It took a junket to the Big Apple for the members of the commission allegedly investigating 9/11 to get themselves back on TV cameras and into the headlines they appear to crave. They did it by tearing into Rudolph Giuliani, fondly known as “America’s Mayor” since his heroic handling of the nation’s worst crisis since Pearl Harbor.
Along the way this sorry collection of has-beens also attacked the men who headed the police and fire departments on that terrible day, men who earned the nation’s undying gratitude for their heroic behavior and that of their men and women as they went about the perilous work saving the lives of thousands trapped in the infernos and in which 346 of their own number died.
As Giuliani told the commission, “Maybe 8,000 more, maybe 9,000 more than anyone could rightfully expect” were taken safely out of the two towers before they collapsed, he recalled, noting that about 25,000 people were evacuated from the World Trade Center.
How did the commission members memorialize them during their televised New York extravaganza?
• On Tuesday, commission member John Lehman said the failure of city agencies to communicate effectively on 9/11 was a scandal “not worthy of the Boy Scouts, let alone this great city.” Former fire commissioner Thomas Von Essen shot back that Lehman’s comments were “despicable,” which they were.
• As Von Essen, former police commissioner Bernard Kerik and Giuliani were testifying, commission chairman Thomas Keen allowed disorderly members of the audience to jeer and attack and shout and drown out the witnesses, when he should have cleared the room and ejected the protesters.
• Democrat Commissioner Jamie Gorelick, who should be a witness explaining how as Attorney General Janet Reno’s deputy she had helped cripple the intelligence community instead of a being a commission member, whined that she was “disappointed in us in a way that I haven’t been in the past,” because her colleagues weren’t tough enough in questioning Giuliani, a man with whom she isn’t fit to be in the same room.
This whole charade is sickening. Don’t these grandstanding has-beens know that on 9/11 between 30,000 and 50,000 body bags were ordered because that’s what they thought the death toll would be? They needed fewer than 3,000 thanks to Von Essen and Kerik’s courageous men and women. And 346 of the body bags were for their people who died saving others.
Not only did the terrorists fail that day to kill as many as 50,000 innocent people, but the fire and police departments did such a fine job that fewer than 3,000 people lost their lives. For the commission members to sit there and blabber about problems with radio communications and use this side issue to attack the witnesses is typical of their behavior. President Bush made a mistake in agreeing to the establishment of a posse the Democrats wanted so they could find a way to pin the blame on Mr. Bush for what 19 crazed hijackers did on 9/11.
From the very beginning the commission has pandered to a handful of relatives of some of the 9/11 victims who have been allowed to rudely disrupt the hearings in New York as well as in Washington, and are less interested in the facts than they are in assigning blame to such certified American heroes as Rudy Giuliani, Bernard Kerik, and Thomas Von Essen.
When you look back at that horrific day, with a disaster unimaginable and of a magnitude never before seen in New York or any other American city – with mass confusion and utter chaos, with 911 and other communications overloaded, scant knowledge of what was happening in the towers or that that they could come crashing down, with the appalling vision of people leaping to their deaths to avoid being burned alive – the fact that anybody survived borders on the miraculous. And it is largely due to those men who sat before the commission and were forced to tolerate their abuse and that of their jeering peanut gallery in the audience.
It’s time to shut this farce down and send its members back into their well-earned obscurity.
©2004 Mike Reagan. You must contact us if you would like to print this column in your publication or post on the internet. Mike’s column is distributed exclusively by: Cagle Cartoons, Inc. Cari Dawson Bartley Cari@cagle.com, (800) 696-7561