September 11, 2003

Anniversaries are historical page markers; they denote a time to pause and reflect. On the second anniversary of the September 11 attacks, we mark not only the terrible loss of life on that day but a failure of American leadership. It is also a time to raise the fundamental question that has supposedly focused the national effort for the past two years: Have we become safer, more secure, today? Wherever we look the answer is no. The Bush Administration has squandered the good will that flowed from the rest of the world after the attacks. The Administration’s go-it-alone, militarist foreign policy divided and weakened the United Nations and alienated longstanding allies. Now an isolated United States faces rising casualty lists and costs in Iraq and turns to the UN it once scorned for help–with an arrogance ill suited to winning friends. The Iraq war, promoted by a White House disinformation campaign, diverted resources and undercut global antiterrorist strategies. Bungled postwar planning fueled anti-Americanism and unleashed chaos and disorder. These consequences were foreseen by antiwar critics, including this magazine, but the critics’ warnings were swamped by the Administration’s lies. Poor postwar planning has also vitiated the antiterrorist effort in Afghanistan, where US troops are again battling Taliban forces. Reconstruction has gone slowly because donor nations, particularly the United States, have not come through, while lack of security in the countryside hampers aid efforts. Women are back in burqas; warlords misrule in the provinces. In the Middle East, the neocon claim that defeating Saddam Hussein would enhance the prospects of an Israeli-Palestinian settlement by eliminating a powerful supporter of Palestinian militancy has proved illusory. The “road map” is in tatters. The Sharon government kills Hamas leaders and builds its divisive wall; Palestinian suicide bombers lash back with more blind carnage. Continue Reading

Debating September 11

Debating September 11 David Corn’s May 30, 2002, “Capital Games” article, “The 9/11 X-Files,” debunking what he saw as the numerous conspiracy theories that have sprung up purporting to explain what happened on September 11, generated numerous letters. We’ve printed five of them below along with a response from Corn. Paris David Corn alleges that our book makes a “theory” of the events leading up to the September 11 attacks, distorts reality and shows little or no evidence to confirm our assertions. For the author, the world seems divided between those gallant fellows pursuing the truth (David Corn, I guess) and those running conspiracy theories. This simplistic and Manichean view does not reflect the nature of our work and would usually deserve no comment from me, except when such an irrelevant article emanates from such a well-known organization. I don’t know the author, nor his credentials to write on these issues. The fact is that most of the issues he raises are currently under scrutiny of the Special Investigation Committee of the US Congress and they’ve been investigated by the United Nations several weeks ago. I have too much respect for the work of these authorities to think they may investigate “conspiracy theories.” Regarding the handling of investigations involving Saudi Arabian individuals and entities, I spent five years working on these networks and tracking Al Qaeda assets. I was the first to write an extensive report on Al Qaeda financial networks for the intelligence community. This study was given by the French President Jacques Chirac to President George W. Bush in September 2001 and has been responsible for the closing of several so-called Islamic charities that happened to financially support Osama bin Laden and his cohorts. My experience and the high level contacts I had with the FBI disqualifies the doubts and snide comments made by a nonprofessional on these Continue Reading

Elementary school students forced to draw 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, showing planes flying into the Twin Towers, mother claims

A Texas school district is investigating a mother’s shocking claim this week that her daughter’s teacher forced elementary school students to draw traumatic pictures of the September 11 attacks. El Paso mom Ivie Gremillion told KFOX-TV that her 4th grade daughter came home from Hughey Elementary School on Monday and told her, “We had to try the boom cloud and the planes hitting and we had to draw people jumping out of the windows.” Gremillion’s daughter said the teacher specifically had the class draw the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center in graphic detail. The children’s drawings, obtained by KFOX-TV, are disturbing crayon renditions of the attacks, showing the Twin Towers in flames and covered in smoke clouds. KFOXTV El Paso mom Ivie Gremillion says her fourth-grader was made to draw pictures of the WTC with planes flying into it at Hughey Elementary School. KFOXTV Renee Desantos, a spokesperson for the El Paso Independent School District, stated that, "EPISD is very concerned about the images that were drawn in response to a lesson on the events of September 11." Stick figures are drawn falling from the burning buildings with speech bubbles over their heads that read "help" and "I love you," while next to one figure a child wrote a downward arrow and the words "one way ticket to heaven." "That's something that kids should get in trouble for drawing," Gremillion told KFOX. "That's people being murdered, people committing suicide." KFOXTV "That's something that kids should get in trouble for drawing," says Ivie Gremillion. "That's people being murdered, people committing suicide." Gremillion, whose husband is in the military and is set to go to Afghanistan in the next few months, says her daughter is now convinced he’s going to die because the teacher told the class that “the Afghans did this because they hate all of us and they want to kill all of us.” She said Continue Reading

September 11 case returns to Guantanamo tribunal

ANDREWS AIR FORCE BASE, Maryland — Five men accused of orchestrating the Sept. 11 attacks, including the self-proclaimed mastermind, are headed back to a military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay on Saturday, more than three years after President Barack Obama put the case on hold in a failed effort to move the proceedings to a civilian court and close the prison at the U.S. base in Cuba. This time the defendants may put up a fight. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who told military authorities that he was responsible for the planning of the terror assault “from A to Z,” previously mocked the tribunal and said he would welcome the death penalty. His co-defendant, Ramzi Binalshibh, told the court that he was proud of the attacks. But Jim Harrington, the civilian lawyer for Binalshibh, said the defendants are expected to fight the charges against them, which include murder and terrorism and carry a potential death penalty. “He has no intention of pleading guilty,” Harrington said. “I don’t think anyone is going to plead guilty.” Harrington declined to say what would be the basis of his defense and lawyers for Mohammed did not respond to messages seeking comment. The men never entered formal pleas in previous hearings, but Mohammed told the court that he would confess to planning the attacks and hoped to be a “martyr.” He dismissed the military justice system, saying, “After torturing, they transferred us to inquisition land in Guantanamo.” Now after three years in which the tribunals known as military commissions have been reformed by Congress and the president, they’ve had time to reconsider their defense. “I’m not sure they really understood the ramifications of it at that time,” Harrington said. The arraignment Saturday, before an audience that includes a handful of people who lost family members in the Sept. 11 attacks as well as journalists and human rights Continue Reading

Children’s drawings, reactions to September 11 attacks immortalized as storyteller quilt at the Met

Little pitchers have big ears, and these pictures drawn by the children who witnessed 9/11 firsthand speak volumes about how they absorbed the day that transformed their city. TV sets show burning planes crashing into towers. Crying classmates comfort one other while a teacher writes, "How well do we know our world?" on the blackboard. Yet even the starkest drawings, united in a story quilt going on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Tuesday, are threaded with optimism. "The kids were overhearing what the adults went through, and about national security and the War on Terror," says Grace Yun, who was attuned to 9/11's impact on the kids she works with at InterRelations Collaborative Inc., a nonprofit helping children in underserved neighborhoods. "They said to me, 'Well, we went through the same thing, but that's not really our story," recalls Yun. So one afternoon in 2002, she handed out paper and markers to a roomful of kids ages 11 to 19, and asked them to create posters for peace inspired by 9/11. Then they sat in a circle and shared their work. "You could hear a feather drop," Yun says. "Everyone's breath was held as you got to tell your story. Every story was different, yet every story was the same." Andrea Perez, then 12, from Washington Heights, wrote a portrait of her mother crying as they watched the attacks on TV over the inscription, "I will never forget my mom's face. It will live like thorns in my heart." "It was definitely therapeutic," says Perez, now a 21-year-old liberal arts student at Soka University of America in California. "We were all in a really safe place. I was surrounded by my friends, all of these kids who had gone through similar experiences. It came to us really easily." The 9/11 Peace Story Quilt contains three panels each measuring 72 by 50 inches. Some 50 NYC kids helped constuct it with artist Faith Ringgold. Yun was so impressed with their posters that she emailed one image to renowned Harlem artist Continue Reading

9/11 – 10 Years Later: New York City, and entire nation, still coming to terms with September 11

There was a time when National Guardsmen did not stand watch at Penn Station. There was a time when we weren't on the lookout for suspicious packages. There was a time when we oriented ourselves by the sight of the twin towers, shimmering in the distance. There was a time when 9/11 wasn't shorthand for heartache. All that changed on a blue-sky morning when Osama Bin Laden made a lie of the notion that it couldn't happen here. All that changed on Sept. 11, 2001. Three months from now, New York and the nation will mark the 10th anniversary of that awful day when terrorist hijackers killed some 3,000 people. In the runup to that somber anniversary, the Daily News is taking stock with a special series of stories and videos that explore how New York - and the nation - was marked by 9/11. EXCLUSIVE NYDN 9/11 POLL: MORE THAN 50% OF NEW YORKERS FEAR TERROR ATTACKS "ALL THE TIME" 25% ARE "SUSPICIOUS" OF MUSLIMS 26% THINK OF THE ATTACKS "EVERY DAY"   Over the course of the next 90 days, we will revisit what happened and retrace the torturous path that brought us to this poignant point in history. We will mark the progress - or lack of it - at Ground Zero and talk again with some of the heroes, survivors and families of victims about the years that have passed since the world changed forever. And what a journey it has been. We start with the still surreal sight of jets smashing into the World Trade Center towers, people jumping out windows 90 stories above the ground, towers collapsing and giant toxic clouds rolling down the streets as 343 members of the FDNY and 60 city and Port Authority cops died trying to save lives. That outrage shattered the illusion we were invulnerable and ushered in an uncertain era in which color-coded threat levels became - for a time - the nation's barometer. That outrage sparked an attack on Bin Laden's protectors in Afghanistan and sent the terrorist Continue Reading

Angelina Jolie opposes Florida church’s plan to burn Quran on anniversary of September 11 attacks

ISLAMABAD -- Angelina Jolie on Wednesday condemned a Florida church's threat to burn copies of the Muslim holy book to mark the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.U.S. officials, who have described the church's plan as a disgraceful act and have even warned that it could endanger U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Americans worldwide.Pastor Terry Jones, has said he plans to go ahead in spite of concerns. He is part of the Dove World Outreach Center, a tiny, evangelical Christian church in Gainesville, Florida, with an anti-Islam philosophy. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

World Trade Center Plaza to open for victims kin on eighth of anniversary of September 11 attacks

The World Trade Center Memorial Plaza will be opened for the first time on the eighth anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, to families who lost loved ones in the attacks, it was disclosed Wednesday.Ground Zero's projects lag far beyond schedule and the area is a giant construction site, but enough concrete has been poured over 2,400 tons of steel near the towers' footprints to permit special access for the families, officials say. Port Authority Executive Director Chris Ward revealed that the upper level of the plaza would be temporarily opened during the morning's commemoration ceremonies. "We have made enough progress on the memorial that the 9/11 family members will be allowed to walk out onto the Memorial Plaza for the first time during this September's anniversary - something few thought would be possible this time last year," Ward said in a letter to Gov. Paterson. On the seventh anniversary in 2008, families were ushered down the long construction ramp into the pit below for the somber ceremony. Since then, the ramp has been removed, The Pit is being transformed, more than 70% of the memorial's steel is in place and the pools, parapets and plazas are quickly taking shape, officials say. Ward's upbeat assessment came the day after the Daily News disclosed a secret government report that predicted every blockbuster project at the site would be years behind schedule. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Voice memories part of National September 11 Memorial & Museum

Everyone who went through that horrific day has stories and memories that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Now, officials at the 9/11 memorial planned for the Trade Center site want to hear them. A new Web site ( allows you to upload recollections from that bright, sunny day that turned disastrous when the terrorists attacked. "They say that 9/11 was the most digitally documented event of all time," said Alice Greenwald, director of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. "We're asking people everywhere to help us tell the story." The website was launched on Thursday and a preview of the museum - slated to open Sept. 11, 2012 - was given. Visitors to the museum, will descend 70 feet under Ground Zero. The hallowed "Survivors Staircase," which allowed hundreds of 9/11 survivors to flee to safety, is being built into the museum. Inside they'll see the last column that was removed from the site and is now back in place, covered in graffiti and photos of the missing, along with the slurry wall, part of the original structure that survived the collapse. But it will be the images of the attacks - and the stories of the dead, their families and loved ones that will move visitors most. Visitors will be warned about graphic images - people jumping, human remains, planes piercing the towers - and will have a choice of whether to view them.   Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Judge rejects four September 11 settlements as excessive

NEW YORK - Lawyers for the families of four 9/11 victims are urging a judge to reconsider his decision to reject $28.5 million in settlements that he now says are excessive compared with those other survivors received. U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein had approved four settlements ranging from $5.5 million to $8 million weeks ago, but reversed himself July 24, saying the amounts were "disproportionately large" and that they "embarrass and prejudice" those who settled earlier. He referred to the four victims as "modest wage earners at the Pentagon." Their families were among fewer than 100 who sued over deaths or injuries from the Sept. 11 attacks. More than 5,000 others received money from a special fund established by Congress that distributed more than $7 billion. Hellerstein harshly criticized the lawyers in the four rejected settlements, saying the 25 percent fee they requested was far above the 15 percent given most other lawyers handling the cases. He accused the lawyers of trying to get a "very large windfall" of more than $7 million of the total $28.5 million agreed to by insurance companies for airlines and airport-security companies. Baltimore lawyer Jonathan Asrael, who represented the families, said in papers filed in federal court Monday that the settlements were fair and should be reinstated. "Vacating settlements which were previously approved for these families has rubbed raw the wounds of September 11. It has caused severe upset, disappointment and for some, anger," he wrote. Families who filed lawsuits have said they did so seeking answers rather than money, on matters such as how the terrorists made it through airport checkpoints. Asrael said the plaintiffs were not available to comment on the judge's ruling, but in an affidavit unsealed Wednesday, one of the four plaintiffs, a 57-year-old woman whose husband worked for the Army at the Pentagon, supported the law firm's 25 percent fee. She said she pursued the suit in part Continue Reading