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Why I Will Never Forget 9/11

Tuesday, September 11th, 2018

Seventeen years ago, the worst attack on American soil occurred with terrorists hijacking four planes resulting in the loss of almost 3,000 lives and additionally more than 6,000 injured in New York City at the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon and Shanksville, PA. Everyone who was living at the time and old enough to remember, recalls what they were doing at those moments. And we must never forget the loss of lives and the way our society has changed forever as a direct result of the terrorist assault on American soil. Many others died later from illnesses due to the exposure to the dust in the attacks. Those who lost their lives were Americans and others from 90 countries.

At the time of the attacks, I lived on Capitol Hill and worked nearby in downtown Washington, D.C. I was rushing late for a deposition to be held at my office. When I arrived to the office, in hurry mode, I ordered the court reporter to go to the conference room and told my client I would be with her shortly. I failed to notice the eerie silence in the office until my office colleague brought me in to watch the breaking news on the office TV. The first World Trade Center tower had been hit and was engulfed in flames. As I sat in fear and horror, I watched in real time as the other attacks unfolded.
We were told to evacuate our office building after the plane hit the Pentagon. Most folks did not return to their office and went home—which took hours.

Living 8 blocks from the Capitol, I was scared to go home for fear that the Capitol might be hit. Instead I went to a college friend’s house overnight in nearby Silver Spring, MD which like D.C. was devoid of any people on the street. I was still reluctant to go home afterwards. I knew a few folks who were stranded in towns across the country when their planes were ordered to land.

For me and many others, it brought about the loss of innocence—that living in America was somehow a safe -haven –at least from terrorist activities. It broke the naiveté that modern-day terrorist attacks only occur abroad—never here. Watching Pres. George W. Bush, speaking on behalf of all Americans, brought a sense of unity. It was heart warming to see our allies abroad support us and stand beside us. For an entire week, I was glued to the TV—hanging on to every known fact.

What I will always remember about 911 is that our freedoms and way of life cannot be taken for granted. For many long weeks later, I saw police with rifles, military style trucks and tanks on Capitol Hill. It was a surreal scene like something in a movie—except it was real. Our way of life from boarding airplanes, entering government buildings to getting a driver’s license changed-forever.

On this 9/11 anniversary, we as Americans must remember that our U.S. allies stood with us and for us. And we must never forget that we are a global society. The isolationist policy today by the Trump administration is a flawed one which could prove fatal to us. And 911 proves that we must never forget the tragedy of loss of life and the global support of our world neighbors. Never forget.

Washington, D. C. based Debbie Hines is a trial lawyer, legal analyst and former Baltimore prosecutor.

Appeals Court Trumps Mr. Trump on his Travel Ban

Friday, February 10th, 2017

supcourt_buildingOn Thursday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Mr. Trump and the Government’s request to lift the travel ban stay, pending an appeal. In upholding the lower court’s decision, which ended the ban, the federal appeals court gave an elementary school civics lesson to the President and the Department of Justice lawyers arguing the case.

 

The Department of Justice lawyers argued that the judiciary branch of the government had no authority to end the executive order.   It argued as if the President has full authority over the courts, our judicial branch of government.  The appellate court made it clear that there was no precedent for that part of the Government’s argument–ever, even if based on national security.  The appeals court gave Mr.  Trump a nice civics lesson. There are three branches of government under the U. S. Constitution—executive, judiciary and legislative. No one branch of government is superior to the other.  For Mr. Trump to misunderstand the checks and balances of democracy is appalling.

 

 

 

The court further found there was no evidence or facts that even supported the Government’s claim of a security need based on terrorism—or bad things happening as Mr. Trump asserts.   The Trump lawyers failed to provide any evidence or facts that would support the alleged need for the travel ban to the seven countries of primarily Muslim background.  The Government failed to show any of the seven countries were involved in any terrorist attacks on the U. S.  There was no irreparable harm shown to exist if the travel ban were lifted. The law, as Mr. Trump found today, is based on evidence and facts. It’s not what you say or tweet out to the public. It’s what you can prove in a court of law.  The Government was all talk but no substance.

 

The State of Washington, on the other hand,  through hard evidence and facts showed the harm committed by the travel ban as it affected its  public universities, including faculty and students, research abroad,  reducing its tax base and restricting travel to and from the U.S., leaving persons stranded without any recourse.

 

And the other civics or constitutional law lesson given to Mr. Trump is that any taking of life, liberty and property must be afforded due process under the U.S. Constitution. This means the government cannot take away rights unilaterally without due process, a hearing, means for redress and an appeal process.  The travel ban went into effect immediately—depriving persons of the right to travel from those seven countries to the U.S. without affording them any rights of due process to redress it.  The right to due process applies regardless of whether the persons affected are citizens or non-citizens.  While some of Mr. Trump’s supporters may complain, they too should read the U.S. Constitution.

 

The 9th Circuit decided the sole issue of whether to lift the stay and place the travel ban back in effect pending the appeal. In making its decision, it stated the Trump administration was not likely to win the issue on appeal.  The three judges on the panel that decided the case were appointed by Presidents Carter, Bush and Obama.

 

 

For now, the travel restrictions against the seven countries remain lifted.  According to the President’s early evening tweet following the latest court action, Mr. Trump spoke to his base with bald allegations and no substance to back up his national security needs as the reason for the ban.  It would do the President good if he were to pick up a copy and read the entire U.S. constitution—thereby saving taxpayers’ money on frivolous appeals and other legal actions.  In the words of singer James Brown, he needs to stop “talking loud and saying nothing.”

To read the entire court opinion, click here

Washington, DC based Debbie Hines is a lawyer, legal analyst and member of the Supreme Court.