“Punish the guilty. But don’t punish the innocent.”

Today in the New York Times, Clyde Haberman profiles Valerie Lucznikowska, a woman who met recently with President Obama. She, like the others who were invited to attend the meeting, had lost a relative in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. This group (along with relatives of victims of the of the Navy destroyer Cole in Yemen in 2000) were invited by President Obama so that he could explain to them personally why he had ordered Guantanamo to be closed within a year, and why he suspended military trials until his administration figured out how to prosecute the remaining terrorism suspects. Be assured, he told them, that those people would receive “a swift and certain justice.”

Not all the participants shared President Obama’s views on Guantanamo, but Ms. Lucznikowska had this to say:

“I’m not interested in revenge. Revenge is useless if you don’t uphold your own principles. What good is it to punish someone if you are not punishing them justly? That’s what America is all about.”

“I don’t want to see Khalid Sheikh Mohammed go scot-free,” she said, referring to the confessed 9/11 mastermind. “I’m not an idiot. I want to see justice. Punish the guilty. But don’t punish the innocent.”

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Published on February 10, 2009

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