Friday, March 30, 2007

9/11 Presents Challenges for Giuliani

9/11 Presents Challenges for Giuliani - Yahoo! News:

9/11 Presents Challenges for Giuliani

By LARRY McSHANE, Associated Press Writer Fri Mar 30, 11:07 AM ET

NEW YORK - Rudy Giuliani's White House aspirations are inescapably tied to Sept. 11, 2001 — for better and for worse.

While the former mayor of the nation's largest city was widely lionized for his post-9/11 leadership — "Churchillian" was one adjective, "America's mayor" was

"While the former mayor of the nation's largest city was widely lionized for his post-9/11 leadership — "Churchillian" was one adjective, "America's mayor" was Oprah Winfrey's assessment — city firefighters and their families are renewing their attacks on him for his performance before and after the terrorist attack.

Oprah Winfrey's assessment — city firefighters and their families are renewing their attacks on him for his performance before and after the terrorist attack.

"If Rudolph Giuliani was running on anything but 9/11, I would not speak out," said Sally Regenhard, whose firefighter son was among the 343 FDNY members killed in the terrorist attack. "If he ran on cleaning up Times Square, getting rid of squeegee men, lowering crime — that's indisputable.

"But when he runs on 9/11, I want the American people to know he was part of the problem."

Such comments contradict Giuliani's post-Sept. 11 profile as a hero and symbol of the city's resilience — the steadfast leader who calmed the nerves of a rattled nation. But as the presidential campaign intensifies, criticisms of his 2001 performance are resurfacing.

Giuliani, the leader in polls of Republican voters for his party's nomination, has been faulted on two major issues:

• His administration's failure to provide the World Trade Center's first responders with adequate radios, a long-standing complaint from relatives of the firefighters killed when the twin towers collapsed. The Sept. 11 Commission noted the firefighters at the World Trade Center were using the same ineffective radios employed by the first responders to the 1993 terrorist attack on the trade center.

Regenhard, at a 2004 commission hearing in Manhattan, screamed at Giuliani, "My son was murdered because of your incompetence!" The hearing was a perfect example of the 9/11 duality: Commission members universally praised Giuliani at the same event.

• A November 2001 decision to step up removal of the massive rubble pile at ground zero. The firefighters were angered when the then-mayor reduced their numbers among the group searching for remains of their lost "brothers," focusing instead on what they derided as a "scoop and dump" approach. Giuliani agreed to increase the number of firefighters at ground zero just days after ordering the cutback.

More than 5 1/2 years later, body parts are still turning up in the trade center site.

"We want America to know what this guy meant to New York City firefighters," said Peter Gorman, head of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association. "In our experiences with this man, he disrespected us in the most horrific way."

The two-term mayor, in his appearance before the Sept. 11 Commission, said the blame for the death and destruction of Sept. 11 belonged solely with the terrorists. "There was not a problem of coordination on Sept. 11," he testified.

Giuliani was also criticized for locating the city's emergency center in 7 World Trade Center, a building that contained thousands of gallons of diesel fuel when it collapsed after the terrorist attack.

The lingering ill will between Giuliani and firefighters was resurrected when the International Association of Fire Fighters initially decided not to invite the former mayor to its March 14 candidates forum in Washington. Other prominent presidential hopefuls, including Republican John McCain and Democrats Barack Obama, Hillary Rodham Clinton, addressed the nation's largest firefighters union.

According to the Giuliani camp, the contretemps with the union dates to tough contract negotiations in his second term as mayor. His critics deny any political motivation.

The IAFF drafted a membership letter — it was never sent — that excoriated Giuliani and promised to tell "the real story" about his role in handling the terrorist attack.

The then-mayor's decision to change policy on the ground zero recovery effort was "an offensive and personal attack" on firefighters, the letter said, going on to say that Giuliani's "disrespect ... has not been forgotten or forgiven."

Giuliani countered the attacks by releasing an open letter of support from retired firefighter Lee Ielpi, whose firefighter son was among the 2,749 victims on Sept. 11. "Firefighters have no greater friend and supporter than Rudy Giuliani," Ielpi said.

A contingent of nearly 100 South Carolina firefighters also expressed their support for Giuliani and his White House hopes.

Hank Sheinkopf, a veteran political consultant, predicted the 9/11 criticisms could resonate beyond New York during the presidential campaign.

"These are very emotional people who will touch a responsive chord with a lot of the electorate," he said. "The things that the 9/11 families say will wind up in television commercials used against Rudy Giuliani."

The issues also have forced Giuliani to try to strike a balance to avoid the perception that he's exploiting the attacks for his own personal gain. President Bush" President Bush faced the same challenge in 2004 when he invoked the attacks to portray himself as a strong and steady leader in the face of terrorism. Some victims' relatives criticized Bush for using the ruins of the World Trade Center in his campaign commercials, while others defended him.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

9/11 Remains Possibly Used to Pave Roads

Posted: Sunday, 25 March 2007 7:15AM

9/11 Remains Possibly Used to Pave Roads

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- Lawyers for families of those who died at the World Trade Center in the 2001 terrorist attack said in court documents Friday that the city pressed workers cleaning up the site to take shortcuts that may have caused human remains to be lost forever.

TOP PHOTO: Footings for the World Trade Center Memorial are being built on the footprint of the North Tower on (March 15, 2007).

The papers filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan relied in part on affidavits from four people who participated in the recovery efforts at the Fresh Kills Refuse Site on Staten Island.

Plaintiffs who brought the case against the city in 2005 include World Trade Center Families for Proper Burial, a group of about 1,000 families whose relatives' remains are at Fresh Kills.

Court papers said the city failed to deliver on a promise to sift all debris through delicate screens to find body parts, human remains and personal belongings as small as a quarter inch in diameter. Only about 63 percent of the 1.65 million tons of debris recovered from the trade center site were subjected to the sifting screens, the court papers said.

In one affidavit, former police Sgt. John Barrett said supervisors at Fresh Kills pressured workers to sift through piles hurriedly. He said he once refused to sift quickly, only to see two other piles carted away and dumped without having been sifted at all.

PHOTO: The Survivors Staircase, one of the last on-site remnants of the destroyed complex, led many people to safety during the attacks.

In another, construction worker Eric Beck, who worked at the landfill from October 2001 through July 2002, said recovery workers found as many as 2,000 bones a day in the early months, along with personal belongings including keys, wallets, pictures and jewelry.

But he said some debris that had been through the quarter-inch sifting equipment was later loaded onto tractors by the city and used to pave roads and fill in potholes.

The court papers said Beck's statement was proof that the city had failed to deliver on a promise that sifted material would be set aside and maintained with reverence.

Since the families sued over the landfill, more than 1,200 human remains, ranging from small slivers to full arm bones, have been recovered from an abandoned skyscraper near the trade center site, the landfill of a service road at ground zero and underneath a former destroyed church.

The city has launched a $30 million, scientific search for the bones of Sept. 11 victims in and around ground zero that includes searching hundreds of manholes and under a state highway. That search is expected to take at least a year, four months longer than the first recovery operation.

Norman Siegel, a lawyer for families, said they want the court to require the city to carefully inspect the Fresh Kills site for personal remains. He estimated it would cost about $90 million, rather than $1 billion, which he said the city has claimed it would cost.

``This is not about money. We're not asking for any damages,'' Siegel said. ``We're asking the court to rectify the wrong, to order the city to resift the debris at Fresh Kill.''

Kimberly Miu, a city law office spokeswoman, said the city had no comment.

The city has said in court papers that it engaged in ``a monumental and unprecedented search of more than one million tons of WTC material,'' an effort it called ``more than reasonable.''

``The search was conducted with utmost care and solemnity. The possibility that the remains of some victims may not have been found in the process of searching the WTC materials does not empower this court to order the city of New York to commit tens of millions of taxpayers' dollars to resift and relocate the material,'' according to court documents filed by the city.