Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Fwd: Court Again Clears EPA in 9/11 Toxic Dust Ruling

Court Again Clears EPA in 9/11 Toxic Dust Ruling

"Legal remedies are not always available"

Steve Watson
Tuesday, April 22, 2008

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

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 AP. 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
information". 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.

However, the plaintiffs' lawyer Sherrie Savett argued that
Whitman's actions had gone beyind indifference and constitued
outright lies. 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. The New 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 as "conscience-shocking." In August 2003 it
was revealed that the Government 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. Further 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 their homes.

"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.

An 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, 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

"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 Administration.

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 last June.

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. Related articles:

Hillary Clinton To Investigate 9/11 Environmental Cleanup
Ground Zero Toxic Death Fumes Covered Up From Day One
Firefighters Urge "Peeling Of Guilliani's 9/11 Onion"
Rice Ok'd Claim Of 'Safe Air' After 9/11
Whitman: 9/11 health woes are city's fault

More allegations from EPA whistleblower
Court Ruling May Stop 9/11 Air Quality Lawsuits

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