From Parents of Murdered Fireman, Gary G. Swenchonis, Jr.,
Gary G. Swenchonis, Sr. and Deborah Swenchonis
October 10, 2008
It's that time of year again; yet another anniversary of the attack on the USS Cole in Port Aden, Yemen on October 12th, 2000. In that attack, our son and sixteen of his mates were brutally murdered, and 39 other sailors were wounded.
Since the last time I wrote you a year ago, many changes, some positive and some not, have occurred in relation to the attack on the Cole and the status of your corrupt regime. First and foremost, we wrote our Texas representative and members of Congress asking for a Congressional Hearing into why our government still supports your dictatorship after you gave the plotters and planners of the Cole attack reduced sentences and pardons for the murders of 17 American Sailors. The rest of the convicted killers conveniently escaped from your prisons. And some remain free to this day, eight years after the attack.
Our Senators have kept us informed as to our requests. We received word recently from them that next year Congress will hold Judiciary Committee hearings. We are extremely grateful to the politicians who have decided that its way past the time to review and hopefully take action against you and your regime. And to put an end to all your worthless and broken promises that you made to two American presidents and our government.
It can now be stated as fact, President Saleh, that FBI Agent John O'Neil and his team were correct in their suspicion that you and your government knew much more about the pending attack on the Cole than you admitted after the attack. Unfortunately, Ambassador Bodine and President Clinton refused to let the FBI follow up on their leads and question members of your government and family after the attack. Instead FBI agent O'Neil was kicked out of your country for wanting to conduct a proper investigation. How ironic that he would be killed in the 9/11 attack less than one year later; an attack that-if Presidents Clinton and Bush had heeded his requests-would not have happened in all probability.
You Sir could have allowed a thorough investigation after the Cole attack, so all of the clues and evidence and even some of the terrorists who would participate in 9/11 could have been found. But instead you and government not only interfered with the investigation but threw up hurdles to impede and effectively stop the investigation. So really, sir, you and your government are not only guilty in the Cole attack, but just as guilty in withholding evidence and protecting suspects that would later take part in the attack on 9/11.
We all know now, as many did then, that you were and still are covering up for your Al-Qaeda friends. You and your government did an excellent job at it too. All of the clues and leads that were just waiting to be pieced together after the Cole attack were concealed so well until it was too late to stop the next attack on our country less than a year later on September 11th.
There is a bright side for us in all of this for us, however. It is the fact that more and more people are now seeing how you have used and manipulated Al-Qaeda and two American administrations to achieve your own sick and twisted goals. More major US newspapers in the past year are now reporting how common it is for you to use Al-Qaeda as a friend one day (to fight for you to help quell rebellions in your country and to keep your people oppressed), and then on the next day use Al-Qaeda as a tool to get more money, arms and other assistance from America.
This past year we have watched as you imprisoned Yemeni journalists and activists who dared to question your regime's brutal tactics. My family and I were proud to sign the petition along with thousands of others to have those journalists freed.
And just as important, if not more so, is all the dedication of the men and women at the Military Commission who are working extremely hard and effectively at bringing more of your Al-Qaeda friends to Justice for the murder of our son and his mates. Even in a democracy such as ours we have faults and obstacles to overcome. We actually have Americans in this country that would rather see terrorists who have murdered their fellow Americans set free than to receive their punishment for their crimes. It's called partisan politics, or putting politics before the truth. But at least your terrorist friends stand to receive a more impartial trial here than they would from you. We all know how you treat killers. You free them to kill again.
My wife and I look forward to watching that trial in person and seeing the first real justice ever served on the killers since the Cole attack. It is my sincerest hope that I will be able to bear witness in person regarding the misery that those terrorists have brought, not only to us but to others as well. It's also my hope that the killers you set free will be caught in the future, and that they too will stand trial in a real courtroom, one that adheres to the laws of truth and justice rather than some dictator's personal whims such as yourself.
My wife and I will go to visit our son's gravesite this Sunday. I am going to read to him the letters from our congress people who are going to finally convene the long overdue Judiciary Hearings. I am also going to read to him how the American people are slowly beginning to realize how you and your regime have been allowed to get away with not only the murder of 17 sailors, but how your refusal to let the FBI conduct a proper Investigations led to one of the worst attacks on American soil, an attack that killed so many of my fellow Americans.
Our son's murder could have meant something at the time of the attack. But it was ignored by our government, because they were concerned about offending you, and because they were in the middle of a presidential election in the country. Historically major decisions are never made at such a time (be it by the Democrats' or Republicans') because they are concerned about negative fallout that might prevent them from keeping their jobs. The attack on the Cole could have been a wakeup call for our leaders to take action before it was too late.
Now our leaders have a second chance at correcting their first mistakes in dealing with you, your regime, and how they mishandled the aftermath of the Cole attack. They can all agree to stop the flow of money and arms to your regime. I hope they finally realize that its time put a stop to your policy of releasing known terrorists to kill other innocent people again, and your use of Al-Qaeda as a political tool to keep your regime in power in Yemen, and to squeeze more assistance from my government. The insanity has to be stopped sometime. I think that you are now watching and living the end of your ruthless reign over your people and Yemen. And the end is coming to your continued manipulation of my government for your own personal power and wealth.
We are also going to share with him about all of our fellow Americans who are helping us in setting right the terrible wrongs committed after the Forgotten Cole attack, and the free Yemenis who are working with us too. We know that he would be proud and happy to know that so many people want see him and his mates obtain the Justice that has been denied them for so many years now. All the help and support we have had from Americans and Yemenis makes me proud and still amazes me. It's one of my wife's greatest comforts to know that so many people care, while our government ignored her pleas for years.
In closing Sir, I would like to add that we still have not received a letter of condolence from your government for our son's murder in your country at your request. We like to think that with a new President in office next year and other new politicians as well that they will finally stop supporting your regime.
At least that action would give some meaning to our son's murder. So would knowing that he and his mates played a part in having one of the world's most devious, conniving, and murderous dictators removed from the position of power where you have caused so much death, destruction, and misery. It's my hope that I will not be writing you this time next year, unless you are in prison, but instead to a new leader of Yemen, a leader who will abide by freedom of the press and speech, freedom of religion, and all the other norms of a free society.
Remember the USS Cole, Mr. President. Because we the families of the murdered sailors and wounded sailors and Americans and free Yemenis will not rest until we achieve our goal of ridding Yemen of your presence.
Parents of Murdered Fireman, Gary G. Swenchonis, Jr.,
Gary G. Swenchonis, Sr. and Deborah Swenchonis
My thoughts and prayers are with the Swenchonis family as well as those who lost their loved ones when alQaeda terrorists attacked the USS Cole. May our country finally bring to justice those who are responsible instead of ALLOWING President Saleh to SHIELD them from prosecution.
In memory of:
#1 * Hull Maintenance Technician Second Class* Kenneth Eugene Clodfelter, 21, of Mechanicsville, Va.
* Electronics Technician Chief Petty Officer* Richard Costelow, 35, of Morrisville, Pa.
* Mess Management Specialist Seaman Lakeina Monique Francis, 19, of Woodleaf, N.C.
* Information Systems Technician Timothy Lee Gauna, 21, of Rice, Texas
* Signalman Seaman* Cherone Louis Gunn, 22, of Rex, Ga.
* Seaman James Rodrick McDaniels, 19, of Norfolk, Va.
* Engineman Second Class Marc Ian Nieto, 24, of Fond du Lac, Wis.
* Electronics Warfare Technician Second Class* Ronald Scott Owens, 24, of Vero Beach, Fla.
* Seaman* Lakiba Nicole Palmer, 22, of San Diego, Calif.
* Engineman Fireman Joshua Langdon Parlett, 19, of Churchville, Md.
* Fireman* Patrick Howard Roy, 19, of Cornwall on Hudson, N.Y.
* Electronics Warfare Technician First Class* Kevin Shawn Rux, 30, of Portland, N.D.
* Mess Management Specialist Third Class Ronchester Manangan Santiago, 22, Kingsville, Texas
* Operations Specialist Second Class Timothy Lamont Saunders, 32, of Ringgold, Va.
* Fireman Gary Graham Swenchonis Jr., 26, Rockport, Texas
* Ensign Andrew Triplett, 31, of Macon, Miss.
* Seaman* Craig Bryan Wibberley, 19, of Williamsport, Md.
Gone but not forgotten........