View Full Version : 9/11 And The Public's Right To Know

03-29-2005, 10:26 AM
9/11 and the public's right to know

Monday, March 28, 2005 - 10:09 PM
by Will Bunch -- Philadelphia Daily News -- March 25, 2005 12:39 PM

It has been more than three and a half years since the terror attacks of Sept. 11. The main perpetrators have been ID'd by the government and died in the suicide assault, and key planner Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is also in custody.

Yet both the federal government and New York officials continue to block the public's right to know more about what really happened that day -- even though it's the family members of the victims of the tragic attack now pleading for a fuller public account.

In blocking the free exchange of information, public officials are heavily damaging one of the key democratic values that the terrorists themselves so badly wanted to knock down on 9/11/01. The latest blow came yesterday from a New York courtroom:

The emergency phone calls made by people trapped inside the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, need not be released to the public, a New York court ruled Thursday.

The New York State Court of Appeals declined to grant the wish of September 11 families who joined in a lawsuit seeking release of all tapes and transcripts of calls made from inside the Twin Towers to 9-1-1 operators.

"We are not persuaded that such disclosure is required by the public interest," the judges said in their ruling.

Instead, it agreed only to the release of calls from any relatives of the eight families who joined a lawsuit, originally filed by The New York Times as part of a request under the freedom of information law...

But, as the article notes lower down, not one single 9/11 family has opposed releasing the tapes.

Indeed, were it not for the families, we'd still know next to nothing about what really happened. The much-praised 9/11 Commission -- which was far from perfect but at least a start -- only came about because of pressure from the families. And although the government has still not released a transcript from the Flight 93 cockpit voice recorder to the public -- as was done in every other major U.S. aviation accident in modern times -- at least it allowed willing family members to hear the tape...only after howls of protest from those who lost loved ones.

We can think of nothing good that comes from such excessive 9/11 secrecy. Instead, the stench of a cover-up has allowed some of the worst conspiracy theories to fester on the Web, impossible to swat away without what should be the readily available facts.

What's missing from the public record? Tapes that might show Flight 77 crashing into the Pentagon on 9/11. A better explanation of what really happened to the voice and data records from Flight 77 and the two WTC jetliners. A better accounting of why NORAD didn't respond properly to the attacks, and what the heck Donald Rumsfeld was doing during all this time, besides scheming to attack Saddam Hussein.

That's just a start.

This fall, the governmemt is supposed to finally try Zacarias Moussaoui, wrongly labelled the 20th hijacker, in a court of law. The Moussaoui case has been one of the lamer excuses the government has used to withhold records that have nothing to do with the criminal case. The trial is a chance for the government to finally add to the public record.

We're not holding our breath.

03-29-2005, 10:31 AM
Just an FYI... Will Bunch is the reporter who broke the story about the Black Boxes being found at the WTC, despite what the "official" story stated.

03-29-2005, 10:40 AM
9/11 Black Boxes Found At WTC

Philadelphia Daily News
October 2004

Two men who worked extensively in the wreckage of the World Trade Center claim they helped federal agents find three of the four “black boxes (http://www.ntsb.gov/aviation/cvr_fdr.htm)” from the jetliners that struck the towers on 9/11 - contradicting the official account.

Both the independent 9/11 Commission (http://www.9-11commission.gov/) and federal authorities continue to insist that none of the four devices - a cockpit voice recorder (CVR) and flight data recorder (http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/Flight%20data%20recorder) (FDR) from the two planes - were ever found in the wreckage.

But New York City firefighter Nicholas DeMasi has written in a recent book -- self-published by several Ground Zero workers -- that he escorted federal agents on an all-terrain vehicle (http://www.atvsource.com/) in October 2001 and helped them locate three of the four.

His account is supported by a volunteer, Mike Bellone (http://www.vintagefire.com/Behind%20The%20Scenes.htm), whose efforts at Ground Zero have been chronicled in the New York Times and elsewhere ( Bellone said assisted DeMasi and the agents and that saw a device that resembling a “black box” in the back of the firefighter’s ATV.

Their story raises the question of whether there was a some type of cover-up at Ground Zero. Federal aviation officials - blaming the massive devastation - have said the World Trade Center attacks seem to be the only major jetliner crashes in which the critical devices were never located.

A footnote to the 9/11 Commission Report issued this summer flatly states: “The CVRs and FDRs from American 11 (http://www.unansweredquestions.org/timeline/timeline_aa11.html) and United 175 (http://www.unansweredquestions.org/timeline/timeline_ua175.html)” - the two planes that hit the Trade Center - “were not found.”

And officials for the FBI - which oversaw the cleanup at Ground Zero - and the New York City Fire Department repeated this week that the devices were never recovered.

The “black boxes” - actually orange - could have provided valuable new information about the worst terror attack to ever take place on American soil.

The cockpit voice recorder uses two microphones to capture the sounds of the cockpit for the last 30 minutes of a doomed flight on a tape loop. In the case of the hijacked 9/11 jetliners, the devices should have captured any conversations or actions involving the hijackers, as well as radio transmissions.

The flight data recorder records things like airspeed, heading, and altitude. Both devices - located in the tail of the airplane - emit loud “pings” so they can be located even in ocean jetliner crashes, like the 1996 explosion of TWA Flight 800 (http://www.twa800.com/index.htm) off Long Island.

They are built to survive an impact (http://www.ato.gov.ph/FAQs/FAQ_blackbox.htm) of enormous force - 3400 Gs - and a fire of 1100 degrees Celsius for one hour, somewhat higher than official estimates of the World Trade Center blaze.

“It's extremely rare that we don't get the recorders back. I can't recall another domestic case in which we did not recover the recorders,” Ted Lopatkiewicz, spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board, told CBS News (http://www.911review.org/Wget/www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/02/25/attack/main501989.shtml) in 2002. However, officials said little of the jets was recovered.

DeMasi was with now defunct Engine Company 261 (http://www.ufanyc.org/news_stories/newyork1/ny1_5_24_03.html) in 2001. He wrote up his recollections of the Ground Zero recovery in a glossy book (http://www.firebooks.com/catalog.asp?Cat=466&Mode=ProdByCat) self-published by a group that calls itself Trauma Recovery Assistance for Children, or the TRAC Team (http://www.tracteam.org/theneed.php). The book was published in 2003 but received little notice.

(There's more on the book and how people can get it at this site (http://summeroftruth.org/groundzero.html).)
DeMasi, an all-terrain vehicles hobbyist - said he donated 4 ATVs to the clean-up and became known as “the ATV Guy.”

“At one point, I was asked to take Federal Agents around the site to search for the black boxes from the planes,” he wrote. “We were getting ready to go out. My ATV was parked at the top of the stairs at the Brooks Brothers entrance area. We loaded up about a million dollars worth of equipment and strapped it into the ATV...”

“There were a total of four black boxes. We found three.”

Efforts over several days to locate and interview DeMasi, who is now said to be with the FDNY’s Marine Unit, were not successful.

But his account was verified by another member of the so-called TRAC Team, recovery site volunteer Bellone. He recalled FBI agents arriving for the search one day in early October, setting up their equipment near Brooks Brothers (http://www.lowermanhattan.info/news/brooks_brothers_opens_its_91084.asp). He said he didn’t go out with them on the ATV but observed their search.

At one point, Bellone said he observed the team with a box that appeared charred but was redish-orange with two white stripes. Pictures (http://images.encarta.msn.com/xrefmedia/sharemed/targets/images/pho/t790/T790603A.jpg) of the flight recorders on the NTSB and other Web sites show devices that are orange, with two white stripes.

“There was the one that I saw, and two others were recovered in different locations - but I wasn’t there for the other two,” Bellone said. He said the FBI agents left with the boxes.

If the account by DeMasi and Bellone is true, it’s not clear what motive federal authorities would have for claiming they weren’t found.

By the same token, however, it’s not clear what incentive either man would have to lie.

An FBI spokesman in New York, Jim Margolin, said after checking with the leader of the Ground Zero investigation that none of the boxes were recovered.

Frank Gribbon, the FDNY spokesman, also said “no one in the Department is aware of the recovery of any of the airline "black boxes" at the WTC site.”

Bellone has encounted some unrelated problems in connection with the TRAC group, however. In April, the New York Post reported (story not available online) that TRAC owned money to a number of creditors, including the company that published the book. Fire officials also told Bellone, who was made an honorary firefighter by a New York engine company, that he couldn’t wear an official uniform on school visits.

06-12-2007, 07:56 PM