March 16, 2007
DEAR FAMILIES AND FRIENDS,
This week the Senate passed S.4, legislation to implement several of the remaining 9/11 Commission recommendations. I want to thank all of you who contacted your Senators to ensure passage of this bill. In the upcoming weeks, the process will continue as conferees are appointed to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill. I
encourage you to read the information below explaining the important differences between these two pieces of legislation.
In this week’s e-Newsletter, we are featuring the Family Tribute to PAPD Officer James Nelson. Our thanks to the Nelson family for sharing their moving tributes to James with the 9/11 Living Memorial. We have several 9/11 Living Memorial workshops planned in the Tri-State area in the coming months. We hope you will join us to learn more about the 9/11 Living Memorial project and begin the process of creating a tribute for your loved one.
Several family members have contacted our office feeling overwhelmed by all of the 9/11 issues in the news this week. As a reminder, VOICES continues to provide teleconference groups facilitated by our mental health professionals, and our staff are available for individual consultation. Please feel free to contact us at any time.
Our best wishes to all for a safe and happy St. Patrick's Day.
An Old Irish Blessing
May love and laughter light your days,
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever you may roam,
May peace and plenty bless your world
with joy that long endures.
may all life's passing seasons
bring the best to you and yours!
| VOICES PROGRAMS AND EVENTS
Save The Date: 9/11 Living Memorial Workshops
In New Jersey
9/11 Living Memorial Workshop
Saturday, March 31, 2007
Time: 1:30pm to 3:30pm
Location: Ridgewood Public Library, 125 N. Maple Avenue, Ridgewood, NJ
The program will include a brief presentation on the 9/11 Living Memorial (www.911livingmemorial.org) and opportunities to begin creating a Living Memorial Page with Debbie Westfal, Family Liaison for the 9/11 Living Memorial. Refreshments will be served. More details will be announced soon. Call or email Michelle Doherty toll free
(866) 505-3911 to register. To read about a previous workshop held in New Canaan, CT, please click here.
April Dates in Westchester and Long Island:
9/11 Living Memorial Workshop
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Time: 7pm to 9pm
Location: Larchmont Yacht Club
1 Woodbine Avenue,
In Long Island
9/11 Living Memorial Workshop
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Two sessions: 12:30pm to 3pm
and 6:30pm to 8:30pm
Location: WTC Family Center
2277 Grand Avenue,
9/11 Living Memorial Feature
Family Tribute to James Nelson
Port Authority Police Officer James Nelson was a beloved family man remembered as a brother, father, husband, and hero. The experience of losing his father at age 9 had a deep effect on James, making him believe in the primary importance of family. His brother Robert was 14 when James was born, and his touching family eulogy recalls the family's unique situation: "Jimmy learned to walk and talk and I struggled with blocking assignments and curve-balls. I learned how to fence in high school as Jimmy learned ABC’s. My sister was cute as a walking doll at age three and Jimmy was a baby with a great disposition and a winning smile. We lived parallel lives that periodically intersected on themes such as cartoons- we all loved Warner Brothers Looney Tunes."
James grew into a top-level collegiate fencer at St. John's University, an accomplishment his family honored with the creation of the "Jimmy Nelson Award" given to two deserving
fencers each year at the Suffolk County Tournament. He studied criminal justice and in 1986 was sworn in as a PAPD officer in a ceremony at the WTC. Three years later, he married Roseanne and they quickly started a family--two daughters. His brother remembers: "The birth of Anne Catherine Nelson in 1990 was a true celebration of life. Jimmy was in his glory to be a dad. His instincts were solid and his dedication was a constant. The birth of Caitlin Mary Nelson in 1996 made Jimmy’s joy complete. While he never lost the fire for the job, his devotion to his family was paramount."
James participated in the 1993 evacuation of the WTC, rushing to help people out of the building despite his asthma. On 9/11, he was called again and returned to those same buildings where 15 years before, he became a cop. Once again, he did his duty. His Daughter, Caitlin (as left) honors her father in one of many moving tributes on the 9/11 Living Memorial page for James Nelson:
"My hero is my dad, James A. Nelson. He was born July 10, 1961 and he died on September 11, 2001 in the World Trade Center. He is my hero because he saved many people’s lives which he did not know to give up his own life. Do you think that is a real hero? If you ask me I would say, “That is a real hero!” James A. Nelson gave up so much- two daughters, a wife, a sister, a brother, nieces, and nephews. He really gave up a lot. I think I know he died the way he wanted to; Port Authority Officer James A. Nelson died a hero! I will always keep you in my heart, forever I will miss you, remember Butterfly Kisses."
|9/11 REFORMS UPDATE
Senate Passes 9/11 Reforms With Support of 9/11 Family Groups
At the urging of 9/11 advocacy organizations including VOICES, the Senate passed a bill Tuesday that will implement many of the remaining recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. The bill, called S.4 or “Improving America's Security by Implementing Unfinished Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007,” passed with a 60-38 majority, with ten Republicans joining all Democrats and Independent Senators Joseph Lieberman (CT) and Bernard Sanders (VT). Click here to see record of the roll call vote on S.4.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) thanked the 9/11 families for their efforts in a speech on the Senate floor Tuesday: “I want to thank…the 9/11 families, but especially Carol Ashley, Beverly Eckert, Mary Fetchet, and Carie Lemack, members of the Families of September 11th and Voices of September 11th. Their input in this legislation has been essential…[I also want to underscore the importance of] the families and the two letters they wrote during this debate. Their letters served as a reminder of what this legislation is about – protecting America against terrorism. Our country will be safer, stronger, and more secure as a result of their efforts.”
VOICES joined the other family groups in releasing an open letter to the Senate praising the bill’s passage. However, the letter also noted that S.4 must still be conferenced with a 9/11 Reforms Bill passed by the House (known as H.R. 1). Click here to see a side-by side comparison of S.4 and H.R.1 produced by Congressional Quarterly. Then, the House-Senate "reconciled"
legislation will require the signature of President Bush to become law. President Bush has already threatened to veto the bill because of controversial provisions that would allow Transportation Security Administration workers to unionize and collectively bargain. The 9/11 family advocates wrote: "As the House and Senate bills converge in conference and head toward the President's desk, we will direct our efforts toward ensuring the final legislation adheres to the recommendations outlined in the 9/11 Commission's landmark report. We will continue to work with Republicans, Democrats and members of the 9/11 Commission toward this goal." Click to read the open letter.
An informative Associated Press article compares the House and Senate bills with statements of Bush administration policy on issues including: cargo screening on passenger planes, reforms to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, Homeland Security grant funding, and others. VOICES e-Newsletter will continue to keep you informed as this vital legislation winds its way through the legislative process.
| REMAINS Recovery UPDATE
WTC Remains Search Continues and Will Expand to West Street
New York City has made “significant progress” in its plan to recover human remains from areas bordering the WTC site, according to a memo sent by the Bloomberg administration’s point man on the issue. In the memo sent Monday, Deputy Mayor Ed Skyler said so far the renewed recovery effort has yielded "445 potential human remains" and "we remain on schedule to complete search operations by November." Skyler’s memo lays out progress on the four main areas for the search, the "haul road" used to moved debris out of the site, the former site of St. Nicholas GreekOrthodox Church on Liberty St., the rooftops and other areas of surrounding buildings, and manholes and other subterranean structures around the WTC site.
Click to read the memo
Skyler also adds: "Based on our findings during the haul road excavation, OCME (the Office of Chief Medical Examiner) believes that there could be some WTC material (and thus possibly human remains) in the portions of the ramps that extend under West Street," Skyler said. The city has not yet released their full plan for inspecting the area under West Street, but Skyler added: "Although some temporary lane closures on West Street will be necessary, we will
work to minimize traffic disruptions over the monthlong excavation." Read more in New York Times coverage.
Deutsche Bank Demolition Begins
The Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center announced that “structural deconstruction” of the Deutsche Bank Building at 130 Liberty St. began on Thursday. The announcement (view in PDF form) says the current phase of work will: “involve the start up of the tower crane and the removal of mechanical equipment on the top floors.” The building has long been a symbol both of the slow pace of reconstruction near Ground Zero and the struggle of 9/11 victims’ families to recover the remains of their loved ones from the area. 776 individual human remains were recovered from the building during searches last year. Read more on VOICES website about the remains issue and the troubled history of the Deutsche Bank building.
|HOMELAND SECURITY UPDATE
Alleged 9/11 Mastermind Confesses to Military Tribunal
Alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) gave a lengthy confession to a military tribunal last week admitting “I am responsible for the 9/11 operation from A to Z.” The confession was given as part of a hearing held at the US Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to determine the legitimacy of KSM’s detention as an enemy combatant (read an unclassified PDF version of the hearing transcript released by the Pentagon). Delivered in rambling and often garbled English, KSM’s confession mixed expressions of regret for the victims of 9/11 in with protests that he was engaged in legitimate "war" of resistance to U.S. imperialism.
KSM claimed that he also planned the 1993 WTC Bombing, the 2002 Bali Bombing that killed 202, missile attacks on Israelis in Kenya and the foiled “Shoe-Bomber” plot. Other plots that never materialized targeted prominent buildings in the US and UK as well as dignitaries including Pope John Paul II and President Bill Clinton. KSM also claimed leadership of the kidnapping of Daniel Pearl, a Jewish-American Wall Street Journal reporter, in Pakistan, and boasted of beheading Pearl with his own hand.
Families of those killed on 9/11 rejected KSM’s stilted statements of regret. Most noted that he has only expressed regret after carrying his murderous plot to fruition over the course of years of planning. "It's trash," Allison Vadhan of Atlantic Beach, L.I., whose 65-year-old mother, Kristin White, was aboard United Flight 93, is quoted in the NY Daily News.
"It's a last-ditch effort to try to make himself look human... He's a schemer, he's sleazy, he's sneaky and he thinks that the rest of the world is going to buy it."
Another issue is the reliability of the confession. KSM claims to have been tortured while in CIA custody, but he said that Saturday’s confession was accurate and not coerced. However, KSM is a noted braggart and experienced liar with nearly 30 known aliases. Two possible motives for his dramatic mea culpa include: aggrandizing his own legacy as a top “jihadist;” and, obscuring the existence of other leadership figures by taking operational responsibility for plots other than his own. KSM knows his options are limited: he will either be executed for his crimes, join some of his terrorist co-conspirators in the SuperMax prison in Florence, Colorado, or live out his life in U.S. custody somewhere like Guantanamo Bay. Clearly, any statements he gives must be taken with a grain of salt.
9/11 Family Members Face Legal Setback
Some 9/11 family members who are still persuing lawsuits against American and United Airlines received a setback today when a Federal Appeals court blocked their effort to obtain documents that were part of the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui last year. U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema, who supervised Moussaoui's trial last spring, said the families were entitled to non-sensitive information that prosecutors shared with Moussaoui‘s attorneys but never introduced at his trial. The families believe the documents will shed light on how much the airlines and the agencies supervising them knew about threats to the hijacked planes, or how they reacted on 9/11.
The Federal appeals court disagreed, citing two laws, including one that gives the federal court in New York jurisdiction over Sept. 11 civil cases. "We, like the district court, have great sympathy for the victims of September 11 and their families," Judge Karen Williams wrote in a decision quoted in Associated Press coverage. "But regardless of how much respect and compassion this court has, we must ensure that the federal courts in our jurisdiction — no matter how well intentioned — do not exceed their legal power." No word yet on the possibility of continued appeals.