9/11 Commission Report Leaves Questions Unanswered For Some


JULY 22ND, 2004

Thursday was a tough day for many families of victims of the September 11th attacks and more of those families live on Staten Island than in any other borough. NY1's Jenifer Slaw went there for reaction to the 9/11 commission report.

Dorothy Mauro and Linda Litto both lost their husbands on September 11th. Now almost three years later, they're still looking for answers. And, the two women say the 9/11 commission's report didn't tell them anything they didn't already know.

"I don't see anything coming out of it cause all of these recommendations have been recommended before and it's just a waste," says Mauro.

"You wait and wait and wait for the report to come out thinking somebody's gonna to finally tell you what went wrong, when we already knew what went wrong three years ago," says Litto. "So they didn't tell us anything new."

Dennis McKeon has been a source of support for all those Staten Islanders left mourning after September 11th. He created the St. Clare's World Trade Center Outreach program after 28 families in his parish lost someone in the attacks. McKeon says he's supportive of the commission's recommendations, but is concerned about how they'll be implemented.

"There's no teeth to this commission," says McKeon. "All it is is recommendations and that's unfortunate that after three years you're still not gonna have any government structure or any system to make sure these recommendations are enacted."

"It just makes you angry," says Litto. "Like why isn't anything done yet? I have children. I have grandchildren. If anything ever happened to one of them because they didn't implement these changes I don't know what's gonna be in this country. And I don't think people throughout the country even realize how serious this really is."

McKeon also says a big challenge for the commission is getting beyond the politics. He says the finger-pointing between the Republicans and Democrats is making it difficult to get anything done.

"This partisan stuff has to stop," says McKeon. "Republicans died, conservatives died, Democrats died, liberals died, every nationality, every religion. They weren't very selective about who they killed."

The 9/11 Commission Report is really just a beginning. There is still a lot of work to be done to see these recommendations come to fruition. But, for many of these families, it may be one step closer to the end of their suffering.

New Yorkers Have Mixed Reactions To 9/11 Commission Report


JULY 22ND, 2004

After the 9/11 Commission delivered its final report on Thursday, NY1 Bronx reporter Dean Meminger hit the streets to get reactions from the city's residents.

Along 149th Street in the Bronx, people were doing there usual activities like pumping gas or getting the car washed.

But they did take a minute out to talk about the 911 Commission's final report, which didn't blame Presidents Bill Clinton or George W. Bush for the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people at the World Trade Center.

"For them not to blame Clinton and Bush, I think they are right because it goes back further than that. It is our international policies," said one woman.

"I think George Bush should be blamed," said another woman. "Every time him or his father is in office, we go to war and something bad happens. It's him."

"They are wrong for not even blaming anybody, because somebody got to take the blame for it," said one man.

A big suggestion made by the commission included creating the position of national intelligence director to oversee the FBI, CIA and other law enforcement agencies.

"I don't think so," said one man to that suggestion. "I think the FBI and CIA are doing their job."

Across the bridge in Harlem, people had different opinions.

"I think the things with seen with the FBI and CIA over the last ten or so years maybe it's time we come up with some new intelligence organization, because what we have isn't getting the job done," said one man.

"No of course not, that would just be passing the buck to some one else," said another man.

With all of the findings and suggestions coming from the 911 Commission, the big question now for New Yorkers is whether they feel safer living in a city that's considered a major target for terrorists.

"Every time I drive across the George Washington Bridge, especially the Lincoln Tunnel, I'm fearful and I don't scare easy I'm from the Bronx but I don't think they are done with us," said one woman.

"I do feel safer here," said one man. "I think they have put a lot of things in place that people don't know about."

"I'm nervous everyday," said another man. "This thing shook me up. I don't think the free world will ever be the same again."

City Firefighters Have Mixed Reactions To 9/11 Report


JULY 23RD, 2004

City firefighters say they are still concerned about communication problems mentioned in the 9/11 commission report, but they agree with the panel's recommendation that cities which are prime terror targets should receive more homeland security funding.

The Fire Department lost 343 members and rescued more than 20,000 people on September 11, 2001.

Most firefighters NY1 spoke with Friday say they are still concerned about communication problems mentioned in yesterday's report, specifically the failure of hand-held radios.

"There was a lot of precious time that should have been spent on questions that needed to be answered that were addressed to [former] Mayor [Rudolph] Giuliani and [former] Fire Commissioner [Thomas] Von Essen about the handy-talky communications that were absolutely terrible," said retired firefighter Billy Bingo. "In a fire situation, communication is key. That's why I believe we lost so many men, because the guys weren't told to get out."

"I think the commission has done a very good job," said retired firefighter Lee Ielpi, who also lost his son on 9/11. "There were some issues along the way. There were some politics, I think, along the way that didn't belong there. It should be bi-partisan, but I think the end result is what I was hoping for. What I am looking for now is that everything the commission is presenting to the government we try and implement."

The 9/11 report cited the bravery of emergency personnel at the World Trade Center and success in evacuating tens of thousands from the buildings. However, it also criticized the coordination and communication among agencies like the FDNY and NYPD.

The report says, "The attacks on 9/11 demonstrated that even the most robust emergency response capabilities can be overwhelmed if an attack is large enough.

The commission recommends emergency response agencies nationwide adopt a uniform federal incident command system.

But Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who instituted a revamped system here this spring, says there is no evidence that the police and fire departments didn't work well together at the twin towers.

"I don't think that anybody that seriously thinks about how police and fire work when there is an emergency and they're running into buildings or someone is shooting that you want somebody from a third agency telling the cops how to do their job or telling the firefighters how to do their job," Bloomberg said on his weekly radio program Friday.

But the head of the firefighters union disagrees. He says the mayor's new protocols don't reflect what the people of the city need.

"Ultimately it's about putting one agency in charge and letting them use the resources," said Uniformed Firefighters Association President Steven Cassidy. "The mayor's protocol puts two agencies in charge, and it'll never work. Things will fall through the cracks. Public safety is absolutely going to be compromised over the existing protocols that this new mayor has come down with."

While the report says that failure of Fire Department radios was not the primary reason for the high number of firefighter deaths at the towers, union leaders wouldn't downplay the need for giving their members the proper tools of the trade.

"What we need to do is have the equipment, the training that our members need to go out and do our job effectively," said Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch.

"The radios didn't function the way they needed to, and everyone knows that," said Cassidy.

Since 9/11 the city has given the FDNY new radios, but the report wants improvements to go a step further, calling for signal corps units to keep emergency responders and public officials on the same wavelength when large scale disasters occur.

The mayor says one of the positives of the 9/11 commission report for the city is the recommendation to base federal homeland security funding on assessment of risk and vulnerability, putting New York at the top of the list.

"When you catch a terrorist, they have in their pocket a map of New York, not a map of some cornfield", said Bloomberg.