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A thread for thoughts, actions, reflections, articles, etc. on 10th unhappy anniversary of 911
I don't have much time to reflect at the moment; I am about to continue to make calls to the press relative to the initiative campaign [ ], as lunch time in the Bay State is over. I have been reflecting for seven years now, and have a sizable library of books, thousands of posts, etc. Three days after the event, I wrote a haiku.


Ashes and soot fallen;
Petrified by blood and tears:
Whetstone for a sword?
I figure the best we can do is to continue to keep the pressure on in terms of knowledge, research, communication, etc., and force the perps to act from a place of haste and guilt and thus further demonstrate their own nature.

There is a good deal of feeling of futility (generated by the perps) about the success of the 9/11 truth movement; there is a good deal of discussion about how it has been infiltrated; there is a boatload of debate. There is little action.

Time to make some more calls.
"Where is the intersection between the world's deep hunger and your deep gladness?"
9-11 has been successfully propagandized as a validation of all the worst offenses committed in its name. I hope people reject it and the false celebration of it.
JUAN GONZALEZ: We turn now to a group of victims that are often forgotten in the September 11th narrative: the many rescue workers who have fallen sick after being exposed to contaminants at Ground Zero. According to a new article by ProPublica, recently uncovered documents show that federal officials in Washington and New York went further than was previously known to downplay concerns about health risks. The article says those officials misrepresented or concealed information that might have protected thousands of people from the contaminated air at Ground Zero.

AMY GOODMAN: Meanwhile, a new study has provided potentially groundbreaking evidence of a link between exposure to toxic debris at Ground Zero and the development of cancer. The medical journal, The Lancet, reports male firefighters exposed to dust and smoke at Ground Zero have a 19 higher percent risk of developing cancer than colleagues who were not exposed. The finding comes just a month after the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health issued that there is insufficient evidence to draw a link between the smoldering ruins of the World Trade Center after 9/11 and cancer. Firefighters and rescue workers have been unable to receive payments for cancer treatments because cancer is not covered under the legislation providing care for 9/11 responders.

In 2009, we spoke with Dr. Jacqueline Moline about the prevalence of cancer among Ground Zero workers. She was the director of the World Trade Center Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program at Mount Sinai School of Medicine at the time.

DR. JACQUELINE MOLINE: We saw a group of younger workers at the site who developed a cancer of the immune system and multiple myeloma. And while it's premature to be able to say that rates, in general, are elevated as a result of the exposures, what we're seeing is an unusual age distribution. It's a cancer usually we see in 60- or 70-year-old folks. And we saw four people under the age of 45. We've also seen other folks who are in the younger age category, much higher than we would expect. We would expect one person with cancer under 45 in the size of the population that we're following.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Dr. Jacqueline Moline, who was the director of the World Trade Center Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

Well, for more on 9/11-related health ailments, we're joined by two guests here in New York. Anthony DePalma, former New York Times correspondent who covered 9/11 health issues, he's also the author of City of Dust: Illness, Arrogance, and 9/11. His latest article for ProPublica is called "New Docs Detail How Feds Downplayed Ground Zero Health Risks."

And we're joined by Joel Kupferman, executive director of the New York Environmental Law and Justice Project, was co-counsel for a group of residents and workers suing the EPA and ex-EPA head Christine Todd Whitman.

And, of course, Juan. Now, of course, Juan is co-host on Democracy Now!, but he is also the author of Fallout: The Environmental Consequences of the World Trade Center Collapse. Amazing, Juan, your book came out just really months after the September 11th attacks, exposing particularly Christine Todd Whitman and what she had to say at the time.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Yes, that was in May of 2002. And I'd like to begin, first, with Anthony. The latest article that you've come up with in ProPublica, could you talk about that and the new revelations?

ANTHONY DePALMA: Yeah, sure. First of all, I want to make clear that these documents that we were able to review, because they were gotten through Freedom of Information requests by the New York Committee on Occupational Safety and Health, build on a lot of the reporting that you did. Now let's get that straight. I mean, you were there at the beginning, and you sort of pointed at these issues at a time when the government was saying, "Well, maybe we don't need to worry about it." And so, you raised the flag. And Joel, also, getting some documents early on.

What thesethese go beyond what we already knew. We knew that there had been a certain amount of manipulation on the part of the White House, but what this shows is that they really were doing it from the very beginning. And there was a concernyou know, it's interesting that we're talking now, right after you did that piece on the World Trade Center building and how costly it is and how much it's supposed to be a symbol of something, that's sort of gonethe whole thing has gone awry.

In many ways, what was happening back then is that they were really worried about symbolism, a symbolism of people getting back to work, no matter what, and they didn't level with people. And that's the most disturbing thing. There were clear warnings, specifically on Water Street, which for those people in this area know is not far from Wall Street, that show that the levels of contaminants in the air were too high for people to go back. That was removed, which was bad enough, and then replaced with a recommendation that people go back to work. They were urged to go back, even though the early samples were showing that there were high levels of contaminants.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And you point out also that in many cases they were telling people it was safe before they had even finished conducting initial tests.

ANTHONY DePALMA: In one email exchange that happens on the 13th, so it's just a day and a half later, the people in Washington at the White House Council on Environmental Quality are telling the people up here, "Hey, Christine Whitman is coming up. She's going to talk to reporters, because all the results so far have been so positive." Well, all the results so far showed almost nothing, because there were almost no results. And yet, they were committed to this message of reassurance, despite the facts. And that's not the way it should happen.

AMY GOODMAN: And the effects of this, Joel Kupferman? Talk about the people you have represented down at Ground Zero.

JOEL KUPFERMAN: I've represented the firefighters. I've represented the residents in Lower Manhattan, the students at Stuyvesant High School, office workers. And they are definitely suffering from 9/11 exposure. What was interesting was that we knew that these substances were cancerous. We knew, with certainty, that there was lead, there was dust, silicone, everything else that was there. And yet, weI think we're claiming a little too much on the federal government. The city had a big stake there also. The city knew what was there, and part of the problem is that they did not allow those workers to protect themselves.

JUAN GONZALEZ: We were at a panel yesterday that dealt with 9/11, and afterwards, you told me something that really stuck in my mind. You said that, given the climate and the change in government procedures since 9/11, it would probably be much more difficult, if another disaster occurred, for you to get the Freedom of Information, FOIA, responses that you got back in 2001 so quickly, and that it would be a lot more difficult now to get the kind of information you were able to unearth back then.

JOEL KUPFERMAN: That's totally true. As a matter of fact, we went down to the Gulf to see what was going down there, and we found that workers weren't even allowed to take the samples of the soil that they had at the places. We also found that at community meetings, that people weren't even allowed to record or take pictures of the ongoing talks.

But what we want to say is that what's interesting now is that it's the union fire department studies, Prezant, that shows that there's cancerthat there's cancer there. What we objected to was that when the city went to hire all those cleanup workers, after wethe city and the Feds said that there was a problem down there, we asked that there be baseline tests on those workers to show what levels they were at, and then, if they got sick, we could show how they got sick and to get immediate benefits. But the city refused to put those baseline tests in, and they made those people go through many, many hurdles to get any type of benefits.

AMY GOODMAN: Over the years, we've talked to many workers at Ground Zero, what's called "the Pile." In 2009, we spoke to Joe Picurro, a former freelance iron worker, worked at Ground Zero after 9/11, suffering from terminal lung disease, 42 years old. This is how he described his condition.

JOE PICURRO: Well, right now I'm hooked up to my oxygen machine. You know, my lungs areI went to the doctor yesterday, and it waswe didn't get good news. Basically, the doctor said, you know, if he could get me another year or two, you know, he wouldyou know, he'd be surprised. And so, I'm on 37 medicationswell, actually 39. He put me on two more, you know, when I went to see him yesterday.

And, you know, most of my problems come from my lungs, but my whole body is racked with pain, all my joints. It's just like a laundry list of problems. If it's not one thing, it's another, you know? Breathing, like I said, is the hardest. Like I said, I'm hooked up to oxygen now. My lungs have concrete and glass and human bone fragments in them. And, you know, so what happens is your lungs are the only organ that rejuvenate themselves, and mine, instead of growing viable lung tissue, they're growingit's growing scar tissue. So it's making my lungs get bigger and bigger. And when I take a deep breath, my lungs actually rub against my ribs, and it hurts.

AMY GOODMAN: Joe died soon after we spoke. Joe Picurro died on October 15, 2010. And then there's Yolanda Hernandez. We spoke to her in 2007, longtime resident of the Lower East Side who's suffered serious health effects from the toxic dust at Ground Zero. I asked her to describe where she was on September 11th and what happened afterwards.

YOLANDA HERNANDEZ: That day, I be in my house. And I see, you know, the coming a lot of this dust in my house, a lot of dust. So I say, what happening? I don't know what happening. So I put my head, you know, out the window. I see the Twin, you know, go down. So I say, "Oh, my god, what happened?" So I told my daughter, "What's going on?" But then I say, "What happened?" I say anythingyou know, coming down dust, and I be coughing. So I tried to clean it, to clean it.

But two months later, I feel like a pain in my chest. So I go to the hospital to see what's going on. And the doctor said that I have a problem in the respiratory. I hear about the program in Bellevue. They have a

AMY GOODMAN: Bellevue Hospital in New York.

YOLANDA HERNANDEZ: Bellevue Hospital, Red Cross. So I go over there to getthey told me they do an examination complete. So they do an examination complete, and they found I have an inflammation in my lung. I never have this in my life. And now I'm taking medication twice a day. I said to the doctor, "Am I going to have the inflammation all my life?" He said, "Yeah, because, you know, your lung isyou know, they're no good." And that's because of the dust. And that's coming from that. But my point is, why they lie? Why Christine would lie that the air is clean, when that is not true?

AMY GOODMAN: That was Yolanda Hernandez, longtime resident of the Lower East Side, who suffered serious health effects. Joel Kupferman, is she in the zone that

JOEL KUPFERMAN: She's out of the zone. The zone was arbitrarily drawn at Canal Street. People that could receive treatment now are basically covered below Canal. If they're above Canal, they have to go through major hurdles to prove that they're hurt, which is

AMY GOODMAN: But then they expanded the zone?

JOEL KUPFERMAN: The expanded it up to Canal. First they said Reade Street. And the problem is that it left out half of Chinatown, the people north of that site, and also the people in Brooklyn and elsewhere.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And by the "zone," you mean to be covered by what?

JOEL KUPFERMAN: The Zagroda Compensation Act.

AMY GOODMAN: The Zagroda Compensation Act that doesn't include cancer.

JOEL KUPFERMAN: That doesn't include cancer, yes. So the problem is that these people are left out. And not only that, that it also just shows that, from the beginning, they didn't really want to know who was hurt. They drew this arbitrary line, and it was CDC that refused to test people above that line. It was the EPA that didn't test the apartments above that line. So, problem is, is that we knew for certainty that the chemicals would cause those dangers in the beginning, and they also say they didn't know, and now they're telling us they don't know how many people are going to be hurt from the cancer. But we do know that there was a whole host of chemicals out there that do cause cancer.

JUAN GONZALEZ: I'd like to ask Anthony DePalma, because, clearly, cancer is the kind of illness that takes decades to develop, and few people expected there would be even a highany kind of an increase among the workers at Ground Zero, so10 years down the line. But now, the fire department's new report comes out and says a 17 percent higher rate than expected, compared to workers who were not at the site, firefighters and rescue people who were not at the site. Your sense of the settled science on this? Obviously, it's a big controversy still.

ANTHONY DePALMA: Big, absolutely. If you look at that Lancet article and the study that Dr. Prezant did, it showed that increase for all cancers. So theyit's not the way they normally do a study like that. So they put all the cancers together. Interestingly, what they found was that there was no increase in lung cancer. It was actually less than might have been anticipated. That's probably because firefighters are pretty healthy people, and they wouldn't haveand also younger. What that means, though, is not that there is no lung cancer. They actuallythe scientists wouldn't have expected to see an increase in lung cancer, because the incubation period between exposure to the asbestos, which would have been in 2001, and the appearance of the disease might be three decades.

So, while he came back with the figure of 19 percent increase and didn't show any increase in lung cancer, he makes very clearDr. Prezant doesthat this is early, and we really don't know. There could be lots more that will come up in the future. So, for people who are out there and worriedand that's the thing we have to keep in mind, that there are people who are sick, and then there's a whole lot of other people who are worried about becoming sick. We still don't have the answers, so they have tothey have to be careful.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to go to a clip. This was the 2007 hearing before Congress, New York Democratic Congress Member Jerrold Nadler questioning the former head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Christine Todd Whitman, about her statements that the air at Ground Zero was safe.

CHRISTINE TODD WHITMAN: EPA's most extreme critics have alleged that I knowingly misled New Yorkers and the workers of Ground Zero about the safety risks associated with environmental contamination. The destructive and incendiary charge was investigated by EPA's inspector general, who confirmed in her 2003 report that we did not conceal any of our test data from the public. In fact, within days of the 9/11 report, I authorized EPA to post all the test dataall of iton a public website. I did so precisely because I wanted to be as transparent to the public as possible.

Statements that EPA officials made after 9/11 were based on the judgment of experienced environmental and health professionals at EPA, OSHA and the CDC, who had analyzed the test data that 13 different organizations and agencies were collecting in Lower Manhattan. I do not recall any EPA scientist or experts responsible for reviewing this data ever advising me that the test data from Lower Manhattan showed that the air or water proposed long-term health risks for the general public.

JUAN GONZALEZ: That was Christie Todd Whitman, former head of the Environmental Protection Agency. Joel Kupferman, as you heard that clip, I saw you shaking your head.

JOEL KUPFERMAN: Well, it was our FOIA requests that got information out of the EPA that stated that there was high levels of benzene, PHs and the like. And what's also interesting is that we put together a fact sheet with our industrial hygienist, Monona Rossol, and some of the best customers of those were the EPA staffers. When we went by their office, which was right down the block from ours, they grabbed it, and over and over again they told us, "Thank you for providing us, you know, with this information."

She knew. She knew it was bad. And what's also scary is that, as a matter of fact, Judge Batts, when we brought the law case against Christie Todd Whitman, the judge stated that this statement was basically egregious, that the fact that Christie Todd Whitman brought people into the zone of danger, it wasn't guilt by omission, it was commission. So she definitely knew. And also the excuse that the Feds gave us to exonerate her was that she might not have known because she's supervising 17,000 people. And what really scares us, that, as we see in all these reports, they state in the beginning of the medical reports that they didn't know what people were facing. So the excuse is not knowing. And we emphatically state that most of these scientists and doctors did know what people were facing and what they're facing in the future.

AMY GOODMAN: Anthony DePalma, 10 seconds, final comment?

ANTHONY DePALMA: I would just like to make the point that while the anniversary on Sunday is the 10th anniversary of a particular day, and lots of people are moving on with their lives, for these people who were affected by the dust, it's a day that doesn't end.

AMY GOODMAN: We want to thank you both for being with us, Anthony DePalma of ProPublica and attorney Joel Kupferman. And that does it for today's broadcast.
by Anthony DePalma, Special to ProPublica
In the dark and uncertain days after Sept. 11, 2001, the sight of thousands of shaken New Yorkers returning to their apartments, offices and schools in Lower Manhattan seemed to signal a larger return to normalcy.
Now new documents have emerged showing that federal officials in Washington and New York went further than was previously known to downplay concerns about health risks, misrepresenting or concealing information that ultimately might have protected thousands of people from the contaminated air at ground zero.
In one instance, a warning that people should not report to work on a busy thoroughfare in the financial districtWater Streetwas rewritten and workers instead were urged to return to their offices as soon as the financial district opened on Sept. 17. In another, federal officials declared that testing showed the area was safe when sampling of the air and dustwhich ultimately found very high levels of toxic chemicalshad barely begun.
The documents do not reveal howor whetherfederal officials explicitly weighed the competing goals of ensuring New Yorkers' safety and projecting an image of a city and nation unbowed. But taken as a whole, the recordswhich include email messages from the White House's Council on Environmental Quality to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, as well as interagency correspondencegive the most detailed account yet of how officials kept potentially disturbing data about health risks from the public.
Last year, Congress approved $4.3 billion to treat and compensate people with health issues related to exposure to ground zero dust.
"The misleading communications by civic leaders and their failure to insist on respiratory protection in the days, weeks and months after the initial rescue operation ended undoubtedly contributed and will continue to contribute to sickness in the rescue and recovery workers and in the citizens of Lower Manhattan," said Dr. Philip J. Landrigan, chairman of the Department of Community and Preventative Medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Mount Sinai has screened more than 25,000 ground zero responders for illnesses suspected of being related to the dust and treated many of them.
In response to questions about the way the disaster was handled, the EPA issued this statement: "The federal response to 9/11 has been thoroughly examined, including by EPA's own Inspector General. What is clear is that dedicated EPA staff worked tirelessly under nearly impossible conditions to respond to an unprecedented disaster." The statement goes on to note that the events of 9/11 tested the agency in many ways "and it is clear that some things could have been done better. Our focus every day since 9/11 has been on working to improve and expand our capacity to respond to emergencies."
As the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 approaches, questions continue to arise over the way government agencies assessed risks at ground zero and communicated what they knew to the public. In some respects, the documents examined by ProPublica, which were obtained through Freedom of Information requests filed by the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH), a labor union health group, expand upon what's come out before about the White House's role in shaping the information about ground zero contamination.
In 2003, the EPA Inspector General issued a scathing report outlining how the agency recast some of its public communications at the behest of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, a branch of the Executive Office of the President. The report concluded that the White House had at least indirectly influenced the wording of some statements by removing cautionary language about air safety downtown. It also found that the EPA had gone beyond what it knew in making general statements about the air in the first weeks after the attacks. In particular, the report harshly criticized Christine Todd Whitman, the EPA administrator in 2001, for telling people in New York that the "air is safe to breathe" before she had the facts to back it up.
Whitman declined to comment on the newly released documents. But in 2007, she strongly defended her agency before a congressional committee investigating the 9/11 response.
"It's utterly false then for EPA critics to assert that I or others at the agency set about to mislead New Yorkers and rescue workers," Whitman told the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, whose chairman, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., represents the area around ground zero. "Every statement I made was based on what experts, who had a great deal of experience in these things, conveyed to me,"
At the same hearing, Samuel Thernstrom, the associate director of communications for the environmental council, defended his role in coordinating the flow of information about ground zero, saying his goal had been simply "to help ensure that EPA's statements were as clear and accurate as possible."
But the new records, some of which were made available to the New York labor group as recently as this summer, depict an administration more set on projecting confidence and protecting itself against political attacks.
In an email dated Sept. 20, for example, John Henshaw, OSHA's chief administrator, said he had received a phone call from Thernstrom warning that several senators were asking questions about how OSHA was cooperating with the EPA at ground zero. In response, Henshaw directed his staff to gather details deflecting such concerns.
"I would like to have the information at hand before any inquiries come in, to nip any criticism in the bud," Henshaw wrote. "They have a history of taking pot shots at us and if we can respond quickly, in a positive, strong, well thought out way, we may take some wind out of there (cq) sails."
In several instances, the documents show, officials offered assurances about air quality before they even had test results or downplayed the degree of the contamination found.
Early on Sept. 13, a day and a half after the World Trade Center towers collapsed, Thernstrom called OSHA's New York office to say Whitman was on her way to the city to talk to reporters about the agency's air testing "since all monitoring reports have been so positive thus far," according to an OSHA email.
But according to its own records, the EPA had only tested a handful of asbestos samples before Sept. 14 and didn't get the results of tests for other contaminants until Sept. 23.
A joint press release put out by the EPA and OSHA said dust samples taken from cars and buildings on Sept. 13 had asbestos levels "slightly above" the 1 percent level at which federal regulations apply. The new documents, however, specify that the samples contained 2.1 to 3.3 percent asbestosor 200 percent to 300 percent higher than the trigger standard.
"These documents confirm that what happened at the World Trade Center is that we proceeded with a minimalist approach in terms of caution and never really scaled it up as it became necessary, rather than assuming the worst-case scenario and scaling it back as appropriate," said David M. Newman, a workplace safety expert with NYCOSH.
Newman started filing public information requests several years ago to better understand how federal, state and city agencies made decisions affecting worker safety at ground zero. NYCOSH advocates for worker safety, in partnership with environmental and health groups, workers' rights organizations and unions whose members worked on the cleanup. (ProPublica is making the full set of documents obtained by NYCOSH available for examination. We have created a page that lets you search through these records.)
One batch of documents obtained by NYCOSH significantly amplifies a White House intervention described more generally in the 2003 Inspector General report. Within days of the twin towers' collapse, when the air was heaviest with asbestos and dioxin, a warning that office workers in New York's Financial District might be at risk if they returned to their workplaces was removed from public statements at the request of the Council on Environmental Quality.
The original draft of the release that was going to be issued by the EPA and OSHA said "higher levels of asbestos" had been found in seven samples taken by OSHA on Water Street in the Financial District. The Inspector General's office examined inter-agency emails and found that after the White House reviewed the draft and suggested revisions, the information about Water Street was removed, as was this warning to office workers: "The concern raised by these samples would be for workers at the cleanup site and for those workers who might be returning to their offices on or near Water Street."
The newly released documents show that, in place of the caution about Water Street, office workers were urged to return to work on Monday, Sept. 17. "Our tests show it is safe for New Yorkers to go back to work in New York's financial district," OSHA's administrator says in the final version of the release.
Officials seemed to be sending two distinct messages: telling office workers and residents the air was safe, while repeatedly warning first responders and crews working right on the debris pile to wear protective gear. Those conflicting assurances and warnings given by federal officials left workers and residents unsure what steps to take to protect themselves.
Critics have accused officials of not leveling with the public about what they knew and didn't know in the aftermath of the attacks.
In July 2002, for instance, it was revealed that, despite assurances by EPA and OSHA officials, harmful dust remained on Wall Street well after it reopened because vacuum trucks had initially used the wrong filters.
The new documents show that in 2003 an investigator with the Inspector General's office asked Tina Kreisher, the EPA's chief spokeswoman on 9/11, whether she or anyone else at the agency considered acknowledging the misstep. Kreisher said she could not remember whether such a discussion had taken place.
Kreisher could not be reached for comment. In her interview with the Inspector General's office, she acknowledged that the EPA's choices reflected a conscious effort to reassure the public. "The emphasis came from the administration and the White House." she said.
Federal officials also opted not to sound alarms even after tests registered unprecedented levels of dioxin at and around ground zero, the NYCOSH documents show.
Dioxin, a pollutant that can cause cancer, damage the immune system and lead to developmental problems, is most harmful when absorbed through food. But it can also cause harm when inhaled. OSHA discussed the alarming test results internally:
"Just received a sample taken at the WTC (in or near the plume I believe)," an OSHA employee wrote in an October 2001 email to John Henshaw, the agency's administrator. "The result was very high … EPA is saying it is one of the highest levels they have ever seen." The level was about 1,000 times higher than normal for dioxin.
Henshaw forwarded the message to Patricia Clark, regional administrator of OSHA's New York office, and asked what she knew about the dioxin sampling. By early that same afternoon, Clark wrote back calmly reminding her boss that OSHA does not have a standard for exposure to dioxin, and that the extremely high level "would drop off dramatically away from the plume."
A year later, the EPA acknowledged in a report that dioxin levels had reached "the highest ambient concentrations that have ever been reported," but discounted their significance because the dioxin had not been ingested.
Newman said he was shocked to find that OSHA had knowledge of this early on in the cleanup and did not issue a warning. "There is no evidence or indication that this information had any significant impact on their operation or the way they communicated risk to the workers," he said.
OSHA did not respond to requests for comment on the documents or its handling of this matter.
The NYCOSH documents make clear that, contrary to the claims of some critics, local officials recognized the extraordinary hazards of working on the pile and tried to address them, sometimes with little support from their federal counterparts.
City health officials consistently urged responders working amid the rubble to wear proper respiratory equipment, including specially fitted respirator masks, throughout the cleanup. Kelly McKinney, the associate commissioner of the New York City Department of Health in 2001, repeatedly asked OSHA to enforce orders for workers to wear respirators. OSHA officials responded that they were acting in an advisory role and would not issue fines because that would slow down operations. Instead, OSHA said it would encourage voluntary compliance with the regulations.
The voluntary approach had limitations. According to one email, when an OSHA representative tried to set up a mobile distribution point for respirator masks, he was reportedly told to leave by a city fire department battalion chief. "The Fire Department takes care of its own," the chief said. "We don't need any help from civilians."
As part of its response to the 2003 Inspector General report, the EPA promised to improve how it communicated risk in rapidly changing emergencies, such as the 9/11 attack.
An agency spokesman said that since then, the EPA has helped develop a government-wide plan for crisis response. The agency also has opened an Emergency Operations Center that provides the agency's data and expertise to other government agencies during emergencies.
Nevertheless, some 9/11 veterans, including Nadler, the ground zero congressman, say they would still question government assurances that air was safe in the aftermath of a similar disaster.
"I'd be very leery about believing it unless I saw real evidence," said Nadler. "There's always a pressure on government to say that things are better, there's always pressure to cover up the extent of a disaster, and depending on the character of the officials in charge they may or may not yield to that pressure."
Anthony DePalma, a former New York Times correspondent who covered the 9/11 health issues, is author of "City of Dust: Illness, Arrogance and 9/11"

"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass
James Corbett
September 9, 2011
This is Behind the Headlines from on this 9th day of September, 2011.
As the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks approaches, the National Archives has released a compilation of audio clips of air traffic controllers, military officers and pilots recorded that morning.
The release was organized by former 9/11 Commission investigator Miles Kara, who reviewed and transcribed the documents with help from Rutgers Law School Director and former 9/11 Commission Senior Counsel John Farmer. The clips were originally organized by Commission members for a report on the air response that day, but was not completed before the Commission wrapped up in 2004 because they were unable to gain the necessary declassifications for the recordings in time.
The tapes are being heralded for the stark insight they provide into the chaotic response to the 9/11 attacks.
Although many of the recordings have been heard before, the recent release purports to compile the key conversations into a single, chilling narrative of what unfolded over American airspace that day.
Rather than bringing closure, however, the tapes merely highlight some of the still unresolved issues of the 9/11 air response.
This includes the inexplicable decision to scramble fighters from Langley Air Force Base, not toward the nation's capital where American Flight 77 was already approaching the Pentagon, but out over the Atlantic Ocean, toward a military-training airspace known as Whiskey 386.
This recording, taken at 9:39, captures the moment when NEADS Mission Crew Commander Kevin Nasypany learns for the first time that the fighters have been scrambled in the wrong direction
Equally puzzling is the 12 minute gap between the time American Flight 11 stopped responding to commands and the time when Air Traffic Controllers begin notifying the chain of command that the plane has been hijacked. At that point, the plane had been wildly off course for five minutes and the plane's transponder had been off for a full 4 minutes.
This delayed response is in fact so unlikely that in December of 2006, experienced Boston Center air traffic controller Robin Hordon went public with his assertion that 9/11 was an inside job. Calling the focus on the confusion and panic in the tapes distractionary, Hordon said at the time:
"The real focus is what the air traffic controller did immediately upon seeing that American 11 was in trouble and what we do as air traffic controllers is we get eyes and ears on this flight.
"If the air traffic controller were going by emergency procedures which he is trained to do, he would have reached out directly to ADC (NORAD) and say what do you see?"
What this release of audiotapes obscures is the fact that recorded testimony of six of the air traffic controllers involved in directing the air traffic that day, testimony that could have potentially resolved many of the outstanding questions about the air response that day, was destroyed by an FAA manager before anyone had a chance to transcribe what was said, or even listen to the tapes.
According to information that surfaced in 2004, the manager destroyed the recording by "crushing the tape with his hand, cutting it into small pieces and depositing the pieces into trash cans around the building."
Hidden in the shadow of the press coverage devoted to this release of material from the National Archives, much of which was previously available to the public, is the stark fact that even now, two years after the National Archive was slated to make the 9/11 Commission's records open to the public, more than two-thirds of that information is still being kept sealed.
Of the 575 cubic feet of records held by the archive, so far only 150 cubic feet of textual records has been released, and even amongst that, a significant amount of material has been redacted. The Commission itself had asked the Archives to unseal their records in January of 2009, but after initially releasing the Commission's Memoranda for the Record, the Archives have stopped releasing further material.
Since the Commission was set up as part of the legislative branch of government, its records are exempt from Freedom of Information requests. Only one archive official now works on the 9/11 Commission document archive, and a Reuters report indicates that she usually refers applicants to the agencies that created the documents rather than respond to requests for information herself.
The information still held by the Commission includes details of the Commission's meeting with President Bush and Vice President Cheney, which they insisted in doing behind closed doors, off-the-record and without being sworn under oath. To this date, that meeting remains the only time the two have ever been formally questioned about the events of the single most important day in modern American history.
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass

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