th hijacker. But I have to say, I was a little bit shocked to hear FBI agent Harry Samit.
And, to me, he's the hero of this case. He could have stopped 9/11 if his superiors had listened to him, and they didn't. And I think it showed the ineptitude of some of the higher levels at the FBI, but that the men on the ground and the women on the ground were doing their jobs.
And now what I hope is that we focus on the real problems that we have in this country, because we have an opportunity to make this country safer.
Zacarias Moussaoui was an al-Qaida wannabe, and I'm glad that he got what he got. He deserves to be in jail. He deserves to spend the rest of his life without ever having human contact.
I was flying back from Washington last night and thinking how much I miss my mom's hugs, because she was a great hugger. And I suddenly realized that Zacarias Moussaoui will never have another hug again, and that felt like a little bit of justice.
RAY SUAREZ: Rosemary Dillard, do you share Carie Lemack's conviction that Zacarias Moussaoui was only a bit player in all of this, now that we've come to this conclusion, sentencing day?
ROSEMARY DILLARD: You know, I've spent a lot of time with Carie. We've traveled the same journey; we've climbed some of the same steps at the same time, and I totally agree with her. I think it's right on.
And it was quite clear in, you know, the transcripts that everyone will read from the trial that the frontline FBI did what they were supposed to do. It was the next step, the next level. They pushed it back; they pushed it back. So it clearly shows the FBI that there is work to do.
RAY SUAREZ: Abraham Scott, when you testified, you made it clear that you wanted to see Moussaoui get the death penalty. But right after the jury verdict was announced, you endorsed it. Has your thought about this, your conclusion about this, changed over time?
ABRAHAM SCOTT: Well, I don't think I endorsed it. I think I respect the -- as I think the deputy attorney stated yesterday, I respect the decision of the 12 jurors, but I still wanted the death penalty.
A little twist to it: He, in my opinion, based on my observance during the time that I was in the courtroom, as well as closed circuit, I think Zacarias Moussaoui went in there with a game plan, and he stuck by that game plan, and he used that game plan to manipulate the jurors, manipulate the media, manipulate everyone in that courtroom -- with the exception of me -- that he was insane.
He kept us off balance at all times, but I still am not fully convinced that he didn't have a major part in 9/11.
Solice in company
RAY SUAREZ: Carie Lemack, you were both in Washington and at the remote site in Boston. Were the two experiences very different, when you sat with some of the family members up in New England and watched the proceedings, rather than being here?
CARIE LEMACK: It was very different. In Boston, we were very lucky to have Judge Lawrence Cohen presiding in the courtroom, and he would explain things to us. We were able to talk to each other and really bond together through the experience.
I know it sounds a little cheesy, but I say Toys 'R' Us says it's a place where kids can be a kid, and I felt like going to our courtroom with the wonderful people, the Mass 9/11 Fund, who gave us food and water, it was a place where a 9/11 family member could be a 9/11 family member.
And, in Alexandria, they had all the issues with security they had to deal with, so I think it was a little bit more difficult for them, but they seemed to do a fantastic job there. And we're just very lucky to have been through it all together, and now we're glad that it's over and that we can move on from this and focus on the real issues, not Zacarias Moussaoui.
Memorials to the victims
RAY SUAREZ: Rosemary Dillard, how over? Will the involvement of the family begin to die down now that this chapter has been closed?
ROSEMARY DILLARD: No. I think now all of the families will be working towards getting the memorials built.
In New York, they've still got the issue of the landfills. In Pennsylvania, they've got the issue of the amount of money that they'll need for -- excuse me, the amount of money that they will need to build the memorial.
Here in Virginia, our memorial will be at the Pentagon. And if anyone wants to give, it's www.PentagonMemorial.net. We're still working. We've got about $10.4 million.
And I think what most people do not know and all over is that memorials have to be built by the citizens. The government does not give money to build a memorial. So I'm hoping that the people will hear me and they will help with all three sites.
RAY SUAREZ: Rosemary Dillard, Carie Lemack, Abraham Scott, thank you all.
CARIE LEMACK: Thank you.
ROSEMARY DILLARD: Thank you.
ABRAHAM SCOTT: Thank you.