Effect Measure

Where the chemical weapons were

If you demolish two gigantic buildings full of hazardous materials like asbestos and acrid concrete products it isn’t a surprise you would produce a hazardous environment. So it was no surprise the air around the World Trade Center was dangerous to breathe after 9/11, although we were told otherwise while officials knew better. Officials like then EPA Administrator Christie Todd Whitman (see post here).

We now can document it wasn’t just Whitman who made the decision to “re-open” the Wall Street and financial districts adjacent to the WTC attacks after 9/11. The decision came all the way from Condolezza Rice’s office at the National Security Council, described in a New York Post article citing internal documents as “the final decision maker” on EPA statements about air quality:

Early tests known to the EPA at the time had already found high asbestos levels, the notes say. But those results were omitted from the press releases because of “competing priorities” such as national security and “opening Wall Street,” according to a report by the EPA’s inspector general.

The chief of staff for then-EPA head Christie Todd Whitman, Eileen McGinnis, told the inspector general of heated discussions, including “screaming telephone calls,” about what to put in the press releases.

The notes come from a 2003 probe into public assurances made on Sept. 16, five days after the 9/11 attacks. They tell how a White House staffer “worked with Dr. Condoleezza Rice’s press secretary” on reviewing the press releases for weeks.

Whitman said through a spokeswoman Friday that she never discussed her press releases directly with Rice. She also defended her collaboration with the White House.

Now-retired Inspector General Nikki Tinsley told The Post her auditors tried to question the head of President Bush’s Environmental Quality Council, but “he would not talk to us.” (New York Post)

They looked in Iraq for chemical weapons used by terrorists after 9/11, but couldn’t find them. They were looking in the wrong place. Wall Street was a better guess. Not even a guess. They had actually found the dangerous chemicals but didn’t warn the American citizens who were at risk.

The chemical weapons were literally on Wall Street. You parse the non-literal part.

Comments

  1. #1 Steph
    September 28, 2006

    I hate to mix references, but maybe our government doesn’t care about people.

  2. #2 Judy
    September 29, 2006

    Sometime this summer I stopped trusting that our government was “for the people, by the people” and realized it should read “for the money, by the money.” Maybe it took me longer than others to wake up because I am admittedly naive and had a tendency to wear “rose colored glasses”. I love this country and would not want to live anywhere else. But knowing what happened to these wonderful, hardworking, trusting people after 9/11, where do we look for honest leadership in the event of a pandemic or another terrorist attack? We will be on our own, and we can’t say we haven’t been told. But in a panic stricken community, that will likely break down to every man for himself.

  3. #3 Peter Rousmaniere
    September 29, 2006

    I think the search for those at fault for misleading the public and ground zero workers is misdirected. It is a much wider problem and, inconveniently, a lot of parties have some answering to do: the Feds, NY State, the City, the unions, the workers comp insurers, and the construction companies who took charge of the site.

    I am trying to build a time line post 9/11 of occupational risks and injuries among the cleanup workforce of some 40,000. Anyone with insights into this — I’d love to hear from you.

  4. #4 revere
    September 29, 2006

    Peter: We’ll await your analysis with interest. Thanks.

  5. #5 Sunny
    September 30, 2006

    I went to high school only a couple of blocks away from WTC, and after 9/11 our school was closed for a couple of weeks because the building was used as a base for the search and rescue mission. For some reason (ahem), the board of ed of NY decided to have us return to our own building downtown while the cleanup was taking place; in fact, we were put back into the building before the underground fire in ground zero went out. I distinctly remember the smell of burning rubber as we walked from the subway stop to the train station every morning and afternoon; they even set up machines in the school building itself to test the air quality continously for the rest of the year. To top that off, for the first few months of the 01-02 school year the debris from the cleanup was taken to a temporary pier RIGHT NEXT TO our school. It was not until our PTA threatened to sue that they decided to move the pier somewhere else. Multiple teachers and students left during that year because of health problems, and even now I’m hearing my friends talking about their asthma that magically appeared only a couple of months after 9/11.

    The scary part is that we are only a fraction of the people who were affected because of the government’s “comepting priorities”. Reading about this just turns my annoyance at the administration to absolute rage.

  6. #6 Sunny
    September 30, 2006

    “I distinctly remember the smell of burning rubber as we walked from the subway stop to the train station every morning and afternoon”

    I meant from the subway stop to my school. My mistake.

  7. #7 Anne Laurie
    September 30, 2006

    Where do we look for honest leadership in the event of a pandemic or another terrorist attack? We will be on our own, and we can’t say we haven’t been told. But in a panic stricken community, that will likely break down to every man for himself.

    Judy, this is one more reason to get to know your neighbors and to get active in your community. Fear atomizes people, keeps us from working together, and there are too many people among our “leaders” who want to use our fear as a weapon against us. If you can remember back to the Cold War days, we were taught to be proud that Americans weren’t afraid that our neighbors might decide to turn us over to a secret government police force for having “incorrect thoughts”. Now it’s the people in the White House who want us to help them spy on our neighbors, to suspect their motives, and to assume that everyone outside our own little nuclear family is at best a potential competitor if not actually a pervert, a predator, an islamofascicommufeminaziatheist with evil designs on our precious bodily fluids!