T H E    W O R L D    T R A D E   C E N T E R . . .1 0   y e a r s    o n . . .p l u s...
THE TRIAL;
Rebuilding efforts and memorials at all September 11, 2001 sites.   Tenth Anniversary warning.
Other comment and memorials in the news...and related matters.  Hurricane Sandy and nature evoke terror of their own. 
RISK ASSESSMENTS in everyday disasters.





Click here for enlarged view; to new WTC (remember, looking south, down from, maybe Air Force One; editorial comment.

Nuking New York
NYPOST
By Post Editorial Board
March 25, 2014 | 8:48pm

Ordinarily, New Yorkers might be grateful to learn the President Obama regards a nuclear attack on Manhattan as “the ­No. 1 security threat” he worries about.

It’s telling this was only one part of a sentence whose larger purpose was to dismiss Russia (a nuclear-armed nation) as a “regional power.” But if a dirty-nuke attack by terrorists is Obama’s top concern, how do we square this with his foreign policy?

Leave aside the charming warning about turning America into “radioactive ash” issued just last week from a Putin lackey at a Russian state news agency. The annexation of Crimea itself sends a dangerous message on nukes, given the 1994 agreement in which Ukraine gave up its nukes in exchange for a guarantee of its borders.

Ask yourself this: What lessons will the Tehran and Pyongyang take from Kiev’s experience here? And given the failure of the president’s approach to Syria’s chemical weapons, what makes us think his policy on nuclear weapons will be any better?

Point is, if terrorists with nukes are more menacing than “regional powers” with nukes, we should be interrogating them instead of reading them their Miranda rights. And we shouldn’t even be talking about giving foreigners the same privacy rights as Americans with respect to the NSA.

The president’s reference to a nuclear strike on Manhattan at a time when Putin’s aggression is front and center is no accident: It’s part of a long Obama pattern — from the “red line” in Syria to the “necessary war” he said he would win in Afghanistan — whereby he points to tough action in the future as a way of avoiding hard decisions in the present.




May 2, 2013 is it hoisted atop "Freedom Tower"
Spire installed atop One World Trade Center
New York Post
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Last Updated: 8:12 AM, May 10, 2013

The silver spire topping One World Trade Center has been fully installed on the building's roof, bringing the iconic structure to its full, symbolic height of 1,776 feet.

The spire's installation was completed Friday morning, after pieces of it had been transported to the roof of the building last week. Construction workers below applauded the milestone.

The building is rising at the northwest corner of the site where the twin towers were destroyed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. The area is well on its way to reconstruction with the 72-story Four World Trade Center and other buildings.

The 408-foot spire, weighing 758 tons, will serve as a world-class broadcast antenna. An LED-powered light emanating from it will be seen from miles away and a beacon will be at the top to ward off aircraft.

The addition of the spire, and its raising of the building's height to 1,776 feet, would make One World Trade Center the tallest structure in the US and third-tallest in the world, although building experts dispute whether the spire is actually an antenna — a crucial distinction in measuring the building's height.

If it didn't have the spire, One World Trade Center would actually be shorter than the Willis Tower in Chicago, which stands at 1,451 feet and currently has the title of tallest building in the US, not including its own antennas.

The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, a Chicago-based organization considered an authority on such records, says an antenna is something simply added to the top of a tower that can be removed. By contrast, a spire is something that is part of the building's architectural design.

The tower is slated to open for business in 2014.

Tenants include the magazine publisher Conde Nast, the government's General Services Administration and Vantone Holdings China Center, which will provide business space for international companies.



April 2013, Reuters - is someone doing a remake of 1987 movie "Moonstruck?"


 'A candle on the cake'
DAY
Published 12/12/2012 12:00 AM
Updated 12/11/2012 11:56 PM


A barge loaded with sections of spire for One World Trade Center is guided by tugboat across New York Harbor from New Jersey's Port Newark Tuesday. The nine pieces each weigh 70 tons. The spire is expected to rise into the Manhattan sky by spring. "It signifies that we're back, we're better than ever, and it shows the resilience of not just New York, but also people in general," said Steven Plate, the director of post-9/11 construction at the lower Manhattan trade center. "The spire is a candle on the cake."

Spire for 1 World Trade Center arrives in NYC
CT POST
Updated 1:23 p.m., Tuesday, December 11, 2012


NEW YORK (AP) — The crowning spire of the World Trade Center's tallest building has arrived in New York City.

A barge was brought across New York Harbor from New Jersey's Port Newark on Tuesday.  It held nine pieces of the steel spire that will top One World Trade Center in lower Manhattan.  Meanwhile, workers on the 104-story skyscraper were busy pouring concrete that will hold the 408-foot spire.

The trade center's director of construction, Steven Plate (playt), says the spire marks a post 9/11 milestone that signifies New York City is "better than ever."

The pieces each weigh 70 tons.  The spire is expected to rise into the Manhattan sky by spring.

Plate says the 1,776-foot high-rise — symbolizing America's freedom — will be the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.








One of two pools

Al Qaeda's new No. 1 personally ordered 9/11 anniversary attack: report
NYPOST
By DAVID SEIFMAN, JOSH MARGOLIN and LARRY CELONA
Last Updated: 4:01 PM, September 9, 2011
Posted: 8:52 AM, September 9, 2011

The terror plot that has New York on heightened alert today was reportedly personally orchestrated by Osama bin Laden’s successor as part of an effort to avenge the terror lord's death.  Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden's longtime deputy, personally recruited three terrorists to travel to the US to detonate car-bomb attacks to coincide with the tenth anniversary of 9/11, according to The Daily.  The attacks are al-Zawahiri's pledge to avenge bin Laden's death, ABC News reported.

Once here, the men “may have met up with a small cell or other suspects,” sources told The Daily.  All three operatives speak fluent English and two of them believed to be American citizens, the sources said.

Vice President Joe Biden, during an appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” said, “We don’t have the smoking gun, but we do have talk about using a car bomb.”

The details of the plot come amid heightened security following the "credible" threat as police officers swarmed subway stations, bridges and tunnels in a show of force.  Bloomberg, who took the subway to City Hall this morning from his Upper East Side home, said, “We don’t want al Qaeda or any other organization ... to take away the freedoms."

The mayor, who took a downtown No. 5 train to work, added, "I'm going to do what I do every day."

The Port Authority said it has increased police presence and bag checks at Kennedy, Newark and LaGuardia airports. The agency has also increased vehicle checks at all its bridges and tunnels.  On his radio show this morning, Bloomberg said that police, already on heightened alert for 9/11, have ratcheted up manpower to the max.

"Are we increasing it a little more? Yeah," the mayor said on his weekly WOR radio show. "But there's a limit on how much you can have because you can't have a cop on every corner."

Without giving specific details of the new threat, Bloomberg said it was being taken seriously because it wasn't "outlandish."

"Credible means it's possible to do. If someone says they're going to do something so outlandish, they're never going to get the resources," he explained. "They couldn't possibly do it. But something that is possible."

This comes after a "specific" and "credible" terror threat against New York and Washington, DC, was revealed Thursday night -- involving three men who entered the country last month from Pakistan and were instructed by al Qaeda to detonate a car bomb on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, law-enforcement sources told The Post.  The information, which came from chatter picked up overseas by the CIA, said the attack would occur on the 10th, 11th or 12th, the sources said.

“It does feel more operational than most of the others we’ve had that have been more aspirational,” another source said.

NYPD officials have also been briefed in recent days about three men who were arrested in Ottawa with 2,000 pounds of stolen explosives, as well as two men captured in Berlin.  Cops are checking whether those arrests are connected to the possible anniversary attack, sources said.

“The NYPD, FBI and entire intelligence community have been on heightened alert,” Mayor Bloomberg said at a late night press conference at Police Headquarters.

“We know terrorists view the anniversary as a time to strike again. Over the next few days, we should all keep our eyes wide open.”

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said cops will work an extra four hours on their shifts through Monday, and promised more vehicle checks on bridges and tunnels -- using bomb-sniffing dogs, radiation detectors and automatic license-plate readers.  Kelly also said there would be more bag checks on subways, and increased vigilance on illegally parked cars.

“We have to be concerned. Terrorism is theater and this is a stage, right now probably the world’s biggest stage,” Kelly told CNN.

“We have the opening of the 9/11 memorial, the president and two former presidents here, obviously a lot of high profile public officials will be here, so we have to be concerned."

In a statement this afternoon, Gov Cuomo said, "The reports of a new possible terrorist threat against New York are cause for renewed vigilance and awareness, but not alarm or panic. We will not allow the terrorists to dampen our spirits on this anniversary.

"Our state and local law enforcement officials are always at the highest state of alert. New Yorkers should feel confident that everything that needs to be done is being done to keep the city secure."



PROFILE OF WORLD TRADE CENTER  DEVELOPER

September 11, 2011


May 5, 2011 aerial photo

2008 aerial photo...

April 2010 construction showing signs of life...

September 2010 as work is moving forward, and the distractions ...

Pretty soon someone will liken Sept. 11, 2001 with urban renewal's failures.

March 2011



WHERE WE WERE



MEMORIES (L)
:  Next two pictures show design competition winner at left (the link is to an RPA sub-page) and what is going to be built, at right.  MEANWHILE...the real work, we hope, has been going on underground.  Below the surface involves improvements to lower Manhattan connectivity into transportation grid, that's our guess...RPA has a summary of where things stand as of 2003 for addressing this matter.  The blue light would have been less expensive...look who addressed a big RPA meeting (expertise on NY to DC train service)!  Pennsylvania field, site of heroic effort by passengers.  The Pentagon.




Detailed schematics of 1 World Trade Center posted online
NYPOST
By LOIS WEISS and CHUCK BENNETT
Last Updated: 5:49 AM, May 19, 2011
Posted: 2:57 AM, May 19, 2011

You may as well draw the terrorists a map.

Detailed schematics of several floors of 1 World Trade Center -- a structure Police Commissioner Ray Kelly called the nation's No. 1 terror target -- were posted on the city's Web site along with a mundane leasing document.

Stamped "Secure Document -- Confidential -- For Official Use Only," the 17 detailed schematics can be downloaded right off the city's Department of Finance Web site by anyone.

The Port Authority documents designate which areas of the floors can be leased out and which cannot. But they also show the locations of load-bearing walls, mechanical rooms, ventilation shafts, exits, elevators and stairs along with every nook and cranny.

They locate the ground-floor entrances -- a major vulnerable point -- and also where the PATH rail tunnels pass below.

The documents could be used to plan a Mumbai-style commando assault or determine a place to hide a bomb, experts warned.

"We should not be sharpening our own guillotines," said Dr. Maria Haberfeld, chair of the Department of Law and Police Science at John Jay College who teaches counterterrorism to police agencies nationwide.

"Terrorists do train. They do countersurveillance, they look at targets and evaluate points of entry, points of evacuation," she said after reviewing the floor plans.

But the PA said the documents were "scrubbed" of sensitive information about the building's electrical systems, plumbing, security and fire safety.

"The Port Authority provided scrubbed drawings to our consultants. While their default template is marked 'secure' and 'confidential,' the pictures in that frame are not," the agency said in a statement.

It blamed architectural consultant Beyer Blinder Belle for slapping the "confidential" stamp on the documents even though they are safe for public dissemination.

"These are leasing diagrams that are conceptual and spatial," added a source familiar with the World Trade Center architecture plans. "They describe basic arrangement and location of space. They are typical for leases and contain no technical information."

Still, this isn't the first time the PA has accidentally exposed supposedly secret building plans for the World Trade Center site.

In 2008, The Post exclusively reported that a homeless man found in a Dumpster hundreds of pages of confidential schematics for what was then still called the Freedom Tower.

The PA then vowed to review its security procedures.

The documents were posted Monday, just as the PA was completing talks with the Condé Nast Publications to become an anchor tenant.

The $3 billion 1 World Trade Center, which dropped the Freedom Tower moniker in 2009, is scheduled to open in 2013 and will rise to a symbolic 1,776 feet tall.



Obama to honor 9/11 victims, see rebirth at Ground Zero
NYPOST
By JENNIFER FERMINO and CARL CAMPANILE
Last Updated: 6:48 AM, May 5, 2011
Posted: 3:06 AM, May 5, 2011

It will be somber amid the celebration.

President Obama will see the extraordinary rebirth of Ground Zero firsthand today as he takes a victory lap at the former World Trade Center site to mark the death of Osama bin Laden while honoring the nearly 3,000 innocents killed at the terrorist's hands on 9/11.

The last time Obama visited Ground Zero was as a presidential candidate on Sept. 11, 2008, when 1 World Trade Center -- then commonly known as the Freedom Tower -- was below street level, the memorial plaza had yet to be built, and the entire project was mired in delays and cost overruns.

Today, the site's signature tower has risen 64 stories on its way to a cloud-piercing 1,776 feet, and the 8-acre memorial plaza is nearly complete. Construction on virtually every project is under way, but work will temporarily halt during the visit.

Amid the festive air over the mass-murdering monster's demise, there will be the remembrance of lives lost in th
e terror attacks; Obama will lay a wreath at 1:25 p.m., but there will be no speech.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama "wants to lay a wreath to honor the victims, to honor the first responders who so courageously rushed to the scene and, in many cases, gave their own lives to try to save others.

"I think the power of that requires no words."

After the event, Obama will meet with about 50 families of the victims and first. The president will be accompanied during the day by Gov. Cuomo, New Jersey Gov. Christie, Mayor Bloomberg and former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, among other dignitaries.  But conspicuously absent will be former President George W. Bush, who was invited, but declined.

There is already a fierce but subtle behind-the-scenes jockeying for credit for the mission, with former Vice President Dick Cheney and other ex-Bush administration members claiming tough tactics like "enhanced interrogation" of detainees provided pivotal breakthroughs -- while key Democrats dismiss the claim and cite the huge number of small tips.  The White House said the family members who'll meet Obama were chosen in concert with the staff of the 9/11 Memorial Foundation. But hundreds of the relatives complained about the limited access to the president, because they had hoped to thank him personally.

Still, "it's a good time for the president to come. It paves the way for the 10th anniversary and the opening of the memorial," said Paula Berry of the 9/11 Memorial Foundation, whose husband, David, died in the south tower.

The president also planned to greet firefighters and police officers at a local firehouse. Engine Co. 54 in Midtown was among the sites that the president's security detail scouted yesterday.  Bill Doyle, whose son, Joseph, worked at Cantor Fitzgerald and was killed on 9/11, called the event "bittersweet."

"I'm ecstatic that he got bin Laden," he said. "It was a gutsy call. Obama said getting bin Laden was his number-one priority and he got it done. That's mission accomplished."

But he added, "It's vindication, not closure."

Meanwhile, after years of debate, the 9/11 Memorial officials announced yesterday they had completed the grueling process of deciding where to place the names of victims at the shrine.  Mapping out the spots to put the nearly 3,000 names from both the 2001 and 1993 WTC attacks had grown so complicated -- and contentious -- officials had a computer algorithm to figure it out.

In the new plan, the names of victims are mostly grouped with the people they died near, while first responders will be listed in a separate group.



Community memorials stir debates
Greenwich TIME
Tim Loh, Staff Writer
Published: 02:51 p.m., Monday, September 13, 2010


EASTON -- Standing before the public library, Andy Kachele recalls the moment when he finally waded into the town's 9/11 memorial debate.

After watching residents spar for years over where the memorial should go, he saw a lady stand before a town meeting and declare that no such memorial should be built at all. The constant reminder of the day's terror, she said, would be too much to bear.

"That was the last straw," Kachele says, unrolling a set of blueprints for the memorial. "To me, that is the exact reason we have to build this. Burying your head in the sand doesn't make it go away."

Nine years after the worst attack in history on American soil, the country is steeped in disagreement over the legacy of that day. The sense of unity that emerged from the attacks has long since buckled beneath the weight of two drawn-out wars, a deep recession and a political system seemingly stuck in gridlock.

Disagreements in many communities have boiled over into debates about local memorials, mostly centered on where to place them and whom they should honor. The friction reflects the difficulty that America often faces in memorializing moments of historic significance, whether it's the Vietnam Memorial or for the students killed by national guardsmen at Kent State.

Where the memorials have succeeded, they've frequently provided a healing force. Where they have failed, though, the discord has become entrenched.

A look at Easton, which has only about 7,400 residents, reveals just how bogged down the memorial process can get. Few towns have as strong a claim to a memorial.

On the morning of the attacks, an Easton native, Peter Hanson, was flying with his wife and 2-year-old daughter on United Airlines flight 175, which was hijacked. Moments before the jetliner slammed into the World Trade Center's south tower, Hanson phoned his father, C. Lee Hanson, a member of the Easton Board of Finance, and informed him of their impending death.

By 2003, a group of citizens had formed to explore creating a memorial in the town in Hanson's name. But the design wasn't set for several years until 2007, when then First Selectman William Kupinse urged the town to focus on fulfilling the project.

But in December 2008, the town's Planning and Zoning Commission rejected the spot in front of the public library, calling it out of compliance with town rules. The commission again rejected the spot the following year.

In November of last year, members of the town's 9/11 Memorial Committee began a campaign to bring the stalled project before the public directly. It succeeded in doing so by collecting more than 1,000 signatures. At the town meeting this past January, more than 300 residents showed up. The measure passed by a vote of 188 to 140.

Looking back on the nearly three-year struggle, Beverlee Dacey, a committee member, said the memorial "totally paralleled" the struggle for closure facing the entire nation. "How do you deal with the first experience of being invaded?" she said. "How do you move forward in a constructive, positive way?"

When opinions collide

When memorializing a momentous event, the price of making the wrong decision -- or making no decision -- can be high, says Mark Graham, a religion professor at Wooster College in Ohio. Over the last several years, Graham has explored the failure of monuments in northeast Ohio to commemorate the incidents of May 4, 1970, when Ohio National Guard troops fired on campus protestors, killing four students and injuring nine.

In the aftermath, he says, the region never reconciled the differing narratives for who was at fault. That resulted in no meaningful memorials being built, which stoked tensions between sides.

By contrast, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C., which was opened in 1982, has been able to transcend differences of opinion about the war, Graham said. Despite early controversies about the memorial's design, it's grown into the paradigm for modern memorials of historically significant events.

The community in Connecticut that suffered the deepest wound from 9/11 is Greenwich. The affluent town of roughly 60,000 lost 12 residents and 14 others with local ties in the attacks, making it the town with the highest death toll in the state.

After nine years of delays -- in which, at one point last year, fundraisers said only those victims who were residents of Greenwich on Sept. 11, should be included -- the town finally agreed to install a granite slab, affixed with a bronze plaque bearing the names of the 26 victims, beside the newly renovated Great Captains Island lighthouse, marking one of the town's closest points facing Manhattan.

The plaque is scheduled to be unveiled this Sunday, which also marks the last day the town runs its ferry service to the island, leaving the memorial inaccessible to much of the public until next June.

The compromise: Town officials and local groups are now planning a second memorial -- perhaps a garden or sculpture -- to possibly be installed in time for the 10th anniversary of the attacks.

Religion and rhetoric

While Easton and Greenwich have solved most of their disagreements democratically, many debates raging across the country have fostered aggression -- from the recent threat of Quran-burning by a Florida minister to the uproar over a proposed Islamic community center and mosque two blocks from the Ground Zero site.

That sort of animosity has already reached Bridgeport twice this year, most recently when a group of evangelical Christians demonstrated in front of the Masjid An-Noor mosque on Fairfield Avenue in early August.

In at least one regional instance, the aggressive streak has been woven into the discourse surrounding a memorial itself. That was the case in Kent, where Peter Gadiel has raised eyebrows over the past year by demanding that the words "Murdered by Muslim extremists" be inscribed on the memorial to his son, James, who was killed in the 9/11 attacks.

Such rhetoric troubles Ibrima Jobe, a Bridgeport Muslim of Gambian decent, who was hanging out with two Muslim friends on Thursday night at the K+H Food Stop parking lot, on Fairfield Avenue. Draped in white gowns and with white caps on their heads, Jobe and his friends had just finished their final prayers of the day -- and holy month of Ramadan -- at the Masjid An Noor Islamic Society mosque, across the street. They spoke from a Muslim's perspective about the legacy of 9/11.

"There is lots of misinformation going around about Islam," Jobe said, earning nods from his two friends. That problem, they agreed, has emerged in earnest since 2001.

Statistics provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation support what Jobe was saying. In the 1990s, Muslims were the target of just 2 percent of religious hate crimes in America, but since then that percentage has jumped five-fold. That statistic peaked in 2001, when Muslims were the target of more than a quarter of all religious hate crimes. This, Jobe said, dovetails with the double standard in how terrorist attacks reflect on members of different religions. If a Muslim terrorist strikes, Jobe said, then the negative reaction is spread on the entire Muslim community. But when a Christian terrorist strikes, as in the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995, Jobe said, "then they just point out one person."

Lost in the discussion of memorials, he added, was that there were many Muslims victims -- reportedly about 60 -- in the 9/11 attacks. Jobe said that the solutions will come from an increase in inter-religious dialogue. In mid August, he attended one such event at the University of Bridgeport, where he ate, prayed and talked faith with Christians, Jews and fellow Muslims, he said.

"It was the most beautiful thing," he said. "If you can do it in small groups like that, I think you can multiply it, make it productive."

Jobe would gather with fellow Muslims on Friday night to celebrate the feast of Eid, which marks the end of Ramadan. Aside from eating and praying together, he said, they would also remember the victims of 9/11, as well as the victims' families.

The test of time

Meanwhile, a few miles north, the Easton firemen were busy laying out 343 red flags in the shape of the Twin Towers on the grassy lawn beside the volunteer department -- one flag for each member of the New York Fire Department who died that day.

While residents of Easton have struggled to agree on creating a permanent memorial, Turner said, the display of flags has grown into an undisputed tradition. "Of course it's on the fire department's land," he added, "so if anyone's got a problem with it, then tough."

Easton's 9/11 Memorial Building Committee has moved on to the next challenge: Raising the funds needed to realize the project. The committee's goal is $50,000, enough to construct the memorial with sturdy materials, and to create a fund to maintain it for decades to come.

Kachele, though, is preparing for one additional fight -- with the architect over what materials he gets to use in construction.

"We want to make sure it withstands the test of time," he says.

© 2010 Hearst Communications Inc.
Hearst Newspapers




World Trade Center Complex Is Rising Rapidly
NYTIMES
By DAVID W. DUNLAP
September 3, 2010

THIS article about the new World Trade Center is already out of date.

The pace of construction is so swift that any status report these days gets overtaken rapidly by the arrival of new beams and columns, rebar and concrete, pipes and conduit. About 2,000 construction workers are on the job, weekends included, officials said, and that number will just keep rising. Visiting the site brings to mind the tumultuous first impressions of arrival in New York City: people, vehicles and objects are headed toward you from every direction at startling velocity, and the only prudent thing to do is to keep moving.

Two years ago, it was difficult to imagine how the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the site of the trade center and is building most of it, could ever finish the eight-acre memorial in time for the 10th anniversary of the attack, on Sept. 11, 2011. Today, it is difficult to imagine what would stop them (though, given the site’s tortured history, the possibility shouldn’t be completely dismissed).

The great square voids in the plaza marking where the twin towers stood are fully formed and almost entirely clad in charcoal-gray granite. Enormous pumps are standing by to send thousands of gallons of water cascading into the voids, creating what memorial officials say will be the largest human-engineered waterfalls in the United States. A metal fabricator in New Jersey is incising bronze panels with the names of all 2,982 victims of 9/11 and of the trade center bombing in 1993. And last weekend, 16 swamp white oaks began to take root on the plaza. Four hundred more will follow.

But in the public’s mind, it is still “ground zero” — as in, “When are they ever going to build something at ground zero?” Or as in, “ground zero mosque,” the shorthand reference for the Islamic community center planned two blocks to the north. While much of the nation has been debating who should be allowed to build what on that site, a former Burlington Coat Factory store, little attention has been paid to the fact that things really are being built on the spot where something actually happened.

A recent editorial cartoon in The San Diego Union-Tribune depicted the Islamic center as a giant salt shaker on the “wound” of ground zero, drawn as an empty expanse of earth. Apart from the issue of the Islamic center, the cartoon stoked frustration among those working at the site. Just at the moment they have something to show for nine years’ effort — 300,000 square feet of underground space, the shell of New York’s third-largest train station and two skyscrapers on the rise — the image has been resurrected of a barren, silent pit.

There was some truth to that image as recently as 2008. The trade center site was a dust bowl in summer and mud pit in winter. The only visible sign of progress was the silvery 7 World Trade Center tower across Vesey Street.

So many conflicting demands were imposed on the site — it was to be a solemn memorial, a soaring commercial complex, a vital transportation hub, a vibrant retail destination and the keystone in Lower Manhattan’s revival — that none could advance. And the many competing players seemed unable to break the logjam for long. They addressed one another as “stakeholders” in public, but the stakes they wielded usually seemed destined for someone else’s back.

What seems, in retrospect, to have been a key turning point was the politically unpalatable prospect that the 10th anniversary would come and go without a permanent memorial. In 2008, prodded in part by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who heads the memorial foundation, the Port Authority adopted new schedules, approaches and construction techniques. Dozens of firms, including many of the city’s leading developers, architects and engineers, are involved.

The progress since then has been visible, tangible and audible. You no longer have to be inside the sidewalk barriers to get that. Just stand on Church Street and take in the sight of two giant steel towers-to-be, framing a crazily angled forest of crane booms. Or you could try to cross Church Street against the frenzied, never-ending convoys of construction vehicles entering and exiting. Good luck.

Perhaps the most surprising phenomenon occurs at bedrock level, seven stories beneath the street, in the great chamber of what will someday be the National September 11 Memorial Museum. Here, the ceremonial “last column” from the twin towers already stands in a climate-controlled cocoon. At certain moments, the room echoes. Dull and distant noise is transformed into profound, inchoate reverberation.

As the ninth anniversary approaches, it has begun to sound like a memorial.




With Remarks on Mosque, Obama Enters Risky Debate
NYTIMES
By SHERYL GAY STOLBERG
August 14, 2010

PANAMA CITY, Fla. — Faced with withering Republican criticism of his defense of the right of Muslims to build a community center and mosque near ground zero, President Obama quickly recalibrated his remarks on Saturday, a sign that he has waded into even more treacherous political waters than the White House had at first realized.

In brief comments during a family trip to the Gulf of Mexico, Mr. Obama said he was not endorsing the New York project, but simply trying to uphold the broader principle that government should “treat everybody equally,” regardless of religion.

“I was not commenting, and I will not comment, on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there,” Mr. Obama said. “I was commenting very specifically on the right people have that dates back to our founding. That’s what our country is about.”

But Mr. Obama’s attempt to clarify his remarks, less than 24 hours after his initial comments at a White House iftar, a Ramadan sunset dinner, pushed the president even deeper into the thorny debate about Islam, national identity and what it means to be an American — a move that is riskier for him than for his predecessors.

From the moment he took the oath of office, using his entire name, Barack Hussein Obama, as he swore to protect and defend the Constitution, Mr. Obama has personified the hopes of many Americans about tolerance and inclusion. He has devoted himself to reaching out to the Muslim world, vowing, as he did in Cairo last year, “a new beginning.”

But his “new beginning” has aroused nervousness in some, especially those who disagree with his counterterrorism policies, or those more comfortable with a vision of America as a white and largely Christian nation, and not the pluralistic melting pot Mr. Obama represents.

The debate over the proposed Islamic center in Manhattan only intensified on Saturday, as the conservative blogosphere lighted up with criticism of Mr. Obama, and leading Republicans — including Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker; Representative John A. Boehner, the House minority leader; and Representative Peter T. King of New York — forcefully rejected the president’s stance.

Mr. Gingrich accused the president of “pandering to radical Islam.” Mr. Boehner said the decision to build a mosque so close to ground zero was “deeply troubling, as is the president’s decision to endorse it.” And Mr. King flatly said the president “is wrong,” adding that Mr. Obama had “caved in to political correctness.”

Indeed, the criticism was so intense that the White House ultimately issued an elaboration on the president’s clarification, insisting that the president was “not backing off in any way” from the comments he made Friday night.

“As a citizen, and as president,” Mr. Obama said then, “I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. And that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances.”

The local issue of the mosque and the wider issues of Islam and religious freedom are just part of a divisive cultural and political debate that is percolating in various forms during this hotly contested election season. On Capitol Hill, for instance, some Republicans advocate amending the Constitution to bar babies born to illegal immigrants from becoming citizens — a move the president also opposes.

“I think it’s very important, as difficult as some of these issues are, that we stay focused on who we are as a people and what our values are all about,” the president said here on Saturday.

Mr. Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, also held annual Ramadan celebrations and frequently took pains to draw a distinction between Al Qaeda and Islam, as Mr. Obama did Friday night. But Mr. Obama, unlike Mr. Bush, has been accused of being a closet Muslim (he is Christian) and faced attacks from the right that he is soft on terrorists.

“For people who already fear the worst from Obama, this only confirms their fears,” said John Feehery, a Republican consultant who spent years as a top party aide on Capitol Hill. “This is not a unifying decision on his part; he chose a side. I understand why he did this, but politically I think it’s a blunder.”

White House aides say Mr. Obama was well aware of the risks. “He understands the politics of it,” David Axelrod, his senior adviser, said in an interview.

Few national Democrats rushed to Mr. Obama’s defense; party leaders, who would much prefer Mr. Obama to talk about jobs, were mostly silent. Two New York Democrats, Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand and Representative Jerrold Nadler, however, did back Mr. Obama. But Alex Sink, the Democratic candidate for governor here, distanced herself, while Gov. Charlie Crist, a Republican-turned-independent, defended the president.

“I think he’s right,” Mr. Crist told reporters during an appearance with the president at a Coast Guard station here.

Mr. Obama has typically weighed in on such delicate matters only when circumstances have forced his hand, as he did during his campaign for president, when he gave a lengthy speech on race in America in response to controversy swirling around his relationship with his fiery former pastor, Jeremiah Wright.

Debate about the Islamic center had been brewing for weeks, yet Mr. Obama had studiously sidestepped it.

But the Ramadan dinner seemed to leave the president little choice. Aides said there was never any question about what he would say.

“He felt that he had a responsibility to speak,” Mr. Axelrod said.


Full text of Obama's remarks on plans to build a mosque near Ground Zero
NYPOST
Last Updated: 8:22 AM, August 14, 2010

Posted: 6:31 AM, August 14, 2010

Remarks by President Barack Obama on the plans to build a mosque near ground zero, as provided by the White House:

Here at the White House, we have a tradition of hosting iftars that goes back several years, just as we host Christmas parties and Seders and Diwali celebrations. And these events celebrate the role of faith in the lives of the American people. They remind us of the basic truth that we are all children of God, and we all draw strength and a sense of purpose from our beliefs.

These events are also an affirmation of who we are as Americans. Our founders understood that the best way to honor the place of faith in the lives of our people was to protect their freedom to practice religion. In the Virginia Act of Establishing Religion Freedom, Thomas Jefferson wrote that “all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion.” The First Amendment of our Constitution established the freedom of religion as the law of the land. And that right has been upheld ever since.

Indeed, over the course of our history, religion has flourished within our borders precisely because Americans have had the right to worship as they choose — including the right to believe in no religion at all. And it is a testament to the wisdom of our founders that America remains deeply religious — a nation where the ability of peoples of different faiths to coexist peacefully and with mutual respect for one another stands in stark contrast to the religious conflict that persists elsewhere around the globe.

Now, that’s not to say that religion is without controversy. Recently, attention has been focused on the construction of mosques in certain communities — particularly New York. Now, we must all recognize and respect the sensitivities surrounding the development of lower Manhattan. The 9/11 attacks were a deeply traumatic event for our country. And the pain and the experience of suffering by those who lost loved ones is just unimaginable. So I understand the emotions that this issue engenders. And ground zero is, indeed, hallowed ground.


But let me be clear. As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. And that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America. And our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country and that they will not be treated differently by their government is essential to who we are. The writ of the founders must endure.

We must never forget those who we lost so tragically on 9/11, and we must always honor those who led the response to that attack - from the firefighters who charged up smoke-filled staircases, to our troops who are serving in Afghanistan today. And let us also remember who we’re fighting against, and what we’re fighting for. Our enemies respect no religious freedom. Al-Qaida’s cause is not Islam — it’s a gross distortion of Islam. These are not religious leaders — they’re terrorists who murder innocent men and women and children. In fact, al-Qaida has killed more Muslims than people of any other religion — and that list of victims includes innocent Muslims who were killed on 9/11.

So that’s who we’re fighting against. And the reason that we will win this fight is not simply the strength of our arms — it is the strength of our values. The democracy that we uphold. The freedoms that we cherish. The laws that we apply without regard to race, or religion, or wealth, or status. Our capacity to show not merely tolerance, but respect towards those who are different from us — and that way of life, that quintessentially American creed, stands in stark contrast to the nihilism of those who attacked us on that September morning, and who continue to plot against us today.

In my inaugural address I said that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and nonbelievers. We are shaped by every language and every culture, drawn from every end of this Earth. And that diversity can bring difficult debates. This is not unique to our time. Past eras have seen controversies about the construction of synagogues or Catholic churches. But time and again, the American people have demonstrated that we can work through these issues, and stay true to our core values, and emerge stronger for it. So it must be — and will be — today.

And tonight, we are reminded that Ramadan is a celebration of a faith known for great diversity. And Ramadan is a reminder that Islam has always been a part of America. The first Muslim ambassador to the United States, from Tunisia, was hosted by President Jefferson, who arranged a sunset dinner for his guest because it was Ramadan — making it the first known iftar at the White House, more than 200 years ago.

Like so many other immigrants, generations of Muslims came to forge their future here. They became farmers and merchants, worked in mills and factories. They helped lay the railroads. They helped to build America. They founded the first Islamic center in New York City in the 1890s. They built America’s first mosque on the prairie of North Dakota. And perhaps the oldest surviving mosque in America — still in use today — is in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Today, our nation is strengthened by millions of Muslim Americans. They excel in every walk of life. Muslim American communities — including mosques in all 50 states — also serve their neighbors. Muslim Americans protect our communities as police officers and firefighters and first responders. Muslim American clerics have spoken out against terror and extremism, reaffirming that Islam teaches that one must save human life, not take it. And Muslim Americans serve with honor in our military. At next week’s iftar at the Pentagon, tribute will be paid to three soldiers who gave their lives in Iraq and now rest among the heroes of Arlington National Cemetery.

These Muslim Americans died for the security that we depend on, and the freedoms that we cherish. They are part of an unbroken line of Americans that stretches back to our founding; Americans of all faiths who have served and sacrificed to extend the promise of America to new generations, and to ensure that what is exceptional about America is protected — our commitment to stay true to our core values, and our ability slowly but surely to perfect our union.

For in the end, we remain “one nation, under God, indivisible.” And we can only achieve “liberty and justice for all” if we live by that one rule at the heart of every great religion, including Islam — that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us.



As Tower Rises, So Do Efforts to Buy In
NYTIMES
By CHARLES V. BAGLI
April 23, 2010

The planned skyscraper once known as the Freedom Tower was scorned for years by urban planners, downtown residents and real estate executives who regarded it as an oversize and unnecessary exercise in waste and hubris.  But the acrimonious debates, cost overruns and lengthy delays in building the tower appear to be over. More than 1,400 workers are pouring concrete and installing girder upon girder. And with the red steel latticework for the obelisk-shape building now rising more than 240 feet at ground zero, it has turned into an object of desire.

Four major real estate developers are vying to buy a minority stake in the $3.1 billion project and to take over the leasing and operating of the skyscraper. This week, the developers submitted their final offers to the owner, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which plans to pick a winner by June.

“The building has real international significance, and it’s important for New York,” said Stephen M. Ross, chief executive of Related Companies, one of the four companies competing for the $100 million deal.

Despite the recent Cinderella-like transformation of Freedom Tower, now known as 1 World Trade Center, it still faces a daunting challenge: whether it can attract private companies or will remain a heavily subsidized “government” building.

The Port Authority and its advisers at Cushman & Wakefield are pitching it as the most modern addition to the city’s skyline, with first-class restaurants and an observatory at the top that will attract business leaders and tourists alike.  The developers seem to agree. Even Douglas Durst, the chairman of the Durst Organization, whose family opposed both the original World Trade Center and the version being built, has jumped into the competition for the tower, along with Hines, an international real estate developer, and Mortimer B. Zuckerman, the chairman of Boston Properties and the owner of The Daily News.

Vornado Realty Trust, a publicly traded company, and Brookfield Properties, the largest downtown landlord, have already been eliminated from the competition.

The competing developers acknowledge the immediate challenge of finding enough tenants for the building. But they say that a stake in 1 World Trade Center is a long-term investment in the future of the building and of Lower Manhattan. They said they were confident the area would rebound as both a residential and a commercial community, and some said they were also seeking the cachet of being associated with an internationally known skyscraper.

“You have to take a patient approach to your capital on this,” said Tommy Craig, a senior vice president for Hines. “It’s possible to structure the investment so that the risk that’s inherent is potentially offset by the return opportunities.”

One World Trade Center was a centerpiece of the master plan drawn up in 2003 by the architect Daniel Libeskind. Gov. George E. Pataki added to its patriotic patina by dubbing it the Freedom Tower. David M. Childs of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill turned the drawing into a glass tower. But after the Police Department raised security concerns, he was forced to redesign it in 2005.  In turn, corporate tenants and government workers declared they had no desire to move in. Some real estate executives railed against building so much expensive office space downtown without any tenants. Eliot Spitzer referred to it as a white elephant while he was running for governor but ultimately authorized its construction.

Initially, the building was “laden with negative symbolism and emblematic of the delays at ground zero,” said Julie Menin, the chairwoman of Community Board 1 in Manhattan, whose district includes the trade center site.

“Now,” she continued, “all these developers are vying for the site.”

The 104-story glass tower will sit on a 186-foot pedestal of prismatic glass covering a concrete-and-steel protective structure at the northwest corner of the 16-acre site. A 408-foot spire will rise from the top, bringing the total height to a symbolic 1,776 feet.  In an effort to kick-start the building, federal and state officials promised to lease a total of 1.2 million square feet, or about 40 percent of the tower. Since then, Vantone, a Chinese real estate company, has signed a lease for 190,000 square feet.

“The developers wouldn’t be interested in the building if they thought it was going to be all government,” said Tara Stacom, vice chairwoman of Cushman & Wakefield. “They, too, are convinced that this building will lease to private companies, professional and financial services.”

Even so, some developers acknowledge, a rent check from a government agency is as good as one from a private company — perhaps even more so, since it is usually reliable in coming.

Mr. Durst, one of the final bidders, said 1 World Trade Center was “ going to be the best building downtown and the only building you’ll be able to rent in; we thought we’d go for it.”

Mr. Durst’s remark about the “only building” was a reference to the competition — Larry Silverstein, who is known as an inexhaustible negotiator and is building 4 World Trade Center. The two buildings, which will be chasing the same tenants to fill more than one million square feet each, are set to open in 2013.  Mr. Silverstein’s tower also has government tenants — the Port Authority and city agencies. And Silverstein executives say their building, on Church Street, is closer to Wall Street and the financial district and, therefore, more likely to attract financial firms.

“I do think they need to attract private companies,” Ms. Menin said. “Why should taxpayers have to pay so that various government agencies can have 60-story views at astronomical rents?”

Executives at the authority, who are optimistic about the tower’s prospects, said they had the expertise to build the tower themselves but were inviting developers in so they could have a partner, with a financial stake in its fate, who could skillfully deal with tenants and their needs.  They have hired two real estate companies, Cushman & Wakefield and Jones Lang LaSalle, for advice, and have brought in a marketing and branding firm based in London, Wordsearch, specializing in real estate.

“We believe that a private-sector partner with real estate expertise will best operate the building and maximize its value,” said Anthony Coscia, chairman of the Port Authority. “But we want to do this in a responsible manner that protects the long-term interests of the authority.”





NYC light beams marking 9/11 paid for through 2011
The Associated Press
Updated: 12/17/2009 10:53:20 AM EST

NEW YORK—The agency responsible for ground zero redevelopment will spend $695,000 through 2011 to fund the twin beams of light that pay tribute to the World Trade Center victims.

The Tribute in Light memorial has been projected into the night sky from lower Manhattan around the anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks every year.

The board of directors of the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. voted Thursday to pay for the lights through the 10th anniversary of the attacks in 2011.

The board also voted to fund an oral history project and a documentary about the rebuilding of the trade center site.



How NY handed Osama a victory

By STEVE CUOZZO
Last Updated: 8:25 AM, September 11, 2009
Posted: 1:14 AM, September 11, 2009

New York decided to hand Osama a victory after all.

Al Qaeda didn't bring the city to its knees on 9/11. But, as of today's eighth anniversary, we've failed utterly to replace what the terrorists destroyed. Ground Zero remains a pit -- and looks to stay that way for the foreseeable future.

Some naive souls fall for the official claims that "progress" is being made at a supposedly full-bore construction site. Newsday just reported excitedly that structural steel for 1 WTC has risen 100 feet above street level, compared with "only" 25 feet a year ago.  Gee, that leaves 1,676 feet to go. At 75 feet a year, it will only take until mid-2031 to finish the job.  What's mostly being done is infrastructure work that should've been finished years ago. Only one of Larry Silverstein's office buildings, Tower 4, has even started -- below ground.

The models and images -- like the renderings of Towers 2, 3 and 4 posted around the site -- are a cruel joke, and the public knows it. It's impossible to imagine any of them rising soon -- if ever.

The "World Trade Center Transportation Hub" -- a $3.4 billion temple to New Jersey commuterdom -- is as much a tease. Its famous "wings" aren't even bid out yet; don't be surprised if no contractor is willing to do the job for anything like what the PA can pay.

After eight years of political obstruction and Port Authority stalling, Silverstein finally got land he can build on -- only to be foiled by an unforgiving credit market that's snuffed out construction lending.

That's given a dubious plausibility to the PA's claim that it's Silverstein who's holding up the works. Of course, he could have started work years ago -- if the PA had managed to turn the site over to him, as it was supposed to, in build-ready condition.  Now the PA has balked at Silverstein's plea for financing help. It has a point, if not quite a case: It was never expected to help bankroll the developer's towers. It's hard to see where "binding" arbitration, insisted upon by Silverstein, can lead -- except to indefinitely drawn-out litigation.

Only the unloved, morbid Memorial has found traction -- and even it will only be partly done by Sept. 11, 2011.

Things near the site are no better. The singular exception is Silverstein's 7 WTC -- an eloquent reproach to the zero that's Ground Zero. But eight years later, the blackened hulks of 130 Liberty St. (the Deutsche Bank building) and Fiterman Hall yet stand.

How did we come to this? We let our "leaders" do essentially nothing for nearly five years after 9/11 -- a time when the boom could have supported Silverstein's borrowing effort and provided tenants for his towers.

The corrupt, rudderless state government is mostly to blame. Then-Gov. George Pataki wasted 2002 and 2003 setting up an impotent Lower Manhattan Development Corp. He authorized interminable design competitions, then overrode his advisers to choose the Daniel Libeskind site plan -- which was so inappropriate that it took another year of emendation to make it even remotely buildable.

Even after endless tweaking, the plan -- which ought to embrace a soaring verticality to exceed the Twin Towers' impact on the skyline -- remains infuriatingly overcrowded and focused underground, both at the Memorial and the PATH terminal.

Pataki prohibited building on the Twin Tower footprints, thus forcing new buildings into too small a space. He fussed with the original Freedom Tower design -- even as he ignored the NYPD's objections to the tower's location on security grounds, concerns that would force a complete redrawing of the structure, delaying everything by yet another year.

The scandals of 130 Liberty St. and Fiterman Hall are also the state's doing; the LMDC controls the former, while the state-dominated City University of New York owns the latter.

Blame also George W. Bush, a wartime president who was oblivious to the symbolic urgency of swiftly rebuilding the World Trade Center. If he ever picked up the phone to say, Boys, let's get on with the job, it's never been reported.

Mayor Bloomberg dithered until 2006, when he brokered a deal that forced Silverstein to cede Tower 1 to the PA -- which is building it at the slowest pace since the elements forged the Grand Canyon.  Rudy Giuliani, a 9/11 hero, called for the entire WTC site to be made into a memorial -- lending rhetorical throw-weight to the insidious campaign led by The New York Times against commercial rebuilding.

And we're all to blame. How? For allowing most of the $20 billion the feds sent to rebuild Lower Manhattan to be wasted on tax credits and ancillary projects -- even on new buildings far from Ground Zero -- instead of the one thing that was needed: a new World Trade Center. scuozzo@nypost.com

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WTC Developer Threatens Arbitration at Ground Zero
NYTIMES
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Filed at 3:12 p.m. ET
July 6, 2009

NEW YORK (AP) -- The developer of the World Trade Center site has threatened to go to arbitration to settle a monthslong impasse to rebuild ground zero.

Larry Silverstein says he will go to the arbitrator if he and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey can't work out their differences in two weeks.

The impasse threatens to stall construction of a Sept. 11 memorial transit hub and office towers at ground zero.

Silverstein leased the twin towers six weeks before they collapsed on Sept. 11, 2001. He has rights to build three of five planned towers at the site. He has asked the Port Authority to back financing for two of the towers, but the agency has said it can only afford to back one tower.

Weeks of talks failed to produce an agreement.



I-BBC, 11 September 2008

US marks seventh 9/11 anniversary
Memorial services are set to be held to mark the seventh anniversary of the 11 September 2001 attacks.

Nearly 3,000 people were killed when four planes were hijacked and flown into New York's World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania.

The presidential candidates, Barack Obama and John McCain, will attend a ceremony at Ground Zero in New York.

At the Pentagon, President George W Bush will dedicate a new memorial for the 184 people who died there.

The memorial in Washington was built at a cost of $22m (£12.6m) on a 1.9-acre (0.77-hectare) parcel of land within view of the crash site.

Mr Bush will attend the New York ceremony after standing for a moment of silence on the South Lawn of the White House at 0846 (1246 GMT) - the time that the first of the two passenger planes hit the World Trade Center.

More coverage throughout the day on BBC World News and BBC World Service

It is the last time Mr Bush marks the anniversary as president.

The attacks are regarded as the defining moment of his time in office so far, and they had a huge impact on the foreign policy of his administration.

"The president thinks about 9/11 every single day when he wakes up and before he goes to bed," White House press secretary Dana Perino said on Wednesday.

'Put aside politics'

Senators Obama and McCain, the Democratic and Republican nominees in November's election, will appear together at Ground Zero in the afternoon to lay wreathes in honour of the victims.

In a joint statement from the campaigns announcing their decision to visit Ground Zero together, the two men vowed to come together "as Americans" and suspend their political campaigns for 24 hours.

"All of us came together on 9/11 - not as Democrats or Republicans - but as Americans," the statement said. "In smoke-filled corridors and on the steps of the Capitol; at blood banks and at vigils - we were united as one American family.


"We will put aside politics and come together to renew that unity, to honour the memory of each and every American who died, and to grieve with the families and friends who lost loved ones," it said.

Their appearance is to be followed by another in the evening at a Columbia University forum to discuss their views on public service.

The ceremony in downtown Manhattan will mark the times when the planes hit the Twin Towers, and the times when each tower fell - pausing for silence at 0846, 0903, 0959 and 1029.

Family members and students representing the 90 countries that lost people in the attacks will also read out the names of all the 2,973 dead.

Seven years after the attacks which shocked the world, Ground Zero is a construction site.

After years of delays and disagreements over how to commemorate the dead, work has finally begun on a memorial and a new skyscraper - the Freedom Tower - which is due to be completed by 2012.

On Wednesday, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg called for the abolition of the WTC planning agency, saying the reconstruction was "frustratingly slow, owing in large part to a multilayered governance structure that has undermined accountability from the get-go".

"Most important, the memorial must be completed by the 10th anniversary. No more excuses, no more delays," he added.

New York State Governor David Paterson said he also shared "a sense of disappointment and frustration at the unacceptable pace of the Ground Zero rebuilding".

On the eve of the anniversary, a top US military commander warned that new tactics were needed to win the conflict in Afghanistan, which the US and its allies invaded three months after 9/11.

They intended to topple the Taleban regime and root out Osama Bin Laden, who the US believes masterminded the attacks.

Admiral Mike Mullen believes insurgents are launching attacks from neighbouring Pakistan, and US-led forces must target their "safe havens" in that country.

"In my view, these two nations are inextricably linked in a common insurgency that crosses the border between them," he said.

Pakistan has refused to allow foreign troops to fight on to its territory.


Transit Hub Design May Be Simplified  
NYTIMES
By DAVID W. DUNLAP
Published: August 27, 2008

As one architectural ambition after another was given up at ground zero for economy, security and politics, it seemed that the architect Santiago Calatrava’s vision of a luminous, cavernous World Trade Center Transportation Hub would be immune from major change.

No more.

With the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey seeking significant savings in the budget and the timetable of the trade center reconstruction, a key element of Mr. Calatrava’s design —a vast underground mezzanine free of columns — may be in jeopardy.

Estimates vary on how much the projected cost of the transportation hub currently exceeds its $2.5 billion budget, but it could be at least several hundred million dollars.

Spanning great spaces without the interruption of columns is certainly possible and, all else being equal, aesthetically desirable. But it also adds to the complexity of construction.

Two alternatives under consideration call for standard column-and-beam construction instead of the long spans and cantilevers proposed by Mr. Calatrava.

For his part, Mr. Calatrava says his design can be constructed on budget and on time, noting that there had already been revisions made to it without abandoning the columnless approach.

“It has always been my goal to deliver a beautiful, practical transportation hub for Lower Manhattan,” he said in a statement released by his office. “In its revised state, the project retains all of its fundamental beauty, and the adjustments make it an ever-more-functional and coherent facility that will serve New York well in the years to come.”

No version would eliminate the ribbed and winged roof over the hub’s arrival hall, east of Greenwich Street, which Mr. Calatrava has likened to a bird in flight. Keeping it would permit officials to assert that they had been faithful to the original architectural concept.

But it is the underground mezzanine, west of Greenwich Street, that will be the functional heart of the hub, occupying the level between the arrival hall and the PATH platforms. How it is treated depends in part on whether it is seen as a passageway through which commuters hurry or as a ceremonial gateway on the scale of the main concourse at Grand Central Terminal.

At the tightly squeezed trade center site, how the mezzanine is constructed has an effect on all the buildings around it. Directly above it would be one corner of the 9/11 memorial plaza. Adjoining it would be the lower level of Tower 3, a 71-story office tower being developed by Silverstein Properties. Running through it would be the tracks and station of the No. 1 subway.

At the end of September, Christopher O. Ward, the executive director of the Port Authority, is to report to the authority’s board on how the agency intends to resolve the numerous logistical, structural and financial conflicts that have stalled progress and raised costs at ground zero.

In the case of the hub, the authority must balance its fiduciary role with its role as advocate for Mr. Calatrava’s plan.

The three conceptual versions of the transportation hub under discussion are:

¶The revised version of the original design in which Mr. Calatrava and his partners in the Downtown Design Partnership, the firms STV and DMJM, have been directly involved. This version would maintain the mezzanine as an uninterrupted, column-free space.

¶An alternative calling for reuse of existing columns. This has been advanced by a group convened to help Mr. Ward in his assessment. It is headed by Mickey Kupperman, an executive at Silverstein, and has involved the Turner Construction Company, the architectural firm Beyer Blinder Belle and the engineering firms AKF and Leslie E. Robertson Associates.

¶An alternative that would use what the authority describes as “a more traditional column-supported structural approach to the PATH mezzanine.” This has been developed by a team led by the authority’s chief engineer, Francis J. Lombardi.

It is too early to say which approach, or which combination, will prevail.

“The whole point of the report is to answer these questions and move forward,” said Stephen Sigmund, a spokesman for the authority. He said the authority was working with Mr. Calatrava “to preserve as much of his original vision” as possible but added, “These aren’t easy fixes.”

Joseph C. Daniels, the president and chief executive of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, said on Wednesday that to have the plaza ready for visitors by the 10th anniversary of the attack, the steel and concrete framework of the mezzanine below must be completed by July 2010.

“Everything has to be done to make that date,” he said.



These Wings Will Not Fly
NYTIMES
By David W. Dunlap
July 1, 2008,  3:16 pm

 A rendering of the main concourse of the transit terminal at ground zero, designed by the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. (Port Authority of New York and New Jersey)It was to have been an audacious gesture in an already daring design. As envisioned by the architect Santiago Calatrava, the enormous counterpoised wings forming the rooftop of the World Trade Center Transportation Hub were to have opened almost 50 feet wide to the sky, in fine weather and on each anniversary of the terrorist attacks.
 
“On a beautiful summer day,” Mr. Calatrava said, “the building can work not as a greenhouse but as an open space.”

And on each Sept. 11, he said, the rooftop could open again, “giving us the sense of unprotection.”

The idea of an entire building in movement was startling, but it would not have been the first kinetic work by Mr. Calatrava, who is a sculptor and an engineer. The winglike sunscreen at the Milwaukee Museum of Art opens and closes twice daily, and has become a civic attraction in its own right.

But this morning, Mr. Calatrava’s wings were clipped at the World Trade Center site, as officials began to reckon with budgets and timetables that they now concede are well beyond earlier estimates.
The roof is not going to be operable, said Christopher O. Ward, the executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The authority is building the hub as a PATH terminal and as a connecting point for subway lines and below-ground pedestrian traffic.

“This is a tough choice, but it is the right choice,” Mr. Ward said in a statement. “It’s reflective of the kinds of choices we simply must make in the coming weeks and months if we are to establish priorities and milestones, to which we can be held accountable.”

In the text of a speech prepared for delivery to the Alliance for Downtown New York, Mr. Ward also said: “Making this decision helps preserve the overall iconic nature of Calatrava’s winged design, but it will allow the Hub” to “literally fit better with the other buildings on the site; when the wings opened they came far too close to the surrounding office towers.”

When the idea was introduced four years ago, it was said that the operability of the roof would help clear the main transit hall of smoke in case of a fire.

Given financing limits, the authority must find ways to build the hub for no more than $2.5 billion. Though officials have insisted that the hub’s signature features would be maintained, subtle and not-so-subtle changes have already been made, some that are arguably more significant than opening and closing roof wings. For instance, the underground mezzanine was originally to have been illuminated with skylights set in the pavement of the memorial plaza above. That arrangement, which far more directly affects the experience of daily commuters, was quietly scrapped in recent months.

As the design is further modified — some might say whittled away — another possibility is that more of the existing PATH terminal will be used than was originally planned.

While the mechanism to open and close the wings was relatively straightforward, the wings themselves would have to be specially engineered to maintain their structural integrity in different positions and while in motion. Keeping the roof stationary and sealed might save tens of millions of dollars at least. The defenders of Mr. Calatrava’s design have maintained that the architectural flourishes, a small part of the overall budget, are easy and obvious to trim but exact a high cost for the overall aesthetic integrity of the project.


Trade Center Rebuilding Faces Big Setback
Wall Street Journal
By ALEX FRANGOS
June 30, 2008; Page A1

NEW YORK -- The rebuilding of the World Trade Center, destroyed in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, won't be completed until the middle of the next decade, and will cost as much as $3 billion more than planned, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the 16-acre site in Lower Manhattan, is expected to release a report Monday detailing significant delays and cost overruns on construction there.

The report won't specify new completion dates or budget figures, but people familiar with the project say major components of it will be delayed one to three years and will cost $1 billion to $3 billion more than the current estimate of $15 billion. They caution that those estimates are preliminary and could shrink.

"The executive director will give a candid assessment of where we are and where we need to go to get the site rebuilt," said Port Authority spokesman Stephen Sigmund. He dismissed the estimates as overly pessimistic. "Anyone giving you dates and budgets today would have to have a crystal ball."

The delays mean the Sept. 11 Memorial planned for the site probably won't be finished by Sept. 11, 2011, the 10th anniversary of the terror attacks. Port Authority executives hope at least part of the eight-acre memorial -- which includes two massive voids representing the shattered Twin Towers, an underground visiting area and a museum -- will open by then, people familiar with the project said. However, the foundation in charge of planning the memorial remains committed to finishing it by the anniversary date.

"Our goal out of this process is to ensure that the memorial is completed and open in time for the 10th anniversary," Lynn Rasic, a spokeswoman for the foundation, said Sunday.

Monday's report also will likely damp enthusiasm among potential tenants and outside investors for taking space in the planned office skyscrapers. Investment giant Merrill Lynch & Co. has been in talks to take over one of the planned buildings, Tower 3. But Merrill, the Port Authority and private developer Larry Silverstein, who is building that tower, remain far apart, a government official said. That official called a deal unlikely. Others involved said it was unclear that the delays would greatly affect Tower 3, and that Merrill could still be coaxed onboard at the right price.

[photo]
Associated Press
Construction continues on the foundations of the Sept. 11 Memorial at the World Trade Center site. In addition to the memorial, the Freedom Tower, three office towers, and a transportation hub are under construction.

A Merrill spokeswoman declined to comment. Silverstein spokesman Dara McQuillan couldn't be reached for comment.

Symbol of the City

The rebuilding on the site of the Sept. 11 attacks has been hailed as a symbol of the city and the nation's resilience after the deadliest act of terrorism on American soil. Plans for the Trade Center call for it to eventually include the memorial, five office towers, a transit hub providing access to underground rail lines, and a performing-arts center. But repeated delays, budget overruns and -- lately -- logistical hurdles and poor management among the site's half-dozen major elements have marred the project.

New York Gov. David Paterson, who controls the Port Authority along with New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, ordered the new progress report amid rumblings that construction was falling behind.

The challenges center on the Port Authority's planned transit hub and the memorial, which sits above commuter-rail tracks. Decisions at one project affect the other, but they are being designed and built by different teams.

The hub's wing-shaped design and its underground passageways and underpinnings have proved to be difficult to execute within the original $2 billion budget. The transit hub, most recently scheduled to open in 2011, probably won't open until perhaps 2014, officials say, though estimates of the delays are still preliminary. The foundation overseeing the memorial, meanwhile, has yet to finalize some aspects of the above-ground portion of that project.

[David Paterson]

Any delays related to the transit hub also would set back the 500,000 square feet of retail space located within the hub and adjacent spaces.  Westfield Group, an Australian mall operator, owns the development rights to the planned collection of shops. A Westfield spokeswoman declined to comment.

Before 9/11, the retail space at the Trade Center was among the highest-grossing in the nation.

The delays at the memorial could put Mr. Paterson at odds with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who serves as chairman of the effort to build the memorial and is also regarded as a potential contender for the governorship in 2010. The mayor stepped in to lead the memorial effort after it floundered earlier on, and has staked his reputation on its completion on time and on budget.

As critical security screening facilities and the adjacent transit hub fall behind, completion of the office space at the site will be pushed back. Officials cautioned that it will require additional study to know for sure how much longer it will take to build the office space.

[Larry Silverstein]

Mr. Silverstein's three towers could see their deadlines delayed past the current 2013 targets. But that could give the developer some respite from the credit crunch and the weak economy, which have helped to reduce major companies' demand for office space.

The Freedom Tower, an office tower controlled by the Port Authority and currently under construction, had been targeted for completion by the end of 2011. Now, the tower, which is expected to be occupied by state and federal agencies, is likely to be delayed a year.

Monday's report, to be issued by Port Authority Executive Director Christopher Ward, will identify 17 to 20 logistical, contracting and budgetary matters that need to be resolved before a firmer schedule and budget can be set in a second report, promised for September. The report also will call for a new committee to oversee the Trade Center project, including representatives from various government agencies and private organizations that have a role at the site.

Supporting Role

Attempts at coordination have been made before. Shortly after the attacks, New York state and city established the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. to oversee construction. But, as the Port Authority has asserted its ownership rights at the site, the LMDC has been reduced to a supporting role.

In 2006, the Port Authority emerged as the lead agency. But it has found itself unable to push forward while coordinating with the other players, including New York City and state agencies that have roles in transportation, planning and funding.


Whitman on Hot Seat Over 9/11 Aftermath
Hartford Courant
By DEVLIN BARRETT, Associated Press Writer 
8:40 PM EDT, June 25, 2007

WASHINGTON -- Ex-EPA chief Christie Whitman was bombarded by boos and a host of accusations Monday at a hearing into her assurances that it had been safe to breathe the air around the fallen World Trade Center.

The confrontation between the former head of the Environmental Protection Agency and her critics grew heated at times. Some members of the audience shouted in anger, only to be gaveled down by Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., who chaired the hearing. 
For three hours Whitman faced charges from Nadler and others that the Environmental Protection Agency's public statements after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks gave people a false sense of safety.

Whitman maintained the government warned those working on the toxic debris pile to use respirators, while elsewhere in lower Manhattan the air was safe to the general public.

"There are indeed people to blame. They are the terrorists who attacked the United States, not the men and women at all levels of government who worked heroically to protect and defend this country," Whitman said.

Since the attacks, independent government reviews have faulted the EPA's handling of the immediate aftermath and the agency's long-term cleanup program for nearby buildings.

A study of more than 20,000 people by Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York concluded that, since the attacks, 70 percent of ground zero workers have suffered some sort of respiratory illness. A separate study released last month found that rescue workers and firefighters contracted sarcoidosis, a serious lung-scarring disease, at a rate more than five times as high as in the years before the attacks.

Nadler, a Democrat whose district includes the World Trade Center site, called the hearing after years of criticizing federal officials for what he says was a negligent and incomplete cleanup.

He said the Bush administration "has continued to make false, misleading and inaccurate statements and refused to take remedial actions, even in the face of overwhelming evidence."

Whitman called such allegations "misinformation, innuendo and downright falsehoods."

Her responses were mostly calm and deliberate. But under questioning from Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., Whitman angrily raised her voice, saying she based her statements on "what I was hearing from professionals," not the whims of politicians.

Whitman pointed out that her son was in the World Trade Center complex that day, "and I almost lost him," at which point Ellison said he would not "stand here and allow you to try to obfuscate."

"I'm not obfuscating," Whitman shot back. "I have been called a liar even in this room today."

She has long insisted that her statements that the "air is safe" were aimed at those living and working near ground zero, not those who actually toiled on the toxic pile that included asbestos.

"Was it wrong to try get the city back on its feet as quickly as possible in the safest way possible? Absolutely not," she said, drawing catcalls from the crowd.

Dozens of activists and Sept. 11 rescue workers came to the hearing, and some in the audience hissed when Whitman said she felt former Mayor Rudy Giuliani's administration "did absolutely everything in its power to do what was right" in handling the health concerns.

Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary subcommittee, said he worried that assigning blame to Whitman could mean, in future crises, that "officials might default to silence." 



Lawmakers say ground zero workers unsafe
By DEVLIN BARRETT, Associated Press Writer
Sat Sep 9, 6:30 AM ET

NEW YORK - Lawmakers said federal officials failed to protect ground zero workers as they clambered over the smoking pile of toxic debris and have not properly cared for them in the years since.  In a daylong House hearing Friday, lawmakers criticized the government's public assurances about the air around the World Trade Center site.

Christie Todd Whitman, the former head of the Environmental Protection Agency, stressed in the days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that the air in lower Manhattan was safe, although she also said workers at the World Trade Center site needed to use protective breathing gear.  Whitman is being sued over her public assurances, and she was accused Friday of doing too little to protect workers.

Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., who chaired the hearing, said Whitman's September 2001 statements "defied logic and everybody knows that."

Whitman defended herself Friday, insisting that it was up to local authorities to make sure the rescue workers wore protective breathing gear.

"We agreed then, and I reiterate now, that the air on the site was not clean — the consequence of millions of tons of burned debris from the most horrific attack in our nation's history. We were emphatic that workers needed to wear respirators, a message I repeated frequently. But I did not have the jurisdiction to force workers to wear them — that was up to their superiors," Whitman said in a statement.

City officials already under fire for their own role in the ongoing health problems disputed Whitman's response.

City Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden said the federal government was responsible for work safety at the site, and said of Whitman's post-Sept. 11 assurance, "I don't think that was an appropriate way to word the message."

Others appearing at the hearing before the House Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats, and International Relations, included Democratic Sen.        Hillary Rodham Clinton, who accused the EPA of lying to New Yorkers and endangering public health.

At a separate event Friday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg defended the city's handling of the disaster, saying it did distribute masks.

"Nobody knew whether there would be health issues down the road, and they made the decisions that they thought were right at the time," said Bloomberg, who became mayor months after the attacks.

The hearing began with testimony from Joseph Zadroga, the father of James Zadroga, who died in January of respiratory disease attributed to ground zero exposure.

Joseph Zadroga briefly lost his composure as he described the day he found his NYPD officer son dead on his bedroom floor. The father blasted the city for doing nothing while his son was sick.

"He never received any assistance from the city," Zadroga said. "He was treated like a dog."

A health expert told the lawmakers that new patients are still arriving at her New York hospital to be treated for 9/11-related illnesses — and thousands will likely need lifelong care.

"There is no question that, as a result of their horrific exposures, thousands of World Trade Center responders have developed chronic and disabling illnesses that will likely be permanent," said Dr. Robin Herbert, co-director of the Mount Sinai Medical Center program monitoring afflicted workers.

Mount Sinai released a study this week showing nearly 7 out of every 10 ground zero responders suffered lung problems.

The Bush administration said it will continue to help sick Sept. 11 workers but would not say what their long-term health needs might cost.

Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt told New York lawmakers Thursday that $75 million would be delivered in the next two months to pay for treatment programs.

Reps. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., and Vito Fossella, R-N.Y., said $75 million is a good start but won't come close to providing all the treatment needed for those suffering from lung problems, gastrointestinal disease and mental health woes.


White House vows to aid ill 9/11 workers
By DEVLIN BARRETT, Associated Press Writer
September 7, 2006

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration said Thursday it will continue to help sick Sept. 11 workers, but would not say what their long-term health needs might cost.

Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt met with members of New York's congressional delegation, other members of Congress, advocates, and sick ground zero workers to discuss the first federal money for treating illnesses related to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Sept. 11 health experts say thousands of affected rescue and cleanup workers and volunteers will need decades of monitoring and treatment. Leavitt said that by the end of the month, Sept. 11 health programs would receive $75 million for treatment.

"If the $75 million proves to be inadequate, the federal government will be part of a coordinated effort to solve whatever the balance of the problem is," Leavitt told reporters after the meeting.

"We have a responsibility. We will meet it," he said.

Reps. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., and Vito Fossella, R-N.Y., said $75 million is a good start, but won't come close to providing all the treatment needed for those suffering from lung problems, gastrointestinal disease, and mental health difficulties.

Dr. Robin Herbert, co-director of the Mount Sinai Medical Center program in New York studying ground zero health, said her group's share of that $75 million could be spent within a year.

On Tuesday, Mount Sinai released the results of the largest study of ground zero workers, finding that nearly 70 percent suffered lung problems, and many of those would likely be sick for the rest of their lives.

Mount Sinai examined 12,000 ground zero workers between July 2002 and April 2004, and got permission to use 9,442 workers in its research. They include construction workers, police and firefighters and other volunteers who worked at the site, in the city morgue or at a landfill where more than 1 million tons of trade center debris were carted.

Lung problems rife among WTC responders
By AMY WESTFELDT, Associated Press Writer
September 5, 2006

NEW YORK - Nearly 70 percent of recovery workers who responded to the attacks on the World Trade Center suffered lung problems during or after their work at ground zero, a new health study released Tuesday shows.

Less than a week before the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Mount Sinai Medical Center issued the results of the largest study on related health effects.

It found, among other things, that the ailments tended to be worst among those who arrived first at the site, and that high rates of lung "abnormalities" continued years later.

The study focused mostly on what has been dubbed "World Trade Center cough," which was little understood immediately after the attacks but became a chief concern of health experts and advocates.

Findings highlighted by the study include:

• Almost 70 percent of World Trade Center responders had new or worsened lung symptoms after the attacks.

• Among responders who had no health symptoms before the attacks, 61 percent developed lung symptoms while working on the toxic pile.

• One-third of those tested had abnormal lung function tests.

In lung function tests, responders had abnormalities at a rate double that expected in the general population. Those abnormalities persisted for months and in some cases years after the exposure, the study found.

The findings are based on medical exams conducted between July 2002 and April 2004 on 9,500 ground zero workers, including construction workers, law enforcers, firefighters, transit workers, volunteers and others.

The hospital has been the focal point of New York research on Sept. 11-related illnesses, and thousands have sought treatment there.

The report comes as public concern over the fate of ground zero workers has risen. In a class action lawsuit against the city and its contractors, 8,000 workers and civilians blame Sept. 11 for sinusitis, cancers and other ailments they developed after the attacks.

Dr. John Howard, who was appointed by the Bush administration in February to coordinate the various ground zero health programs, told The New York Times for Tuesday editions that he understands the skepticism of many responders.

"I can understand the frustration and the anger, and most importantly, the concern about their future," said Howard, the head of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. "I can't blame them for thinking, 'Where were you when we needed you?'"

Mayor Michael Bloomberg was expected to announce related program plans on Tuesday.

The programs would "build on our track record of supporting those who supported us in the months after 9/11," he wrote in an op-ed piece in the Daily News. "The city will continue to do everything possible to learn about the problems people face and develop effective strategies to deal with them."

Gov. George Pataki signed legislation last month that expanded benefits for workers who became sick after toiling at ground zero, but Bloomberg objected to the laws, saying they were unfunded and would cost the city hundreds of millions of dollars.

A House committee plans to hold a hearing on Sept. 11 health issues this week.

The city-run World Trade Center Health Registry is tracking the long-term effects on 71,000 people, including those who lived or worked in lower Manhattan at the time of the attacks and the months of cleanup.

Just last week, New York City health officials issued long-awaited guidelines to help doctors detect and treat Sept. 11-related illnesses — medical advice considered crucial for hundreds of ground zero workers now scattered across the United States.



American justice on display - link here to story of sentencing phase result.
Moussaoui Jury Stunned By Chaos That Was Flight 93;  Voice recorder captures last minutes on doomed jetliner
DAY
By Timothy Dwyer & Jerry Markon & The Post 
Published on 4/13/2006
  
It began with a muted series of thumps from a sharp knife or maybe human fists. The sounds were muffled but unmistakable, one body blow after another, ending with a squishy thud.

“No, no, no, no, no, no,” came the high-pitched voice of a crew member or flight attendant being subdued. “Please, please don't hurt me,” the voice said later. “ ... I don't want to die.” The desperate plea, captured by the cockpit voice recorder of United Airlines Flight 93 on Sept. 11, 2001, was played to a transfixed jury Wednesday at the death penalty trial of Zacarias Moussaoui in federal court in Alexandria, Va.

A foreign-accented voice, increasingly agitated, screamed “Down. Down. Down!” as the whacking sound continued. Then, there was silence. “That's it. Go back,” a hijacker said calmly. “Everything is fine. I finished.”

And with that, Flight 93 banked left toward Washington. But the terrorists would not strike their target that day because they were beaten — as the voice recorder made clear — by the passengers who fought back. The 32-minute tape illustrates an epic struggle as passengers surged forward to retake the plane, using whatever low-tech weapons they could find.

“Let's get them!” one passenger yelled as dishes crashed to the floor. “In the cockpit. If we don't we'll die,” screamed another amid more thumping and crashing and breaking glass.

Wednesday, the myth of Flight 93 became real. The 33 passengers and seven crew members have been lionized in book and film for their struggle to retake the doomed jet, one of four planes hijacked during the deadliest terrorist strike in U.S. history. Until now, the recording that documented their courage had been played only for federal investigators and a limited number of family members of those aboard.

But in court, Americans were taken inside a hijacking drama that saw in a space of time shorter than the average Washington commute, terrorists seize the cockpit by brutal force, repulse an initial attack by passengers and then crash a huge jetliner to the ground as their captives, throwing dishes or anything else at their disposal, thwarted their plans.

Much of the tape is unintelligible. There was loud static and the voices, some speaking English and others Arabic, were often inaudible. It cannot be determined whether the passengers actually entered the cockpit, though it is certain they came very close and forced the hijackers to crash the plane into a Pennsylvania field, well before it reached Washington.

•••••

The recording made clear that a group of men and women, who already knew the World Trade Center had been attacked, recognized that this was no conventional hijacking — these terrorists were crashing planes into buildings — and resolved to take control of their fate.

“There is absolutely no doubt that through their heroic actions still more carnage and catastrophe was prevented,” said Richard Ben-Veniste, a member of the independent commission that investigated the 9/11 attacks. The commission concluded that the passengers of Flight 93 stopped an attack that was aimed at Washington, most likely the Capitol or White House.

The hijackers, as shown on a computer simulation played on monitors throughout the courtroom, violently jerked the plane to the left and right during the struggle. They tried to cut off the oxygen as passengers banged on the cockpit door. In the end, as the passengers were either in the cockpit or moments from infiltrating it, the hijackers turned the plane upside down — and crashed it.

“Allah is the greatest!” one screamed nine times as the plane went down. The recording then went dead. The courtroom was silent.

The trial itself seemed an afterthought Wednesday amid the drama of the voice recorder. Prosecutors rested their case for the execution of Moussaoui, the only person convicted in the United States in connection with the attacks on the trade center and the Pentagon. The defense will now begin its case, and Moussaoui is expected to take the stand again as early as today.

In the trial's first phase, Moussaoui testified that he had planned to hijack a fifth plane and crash it into the White House on Sept. 11 with a crew that included shoe bomber Richard Reid. The jury found Moussaoui eligible for the death penalty and will now decide if he should be executed or spend his life in prison. Reid is scheduled to testify before the jury gets the case.

Hamilton Peterson of Bethesda, Md., president of Families of Flight 93, said the public airing of the voice recorder should put to rest any lingering questions about what happened aboard the Boeing 757.

“The paramount issue was, did the passengers and crew thwart the plane from its intended target, and that question has clearly been answered,” said Peterson, whose father, Donald Peterson, and stepmother, Jean Peterson, died on the plane. “Whether or not they were actually into the cockpit or tearing the door off the hinges at the time it was scuttled is something history will have to answer.”

Prosecutors played the voice recorder tape as part of their effort to show the jury the massive damage caused by Sept. 11 and the suffering and loss of the victims. More than 35 survivors and family members testified in U.S. District Court in Alexandria. Moussaoui looked bored during the testimony, as he did when the cockpit voice recorder was played.

But jurors leaned forward in their seats.

A large screen showed the path of Flight 93 and instrument readings of speed and altitude as Ziad Jarrah, believed to be the hijacking team's pilot, started the recording by announcing: “Ladies and gentlemen. Here the captain. Please sit down keep remaining sitting. We have a bomb on board. So sit.”

It was nearly 9:32 a.m., four minutes after investigators say the four hijackers started their attack. The plane had taken off from Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, bound for San Francisco, at 8:42 a.m.

The sounds of a struggle in the cockpit were immediately heard, but it was unclear whether the pleading voice is male or female. The 9/11 commission concluded that a flight attendant, most likely a woman, struggled with hijackers in the cockpit and was killed or otherwise silenced. Hijackers on the four planes were armed with small knives or boxcutters.

When the plane turned around and started heading southwest through Pennsylvania, there was silence for several minutes. At 9:43 a.m., it started descending rapidly, leveled off and then descended again. The first sign of a struggle came at 9:57, when a hijacker said “Is there something? A fight?”

Passengers, who had received a blitz of cell phone calls alerting them to the earlier Trade Center attack, then rushed the cockpit. “They want to get in there. Hold, hold from the inside,” a hijacker said.

“Shall we finish it off?” one hijacker asked.

“No, not yet,” responded another. “When they all come, we finish it off.”

Within seconds, there was bedlam — the sounds of a violent struggle. People yelled and objects crashed, which 9/11 commissioners say was likely the passengers hurling objects at the cockpit door or ramming it with the beverage cart.

“Down, down. Pull it down, pull it down,” a hijacker said just before his colleague praised Allah and crashed the plane.

In the background, a single voice could be heard screaming “No!”


More Risk Of Attacks Now, Say Panelists;  Report assesses actions on recommendations of Sept. 11 commission
By HOPE YEN & ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published on 12/5/2005

Washington — The U.S. is at great risk for more terrorist attacks because Congress and the White House have failed to enact several strong security measures, members of the former Sept. 11 commission said Sunday.

“It's not a priority for the government right now,” said the former chairman, Thomas Kean, ahead of the group's release of a report today assessing how well its recommendations have been followed.

“More than four years after 9/11 ... people are not paying attention,” the former Republican governor of New Jersey said. “God help us if we have another attack.”

Added Lee Hamilton, the former Democratic vice chairman of the commission: “We believe that another attack will occur. It's not a question of if. We are not as well-prepared as we should be.”  The five Republicans and five Democrats on the commission, whose recommendations are now promoted through a privately funded group known as the 9/11 Public Discourse Project, conclude that the government deserves “more Fs than As” in responding to their 41 suggested changes.

Since the commission's final report in July 2004, the government has enacted the centerpiece proposal to create a national intelligence director. But the government has stalled on other ideas, including improving communication among emergency responders and shifting federal terrorism-fighting money so it goes to states based on risk level.

“There is a lack of a sense of urgency,” Hamilton said. “There are so many competing priorities. We've got three wars going on: one in Afghanistan, one in Iraq and the war against terror. And it's awfully hard to keep people focused on something like this.”

National security adviser Stephen Hadley said Sunday that President Bush is committed to putting in place most of the commission's recommendations.

“Obviously, as we've said all along, we are safer, but not yet safe. There is more to do,” Hadley said on “Fox News Sunday.”  Ex-commissioners contended the government has been remiss by failing to act more quickly.  Kean said the Transportation Security Administration was wrong to announce changes last week that will allow airline passengers to carry small scissors and some sharp tools. He also said the agency, by now, should have consolidated databases of passenger information into a single “terror watch list” to aid screening.

“I don't think we have to go backward here,” said Kean, who appeared with Hamilton on NBC's “Meet the Press.”

“They're talking about using more money for random checks. Terrorists coming through the airport may still not be spotted,” Kean said.  Kean and Hamilton urged Congress to pass spending bills that would allow police and fire to communicate across radio spectrums and to reallocate money so that Washington and New York, which have more people and symbolic landmarks, could receive more for terrorism defense.  Both bills have stalled in Congress, in part over the level of spending and turf fights over which states should get the most dollars.

“This is a no-brainer,” said Hamilton, a former Indiana congressman.

“From the standpoint of responding to a disaster, the key responders must be able to talk with one another. They could not do it on 9/11, and as a result of that, lives were lost. They could not do it at (Hurricane) Katrina. They still cannot do it.”

As for the dollar dispute, Hamilton said, “We know what terrorists want to do: they want to kill as many Americans as possible. That means you protect the Washington monument and United States Capitol, and not other places.”

Congress established the commission in 2002 to investigate government missteps that led to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Its 567-page final report, which became a national best seller, does not blame Bush or former President Clinton for missteps contributing to the attacks but did say they failed to make anti-terrorism a higher priority.  The commission also concluded that the Sept. 11 attack would not be the nation's last, noting that al-Qaida had tried for at least 10 years to acquire weapons of mass destruction.

Calling the country “less safe than we were 18 months ago,” former Democratic commissioner Jamie Gorelick said Sunday the government's failure to move forward on the recommendations makes the U.S. more vulnerable.  She cited the failure to ensure that foreign nations are upgrading security measures to stop proliferation of nuclear, biological and chemical materials, as well as the FBI's resistance to overhauling its anti-terror programs.

“You remember the sense of urgency that we all felt in the summer of 2004. The interest has faded,” the Washington lawyer said on ABC's “Good Morning America.”


Congressman: Defense Knew 9/11 Hijackers
By KIMBERLY HEFLING
Aug 9, 6:42 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Sept. 11 commission will investigate a claim that U.S. defense intelligence officials identified ringleader Mohammed Atta and three other hijackers as a likely part of an al-Qaida cell more than a year before the hijackings but didn't forward the information to law enforcement.

Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa. and vice chairman of the House Armed Services and Homeland Security committees, said Tuesday the men were identified in 1999 by a classified military intelligence unit known as "Able Danger." If true, that's an earlier link to al-Qaida than any previously disclosed intelligence about Atta.

Sept. 11 commission co-chairman Lee Hamilton said Tuesday that Weldon's information, which the congressman said came from multiple intelligence sources, warrants a review. He said he hoped the panel could issue a statement on its findings by the end of the week.

"The 9/11 commission did not learn of any U.S. government knowledge prior to 9/11 of surveillance of Mohammed Atta or of his cell," said Hamilton, a former Democratic congressman from Indiana. "Had we learned of it obviously it would've been a major focus of our investigation."

The Sept. 11 commission's final report, issued last year, recounted numerous government mistakes that allowed the hijackers to succeed. Among them was a failure to share intelligence within and among agencies.

According to Weldon, Able Danger identified Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi, Khalid al-Mihdar and Nawaf al-Hazmi as members of a cell the unit code-named "Brooklyn" because of some loose connections to New York City.

Weldon said that in September 2000 Able Danger recommended that its information on the hijackers be given to the FBI "so they could bring that cell in and take out the terrorists." However, Weldon said Pentagon lawyers rejected the recommendation because they said Atta and the others were in the country legally so information on them could not be shared with law enforcement.

Weldon did not provide details on how the intelligence officials identified the future hijackers and determined they might be part of a cell.

Defense Department documents shown to an Associated Press reporter Tuesday said the Able Danger team was set up in 1999 to identify potential al-Qaida operatives for U.S. Special Operations Command. At some point, information provided to the team by the Army's Information Dominance Center pointed to a possible al-Qaida cell in Brooklyn, the documents said.

However, because of concerns about pursuing information on "U.S. persons" - a legal term that includes U.S. citizens as well as foreigners admitted to the country for permanent residence - Special Operations Command did not provide the Army information to the FBI. It is unclear whether the Army provided the information to anyone else.

The command instead turned its focus to overseas threats.

The documents provided no information on whether the team identified anyone connected to the Sept. 11 attack.

If the team did identify Atta and the others, it's unclear why the information wasn't forwarded. The prohibition against sharing intelligence on "U.S. persons" should not have applied since they were in the country on visas - they did not have permanent resident status.

Weldon, considered something of a maverick on Capitol Hill, initially made his allegations about Atta and the others in a floor speech in June that garnered little attention. His talk came at the end of a legislative day during a period described under House rules as "special orders" - a time slot for lawmakers to get up and speak on issues of their choosing.

The issue resurfaced Monday in a story by the bimonthly Government Security News, which covers national security matters.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said he was unaware of the intelligence until the latest reports surfaced.

But Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said the 9/11 Commission looked into the matter during its investigation into government missteps leading to the attacks and chose not to include it in the final report.

Hamilton said 9/11 Commission staff members learned of Able Danger during a meeting with military personnel in October 2003 in Afghanistan, but the staff members do not recall learning of a connection between Able Danger and any of the four terrorists Weldon mentioned.


N.Y. to Unveil Redesigned Freedom Tower
Jun 29, 5:36 AM EDT
NEW YORK (AP) -- After concerns were raised about security at the soaring skyscraper proposed as the centerpiece of the former World Trade Center site, architects went back to the drawing board.

On Wednesday, officials were to unveil a more bomb-resistant design for the 1,776-foot Freedom Tower, which is to offer 2.6 million square feet of office space and is expected to become the world's tallest building.

In an effort to make it more resistant to truck bombs, the building has been moved farther from West Street, a major North-South throughway along the West side of Manhattan. The distance from the street was increased from 25 to an average of 90 feet.

The updated plans also call for reinforcing the middle of the tower and having it capped with a mast incorporating an antenna, meant to suggest the torch of the Statue of Liberty.

The redesign is meant to signal a newly aggressive effort to rebuild the 16 acres devastated by the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center.

"The redesign of the Freedom Tower shows how our city is able to respond to the opportunities and challenges of our time," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg in a statement.

Gov. George Pataki laid the tower's cornerstone on July 4, 2004, but the last year has seen more fighting than progress by the agencies and individuals responsible for rebuilding. The security concerns likely delayed the tower's original 2009 ribbon-cutting by at least a year.


WTC Revival Stalled:  Wary Corporations Reluctant To Become Tenants At Site
By MICHAEL POWELL
Published on 5/13/2005

New York — The rebuilding of Ground Zero has fallen on bleak times.

The Police Department has sent designs for the Freedom Tower, that replacement for the twin towers and symbol of a city reborn, back to the drawing board, saying the structure would be too vulnerable to truck bombs. Goldman Sachs has become the latest Fortune 500 corporation to balk at returning downtown, abandoning plans in recent weeks for a headquarters near Ground Zero.

Developer Lawrence Silverstein, meanwhile, is charging so much rent for his rebuilt 7 World Trade Center that he has not attracted a single corporate tenant.

The New York Post now refers to Ground Zero as “Pataki's Pit” as it tweaks Republican Gov. George Pataki, for the delays and dismisses the Freedom Tower's architect as the “elfin Daniel Libeskind.” The New York Times editorial board has taken to calling Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg, “Mayor Ahab,” complaining that Hizzoner has neglected the revival of Ground Zero.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., sounded his own alarm last week, warning that the city could lose $2 billion in federal funding because of a “culture of inertia.” “Let's stop twiddling our thumbs,” he said.

The criticism has grown so loud that Pataki came to the city Thursday and announced that he has appointed his chief of staff to take charge of the rebuilding. “Failure to rebuild,” he said, “is not an option.”

A growing number of influential New Yorkers question whether downtown Manhattan can retain its status as the world's best-known financial district.

“There's a sense of crisis because the private sector is uncertain about its commitment to relocating to Ground Zero,” said Kathryn Wylde, president of the Partnership for New York City, which represents the city's 200 top private-sector chief executives. “Even if we build the Freedom Tower, do businesses want to relocate next door to a target? No one has a good answer yet.”


WTC leaseholder wins court battle
Mr Silverstein wants to restore 10 million sq ft of office space

The World Trade Center leaseholder has won a court victory over his insurers as he attempts to rebuild the site.

A New York jury has decided that the 11 September 2001 attack on the two towers constituted two separate events.  The US District Court ruling means Larry Silverstein could now get an extra $1.1bn (£0.56bn) from nine insurers to finance reconstruction.

He has been fighting the insurance companies, arguing he was owed $7bn (£3.6bn) - double his $3.5bn policy.  The firms had argued at the District Court for the Southern District of New York that the twin strikes on the trade centre were part of a single, continuous, planned attack.

'Complete rebuild'

Mr Silverstein said in a statement that he was "thrilled" with his victory.

"The decision means an additional billion dollars of insurance proceeds will be available, which, together with Liberty Bonds, will ensure a timely and complete rebuild of the World Trade Center," he said.

"I strongly felt, and the jury agreed, that the destruction of the twin towers by two separate airplanes at two separate times was two separate occurrences and that these insurers have an obligation to pay their fair share to help make Lower Manhattan whole again."

He lost a similar case earlier this year against a dozen other firms. A different jury ruled policies from those firms had defined such an attack as a single event.  That insurance document tightly defined "occurrence" to make it clear that the 11 September attack in New York was one insurable event.

'Disappointed'

The defendants then included Swiss Re, which is liable for a single payout of up to $880m. A third trial with a different jury might be held to determine how much Swiss Re will pay.  After the latest decision one of the insurers, Allianz AG, said it was "disappointed" and pledged it would appeal against the verdict if necessary.  A spokesman said Allianz would "pursue all our legal remedies".

Mr Silverstein wants to restore 10 million square feet (900,000 square metres) of office space on what has become known as Ground Zero.


New terror?
FBI Looks At Laser Reports;  Pilots report beams being directed into airplane cockpits
By LESLIE MILLER
Published on 12/31/2004

Washington — The FBI, concerned that terrorists could use lasers as weapons, is investigating why laser beams were directed into the cockpits of seven airplanes in flight since Christmas.

Laser beams can temporarily blind or disorient pilots and possibly cause a plane to crash.

The FBI is looking into two incidents in Colorado Springs, Colo., and one each in Cleveland, Washington, Houston, Teterboro, N.J., and Medford, Ore., according to federal and local law enforcement and transportation officials, some of whom spoke only on condition of anonymity.

A federal law enforcement official, who declined to be identified by name, said Thursday there is no evidence of a plot or terrorist activity. But pilots are troubled by the incidents, and the FBI earlier this month warned of the possibility that terrorists might use the devices as weapons.

“It's not some kid,” said Paul Rancatore, a pilot who serves as deputy chairman of the security committee for the Allied Pilots Association. “It's too organized.”

Loren Thompson, who teaches military technology at Georgetown University, called it a “rather worrisome development,” though he said experts would be more puzzled than alarmed.

“What we're talking about is a fairly powerful visible light laser that has the ability to lock onto a fast-moving aircraft,” Thompson said. “That's not the sort of thing you pick up at a military surplus store.”

Thompson said a piece of equipment that could do the things the FBI suspects would be “fairly expensive and fairly sophisticated.”

“It sounds like an organized effort to cause airline accidents,” Thompson said.

Law enforcement officials, though, say they have no evidence of such an effort and that the lasers in question are readily available. Further, they say they've had reports of similar incidents since the technology became popular.

But a memo sent to law enforcement agencies recently by the FBI and the Homeland Security Department says there is evidence that terrorists have explored using lasers as weapons, though there's no intelligence that indicates they might use them in the United States.

Pilots and safety officials have long been concerned about the dangers of laser light shows, which have caused temporary eye injuries to several pilots over the last decade.

Most recently, a pilot for Delta Air Lines reported an eye injury from a laser beamed into the cockpit while approaching the Salt Lake City airport in September. The plane landed safely.

The Civil Aerospace Medical Institute has a database of several hundred reports in which civilian or military aircraft were illuminated by lasers. Though there have been no accidents reported, pilots in some cases were startled, temporarily blinded and disoriented.

The Food and Drug Administration, which regulates laser light shows, consults with the FAA when someone proposes operating a laser outdoors near an airport. The FAA recommends the maximum safe level of laser light exposure for pilots maneuvering near airports.



IN THE NEWS SEPTEMBER 8, 2006:
Architects unveiled the designs for three office towers at the World Trade Center site Thursday, including a
skyscraper topped by four shining diamonds that would light up lower Manhattan at night. The buildings, designed by architects Norman Foster, Richard Rogers and Fumihiko Maki, will join the 1,776-foot Freedom Tower around a transit hub and facing a memorial to the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The three will be smaller than
the Freedom Tower and descend in height in a semicircle around the memorial. Inside, they will have floors specifically for financial trading, plus offices and shops to replace the former trade center.  (From the New London DAY)


N.Y. to Unveil Redesigned Freedom Tower
Jun 29, 5:36 AM EDT

NEW YORK (AP) -- After concerns were raised about security at the soaring skyscraper proposed as the centerpiece of the former World Trade Center site, architects went back to the drawing board.

On Wednesday, officials were to unveil a more bomb-resistant design for the 1,776-foot Freedom Tower, which is to offer 2.6 million square feet of office space and is expected to become the world's tallest building.

In an effort to make it more resistant to truck bombs, the building has been moved farther from West Street, a major North-South throughway along the West side of Manhattan. The distance from the street was increased from 25 to an average of 90 feet.

The updated plans also call for reinforcing the middle of the tower and having it capped with a mast incorporating an antenna, meant to suggest the torch of the Statue of Liberty.

The redesign is meant to signal a newly aggressive effort to rebuild the 16 acres devastated by the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center.

"The redesign of the Freedom Tower shows how our city is able to respond to the opportunities and challenges of our time," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg in a statement.

Gov. George Pataki laid the tower's cornerstone on July 4, 2004, but the last year has seen more fighting than progress by the agencies and individuals responsible for rebuilding. The security concerns likely delayed the tower's original 2009 ribbon-cutting by at least a year.


WTC Revival Stalled:  Wary Corporations Reluctant To Become Tenants At Site
By MICHAEL POWELL
Published on 5/13/2005

New York — The rebuilding of Ground Zero has fallen on bleak times.

The Police Department has sent designs for the Freedom Tower, that replacement for the twin towers and symbol of a city reborn, back to the drawing board, saying the structure would be too vulnerable to truck bombs. Goldman Sachs has become the latest Fortune 500 corporation to balk at returning downtown, abandoning plans in recent weeks for a headquarters near Ground Zero.

Developer Lawrence Silverstein, meanwhile, is charging so much rent for his rebuilt 7 World Trade Center that he has not attracted a single corporate tenant.

The New York Post now refers to Ground Zero as “Pataki's Pit” as it tweaks Republican Gov. George Pataki, for the delays and dismisses the Freedom Tower's architect as the “elfin Daniel Libeskind.” The New York Times editorial board has taken to calling Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg, “Mayor Ahab,” complaining that Hizzoner has neglected the revival of Ground Zero.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., sounded his own alarm last week, warning that the city could lose $2 billion in federal funding because of a “culture of inertia.” “Let's stop twiddling our thumbs,” he said.

The criticism has grown so loud that Pataki came to the city Thursday and announced that he has appointed his chief of staff to take charge of the rebuilding. “Failure to rebuild,” he said, “is not an option.”

A growing number of influential New Yorkers question whether downtown Manhattan can retain its status as the world's best-known financial district.

“There's a sense of crisis because the private sector is uncertain about its commitment to relocating to Ground Zero,” said Kathryn Wylde, president of the Partnership for New York City, which represents the city's 200 top private-sector chief executives. “Even if we build the Freedom Tower, do businesses want to relocate next door to a target? No one has a good answer yet.”


WTC leaseholder wins court battle
Mr Silverstein wants to restore 10 million sq ft of office space

The World Trade Center leaseholder has won a court victory over his insurers as he attempts to rebuild the site.

A New York jury has decided that the 11 September 2001 attack on the two towers constituted two separate events.  The US District Court ruling means Larry Silverstein could now get an extra $1.1bn (£0.56bn) from nine insurers to finance reconstruction.

He has been fighting the insurance companies, arguing he was owed $7bn (£3.6bn) - double his $3.5bn policy.  The firms had argued at the District Court for the Southern District of New York that the twin strikes on the trade centre were part of a single, continuous, planned attack.

'Complete rebuild'

Mr Silverstein said in a statement that he was "thrilled" with his victory.

"The decision means an additional billion dollars of insurance proceeds will be available, which, together with Liberty Bonds, will ensure a timely and complete rebuild of the World Trade Center," he said.

"I strongly felt, and the jury agreed, that the destruction of the twin towers by two separate airplanes at two separate times was two separate occurrences and that these insurers have an obligation to pay their fair share to help make Lower Manhattan whole again."

He lost a similar case earlier this year against a dozen other firms. A different jury ruled policies from those firms had defined such an attack as a single event.  That insurance document tightly defined "occurrence" to make it clear that the 11 September attack in New York was one insurable event.

'Disappointed'

The defendants then included Swiss Re, which is liable for a single payout of up to $880m. A third trial with a different jury might be held to determine how much Swiss Re will pay.  After the latest decision one of the insurers, Allianz AG, said it was "disappointed" and pledged it would appeal against the verdict if necessary.  A spokesman said Allianz would "pursue all our legal remedies".

Mr Silverstein wants to restore 10 million square feet (900,000 square metres) of office space on what has become known as Ground Zero.



Previously...from the I-BBC
Developers of the Freedom Tower broke ground on the 1,776-foot skyscraper at the World Trade Center site July 4, 2004.  The concept most representative of the horror (to me) was the simplicity of a blue light rising at night.  It represented the spirit of all who perished in the terrorist attack on WTC shown immediately above.  The blue light was, I think, the least wastefull of space or other resources, and it represented the "soul" of the WTC and all the people who perished on September 11, 2001.  Click
HERE for information about the architect who "won" the competition (from I-BBC).

Architect and Developer Clash Over Plans for Trade Center Site
Tue Jul 15, 8:55 AM ET - By EDWARD WYATT The New York Times

With pressure increasing to begin the rebuilding at ground zero, the architect with the winning design for the World Trade Center site plans to meet today with representatives of the developer to try to resolve clashing visions of what will be built.  The meeting between the architect, Daniel Libeskind, and senior aides to the developer, Larry A. Silverstein, is the latest attempt by rebuilding officials to force an agreement over the future of the site and the degree of Mr. Libeskind's influence in the design and placement of the commercial office buildings there.

Mr. Libeskind claims a public mandate on the project's future after his design was chosen over eight other proposals in a competition of renowned architects. His vision is of a spiral of five towers including one 1,776-foot spire surrounding a hallowed, empty ground on the site where the twin towers once stood.

But Mr. Silverstein believes the details of the commercial development are up to him. He advocates a more compact site containing all of the office space that was once there, saying that other arrangements would threaten the project's commercial viability.  Because he obtained the lease for the site less than two months before the Sept. 11 attack, his vow afterward to rebuild the fallen towers was all but laughed off. But now he has emerged as the single person who can meet Gov. George E. Pataki's aggressive timeline for beginning the rebuilding, and in the process he has seized much of the initiative from Mr. Libeskind.

In his effort to mold the project to his liking, Mr. Silverstein has persuaded the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the trade center property, to consider several changes to Mr. Libeskind's vision, and he has even hired his own architect one of Mr. Libeskind's rivals in the design competition to come up with plans.

After prodding by the developer, the Port Authority asked Mr. Libeskind to study the effect of moving his signature 1,776-foot tower to the eastern portion of the site, closer to a planned new transit hub, and to consider adding an office tower above that train station.  Mr. Libeskind has fought back, however, claiming his winning design should hold sway. And he has backed up that assertion by hiring Edward W. Hayes, the scrappy Manhattan lawyer who was a classmate of Gov. George E. Pataki at Columbia Law School and was a model for the lawyer Tommy Killian in Tom Wolfe's novel "The Bonfire of the Vanities," to negotiate with Mr. Silverstein.

Whether any final decisions will emerge from today's meeting, which will also include officials from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation and the Port Authority, is unclear. Mr. Libeskind is seeking a clearly defined role in the design of the outside of the 1,776-foot tower, while Mr. Silverstein would like Mr. Libeskind to agree to a different design being put together by David M. Childs, the architect who has worked extensively with Mr. Silverstein.

To that end, Mr. Silverstein's office sent a letter last week to officials at the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, which is overseeing the rebuilding effort, and the Port Authority, claiming that delays in decisions about the location and size of buildings could cause him to miss a summer 2004 deadline that Governor Pataki has set for construction to begin.  What is clear from the battle is that Mr. Silverstein has transformed his place in the rebuilding of Lower Manhattan in recent months.

When Mr. Libeskind unveiled his design in February, Mr. Silverstein rushed to embrace him, and rebuilding officials were loath to give a formal role to Mr. Silverstein in the process.  But Mr. Silverstein continued to push. With the state and the city facing vast budget gaps, it became clear that Mr. Silverstein alone had the money to begin the rebuilding effort. In April, after Mr. Pataki laid out his timeline to complete the erection of steel on the 1,776-foot tower by the end of his term in 2006, he made clear that he was handing over much of the responsibility for the rebuilding to Mr. Silverstein.

Most recently, when the Port Authority and the development corporation laid out responsibilities for the memorial, the cultural space and the office development at the site, Silverstein Properties and Westfield America, the company controlling the retail space at the trade center, were given specific roles in reviewing their elements of the plan.  All of the parties say publicly that their collaborative effort is proceeding smoothly, and most of them agree that for construction to begin a year from now, as scheduled, the architects will have to begin producing detailed blueprints of the commercial parts of the site soon.

In any large-scale development, conflict normally occurs over details.  Pitched battles are taking place over certain features of the memorial to victims of the terrorist attack, and differences have also emerged over the future cultural components of the rebuilt trade center.  So perhaps it is not surprising that behind the scenes, an increasingly rancorous process has threatened to delay the start of office space construction.

Mr. Silverstein believes that the shape and size of Mr. Libeskind's proposed towers will not provide enough space or the right kind of unobstructed, column-free floor space for top-flight tenants.  To that end, Mr. Silverstein and Mr. Childs have conceived a design that places the centerpiece tower directly over an office building about 70 floors in height. They also want to move the tower closer to the transportation hub, which they believe will also attract more tenants.

Mr. Libeskind, meanwhile, has pushed to preserve the unique elements of his design, including the off-center spire that forms the top of the 1,776-foot tower, a feature that Mr. Silverstein has contended will push up the building's cost.  The continuing battles produced more pointed public statements yesterday from Mr. Pataki and other rebuilding officials.  "As the governor said when he outlined his ambitious plan for rebuilding Lower Manhattan," said Lisa Dewald Stoll, a spokeswoman for Mr. Pataki, "this process leaves `no room for error or delay, for parochial concerns or unnecessary legal battles.'  "Quite simply," Ms. Stoll added, "you're either part of the team or you're not. The schedule will be met."

Kevin Rampe, the president of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, said that "the redevelopment of the World Trade Center is bigger than any single individual," and Michael Petralia, a spokesman for the Port Authority, said that he expected that the issues surrounding the site's master plan "will be resolved very quickly." Each also vowed that the governor's deadline would be met.  And Howard J. Rubenstein, a spokesman for the developer, said, "Larry Silverstein agrees with that schedule and will make every effort to meet it."  Mr. Libeskind says such disagreements are simply "part of developing a master plan."

"Of course, we have to stick up for the integrity of our plan as it relates to all those issues," he added. "We can compromise so that the scheme evolves into something that is really workable. But at the same time we must keep some boundaries where we don't negotiate."




The Optimistic (and Long) View of Larry A. Silverstein
NYTIMES
By TERRY PRISTIN
Published: May 14, 2008

Larry A. Silverstein, the New York developer, is used to being second-guessed.

By 2012, the developer Mr. Silverstein will control the downtown Manhattan skyline, as the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site is completed.

“There’s no shortage of people who are always trying to tell you what you should do when it’s not their money that’s at stake, and not their property,” he said last week.

Mr. Silverstein completed the first 7 World Trade Center in early 1987, not long after the brokerage firm Drexel Burnham Lambert had run into trouble and abandoned plans to lease all 42 floors of the tower. Later that year, the stock market crashed.

As office vacancies reached their highest level in a decade, Mr. Silverstein allowed his new building to remain nearly empty rather than reduce his asking rent of $37 a square foot annually. Brokers said at the time that he could fill the building in a flash if he would lower the rent to $34. But Mr. Silverstein refused to budge. “I have the staying power and the ability to do what I need to do,” he told The New York Times in April 1988.

Two decades later, Mr. Silverstein has a new 7 World Trade Center. He finished building the luminous 52-story tower in 2006, less than five years after its predecessor was destroyed in the 2001 terrorist attack. But two years later, just as the real estate market is bracing for a significant loss of financial services jobs, no leases have been signed for the top 10 floors. The penthouse is used instead for movie shoots, fashion shows and receptions for civic groups, though Mr. Silverstein draws the line at weddings and bar mitzvahs.

Once again, real estate professionals are puzzled by Mr. Silverstein’s refusal to compromise on his annual asking rent, which now ranges from $75 to $85 a square foot for the top floor. Last summer, the law firm of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton came close to making a deal, but Mr. Silverstein would not shave a couple of dollars off the rent.

“Our client would have loved to have moved there,” said Cleary’s broker, Barry M. Gosin, chief executive of Newmark Knight Frank.

Mr. Silverstein, who will turn 77 this month, smiled when he was reminded of the 1988 parallel. “History repeats itself, doesn’t it?” he said in an interview in his office on the 38th floor of 7 World Trade Center.

The energetic Mr. Silverstein has other reasons to smile these days. At a time when many developers around the country are being forced to pull in their reins because of the credit squeeze, Mr. Silverstein has only to look out his floor-to-ceiling windows to see a new real estate empire in the making. His private company, Silverstein Properties, has $9 billion worth of projects in the works.

To the south, the Freedom Tower, which Mr. Silverstein is developing for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, is rising. Work is finally under way 80 feet below street level on the foundations for two of the three towers at ground zero that Silverstein Properties will control: 3 World Trade Center, with 71 stories, and 4 World Trade Center, with 61 stories.

This summer, the Port Authority is expected to finish building the slurry wall that will allow the digging of a foundation for Mr. Silverstein’s third office building, Tower 2, with 78 stories.

After years of delay — much of it a result of often acrimonious wrangling between government officials and Mr. Silverstein, who signed a long-term lease for the World Trade Center just six weeks before it was destroyed — some 800 construction workers are now employed at the site. Many of them also participated in the rescue efforts at ground zero.

Looking east, Mr. Silverstein can monitor the demolition of 99 Church Street, a 13-story office building a block from City Hall Park that will be succeeded by an 80-story limestone tower, designed by Robert A. M. Stern, with a 175-room Four Seasons hotel and 143 condominiums.

Mr. Silverstein’s financial partner in that project is the California State Teachers Retirement System — also his partner in the recent purchase of two Midtown Manhattan office buildings; one, 1177 Avenue of the Americas, between 45th and 46th Streets, cost more than $1 billion.

Mr. Silverstein acknowledged that the team was also interested in the Midtown buildings that Harry B. Macklowe surrendered to his lenders after defaulting on billions of dollars in short-term debt.

Like Mr. Macklowe, Mr. Silverstein is a famously tough negotiator. But he is also known for his unusually optimistic personality. Within days of the terrorist attacks, he pledged that the World Trade Center would be rebuilt. The cushion on his office sofa that bears a paraphrase of a Thomas Jefferson adage: “Steer your ship with hope, leaving fear astern” Though Lower Manhattan has blossomed as a residential community, growing to more than 50,000 residents, it has nearly 30,000 fewer jobs than it had before the Sept. 11 attack. Office vacancy downtown was 6.7 percent last month, compared with 6 percent in April 2007, according to the brokerage firm of CB Richard Ellis.

Predicting that the current downturn will not last long, Mr. Silverstein said leases throughout Manhattan amounting to 60 million square feet will expire within the next four years, just when his buildings are ready to accept tenants. He is already trying to persuade Merrill Lynch to move out of its offices at the World Financial Center.

Some real estate specialists wonder if Lower Manhattan will be able to attract so many new tenants at once. “I don’t see why all the buildings are being finished at the same time,” said the developer Douglas Durst, who is active in Midtown. “That seems to me a tactical mistake.”

Others say they share Mr. Silverstein’s optimism. “The Lower Manhattan of tomorrow is really a very very different place than the Lower Manhattan of 10 years ago,” said Carl Weisbrod, the president of Trinity Real Estate, which owns commercial buildings just north of downtown. “I think Larry is totally right in betting on the future.”

Interest in 7 World Trade Center remains high, said Stephen B. Siegel, the global chairman of CB Richard Ellis, which is representing the building.

Two decades ago, the tax breaks and favorable financing Mr. Silverstein received for 7 World Trade Center eliminated pressure to fill up the building quickly.

The new $700 million parallelogram-shaped 7 World Trade Center was financed with insurance proceeds and $475 million worth of triple-tax-exempt Liberty Bonds. The building has a mix of tenants, including Moody’s Investors Services; Mansueto Ventures, a magazine publisher; and the New York Academy of Sciences. The cash flow more than covers the debt service, Mr. Siegel said.

“He’s very confident in his product, and he holds out for his number,” Mr. Siegel said. Lowering the rent by $2 a square foot would reduce his annual income by $10 million and would lower the value of the building by as much as $20 million, based on a current capitalization rate of 5 percent, he said. (That figure is a ratio of the building’s net operating income relative to the sales price.)

Mr. Silverstein said he was taking the long view to protect a family-owned asset. “When you get to be in your 70s, you look at things like this through a different lens,” he said. “It’s better to take your time and do it right.”



Families key to funding Pentagon memorial
Washington Post
Article Last Updated: 09/11/2008 12:42:48 AM EDT

An American flag hangs from the side of the Pentagon as an airliner flies overhead on Wednesday.«1»WASHINGTON -- Jim Laychak arrived at the headquarters of Anheuser-Busch in April, thinking through his pitch. A company photographer snapped his picture beside a giant bronze eagle in the lobby, and executive Laura Reeves invited him upstairs. He had come to ask for a million dollars.

It was not an unreasonable sum. After all, the St. Louis brewing giant had helped the Pentagon Memorial Fund get started five years earlier with a $1 million donation. Laychak sat down with Reeves, senior director of the company's charitable foundation, and took out his promotional materials.

As Laychak started in, Reeves politely stopped him. "I hope you're not here to ask for money," she said. The air went out of the room. But as Reeves explained that the company's sales were slowing and money was tight, Laychak quickly recalibrated.

Five minutes later, he asked for the money anyway.

Laychak came out of the meeting with little more than a free brewery tour, but the episode was as telling a moment as any in the seven-year effort to build the country's first major Sept. 11 memorial, which will be dedicated today at the Pentagon and open to the public tonight. Its completion has not been the result of some large-scale government endeavor, but of one led by a small, determined group of victims' family members, such as Laychak, who have channeled their sorrow into a ceaseless fundraising campaign.

Money had been little more than an afterthought when the idea for a memorial to the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the Pentagon was proposed. Private donors would give quickly, the assumption went, and the country's outpouring of grief would merge into a river of cash.

The plan seemed solid. But by summer 2003, the funding assumptions looked shaky. The memories of Sept. 11 were beginning to dull for many. The country was at war, and the government needed the $13 million for other things. Soon it was clear that the memorial's $22 million construction cost and $10 million endowment would have to be raised primarily by the families of the victims.

They set up a nonprofit organization, the Pentagon Memorial Fund, and enlisted a professional fundraiser. But when the money still did not come fast enough, Laychak, whose younger brother, David Laychak, was killed at his desk in the attack, decided on a more personal approach.

"If someone is going to say no to us," Laychak said, "then let them say no to me."

Since then, Laychak, the fund's director, has been traveling across the country to corporate boardrooms and the offices of philanthropists, making his pitch as if it were a business proposition or investment opportunity. Affable, easygoing and forthright, he has eschewed sentimentality in favor of a simple, direct appeal, applying skills developed in his career as a senior executive with the large consulting firm Accenture.

Laychak, 49, learned that if he wanted big donors to give big sums, he had to "make the ask" without fear of rejection.

"If you're not willing to make an ask, why would they be willing to give?" Laychak said.

And give they did, in small amounts and big bundles. Donors included AT&T, Boeing and the government of Taiwan. The state of Maryland gave, as did Fairfax County, Va., former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his wife, Joyce;  and the Philip L. Graham Fund of The Washington Post.

Much of the money was gathered through large corporate gifts.

Partly because of the fundraising effort, the Pentagon Memorial has been completed several years ahead of the country's other two permanent memorial projects, in Lower Manhattan and Shanksville, Pa., the crash site of United Airlines Flight 93. Construction is underway on the $610 million National September 11 Memorial and Museum at the World Trade Center site, but its planners said recently that they are aiming for a 2011 opening.

The National Park Service is leading the creation of a memorial for the victims of Flight 93 in Shanksville, but construction has not begun. Some victims' relatives have raised concerns that the proposed design, which includes a grove of trees planted in an arc, resembles an Islamic crescent.

For at least several years, then, the Pentagon Memorial will probably be the emotional center of the country's Sept. 11 observance. It has cost more and taken longer to build than planned, but in its completion, there is hope among the builders, donors and family members who have created the memorial that its evocative design will challenge the indelibly dark memories of Sept. 11 with a new set of images: flowing water, polished steel and light.

From a window near her desk, Kathy Dillaber has watched the construction crews come and go at the memorial site. A personnel manager for the Army, she was at work at the Pentagon on the morning American Airlines Flight 77 hit the building like a bomb. Her youngest sister, Patricia Mickley, working as a budget analyst one floor below, was killed, along with two dozen of Dillaber's colleagues.

Over the years, Dillaber has seen the bulldozers clear the site, the excavators prepare its foundation and the 184 stainless steel memorial benches lowered into place, one for each of the dead. Just as she has observed the construction process from above, she will now look out on the completed memorial and its visitors. It will never be an easy view for her.

"I have a love-hate relationship with it," she said. "It's a beautiful memorial, and I'm very grateful. But I wish it wasn't there. I wish it didn't have to be there in the first place."

For several years, Dillaber has organized fundraisers for the memorial through her community theater in Alexandria, Va., collecting $17,000. "It's been a kind of therapy for me," she said. "But I can't tell you how many good people we lost."

Even as rescuers and recovery crews combed through the rubble of the Pentagon site after the crash, family members began asking how the victims would be honored. Ideas for a memorial first turned up in a suggestion box at a family assistance center set up by the Pentagon immediately after the attack. One was from Laychak.

"In those horrible dark days, he was already writing suggestions for how to memorialize the people we lost," recalled Meg Falk, former director of the Pentagon's Office of Family Policy, who set up the center and is now retired.

In 2002, after Congress authorized the Pentagon to build the memorial, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced a worldwide design competition. The agency asked Falk to form a group with a dozen or so victims' family members who could advise and guide the project. Laychak was the first person Falk called.

"It was one of the hardest things I've had to do," she said. "Here were all of these people who were still so raw, still grieving, and I had to call them to ask them to get involved."

To a person, they all agreed.

Soon, the group was meeting monthly with officials from the Pentagon Renovation Program, the agency in charge of the rebuilding. Four or five locations for the memorial were proposed, Falk recalled, including one adjacent to the Metro station, which would be especially convenient for visitors.

"Some were nice spots," Falk said. "But the families said 9/11 had picked the site." They insisted that the memorial should rise on the grounds of the building's western side, exactly where the plane hit.

By February 2003, an 11-member jury of design professionals, scholars, Pentagon officials and victims' family members selected the winning plan from 1,126 entries. It was drafted by a young couple, Keith Kaseman and Julie Beckman, who proposed a parklike space with shade, trickling pools of water and rows of arcing, cantilevered "light" benches that would set the site aglow at night.

The Pentagon donated the land, but the construction cost of Kaseman and Beckman's project soon rose to $22 million. For legal and strategic reasons, the Pentagon Memorial Fund was created not long after that, with nine family members as its board of directors.

Having raised the money to build the memorial, the fund is developing a $10 million endowment to cover maintenance and other expenses. Lisa Dolan, one of the fund's board members, said the families' work will not end when the memorial is finished.

She plans to work on an initiative to encourage teachers to incorporate the site into their history lessons. "I'll still be out there working to keep the whole thing alive, so people don't forget," said Dolan, whose husband, Navy Capt. Robert Edward Dolan Jr., was killed in the attack. "I don't think the public thinks much about 9/11 now."

Laychak, who lives in Alexandria, also plans to continue in his role. Recently, Falk said that when Laychak called her, the two discussed what he would do once the memorial was open. At the end of the conversation, Falk said Laychak thanked her for picking him as someone who could get the site built. "He said, �You changed my life,' " Falk recalled. "And I told him: �No, you picked yourself.' "



A THOUGHT THAT MAY HAVE CROSSED THIS ADMINISTRATION'S MIND:  If the prisoners from Gitmo can't receive a fair trial in the United States, why not let the trial become a World Court event?  An then try the previous administration in absentia for whatever?

Travesty in New York: We are giving KSM a farcical show trial.
National Review online
By Charles Krauthammer
November 20, 2009, 0:00 a.m.

For late-19th-century anarchists, terrorism was the  “propaganda of the deed.” And the most successful propaganda-by-deed in history was 9/11 — not just the most destructive, but the most spectacular and telegenic.

And now its self-proclaimed architect, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, has been given by the Obama administration a civilian trial in New York. Just as the memory fades, 9/11 has been granted a second life — and KSM, a second act: 9/11, The Director’s Cut, narration by KSM.

Sept. 11, 2001 had to speak for itself. A decade later, the deed will be given voice. KSM has gratuitously been presented with the greatest propaganda platform imaginable — a civilian trial in the media capital of the world — from which to proclaim the glory of jihad and the criminality of infidel America.

So why is Attorney General Eric Holder doing this? Ostensibly, to demonstrate to the world the superiority of our system, in which the rule of law and the fair trial reign.

Really? What happens if KSM (and his co-defendants) “do not get convicted,” asked Senate Judiciary Committee member Herb Kohl. “Failure is not an option,” replied Holder. Not an option? Doesn’t the presumption of innocence, er, presume that prosecutorial failure — acquittal, hung jury — is an option? By undermining that presumption, Holder is undermining the fairness of the trial, the demonstration of which is the alleged rationale for putting on this show in the first place.

Moreover, everyone knows that whatever the outcome of the trial, KSM will never walk free. He will spend the rest of his natural life in U.S. custody. Which makes the proceedings a farcical show trial from the very beginning.

Apart from the fact that any such trial will be a security nightmare and a terror threat to New York — what better propaganda-by-deed than blowing up the entire courtroom, making KSM a martyr and making the judge, jury, and spectators into fresh victims? — it will endanger U.S. security. Civilian courts with broad rights of cross-examination and discovery give terrorists access to crucial information about intelligence sources and methods.

That’s precisely what happened during the civilian New York trial of the 1993 World Trade Center bombers. The prosecution was forced to turn over to the defense a list of 200 unindicted co-conspirators, including the name Osama bin Laden. “Within ten days, a copy of that list reached bin Laden in Khartoum,” wrote former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, the presiding judge at that trial, “letting him know that his connection to that case had been discovered.”

Finally, there’s the moral logic. It’s not as if Holder opposes military commissions on principle. On the same day he sent KSM to a civilian trial in New York, Holder announced he was sending Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, mastermind of the attack on the U.S.S. Cole, to a military tribunal.

By what logic? In his congressional testimony Wednesday, Holder was utterly incoherent in trying to explain. In his November 13 news conference, he seemed to be saying that if you attack a civilian target, as in 9/11, you get a civilian trial; a military target like the Cole, and you get a military tribunal.

What a perverse moral calculus. Which is the war crime — an attack on defenseless civilians or an attack on a military target such as a warship, an accepted act of war which the U.S. itself has engaged in countless times?

By what possible moral reasoning, then, does KSM, who perpetrates the obvious and egregious war crime, receive the special protections and constitutional niceties of a civilian courtroom, while he who attacked a warship is relegated to a military tribunal?

Moreover, the incentive offered any jihadi is as irresistible as it is perverse: Kill as many civilians as possible on American soil and Holder will give you Miranda rights, a lawyer, a propaganda platform — everything but your own blog.

Alternatively, Holder tried to make the case that he chose a civilian New York trial as a more likely venue for securing a conviction. An absurdity: By the time Obama came to office, KSM was ready to go before a military commission, plead guilty and be executed. It’s Obama who blocked a process that would have yielded the swiftest and most certain justice.

Indeed, the perfect justice. Whenever a jihadist volunteers for martyrdom, we should grant his wish. Instead, this one, the most murderous and unrepentant of all, gets to dance and declaim at the scene of his crime.

Holder himself told the Washington Post that the coming New York trial will be “the trial of the century.” The last such was the trial of O. J. Simpson.



9/11 Trial Poses Unparalleled Legal Obstacles for Both Sides
NYTIMES
By ERIC LICHTBLAU and BENJAMIN WEISER
November 14, 2009

WASHINGTON — How do you defend one of the most notorious terrorist figures in history?

One step, legal analysts say, may be to ask for a change of venue.

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed’s lawyers, whoever they are, will no doubt question whether he can get a fair trial from a jury sitting, as Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. noted, in a Manhattan courthouse “just blocks away from where the Twin Towers once stood.”

Then will come the inevitable challenges to interrogation methods used on Mr. Mohammed during more than six years in detention. The government has acknowledged waterboarding him 183 times to extract information about the Sept. 11 attacks, which he eventually admitted planning.

Finally, if Mr. Mohammed is convicted, defense lawyers will most likely plead for jurors in New York, historically more cautious about capital punishment than much of the rest of country, to spare the sentence of execution and send him to prison for the rest of his life instead.

The Obama administration’s decision to try Mr. Mohammed and four other terrorism suspects in a civilian court provoked sharp debate among politicians and lawyers about whether American courtrooms are the proper place for so-called enemy combatants, whose suspected crimes were hatched overseas and who viewed themselves as participants in a war against the United States. Both sides agreed that defense lawyers and prosecutors would face unique problems in what is likely to be a hugely complex and emotion-laden case.

Whatever the case, if it actually makes its way before a jury, it promises to be a trial like no other in memory, an extraordinary clash involving the morality of torture, due process rights of foreign terrorist operatives, and the ability of civilian courts to handle national security cases.

Mr. Mohammed and his four co-defendants in military custody have admitted their active involvement in plotting the Sept. 11 attacks and have boasted of their success in killing 3,000 people.

Once the Justice Department brings formal terrorism charges against him, Mr. Mohammed could seek to enter a guilty plea, just as he has tried to do in military custody.

But legal analysts were not convinced that he would go that route and said that he might instead seek to martyr himself in the eyes of Muslim extremists through a grand and lengthy trial.

“There’s reason to believe he will try to take advantage of a public platform — more public than Guantánamo afforded him — to publicize his jihadist views,” said David H. Laufman, a Washington lawyer and former federal terrorism prosecutor.

In fact, one question will be how a judge will prevent a trial from turning into a forum on the American war on terrorism, including the Bush administration’s interrogation policies. Terrorism defendants in lesser-known trials have given rambling speeches condemning the government.

The government may also want to avoid having its own interrogation tactics put on trial. To lessen the impact of the coercive measures used against the men, the F.B.I. has used “clean teams” of investigators to collect information independently and do reviews that it says have not been tainted by rough interrogation techniques. Still, any defense lawyer will try to present evidence, including photographs and the testimony of interrogators, to show Mr. Mohammed and his co-defendants were mistreated.

Prosecutors will counter that Mr. Mohammed’s statements in the last few years should be admissible at trial because they were voluntary and came long after the government stopped waterboarding him in 2003.

But Steven Wax, a federal public defender in Oregon who has represented seven Guantánamo defendants, said that “if I’m the defense attorney, I would say ‘this was the product of torture’ ” and should be thrown out of court.

If the Justice Department does try to introduce evidence that the defense lawyers argue was coerced by torture, “I think that we’re going to shine a light on something that a lot of people don’t want to look at,” said Denny LeBoeuf, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer who led the group’s efforts in Guantánamo capital cases.

Mr. Holder did not comment directly Friday on the torture accusations but said he was “quite confident” that the Justice Department could produce enough evidence, including some not yet revealed publicly, to get convictions. Indeed, legal analysts said the Justice Department appeared to have a strong case based on Mr. Mohammed’s recent statements at Guantánamo as well as e-mail and Internet communications involving the accused plotters.

Mr. Holder said that if the men were convicted, “ultimately they must face the ultimate justice”—meaning the death penalty.

But one challenge in seeking the “ultimate justice” is New York’s jury pool, which is generally perceived by prosecutors and defense lawyers to be more liberal than other places.

For example, a Manhattan federal jury twice deadlocked in 2001, resulting in life sentences for two Qaeda operatives who confessed to helping bomb the American Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, attacks that killed more than 200 people.

It was in part because of the concern about New York juries that the Justice Department brought its prosecution of Zacarias Moussaoui in Alexandria, Va., where jurors were believed to be more likely to vote for the death penalty, according to law enforcement officials. But Mr. Moussaoui also received a life sentence.

Indeed, the last executions in federal cases in Manhattan occurred in the 1950s, most notably the case of the Rosenbergs.

If the Sept. 11 defendants do face death penalty proceedings, their lawyers will almost certainly cite as a mitigating argument against capital punishment their clients’ treatment in detention, including the claims of coercive interrogation and in the case of Mr. Mohammed, the 183 instances of waterboarding.

“I think that’s certainly on everybody’s radar screen,” said David A. Ruhnke, a civilian lawyer who represented one of the five Sept. 11 detainees, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, before the military commissions, and a separate capital defendant in the embassy bombings trial.

“The fact that defendants have already been subjected to cruel and likely illegal punishment,” Mr. Ruhnke said, “becomes a powerful argument against inflicting the ultimate punishment.”

While the defense may consider a motion to move the trial out of New York because it was the epicenter of the attacks, some legal analysts said that might be difficult to do. Such requests have been approved — in the Oklahoma City bombing, Timothy McVeigh’s trial was moved to Denver — but they are rare and prosecutors are likely to argue that the entire country was gravely affected by the Sept. 11 attacks.

 
F.B.I. Opens Inquiry Into Hacking of 9/11 Victims’ Phones
NYTIMES
By WILLIAM K. RASHBAUM
July 14, 2011

In response to requests from members of Congress and to at least one news report, the Federal Bureau of Investigation in New York opened a preliminary inquiry on Thursday into allegations that News Corporation journalists sought to gain access to the phone records of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks, according to several people briefed on the matter.

The investigation is in its earliest stages, two of the people said, and its scope is not yet clear. It also is unclear whether the F.B.I. has identified possible targets of the investigation or possible specific criminal violations.

The bureau is “taking a hard look at it from a couple of angles,” one of the people said. The person said the matter was being treated as an assessment, a term the bureau uses to characterize the early stages of an investigation that precede the possible issuance of subpoenas or the use of other investigative tools like wiretaps.

The inquiry was prompted in part by a letter from Representative Peter T. King, a Long Island Republican, to Robert S. Mueller III, the F.B.I. director, in which he asked that the bureau immediately open an investigation of News Corporation, citing news reports that journalists working for its subsidiary, The News of the World, had tried to obtain the phone records of 9/11 victims through bribery and unauthorized wiretapping, the people said.

The decision to open a case in New York stemmed from the expanding hacking scandal that has wracked Britain for days, ever since disclosures that The News of the World had illegally intercepted the voice mail of Milly Dowler, a 13-year-old girl abducted and murdered in 2002. It also follows a decision by the News Corporation’s chairman, Rupert Murdoch, to withdraw from the biggest media takeover bid in British history.

The inquiry was expected to be handled jointly by two F.B.I. squads in the bureau’s New York office, one that investigates cybercrimes and another that focuses on public corruption and white-collar crimes, two of the people said. They all spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case.

It was not immediately clear whether federal prosecutors in Manhattan were involved in the case; they would most likely have jurisdiction over any prosecution because the 9/11 victims and their cellphones were in Manhattan when they died.

Ellen Davis, a spokeswoman for the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan, also declined to comment.

Laura Sweeney, a Justice Department spokeswoman in Washington, said: “The department does not comment specifically on investigations, though anytime we see evidence of wrongdoing, we take appropriate action. The department has received letters from several members of Congress regarding allegations related to News Corporation, and we’re reviewing those.”

Jack Horner, a spokesman for the company, declined to comment.

Mr. King said in his letter on Wednesday that he was requesting the investigation not only as the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Homeland Security, but also as a congressman whose district lost more than 150 people in the 9/11 attacks. “It is my duty to discern every fact behind these allegations,” he wrote.

He cited recent news reports, apparently referring to an article first published on Monday in The Daily Mirror, a chief competitor to The News of the World, which was closed down on Sunday as a result of the scandal. The article said reporters working for the newspaper had contacted a private investigator, a former New York police officer, and offered to pay him to retrieve the phone numbers of 9/11 victims and get details of the calls they had made and received in the days leading up to the attacks.

“If these allegations are proven true,” Mr. King wrote, “the conduct would merit felony charges for attempting to violate various federal statutes related to corruption of public officials and prohibitions against wiretapping. Any person found guilty of this purported conduct should receive the harshest sanctions available under law.”

It is not clear whether the person referred to in the Daily Mirror article was a police officer at the time of the attacks.

At least five Democratic lawmakers, who all had previously been critical of the News Corporation, spoke out about the matter this week. Mr. King was the first Republican to call for an investigation into the activities of the company, whose chief executive, Mr. Murdoch, is a longtime supporter of conservative causes and Republican politicians.

Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, Democrat of West Virginia, was the first to issue a statement on the matter, saying on Tuesday that the United States government should hold investigations to “ensure that Americans have not had their privacy violated.”

On Wednesday, he was joined by the two New Jersey senators, Robert Menendez and Frank R. Lautenberg. Senator Menendez asked the Justice Department to investigate the claims involving 9/11 victims, saying in his letter that the “large scope” of the hacking in Britain made it “imperative to investigate whether victims in the United States have been affected as well.”

Senator Lautenberg suggested that both the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission should examine the case and consider opening a formal investigation. He cited news reports that journalists had “paid London police officers for information, including private telephone information, about the British royal family and other individuals for use in newspaper articles.”




American life changed forever
CT POST
Updated 07:25 a.m., Monday, September 12, 2011

2001

John and Julie Criscuolo had just sat down to Thanksgiving dinner with about 25 of their closest friends and relatives when the phone rang. An FBI agent was on the line. He was told a team would be arriving at his home shortly to confiscate his trash. "At first, I thought it was a joke," said Criscuolo. "I thought it was my wife's uncle or something. But the longer I was on the phone, the more I knew it was serious."

It turns out that the Criscuolos, who lived in Seymour, had used the same cleaning service as Ottilie Lundgren, the 94-year-old Oxford woman who died from an anthrax infection earlier in November. She was one of five people to die from the disease that year.

Lundgren's death caused a fair amount of fear and chaos in Oxford and surrounding towns, as state and national authorities came to the area to investigate the mysterious illness.

When the FBI learned that Lundgren's cleaning service had thrown out a vacuum cleaner bag that might have been used in her home, they tried to retrieve it. That's what led them to the Criscuolo home.

FBI agents actually visited Julie Criscuolo the day before Thanksgiving and told her that agents might be stopping by to look for the bag. "I asked if we were in any danger and they said `We don't think so,' " she said. "After that, I figured they probably wouldn't come back, so I went ahead with our Thanksgiving plans. I didn't tell John, because he would have made me cancel."

Shortly after John Criscuolo got the call on Thanksgiving day, a team of agents in protective suits showed up to search the house. They didn't find anything.

2002

Business was booming at Swiss Army Brands, the Shelton subsidiary of Swiss multinational Victorinox. But then the terrorists struck, using box cutters as weapons to highjack planes, and it wasn't.

CEO Peter Gilson liked to carry Swiss Army pocketknives in his briefcase, luggage and on his key chain. Then airport security started taking them, the beginning of a series of security measures that would have passengers taking off their shoes, discarding shampoos and other liquids and walking airport scanners.

Knife sales tumbled 32 percent in the last quarter of 2001. They tumbled 40 percent in early 2002 and a further 34 percent by midyear. The firm started putting notes in boxes, urging travelers to place knives in checked luggage. It created a blunt-tipped model designed to appear less threatening. It lobbied the "powers that be" to stop confiscating the signature product.

"To most of us, the idea of having this little tiny pocket knife represent a threat was ludicrous," Gilson said. "It was something you used to open packages, to file your nails down, to cut a little piece of paper -- anything but an instrument for inflicting pain."

Nothing worked. Companies that liked sending clients $30 Swiss Army knives were less willing to send Swiss Army watches at 10 times the price. Thus, the firm's corporate sales division tanked. Duty-free shops around the world pulled knives from their shelves. The firm's duty-free division had layoffs.

Knife sales haven't recovered.

"I still think Swiss Army knives are a right of passage for most 9-year-olds," said Gilson, whose company moved to Monroe. "I hope for my pension's sake that it will continue to be."

2003

National Guardsmen filled Grand Central Terminal, state troopers rode on Metro-North Railroad trains and police officers leading bomb-sniffing dogs eyed commuters as they made their way into New York City.

On any given day, security could be ramped up as a result of the Department of Homeland Security's newly created color-coded threat alert advisory. If it was a yellow alert day, there was a "significant'' risk of a terror attack; orange meant "high" risk and red meant "severe."

For commuters like Fairfield's Jeff Steele, the alerts heightened his awareness of the potential for an attack as he rode the rail into the city.

"There isn't a day since 9/11 that I've gone through Grand Central, going to work or coming home, that I haven't thought `What if it happened right now, what a place to hit at rush hour. There are hundreds of thousands of people here everyday, God, I'll be fortunate to get in and out here,' " said Steele, who works for an energy consulting firm on Park Avenue.

Steele has been commuting from Fairfield to Grand Central since 1999, including on 9/11, when he walked, stunned, through the city streets to the train station to escape from the tragic, movie-like scene around him after the planes crashed into the twin towers. Before that day, Steele said he never thought of trains being a target.

Steele, who is married with three kids, said he talked with his wife about him finding a job closer to home, avoiding the daily commute and potential of a terror attack. But with the increased security, Steele said he feels safe enough. And, he said, it would feel like running from something that may not happen. "It would be my fears that keep me away," Steele said. "You can't just pick up and walk away."

2004

As one of the head organizers of the St. Anthony Fall Festival in Ansonia, Michael Kasinskas spent most of the day setting up, checking on vendors, and making sure everything ran smoothly that year. What he noticed where ever he went was that most people were smiling. It was the first time 9/11 fell on a Saturday and he wondered whether it was all right to go ahead with festival, which was always held the second Saturday of September.

The organizers debated whether to move the festival to a different date, but determined that three years after the attacks, everyone was ready to start the return to normal.

To honor the day, the organizers chose a patriotic theme in lieu of the traditional Lithuanian decor. The atmosphere at the fair was more solemn than usual.

In the return to normal, no one was ready to forget.

2005

There were 128 anti-Islamic hate crimes reported by the FBI -- down from 546 in 2001, but significantly higher than the 36 in pre-9/11 America in 2000.

But in Bridgeport during those first post-9/11 years, Nasif Muhammad witnessed an outpouring of support.

"I saw a lot of non-Muslims defending Islam during that time," said Muhammad, the 66-year-old Iman of Al-Aziz Islamic Center in Bridgeport. "I saw a lot of clergy people defending Islam by saying, `Don't blame Islam for what happened.' I was really impressed by that."

Thus Muhammad was surprised when years later he did encounter discrimination -- the only discrimination he said he has felt in the post 9/11 world.

He was flying to Chicago to accept a posthumous award honoring his wife's dedication to the Islamic community but he couldn't print his boarding pass from home.

He traveled that day with 33 Muslim and non-Muslim friends and family members. Those with Americanized names were able to print their boarding passes ahead of time at home. But those with Muslim-sounding names had to wait to get their boarding passes at the airport.

For Muhammad, it was more than an inconvenience.

"When you're an American citizen, and a patriotic one, too,'' he said. "You want to be treated like everybody else."

2006

Sikorsky Aircraft's factory in Stratford was buzzing. Production of UH-60 Black Hawks more than doubled, keeping more than 9,000 people on the job.

Kevin Bredenbeck, chief test pilot and director of flight operations, said Sikorsky was turning out about 15 Black Hawks a month before the attacks.

Bradenbeck was one of seven pilots to fly Black Hawks, just off the production line, into New York City bringing surgeons and medical supplies for a rescue mission that wasn't needed because there were no survivors under the wreckage of the fallen towers.

In the fourth quarter of 2006, Sikorsky earned more than $1 billion in revenues, largely because of Black Hawks and the war effort.

"The patriotism really abounds at Sikorsky," he said. "You know the product you're working on is going to help soldiers around the world. After 9/11 everybody had that World War II focus ... It comes right off the assembly line and right to Afghanistan."

2007

When President George W. Bush announced a troop surge into Iraq in January, 2007, one of the stated aims was to make the streets safer. But that provided little comfort to Eric and Beverly Pierson, of Milford.

"It wasn't going to bring Jordan back," Beverly Pierson said.

Her oldest son, a 21 year-old U.S. Marine corporal, had been killed the previous August by an improvised bomb tossed on a Fallujah street by a 10-year-old boy.

As the news of the surge and the debate that followed about whether it was the right move to send more troops into harm's way played out in the media, the Piersons had to get through a calendar year filled with dates that heightened their pain. There was June 22, Jordan's birthday, and August 25, the first anniversary of his death.

Jordan hadn't been an easy child to raise, the Marine's mother said. "He had Attention Deficit Disorder and Oppositional Defiant Disorder. If you said something was white, he said it was black."

But Jordan began talking about joining the military right after 9/11. When his parents wouldn't let him enlist at 17, "he had a recruiter come to his 18th birthday party with a pee (specimen) cup," Beverly said.

As a Marine, Jordan discovered that he was a natural leader and had men several years older serving under him, she said. He was injured in May but chose to remain in Iraq to complete his deployment. He had two months to go when he was killed.

2008

With the Sept. 11 attacks and ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan came a renewed interest in the Arabic world. Universities responded. Fairfield University introduced a new program to teach Arabic language and Middle Eastern history and culture. Ten students signed up and the program, which has since doubled in size.

The classes are taught by professor Yasir Hamed, who first introduced the idea of the program two years before.

"The September 11th attacks were the No. 1 reason why American universities added Arabic to their curriculums," Hamed said. "And this was the case at Fairfield, too."

Some students are interested in taking the classes because they are pursuing a career in the military or CIA.

But the focus of the program, he said, is not just to teach the language, but to also introduce American students to Middle Eastern culture.

"One of my goals is to bridge the culture gap between America and the Arab world," he said.

Several of his students, he said, have even elected to take a summer or a semester of foreign studies in the Middle East.

2009

Assistant Bridgeport Fire Chief Dominick Carfi spent one day at ground zero, arriving a day after the attack to help in whatever way he could. Eight years later, Carfi, who was exposed to a high volume of dust that day, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the blood. Carfi may never know whether the cancer was caused by his work at ground zero that day, but the possibility does linger in the back of the 55-year-old Trumbull resident's mind.

"There was a pile of concrete dust for about a 10-block distance," Carfi said. "No one had any protection or any masks."

Though no clear cause for myeloma has been identified, there are risk factors, including exposure to herbicides, insecticides, heavy metals, plastics and various dusts. Carfi -- who is since in remission -- said his oncologist also pointed to exposure as a possible cause, as he has no family history of the illness.

One published study in a British medical journal, The Lancet, found that firefighters who worked in the wreckage of the World Trade Center following the attacks were 19 percent more likely to develop cancer than those who weren't at ground zero.

2010

Peggy Colas, a 19-year-old Post University student needed to sell her used car. She listed her gray, 1993 Nissan Pathfinder on Craigslist and got a call from a potential buyer. The two set up a meeting that April at a local shopping center parking lot. The man interested in the car wanted to inspect it first.

After a test drive, the man -- who Colas said talked "very softly" and said he just wanted the car to drive around and visit friends in New York -- agreed to a sales price of $1,300. He paid Colas in $100 bills.

Shortly after selling the car, Colas posted on Facebook that she was "sooo happy" she was able to buy a new car.

The man who bought it was Faisal Shahzad, 31, a Pakistan-born U.S. citizen, who -- just days after buying Colas' SUV -- rigged it with a crude propane-and-gasoline bomb and drove the vehicle to the heart of Times Square.

He parked the bomb-laden SUV on a street lined with Broadway theaters and restaurants packed with people out on the town that Saturday night -- May 1.

The SUV was captured on video crossing an intersection just before 6:30 p.m. A vendor, who thought the SUV looked suspicious because it was smoking, pointed it out to a police officer just two minutes after it was parked.

The homemade bomb, crafted with inferior products, was a dud and it failed to detonate.

The day after the bombing attempt -- after being questioned by federal agents who traced the SUV to her -- Colas posted that she had "a crazy day."

"It's official. I have bad luck," she wrote, adding, "I hope they find that bastard," an apparent reference to Shahzad.

2011

Stepping out of lower Manhattan's giant construction site, as cranes hoist cement blocks through the Thursday morning sky, Rafael Rodriguez recalls getting hired a year ago.

"It was nerve-wracking," says the muscular 48-year-old, who's got a hardhat, thick boots and a reflective vest. "This place was hit a decade ago. I'm actually standing where people died."

Rodriguez, of Milford, is helping lay the foundation for 2 World Trade Center, which, in coming years, will rise from its current 16-acre pit to a height of 1,349 feet -- much like neighboring 1 World Trade Center is already soaring to its final height of 1,776 feet.

Each morning, Rodriguez rides the 4:22 Metro-North express train to work. As safety consultant here, he ensures that the 300 or so ironworkers, carpenters and other laborers are complying with OSHA, Port Authority and in-house regulations.

"It's a sad thing and a happy thing," he says of the job. "We had to get work through death. But at least we're able to bring it back."

His immediate surroundings consist of cranes, cement trucks and the ballet of hardhats laying concrete and metal pillars. His wider surroundings are the blur of cars, trucks and buses lumbering up and down Manhattan streets; the tourists, suits and police officers cramming the sidewalks; and the "eyes of the world" watching him and the other workers recreate an American landmark.

Rodriguez wasn't here the Monday morning after Osama bin Laden was killed. But he still feels the impact. "It was an overwhelming feeling when they finally found him," he says. "But look" -- he nods toward 1 World Trade Center, whose three dozen floors of shiny glass appear almost invisible as they reflect the blue skies overhead -- "that doesn't change a thing. We gotta be on our toes."

This story was reported and written by Amanda Cuda, Tim Loh, Tom Cleary, Brittany Lyte, Vinti Singh, Rob Varnon, Frank Juliano, John Burgeson and Anne Amato.



A personal remembrance of Sept. 11
Weston Forum
Written by Patricia Gay
Sunday, 11 September 2011 10:13

As the First Selectman of New Fairfield, Connecticut, on the morning of September 11, 2001, I was at my office on the phone with a librarian discussing the library’s upcoming Family Fun Event. I wanted to feature it in my weekly newspaper column for the New Fairfield Citizen News, which was due that afternoon.

Suddenly the librarian gasped, “Oh my God, you won’t believe what I just saw on TV. A plane crashed into the World Trade Center!”

My first thought was it was probably some kind of misguided small craft that went awry. But no, it was a full-sized airplane, the librarian said. As I tried to grasp this horrific accident, she let out a shriek, “Another plane crashed into the tower, another one!”

And I knew. I knew right then and there. This wasn’t an accident – our country had been attacked.

Although Sept. 11 was my wedding anniversary, my husband and I made no plans that day because I intended to go to a friend’s funeral that afternoon. We figured we could always do something fun later that week.

So much happened that day. I spent hours talking to state lawmakers and concerned residents, trying to figure things out and what to do next. To make things worse, a lot of scary, untrue gossip was being spread. There was a false media report that mysterious packages of white powder, most likely anthrax, were found at post offices, and another false report that a plane had crashed into Camp David.

I held an emergency meeting of town and school officials, police, fire, and clergy to discuss what we should do as a town. Foremost in my mind was what if there were some schoolchildren who had lost one or both parents? School administration had volunteers ride the school buses to make sure every child had someone waiting for them. Police and fire called NYC officials to see if they needed assistance. The clergy kept their churches staffed and opened 24/7 so people could gather, talk and say prayers. My family spent hours that night at the Congregational church.

And finally, I wrote my column, starting with the sentence, “Life as we know it will never be the same.”

Three people with connections to New Fairfield lost their lives that day – Christopher J. Blackwell, FDNY Rescue 3, South Tower; Robert D. W. Higley II, Aon Corp., South Tower; and Candace Lee Williams, a passenger on American Airlines Flight 11, North Tower.

I started a fund for the family of Rob Higley, who died trying to rescue others. I was a friend of Bob and Emily Rowley, the parents of Robert’s wife Vycki. The Rowleys were no strangers to suffering. Their oldest daughter, Beth, died from an illness at a young age. Vycki was seven months pregnant when Rob was killed, and the family’s pain was devastating not only to them but to everyone who knew or heard about them. The fund was a huge success. Checks poured in from across the country. School kids collected money and sent handmade cards to me to give to Vycki.

Everyone wanted and needed to do something to help.

Today, remembering the events of 9/11, our thoughts and prayers are with the families who suffered a loss on that tragic day.

As a country, we all suffered a huge loss too. We are forever united in our mourning. Though we may never be able to make sense of what happened, we have learned that in times of hardship and strife we can count on each other to help us make it through the day.

Life, as we all knew it, has never been the same.

Patricia Gay is the assistant editor and general reporter for The Weston Forum.



Liberty misspent

NYPOST
By NICOLE GELINAS
Last Updated: 2:24 AM, September 6, 2011
Posted: 12:23 AM, September 6, 2011

To see how thoroughly New York’s pre-9/11 culture infected the city’s “recovery,” look at what happened to the Liberty Bonds that the feds awarded us for rebuilding.

After the attacks, President George W. Bush and Congress delivered $20.5 billion in aid -- including up to $8 billion in Liberty Bonds to build real estate.

No government (federal, state or local) guaranteed the bonds’ repayment. But the bonds are exempt from all taxes. Since the investors who buy the bonds don’t have to pay such levies, they don’t mind making lower interest -- saving the companies money.

The feds gave up $1.2 billion in tax revenue for this purpose; the city and state gave up less but still tens of millions.

(Tax-exempt bonds weren’t the best vehicle for rebuilding, by the way; the Port Authority, which bears much of these costs, can already borrow tax-exempt. But our senators didn’t ask for the same amount of aid in another form.)

Mayor Bloomberg and then-Gov. George Pataki chose the companies that would get the bonds. You’d think they’d have used the vast majority of the funds to defray the huge cost of One World Trade Center and its other rebuilding commitments. In fact, just $3.8 billion -- 59 percent -- went to the WTC, the city’s Independent Budget Office reported last week.

Of that, WTC developer Larry Silverstein got about $3.1 billion, reasonably enough, to build 7 World Trade and his other buildings. (The Port Authority will end up guaranteeing some of Silverstein’s debt, after all, as the rebuilding financing grows ever more tangled.) The Port Authority itself took about $701.6 million.

Who got the rest?

* Goldman Sachs: $1.7 billion for its downtown tower.

* The Durst family: $650 million for the Bank of America building -- in Midtown.

* Developer Forest City: $90.8 million for the Bank of New York Mellon building -- in Brooklyn.

The remainder went toward smaller projects -- most having nothing to do with 9/11 rebuilding. Oh, and the National Sports Museum got $52 million to open in Lower Manhattan in 2008 -- and promptly defaulted on its bonds.

The whole debacle shows how New York turned a straightforward -- if tragic -- job into a complicated and tragicomic one.

Albany and City Hall should have laser-focused on cleaning up the Ground Zero site. They and the Port Authority should have quickly rebuilt flood protection, transit and other supporting structures, and built a simpler memorial -- and then turned the job of building towers to Silverstein. If he couldn’t do the job, rebid it to someone else.

Instead, New York squandered time and money doling out favors.

Has the result made us stronger? Consider the companies that benefited from these Liberty Bond subsidies:

* Bank of America: Its stock was down more than 8 percent Friday. The company’s 2008 purchase of subprime mortgage giant Countrywide Financial may turn out to be fatal.

* BoNY Mellon: It lost its CEO last week. Among other problems, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman wonders whether BoNY Mellon dealt fairly with its investors in a complex mortgage deal it did with BofA.

Goldman is, well, Goldman. But it faces questions about whether investment banks will be as profitable in the next decade as they were in the last.

If Goldman, BofA and BoNY Mellon don’t do well, no amount of subsidies will save their jobs in Gotham. Connecticut is discovering that fact about UBS, the Swiss bank that got goodies to locate in Stamford but is now stumbling.

If the banks do well, they’ll have no choice but to be here.

And if they’re worried about terrorists destroying their businesses and killing their workers, a few hundred million in subsidies won’t make that prospect attractive.

That is, the companies will need to be here -- but only if New York does well. If the city keeps crime down, keeps transit and roads in good shape and delivers reasonable public services, developers will want to build buildings -- with or without government subsidy. They’ll want to collect rent from the businesses who find New York the place to be.

Those businesses might be Goldman -- or companies we’ve never heard of.

But if New York hands out subsidies at the expense of doing basic jobs -- as it has with its 9/11 resources -- the subsidies won’t be enough.


BEFORE SEPTEMBER 11, 2O01 THERE WAS THE 1993 WTC BOMBING...

If at first you don't succeed...

Egypt’s sheik-down

By MICHELLE MALKIN
Last Updated: 12:12 AM, January 10, 2013
Posted: 12:04 AM, January 10, 2013

Egypt’s terror-coddling President Mohamed Morsi has repeated his arrogant demand that America free convicted 1993 World Trade Center mastermind Omar Abdel-Rahman. I’d like to report that President Obama repeated his unequivocal rejection of Morsi’s entreaties. But as of this writing, no such public statement or restatement yet exists.

That’s right. Obama has kept mum about Morsi’s vociferous lobbying on behalf of Abdel-Rahman, the “blind sheik,” who is serving a life sentence at a maximum-security prison in North Carolina. The commander-in-chief’s silence speaks volumes.

Morsi started publicly haranguing the United States to have mercy on the ol’ blind sheik back in September. Obama underlings denied any talks were under way, but pressure on the White House had been building since at least last June, when the State Department granted a visa to a member of the radical Egyptian terrorist group Gamaa Islamiyya (the very group the blind sheik is alleged to lead).

The Gamaa Islamiyya representative joined an entire delegation of Egyptian lawmakers who met with top State Department and White House officials. They reportedly discussed the possible release of the blind sheik with at least one Obama national security official.

In late August, Gamaa Islamiyya went on to schedule and organize a protest at the Cairo embassy to further ratchet up public pressure to free the blind sheik.

Not coincidentally, a terror mob attacked the Cairo embassy last Sept. 11. While Obama minions were busy blaming an obscure YouTube video, the Department of Homeland Security had warned two days before the Cairo attack that jihadists were inciting the “sons of Egypt” to attack the embassy over Abdel-Rahman. “Let your slogan be: No to the American Embassy in Egypt until our detained sheikh is released,” the incitement thundered.

Morsi has now amended his plea to include an array of “humane” benefits and visitation privileges for the murderous Islamic cleric “because he is a man, an old man, and he deserves full care.”

Lest you need reminding, the wily blind sheik has used his visitation privileges to wreak more terror from behind bars. His radical left-wing lawyer Lynne Stewart was convicted in 2005 of helping her client smuggle coded messages of Islamic violence from the imprisoned sheik to outside followers in violation of an explicit pledge to abide by her client’s court-ordered isolation.

This “old man” is a virulent anti-American propagandist who condemned Americans as “descendants of apes and pigs who have been feeding from the dining tables of the Zionists, Communists and colonialists”; called on Muslims to “destroy” the West, “burn their companies, eliminate their interests, sink their ships, shoot down their planes, kill them on the sea, air or land,” and issued bloody fatwas against US “infidels” that inspired the 1993 WTC bombing, the 1997 massacre of Western tourists in Luxor, Egypt, and the 9/11 attacks.

As GOP watchdogs call for Obama to keep the blind sheik locked up, we will no doubt hear more slick protestations that the White House has “no plans” to release the terror preacher. But this is the administration that endorsed the release of convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, whose terrorist act resulted in the murder of 189 Americans.

The Obama White House feigned “surprise” over that release, but documents obtained by The Sunday Times of London in 2010 revealed that the administration “secretly advised Scottish ministers that it would be ‘far preferable’ to free the Lockerbie bomber than jail him in Libya.”

This is the administration whose attorney general was a senior law partner for Gitmo-detainee cheerleaders Covington and Burling.

This is the administration that tried to shove New York City civilian trials for 9/11 terrorists down America’s throat over objections from 9/11 families and national-security experts.

This is the administration that has rolled out the red carpet for scores of visitors belonging to groups serving as fronts for the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and other militant Islamic outfits.

This is the administration that lied and blamed Internet movies for its own dereliction of duty at our consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Denial is a river that runs through 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., but the Obama administration’s tone-deaf acts of jihad-appeasement speak for themselves. Concern is more than warranted. It’s de rigueur.


GOVERNOR'S TASK FORCE MEETS FRIDAYS ALL DAY BEGINNING AT 9:30am...BELOW, OBSERVATION ONLINE FROM 2-15-13.

THREATS AND AFTER:  FOR EXAMPLE...TAKE-COVER DRILL 1950's;  SECURITY EXPERT QUESTIONED ON IMPORTANCE OF USUABLE PLANS - WHY ANYTHING?.
Internal threat: indicators of violent behavior, outside school behavior contact with schools?  Sex, drugs and vioence...civility, morality...prevention of threat.
External threats:  natural occurances;  school bus parking;  do police communicate with school officials?  Secure communication of threats.  Threat and risk are different.
Hierarchy for protection:  kids, building, faculty...external threats can only be deterred.  Approaching to the doorway as was done in Sandy Hook is the worst.  Risk Assessment every three years.  Site security pushed out - access control.  Vehicles no longer allowed near schools.  Identify by numbers.  Recommended school security building codes.  Security is equal to education.
Cell Phones not reliable:  As word spreads, additional lines must bed available for outgoing.  Control of parents after might overwhelm the plan.  College curriculum for teaching degree require EMT-type stuff..
Recovery:  Re-establishing routine.  Deter attack. 
QUESTIONS:  Aren't we being too "dark" in our outlook?  WTC experience taught otherwise.  RELATIVE RISK? - dealt with thru the algorithm;  cost effectiveness.  IMPACT ON COMMUNITY?
NEXT STEPS:  Trauma response, guns and ammunition and protocol the next 3 Fridays...beginning at 9:30am.