NEW YORK - Moans, sighs, and exclamations erupted Saturday as relatives of 9/11 victims watched four closed-circuit TV feeds from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, that showed the self-proclaimed mastermind of the attacks and codefendants trying to slow their arraignment, a move that drew outbursts from viewers of "come on, are you kidding me?"
"It's actually a joke, it feels ridiculous," said Jim Riches, whose firefighter son, Jimmy, died at the World Trade Center. Riches watched the hearing from a movie theater at Fort Hamilton in New York City, one of four U.S. military bases where the arraignment was telecast live for victims' relatives, survivors, and emergency personnel who responded to the attacks.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the other defendants were arraigned on charges that include terrorism and murder, the first time in more than three years that they appeared in public.
During the hearing, they generally refused to cooperate. At one point, a detainee leafed through a copy of the Economist magazine, then passed it to another.
Like other family members, Riches expressed frustration about the proceedings.
"It's been a mess for 11 years," Riches said as he stood in the rain during a break in the proceedings and described the atmosphere inside. And after his first glimpse inside the military courtroom, he said, "It looks like it's going to be a very long trial. . . . They want what they want."
Riches, a retired firefighter who worked digging up remains after 9/11, said he carried with him dark memories of the days after the attacks, and he hoped that if convicted, the five men would be executed.
"I saw what they did to our loved ones - crushed them to pieces," he said.
About 60 people representing 30 families were in the theater at Fort Hamilton, where the military provided chaplains and grief counselors, Riches said. The other bases providing feeds were Fort Devens in Massachusetts, Joint Base McGuire Dix in New Jersey, and Fort Meade in Maryland, the only one open to the public. Very few people were planning to go to the viewing site in New Jersey, a base spokesman said.
At Fort Hamilton, Lee Hanson said he became deeply angry as he watched the delays being caused by men he blames for the death of his son, daughter-in-law, and 9/11's youngest victim - his granddaughter, 2-year-old Christine Hanson. All were aboard United Flight 175, the second plane to crash into the twin towers.
"They praise Allah. I say, 'Damn you!' " said the retiree from Easton, Conn.
Several people who watched the proceedings said they had little sympathy for the defendants' complaints about their treatment, given the brutality of the deaths of the nearly 3,000 victims of the attacks.