Court Again Clears EPA in 9/11 Toxic Dust Ruling
"Legal remedies are not always available"
A federal appeals court in New York has ruled that the EPA and
former head Christine Todd Whitman cannot be held accountable
for illnesses resulting from hazardous dust and debris from the
three buildings destroyed on 9/11, despite the fact that the agency
knowingly gave misleading information to residents and workers
in the aftermath.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Whitman's
comments reassuring people about the safety around the site apparently
were based on conflicting information and reassurances by the
White House, reports
The appeals court said legal remedies are not always available
for every instance of arguably deficient governmental performance.
The ruling mirrors that the court made exactly
one year ago when it determined that Whitman and
other officials cannot be held constitutionally liable.
At the time the court's chief judge, Dennis Jacobs,
justified the decision by warning that any other ruling might
set the wrong precedent. Jacobs wrote that "Officials might
default to silence in the face of the public's urgent need for
The law generally doesn't allow citizens to sue
the government for mere incompetence, or failing to prevent someone
from being injured; To win, plaintiffs must often prove that government
employees actually created a danger themselves, through actions
"so egregious, so outrageous," that they "shock
the contemporary conscience."
Jacobs said Whitman and other EPA officials fell short of violating
that standard, even if they had acted with deliberate indifference.
(Article continues below)
However, the plaintiffs' lawyer Sherrie Savett argued
that Whitman's actions had gone beyind indifference and constitued
Savett said Whitman "made false statements
to the public, inducing them, seducing them to go back to their
homes and to send their kids back to school."
Five days after the attacks, Whitman told reporters,
"The good news continues to be that air samples we have taken
have all been at levels that cause no concern."
This, The EPA's own Office of the Inspector General
later revealed, was an outright lie.
York Daily News Reported:
In their class-action suit, residents, workers and students
living around Ground Zero say they relied on Whitman's comments
in deciding whether to return to an area coated with dust from
the twin towers' collapse.
"If she had not said this, they probably would have made
their own decision," Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan)
said after the hearing. "She was telling people it was
safe when she knew damn well it wasn't."
Whitman had originally refused
to testify for the hearing, so it was left to District
judges to subpoena Whitman at the request of New York Congressman
Jerry Nadler, a Democrat whose district includes the World Trade
Center site. In doing so one judge referred to Whitman's actions
In August 2003 it was revealed that the
ordered the EPA to give the public misleading information,
telling New Yorkers on September 12 it was safe to breathe
when reliable information on air quality was not available
and Asbestos levels were known to be three times higher
than national standards.
documents were obtained by CBS news last
September, revealing that Lower Manhattan was reopened
a few weeks following the attack even though the air
was not safe.
The two devastating memos, written by the U.S. and
local governments, show they knew. They knew the toxic
soup created at Ground Zero was a deadly health hazard.
Yet they sent workers into the pit and people back into
"Not only did they know it was unsafe, they didn't
heed the words of more experienced people that worked
for the city and E.P.A.," said Joel Kupferman,
with the group Environmental Justice Project.
EPA whistleblower, Dr. Cate Jenkins then wrote a letter
to Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and other members
of the New York congressional delegation blasting the
EPA for hiding dangerous toxins from Ground Zero workers
in the aftermath of 9/11.
The Letter claimed that EPA-funded research on the
toxicity of breathable alkaline dust at the site “falsified
pH results” to make the substance appear benign,
when it was, in reality, corrosive enough to cause first
responders and other workers in lower Manhattan to later
lose pulmonary functions and, in some cases, to die.
In an even more shocking development it was revealed
that Whitman apparently had financial interests in reassuring
the public that all was well and that lower Manhattan
could safely be reoccupied.
In a New York Post piece which has since been memory
holed, but that was reported by
Infowars.net, these facts became clearly
Meanwhile, Whitman's newly released financial-disclosure
forms show that she said seven months before 9/11
that she would not get involved in any issue related
to the finances of the Port Authority - which owns
the WTC site - because she or her family owned PA
bonds. Its finances could be impacted by lawsuits
growing of the cleanup.
"I understand the following interests that
belong to me, my spouse or my children present a conflict
of interest," Whitman wrote at the time. She
then listed various investments, including the bistate
But Whitman was involved at Ground Zero despite
that refusal, although she or her family also owned
shares of Citigroup, whose insurance-company subsidiary,
The Travelers, paid out hundred of millions of dollars
in claims to downtown residents displaced by the attacks.
Not surprising then that Whitman did not want to testify.
She is totally compromised and clearly in very deep
trouble. Congressman Nadler himself blasted Whitman
when this was revealed stating:
"She conspired [with the White House] to
convince people to go into an unsafe environment . .
. For that, she ought to be prosecuted," Nadler
said. "People are dead because of her."
However, it must be remembered that Whitman and the EPA are accountable
to the White House and act under the direct authority of the Bush
It was the 2003 EPA Inspector General's investigation that revealed
that it was the White House that had pressured EPA into changing
its press releases to add more "reassuring" language.
The further memos revealed that Whitman conspired with
the White House to falsely reassure New Yorkers that
the air was safe.
The New York Post also reported on the fact that the internal
documents show it was Condoleezza
Rice's office that gave final approval to the infamous
Environmental Protection Agency press releases days after 9/11
claiming the air around Ground Zero was "safe to breathe,".
Now Secretary of State, Rice was then head of the National Security
Council - "the final decision maker" on EPA statements
about lower Manhattan air quality, the documents say.
And it cannot be forgotten that Rudolph
Guiliani, who was mayor at the time, also said repeatedly
that the air was safe. Giuliani has gone on to make millions from
speaking on 9/11 and has made it the cornerstone of his presidential
campaign, much to the disgust of many first responders and firefighters
who continue to campaign to expose Giuliani's culpability on 9/11.
Furthermore it has been the Bush Administration that has PURPOSEFULLY
blocked millions in health compensation programs
for ground zero workers and continuously attempted to stonewall
the issue because to do otherwise would be an admission of responsibility
for exposure to harmful substances after the government had already
given the all clear. It has been the Bush administration that
has allowed 9/11 heroes to die while at the same time disgracefully
using the event as a cart blanche excuse for their own criminal
actions at home and abroad.
It seems Whitman knew immediately that she was being fingered
as the ultimate scapegoat. When the new information broke in September
2006, she was quick
to blame the city for not forcing Ground Zero workers
to wear respirators.
In a "60 Minutes" interview, Whitman maintained that
the nation's leading environmental agency did not have authority
to enforce rules at the site, though the agency did warn the city
about dangers in the air at Ground Zero.
"We didn't have the authority to do that enforcement, but
we communicated to the people who did," Whitman stressed.
Whitman stuck to this story during her testimony
However, a 2004
report by the Sierra Club detailed gross malfeasance
by EPA, FEMA, and the Occupational Safety & Health Administration
(OSHA) and then suggested a cover-up of the public health hazards
of Ground Zero ensued.
The report found that the EPA and FEMA, in concert with New York
City's own health department, told families that they could clean
up the contaminated dust themselves with wet rags. In fact, they
actually discouraged area residents from wearing safety masks.
Some preliminary scientific studies have indicated that as many
as 400,000 people were exposed to toxic ground zero dust. Hundreds
and perhaps thousands of people have fallen ill, and several have
died from lung ailments blamed on inhaled Trade Center ash.
Thousands of people have sued various government entities over
their exposure to the toxins.
The latest ruling threatens to set a precedent for all future
lawsuits concerning the air quality in Manhatten after 9/11.
Any probe into this issue that cannot establish
these basic conclusions and pinpoint those at fault AT ALL LEVELS
WITHIN THE GOVERNMENT is highly suspicious. It is blatantly clear
that not only Whitman and her EPA counterparts were complicit
in a conspiracy and cover up the environmental hazards at ground
zero, but also that high ranking officials with the Bush administration
are also complicit.
It is also apparent from reports that Whitman had
significant financial interests in the ground zero site, which
should also be investigated in addition to the financial interests
other officials complicit in this diabolical case also had before
and after 9/11.
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