Tags: Networks | Exploit | 9-11 | Victims' | Loved | Ones

Networks Exploit 9-11 Victims' Loved Ones

Friday, 17 May 2002 12:00 AM

In a story headlined "Victims' kin don't blame president for Sept. 11th lapse," Boston Globe reporter Franci Richardson wrote, "Many still-grieving relatives of the Sept. 11 victims said yesterday they don't blame President Bush for not doing more after receiving a warning that al-Qaeda terrorists may have been planning to hijack American jetliners on domestic flights."

None of these people were shown on network TV.

Loris Hill, mother of Todd Hill, a victim of the collapse of the World Trade Center, told the Globe: ``I don't believe that [Bush] knew that all these people were going to get killed and he didn't do anything about it.

``If he absolutely knew something like this was going to happen, he would have done something about it. I just don't think he would have shrugged it off,'' she said.

Richardson reported that "despite her unbelievable loss, Hill - like most other relatives interviewed yesterday - said that new reports of Bush having a heads-up on what turned out to be the deadliest terrorist attacks on U.S. soil had little meaning now.

``If he did or if he didn't, so what? It still won't bring my son back to me,'' Hill said. ``We can point fingers all we want. It happened, and he's gone, and I'm in pain. My life will never be the same again.''

One woman who lost friends and co-workers, United Airlines stewardess Barbara MacFarland, remarked, ``If [the White House] knew, they should have warned the airlines.

``Anyone has a right to choose whether they want to work a flight if something like that might happen. If there's a thunderstorm, do you want to drive your car? Or do you want to wait until the thunderstorm is over?''

Even if Bush had issued a warning, however, Linda Gay told the Globe, her husband, Peter, a Raytheon executive, would still have boarded American Airlines Flight 11 to California as he did every Monday.

``There was no direct threat,'' Mrs. Gay said. ``A warning is a warning, but they had no specific information. He would have flown because he's got to make money for the family. We can't stop our life from going on for warnings.''

The networks, however showed only those victims' loved ones complaining that the president had failed to issue warnings that would have deterred the victims from flying.

But there were warnings, lots of them, all of them lacking details. Government and airline officials insist that the intelligence information they had was so vague and unspecific it would not have justified increased security at the nation's airports.

Vague information about terrorist intentions had been reported throughout the months leading up to 9-11.

Terming the political and media firestorm over the issue "really much ado about nothing," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told Rush Limbaugh on Thursday: "To my knowledge there was no warning, no alert as to suicide attackers in airplanes. There's always been concerns about hijacking. That's been true for months and years as a possibility."

The U.S. intelligence community, Rumsfeld said, lacked information sufficient "to issue any specific warning. But I should say that through the spring and summer there was a great deal of threat reporting indicating on a variety of different things all over the world, but without any specificity as to what might happen.

"In my view all appropriate actions were taken according to the threat situation as far as it was known. There were times when the Department of State would send out cautions and warnings to their embassies. The Department of Defense had different threat levels for our various areas of responsibility around the world and took a whole series of steps at different times as we always do, but I think it's just grossly inaccurate to suggest that the President had any kind of a warning about September 11th."

On Thursday, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta agreed. "I would not think of it as a warning that gave any credible specificity in terms of that information. It was just general information relating to threats."

Minetta was backed up by officials of the airlines whose planes were hijacked in 9-11. United Airlines and American Airlines told Reuters the so-called "warnings" were totally lacking in specifics.

"During 2001, there were no alerts or cautions that indicated a Sept. 11 scenario was credible or possible," United spokesman Joe Hopkins told Reuters. And a statement issued by American Airlines stated that "the bulletins were extremely general in nature and did not identify a specific threat or recommend any specific security enhancements."

So vague were the alerts, none were passed on to pilots and flight attendants, union officials told Reuters.

"If we're supposed to be looking for suspicious people, we should know we're supposed to be looking for them," Jeff Zack, a spokesman for Association of Flight Attendants, told the news agency.

Though noting that the law forbids them from releasing the text of the warnings they issued, Transportation Department officials gave reporters a summary of the 15 FAA information circulars sent to airports and airlines between January and August.

The vagueness of the alleged warnings could never have justified an increase in airport security, David Stempler, president of Air Travelers Association, told Reuters.

"Passengers would not have tolerated the kinds of inspections and long lines that we are now going through without the vision of the smoking World Trade Center," the airline passenger advocate said.

Nobody in the administration or among aviation experts had the vaguest notion that hijackers would take over a plane and use it as a missile against targets in the U.S.

The matter never cane up in meetings of those concerned with airline safety.

"Even if it had been raised, it would have been viewed as too fantastic, the idea that you would have trained pilots and trained holy warriors ready to commit suicide," said Paul Hudson, executive director of Aviation Consumer Action Project.

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In a story headlined Victims' kin don't blame president for Sept. 11th lapse, Boston Globe reporter Franci Richardson wrote, Many still-grieving relatives of the Sept. 11 victims said yesterday they don't blame President Bush for not doing more after receiving a warning...
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Friday, 17 May 2002 12:00 AM
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