Monday, June 25, 2007

Whitman Faces Inquiry - Rudy Should Too

Former EPA head Christie Whitman will answer questions at a Congressional Hearing today over her past assurances that the air at and around Ground Zero after 9/11 was safe to breathe.

Yesterday, she blamed Rudy Giuliani for all the health problems Ground Zero workers are suffering as a result of their exposure to the toxins at Ground Zero and/or in downtown Manhattan after 9/11.

There is plenty of evidence to show that Whitman herself knew the air was unsafe even as she was assuring New Yorkers that "their air is safe to breathe and their water is safe to drink."
Which is not to say that Rudy himself shouldn't be dragged up before the Congress to answer some questions about his own actions post-9/11 that directly put residents of downtown and Ground Zero workers at risk.

Juan Gonzalez has some questions he thinks Whitman needs to answer when she goes before the Congress today.

I agree that she needs to answer these questions.

I also think Rudy should be answering questions next.

He'll just have to tear himself away from all his electioneering and fund-raising to explain why he decided it was more important to reopen downtown after 9// than to make sure the air and area were safe before allowing residents and workers back. Not to mention why he didn't force Ground Zero workers to wear masks when the studies of his own environmental officials told him the Pile was insanely toxic and dangerous.

UPDATE: Here's how Whitman did yesterday, according to the NY Daily News:

WASHINGTON - Christie Whitman was a woman of many moods yesterday in her reluctant star turn on Capitol Hill.

She went from sad, to patient, to petulant, to forgetful to angry - and back again - in her 2-1/2 hours of high-heat grilling by the House judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution, civil rights and civil liberties.

First she was a little sad, her lips turned down as the congressional panel accused her of lying about the air around Ground Zero.

Then the former Environmental Protection Agency head listened patiently as subcommittee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan) accused the Bush administration of "false, misleading and inaccurate statements."

She became uncomfortable, glancing down at her light-beige-and-white-striped jacket sleeve when Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Brooklyn) called her "dead wrong" for saying the air was safe around Ground Zero.

She managed a tight smile and shook her head when he said no such statements were "so damaging to the health of New York City" as hers.

A video of her reassurances about the safe air, now known to be tragically optimistic, brought only a few blinks by way of reaction.

Mostly, Whitman looked vaguely distressed that congressmen would question her actions in the grim days after 9/11, and branded much of the criticism "innuendo and outright falsehoods."

She resorted to the time-honored, memory-challenged response of not recalling about a dozen times, but pegged most of her answers on others, often with lines like "the scientists were telling me it was safe."

Eventually, Whitman got mad and exploded at Congressman Keith Ellison during his questioning.

Funny how she picked the Muslim congressman for her fury.

I think I heard Rudy's claimed he did tell everyone to wear masks, and I guess that's the story he's going with. I wonder what kind of masks he thinks he told them to wear and whether they'd have been sufficient protection if they'd been used.
The city had the power to force Ground Zero workers to wear HEPA masks and other protective gear at the site (as the federal gov't forced clean-up workers at the Pentagon to do.) It did not. Rudy ran the city. He is culpable.

You'll notice, btw, that people who worked on the clean-up at the pentagon aren't getting sick and dying in enormous numbers.
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