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Tuesday, March 30, 2004 FULL SHOW | HEADLINES | NEXT: Confronting Bush’s Brain: Immigrant Rights Groups...
2004-03-30

EXCLUSIVE: Brother of USS Cole Victim Speaks Out

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In a Democracy Now! exclusive we speak with Anton Gunn, brother of Cherone Louis Gunn, one of the 17 US servicemen killed in the Oct. 12, 2000 attack on the USS Cole. In his first extensive interview, Anton Gunn says, "There’s no doubt in my mind that 9/11 could have been fully thwarted." He discusses the investigation of the Cole attack and his frustrating dealings with FBI. [includes rush transcript]

The Commission investigating the Sept. 11th attacks last week wrapped up two days of high-profile hearings in Washington.

The public hearings grabbed headlines across the country and continued to dominate the airwaves over the weekend as a political firestorm brewed over former counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke’s testimony and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice’s refusal to give one.

In the wake of the controversy over the handling of the war on terror by both the Clinton and Bush administrations, a lesser-known terrorist attack 11 months before 9/11 is once again in the news–The USS Cole.

On Oct. 12, 2000 a small boat filled with C4 explosives motored alongside a U.S. destroyer, the USS Cole, which was fuelling up of the coast of Yemen. Two men aboard the small craft waved at the larger vessel, then blew themselves up. Seventeen American sailors died, and thirty-nine others were seriously wounded.

In an interview on Meet the Press last Sunday, NBC’s Tim Russert questioned former counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke about the Cole.

  • Richard Clarke on NBC’s Meet the Press with Tim Russert March 28, 2004.

Today, in a Democracy Now! exclusive, we are joined by Anton Gunn, his brother Cherone Louis Gunn was one of the 17 Americans killed aboard the Cole. He was just 22 years old.

  • Anton Gunn, executive director of South Carolina Fair Share, a nonpartisan membership organization made up of low and moderate income South Carolinians concerned with consumer and progressive social change issues.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Neville brothers, "A Change is Gonna Come," here on "Democracy Now!–The War and Peace Report." I’m Amy Goodman. The commission investigating the September 11th attacks last week wrapped up two days of high profile hearings in Washington. The public hearings which grabbed headlines across the country continued to dominate the airwaves over the weekend, as a political firestorm brewed over former counter-terrorism chief Richard Clarke’s testimony and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice’s refusal to give testimony under oath or in public. In the wake of the controversy over the handling of the war on terror by both the Clinton and Bush administrations, a lesser known terrorist attack 11 months before 9-11 is once again in the news: the USS Cole. On October 12, 2000, a small boat filled with c-4 explosives motored alongside a US destroyer, the USS Cole, which was fueling up off the coast of Yemen. Two men aboard the small craft waved at the larger vessel and then blew themselves up. 17 US sailors died. 39 others were seriously wounded. In an interview on "Meet the Press" last Sunday, NBC’s Tim Russert questioned former counter-terrorism chief, Richard Clarke, about the Cole.

TIM RUSSERT: President Clinton did not bomb the Al Qaeda camps that you wanted, destroy them, did not respond after the Cole was attacked, 17 sailors killed?

RICHARD CLARKE: Right.

TIM RUSSERT: And yet, you are saying he was more aggressive than President Bush?

RICHARD CLARKE: Well, he did something, and President Bush did nothing, prior to September 11th. So, yeah, but let’s talk about the Cole. The Cole was attacked in October of 2000. President Bush was running for office. He never mentioned it. Vice President Gore was running for office. He never mentioned it. The media hardly touched it. What were they focused on? They were focused on the election, and they were focused on the Middle East peace process. I thought it was a mistake, and the very fact that I quote Mike Sheehan in the book as saying that, I think it’s indicative of how he felt and how I felt. If I didn’t think it was a mistake, that wouldn’t be in the book. The facts have come out. The facts have come out before the 9-11 commission that the FBI and the CIA refused to say who did it in October of 2000. And the President was, therefore, faced with the problem: "Can I go ahead and bomb somebody in retaliation for the attack on the Cole, when my CIA director and my FBI director won’t say who did it?"

Now, this is the same President who, when he bombed Afghanistan, when he bombed Al Qaeda camps because George Tenet and I and Sandy Berger recommended that he do it in order to get Bin Laden and the leadership team where we thought they were going to be meeting. The reaction he faced to that was the so-called "Wag the Dog" phenomenon. No one in the media, Tim, no one in the media, no one in the Congress said, "Oh, that’s a great thing that you are retaliating for the attack on the United States." They said, "This is all about Monica Lewinsky," and "This is all about your political problems." So now, the same President who had the experience last time he fired cruise missiles at Bin Laden, wants to fire cruise missiles at Bin Laden, but he’s got a CIA director and an FBI director who won’t say, "Bin Laden did it, Mr. President." I would still have done it. I recommended doing it. Do I think it was mistake that we didn’t do it? Yes. But let’s understand the context.

AMY GOODMAN: Former counter-terrorism adviser, Richard Clarke on "Meet the Press" on Sunday, discussing the reaction in the media and public to the USS Cole attack. Today in a "Democracy Now!" National Exclusive, we’re joined by Anton Gunn. He is the brother of Cherone Lewis Gunn, one of the 17 Americans killed aboard the Cole. He was 22 years old. Anton Gunn is executive director of South Carolina Fair Share, a non-partisan membership organization, made up of low- and moderate-income South Carolinians concerned with consumer and progressive social change issues. We welcome Anton Gunn to "Democracy Now!."

ANTON GUNN: Good morning.

AMY GOODMAN: It’s good to have you with us.

ANTON GUNN: Thank you for having me.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about your reaction over these weeks as the USS Cole is once again raised? An attack that did not get a tremendous amount of attention when it happened.

ANTON GUNN: Yeah. Amy, it got no attention whatsoever, and to hear it finally get some coverage in the news, in terms of just mentioning what travesty took place after October 12, 2000, was very important to my family, and really feeling like we’re finally getting the attention that the Cole attack deserved. I mean, it’s been probably one of the biggest cover-ups that I could ever see, about how no one just gave no attention, no credence, no response to what happened on October the 12th by any administration, or any, you know, branch of the government in terms of what happened to my brother, his 16 shipmates, as well as the other 39 that were injured. I’m so glad that something is finally being said.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about that day, how you learned of your brother’s death, and then what happened after that?

ANTON GUNN: Well, that morning, it was about 8:00 a.m., East Coast Time when I first saw it come across the news, as I was getting dressed that morning, that a ship in the Middle East had exploded. They didn’t say it was attacked at that point. They just said there was an explosion aboard a navy vessel. And I had a sinking feeling inside that something had happened, because I had spoke to my brother by email a couple of weeks before saying they were headed towards the Persian Gulf, and I didn’t find out that his ship was attacked until about noontime, that I heard from CNN. Again, I found out more information from the news stations and from TV and radio than I heard from the entire military or the navy. And it wasn’t until 4 o’clock that afternoon that I found that my brother was one of the first that were listed as being killed aboard the USS Cole. My family was devastated. I was here in South Carolina where I live and work, and my family–my brother and my family–are all from Virginia. They were all in Virginia. So, I was just devastated and alone. I had no one here with me but my wife. In a frantic panic, I just jumped in the car and drove to Virginia, to be with my mother and my father and my brothers. It was a very, very, very horrible day to literally find out nothing from the military, but just to hear my father calling me crying through the phone because he just found out that his son was murdered.

AMY GOODMAN: What did the military tell you from that point on? We just heard Richard Clarke saying how the CIA and the FBI refused to point the finger at Al Qaeda. What did you understand?

ANTON GUNN: I understood exactly that, that after the Cole was bombed, you know, we were told very, very little. You know, we did hear from some military officials that they believed that Al Qaeda was behind this attack, and this was Bin Laden’s hand-doing and all of those other things. They said that to us privately, but never, not once, not in, you know, two years after the Cole attack was there any public acknowledgement that this attack was committed by Al Qaeda. I mean, for literally two years, and so we knew who was responsible because shortly after the Cole, Osama Bin Laden produced a recruiting tape to recruit other men in the Middle East to join Al Qaeda. On the tape, he says, "We thank God for the victory against the Cole in the sea," you know, a couple of months ago. He’s saying this out publicly. But we can’t get any accountability from anybody in the navy and the Department of Defense or out of the White House or anybody that said anything that says, "We know that Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda were responsible." They would not publicly say it. They would say to us privately, "Hey, we are investigating this, because we assigned this to our New York field office." The FBI New York field office which is a counter-terrorism division. They deal with everything with Osama Bin Laden. So, they were investigating as if this was an Al Qaeda related attack. But they did not at one time, not for two entire years, did they publicly say that Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda were responsible for the attack aboard the USS Cole.

AMY GOODMAN: We are talking to Anton Gunn. He lost his brother, Cherone Lewis Gunn, in October of 2000. It was right before the elections. President Clinton was in office. Eventually, George W. Bush would take over. Was there a difference between the way the Clinton administration and the Bush administrations dealt with this?

ANTON GUNN: No difference whatsoever. They both ignored us, tremendously. They both did. It was just disgusting the way my family felt. I will say that in the moments, in the couple of days right after the Cole attack, you know, the President did the presidential thing, which is call the families and come meet with the families. We did share some time with President Clinton, as he —- as he flew directly back from the Middle East to come directly and meet with the victims aboard the USS Cole, the family members. So, he did shed a tear and spent time with us, but in terms of their response with an investigation, with just kind of, you know, letting us know what was happening, we heard nothing in the last two months of the Clinton administration, and we never heard anything the entire time during the Bush administration until, you know, most recently, last February, where, you know, they called us for some meeting to give us some information, but -—

AMY GOODMAN: Anton Gunn, we have to break for stations to identify themselves, but when we come back, I want to ask you about one man. He was working in counter-terrorism in the FBI: John O’Neill. And his role in attempting to investigate what had taken place and attempting to get at Saudi links. Eventually, he got so frustrated, he left the FBI, went to head security at the World Trade Center and died on September 11th. We are talking to Anton Gunn, lost his brother in the USS Cole attack. We’ll be back with him in a minute.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy now!, The War and Peace Report. We’re talking to Anton Gunn, he lost his brother, Sharon Lewis Gunn in October of 2000 in the USS Cole attack. Seventeen U.S. servicemen died in that attack. Can you tell us, Anton Gunn, about the counter-terrorism agent at the F.B.I., John O’Neill and what he attempted to do.

ANTON GUNN: John O’Neill attempted to do his job, basically, and he went above and beyond in terms of trying to outreach to the families and keep us informed and updated about the investigation and, you know, the avenues that he was trying to explore to identify the culprits that committed the attack aboard the USS Cole and to bring them to justice. I will say he was the only person in the F.B.I. that made any kind of attempt to contact any of the family members. Mr. O’Neill stayed in very close contact with my father and called him regularly and gave my father his direct cell phone number, pager number, home phone number, to speak with him directly about whatever my father had a concern about. So, he was very forthright. He was trying very, very hard. I really didn’t understand the whole dynamics of what he was having to deal with, but it really just felt like, you know, he was the lone wolf in trying to answer these questions and solve this investigation and bring things to light. It just, you know, it really made no sense to see, you know, an entire office with many agents and many lawyers and many other people that could be investigating the attack aboard the Cole, but the only one that actually seemed to be doing anything was John O’Neill.

AMY GOODMAN: What happened when John O’Neill attempted to go to Yemen and his confrontations with the U.S. Ambassador, Barbara Bodine, who later became one of the Bush point people in Iraq when the U.S. first invaded?

ANTON GUNN: Ambassador Bodine was being very obstinate, to say the least, in terms of allowing the investigation to go forward in Yemen. Again, I believe that it was a high level of political games being played in terms of how the investigation proceeded. Agents from the F.B.I. and, I believe, John O’Neill, went to Yemen several times wanting to interrogate suspects and talk to people in reference to what they saw on that day and what they knew about the individuals that carried out the attack. But the Yemen government was not forthright in cooperating, and Ambassador Bodine encouraged that lack of cooperation and really kept at bay the F.B.I. and Mr. O’Neil and everybody else from actually doing their job. I mean, it was almost like, you know, she was — she had to be the go-between. She had to be the gatekeeper that kept the F.B.I. away from the Yemen investigators, away from the suspects that were being detained in Yemen. She just made it very difficult for anybody to get any answers. I mean, the F.B.I. agents wanted to ask questions to the suspects that they had in custody, but they couldn’t meet with them. You know, they had to write their questions down on a piece of paper, hand them to Yemen investigators, and the Yemen investigators would take them into the room and ask the suspects the questions. Then bring the answers back out written on a piece of paper. So, there was no way for them to be able to ascertain body language or any kind of reaction to what questions were being asked. They really couldn’t do their job. That was one of the many things that Ambassador Bodine put in place that kept the F.B.I. at bay and kept us at bay from really solving this crime.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Anton Gunn, lost his brother in the USS Cole attack, October 12, 2000. I’m looking at a piece in "The New Yorker" magazine called The Counter Terrorist. 'John O'Neill was an F.B.I. agent with an obsession, the growing threat of Al Qaeda.’ In it it says, 'After two months in Yemen, O'Neill came home feeling he was fighting the counter terrorism battle without support from his own government. He made some progress in gaining access to evidence, but so far the investigation had been a failure, concerned about continuing threats against the remaining F.B.I. investigators, he tried to return in January of 2001, Bodine denied his application to re-enter the country. She refuses to discuss that decision.’ The reporter writes, '“Too much is being made of John O'Neill’s being in Yemen or not", she told me. "John O’Neill did not discover Al Qaeda. He did not discover Osama Bin Laden. So the idea that John or his people or the F.B.I. were somehow barred from doing their job is insulting to the U.S. government which was working on Al Qaeda before John ever showed up. This is all my embassy did for ten months."’ This, again, quoting Ambassador Barbara Bodine. She said, "the fact that not every single thing that John O’Neill asked for was appropriate or possible does not mean that we did not support the investigation." After O’Neill’s departure, the remaining agents, feeling increasingly vulnerable, retreated to the American Embassy, in the capitol of Yemen. In June the Yemen authorities arrested eight men who they said were part of a plot to blow up the embassy. New threats against the Embassy followed. And Louis Freeh, acting upon O’Neil’s recommendation, withdrew the team entirely. "Its members", he told me, "were the highest target during that period." Bodine calls the pullout "unconscionable".’ Those men who were arrested, they escaped, that’s right?

ANTON GUNN: Yes. They all escaped at the same time on the same day, the same way, in broad daylight.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you think happened there?

ANTON GUNN: Well, I think it was very calculated. My personal opinion is that there has not been any truth-telling, in terms of the level of involvement in the Yemen government, for the USS Cole and any other terrorist related activities in the area. I mean, there’s countless stories that I have found and have heard about, Yemen being a very, very, you know, terrorist sympathizing country in terms of officials within the government atmosphere. So, to have ten suspects or eight or ten suspects in custody in prison for investigating them for terrorist related activities and all of them to escape together through a bathroom out of a prison, and then get in a taxi cab and disappear into the northern regions of Yemen is unconscionable. And I really think that there was too much given in the area of, you know, responsibility to the Yemen government that they were doing their part. We don’t believe that they were doing their part. They have never issued us a formal apology for what happened on their soil. They seem to not be cooperating fully with the investigation, but for whatever reason, we were bending over backwards, allowing them to carry on the way that they saw fit and not the way we thought was fit, to truly investigate an attack that took the lives of 17 U.S. American sailors.

AMY GOODMAN: In that piece in the "New Yorker" it talks about the September 11 and the "USS Cole." It says, 'A month after the investigation began, Assistant Director, Dale Watson told the "Washington Post," "Sustained cooperation with the Yemenese has enabled the F.B.I. to further reduce its in-country presence." The same day the Yemeni Prime Minister told the "Washington Post" that no link had been discovered between the Cole bombers and Al Qaeda. The statement was premature to say the least. In fact, it's possible some of the planning for the Cole bombing and the September 11 attacks took place simultaneously. ’It’s now believed at least two of the suspected conspirators in the Cole bombing had attended a meeting of alledged Bin Laden associates in Malaysia in January of 2000. Under C.I.A. pressure, Malaysian authorities had conducted a surveillance of the gathering, turning up a number of faces, but in the absence of wire-taps nothing of what was said. "It didn’t seem like much at the time," a Clinton administration official said, "none of the faces showed up in our own files." 'Early last year, the F.B.I. targeted the men who were present at the Malaysia meeting as potential terrorists. Two of them were subsequently identified as hijackers in the September 11 attacks.' We are talking to Anton Gunn who lost his brother in the October 12, 2000, USS Cole attack. What about where your brother was buried? And the ceremonies that have since been performed and your family’s involvement?

ANTON GUNN: My brother was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, and he was buried alongside with two of his shipmates. There have been ceremony after ceremony in Virginia, not necessarily in Arlington, Virginia, but in Norfolk, Virginia where my brother’s ship originally ported out of. They have had ceremonies annually about, you know, they want to remember the victims of the USS Cole. But all of these have been done in the absence of the families. They don’t make any contact with us. They don’t communicate with us about anything. All of a sudden we hear they’re having some ceremony to remember the victims of the USS "Cole," but no family members are included. They have made promises to us, huge promises, in terms of, when the Cole happened, America poured out and donated all kinds of money. Faith Hill and Tim McGraw had a country music concert that raised some $400,000 for our families the victims of the "USS Cole." none of this money we actually ever saw, because the military and the government decided what they were going to do with it. And one of the things they decided is that every year for the next 21 years after the Cole attack they would place flowers and wreaths upon the graves of every person that lost their life aboard the USS Cole tragedy. Well, the first year after they made this promise to us, we went to Arlington on October 12, and there was no flowers or any kind of wreath, you know, honoring my brother or his shipmates on their graves. It’s happened twice out of the three years since the USS Cole attacks that there has been no wreath laying ceremony or anything for the sailors that lost their lives. I mean it’s almost like, you know — you know, you want to tell the public that you are honoring and respecting and remembering the victims of the USS Cole, but you don’t include their families. You don’t talk to their families. You haven’t given any information in support to their families. It’s kind of like, you are doing your own thing to cover your behind to say that you support, you know — you know, your sailors and your troops, but you know, in reality you are doing nothing to support them other than cause them more and more anguish, because you have refused to include them and communicate to them about your investigation, about, you know, what actually happened on that day, and truly just — giving the families some closure. They refused to do that.

AMY GOODMAN: Anton Gunn, has your family gotten any kind of compensation for — on the death of Sharon?

ANTON GUNN: Other than the initial $6,000 burial benefit that all loved ones receive when they lose someone in the military, very, very little. I mean, and that’s one of the major concerns that we have had for years is that, you know, we want to be treated as every other Al Qaeda victim has been treated. I mean, on September 11, you had lots of numbers people that lost their lives in the World Trade Center, as well as the Pentagon, that have all been allowed to be given redress in terms of the September 11 fund and access to compensation, but our families have been excluded. And, you know, we have talked until we were blue in the face. We have communicated with all levels of government and our elected officials about this issue, and, you know, we have kind of been ignored. I mean, we have truly been ignored, as if this was something totally different from what happened on September 11. You know, our families say that, you know, we were all victims of Al Qaeda terrorism. We were all let down by the military. We were all let down by the government and we were all let down by our elected leadership of this country. And the only difference between September 11 and October 12 is one year, one month and one day. There’s no difference. No other difference. So, we expect and should be treated as September 11 victims have been treated, but we have yet to receive any access or compensation for what happened to our loved ones or how we are able to deal with this situation.

AMY GOODMAN: There’s a book called "Forbidden Truth" by French journalists and Frenchmen who worked with the Secret Service in France investigating Al Qaeda. And in it they also talk about John O’Neill and say that he felt most thwarted in his attempts to investigate any terror links to Saudi Arabia, which he why he ultimately left the F.B.I. and went to work at security at the World Trade Center, and died on September 11. The Yemeni President about a month after the attack on the USS Cole said that the small boat that was used to attack the Cole had been bought in Saudi Arabia and that at least one of the attackers was a Saudi citizen. Do you understand this to be the case?

ANTON GUNN: Yes. Very much so. And, you know, it’s — the entire thing has been frustrating from the lack of information that we have officially gotten, and you know, we have all done our own investigation. I know many family members communicate daily and weekly with folks in Yemen, trying to get some answers. We understand exactly that the boat that was used in the attack aboard the USS Cole was purchased in Saudi Arabia and then, you know, driven or shipped to Yemen in some capacity, and it was used in the attacks. First, the attempted attack aboard the "USS Sullivan" in January of 2000, which was failed because they had too many explosives on the boat, so it sank. But they salvaged the same boat out of the harbor, put a new motor on it, then lined it with Semtex, a C-4 explosive, and used it in the "Cole attack. And yes, it was purchased in Saudi Arabia.

AMY GOODMAN: At this point is any further investigation being opened into the attack on the "USS Cole," and what kind of interactions have you had with government officials and demanding information?

ANTON GUNN: Well, Amy, since the beginning of this endeavor or this event that changed my family’s life forever, I have attempted to contact the F.B.I. on numerous occasions, beginning back in January of 2001, and I didn’t hear any contacts from anybody in the United States government or the F.B.I. until, you know, September of 2001 where they said, oh, you know, the Cole is related to 9-11. Then we didn’t hear anything again for another year. So, it’s been a terrible, terrible miscommunication and lack of communication on the part of the F.B.I. and the investigation. So, this has really been four years and I can probably say, the four years, coming up on the fourth anniversary of the "Cole," I have probably talked to the F.B.I. for maybe 12 months of that time frame, and have been ignored the rest of the time frame. But I do understand there’s an investigation that’s continuing. We were able to meet with Mr. Ashcroft sometime last February in terms of them announcing an indictment, that they did have a couple of suspects that they had officially named as being related to the attack on the USS Cole, and they were all Al Qaeda members, and they also named Al Qaeda as a part of that indictment. That took some three years after the Cole attack officially happened for them to do that. But we do understand that there’s a continuing investigation, and they’re trying to, you know, put together the pieces, and you know, we have been said to countless times by the members of the F.B.I. that they looked at the attack on the USS Cole as a blueprint for what happened in 9-11, and that everything from the 9-11 investigation has been informed by what happened aboard the USS Cole and therefore, they are continuing to investigate to put together all of the pieces. So, you know, they’re investigating, but, you know, it’s been almost a year since I have heard anything from them, other than maybe a brief email to say that, hey, somebody’s escaped or, you know, they think they may have somebody else, but it’s all — our investigation, the families’ investigation, we find our stuff out through the internet and through news programs as yours that really try to tell the truth, because we can’t get it from the F.B.I. or from anyone in the government.

AMY GOODMAN: Anton Gunn, do you think that if a full investigation had been done of the USS Cole that perhaps September 11 would not have happened, the attacks?

ANTON GUNN: There is no doubt in my mind if the USS Cole attack was fully investigated, which means that, you know, Ambassadors like Bodine would step out of the way and allow us to do our jobs, if we were being cooperative as agencies with each other, to fully investigate what happened aboard the USS Cole, there’s no doubt in my mind that 9-11 could have been fully thwarted at a minimum, and that they could have really stopped many other terrorist plots that are in the making, that are being planned as we speak, but, you know it, was — 9-11 was allowed to happen because we refused to do our job. We had no leadership that wanted to do a job. President Clinton said, listen, I’m trying to get out of office. And so, he was trying to close up everything that he was doing so he could get out of office. And when Bush got in he was like, it didn’t happen on my watch, so I’m not really worried about it. And that’s how we felt for so many years. We were saying, if you don’t do something, if you don’t answer these questions, if you don’t investigate this, this will happen again. And 11 months later, September 11 happened. And there was no doubt, the day when I saw the buildings on fire, that I knew what had happened.

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, what you’re calling for now, Anton Gunn.

ANTON GUNN: I’m calling for some truth-telling. I want a clear and open investigation. I want Condoleezza Rice on the carpet to tell what she knows about 9-11, what she knows about the USS Cole and every other elected official. Bill Cohen as well needs to be open and upright about what happened. So, we want some truth-telling in terms of what happened aboard the "USS Cole," and then we want our families to be treated equally as victims of Al Qaeda. We want access to compensation just as everyone else has had. You know, you don’t understand the tragedy of what terrorism can do to you and your family until you live it. And I don’t want anyone else to deal with what my family has dealt with over the last four years. So, we want to be treated equally as all other victims of Al Qaeda terrorist attacks have been treated. And give us our just due, our respect and treat us fairly.

AMY GOODMAN: Have you sued the U.S. government?

ANTON GUNN: No, we’re in the process of figuring that out. Because you hear people say, oh, you can’t sue the government, you can’t sue the government. But we have retained counsel. And we are in the process of looking at our options. We felt like this wasn’t necessary, that if they would just treat us all as equals and, just as they have allowed the families in the Pentagon and the families in the World Trade Center to receive compensation for what happened to their loved ones, you know, we thought that if we were able to get access and the same kind of support services that they received, there was no need to file a lawsuit. But, you know, we have since reconsidered that, just because of the — how we have been ignored for so much in terms of this complaint and this, you know, this question about fairness and equity for all victims of Al Qaeda terror. So, that is a possibility, but, you know, again, where that success goes or what actually happens is, you know — your guess is as good as mine. But I really think it’s unnecessary for to us have to go to those lengths to actually get someone to treat us, you know, the way we should be treated for what has happened to our families and to our loved ones.

AMY GOODMAN: Anton Gunn, I want to thank you for being with us. Anton Gunn lost his brother, Sharon Lewis Gunn on October 12, 2000, in the attack on the USS Cole off the coast of Yemen. Anton Gunn is currently Executive Director of South Carolina Fair Share, a non-partison organization made up of low and moderate income people in South Carolina concerned with progressive social change. I thank you for being with us.

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