The controversy over the health of rescue workers at the World Trade Center site goes on. The Wall Street area was re-opened quickly after 9/11 despite EPA air tests that showed hazardous materials in the air by direct orders from Condeleeza Rice’s office when she was National Security advisor to George Bush. High asbestos levels were omitted from press releases because of “competing priorities,” according to an article in the New York Post in September 2006 (long pull quotes in the post linked above but the new link has since been taken down). So political interference has already been documented. Tommy Thompson was the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the Executive Branch cabinet department with responsibility for health investigations and research (CDC is in DHHS, for example, as is the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, NIOSH). Where was he when questions were raised about whether the conditions at Ground Zero were hazardous to the rescue workers, many of whom now complain of serious health effects?
So here’s the good news. Tommy Thompson is finally getting involved with the Ground Zero problem:
The former health chief under President Bush, criticized for not doing enough to help Ground Zero heroes, is now making millions off the 9/11 tragedy, tracking the health of sick workers.
Tommy Thompson heads Logistics Health, a Wisconsin-based company that has won an $11 million contract from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to track about 5,000 workers who worked at the World Trade Center site in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, and live outside the New York area. He was health and human services secretary from 2001 to 2005.
“It is ironic that former HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson’s firm won the contract to provide the services, given the history of delay from the Bush administration when he was secretary and now,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan). “But I am glad these heroes are finally getting the help they deserve.” (New York Daily News)
Tommy Thompson is like the medical student who gets his girlfriend pregnant and then volunteers to do the abortion — for a price. The Bush administration, instead of taking responsibility for looking into the health of the people who risked their lives to save others after 9/11, saying it would be too expensive, privatized our tax money, giving it to a crony, as usual. And not just any crony, but the very person who didn’t do his job after 9/11.
Or maybe we should say it as President Bush would say it: Tommy did a heck of a job.