David Slesinger's blog

Port Authority continues its extortion of WTC museum Agency has stopped construction to plunder money from 9/11 nonprofit founda



Thursday, June 14, 2012, 4:10 AM


President Obama visited the finished WTC memorial on 9/11’s 10th anniversary. Will the Port Authority ever finish the WTC museum?

Two weeks ago, we warned the Port Authority and its masters, Govs. Cuomo and Chris Christie, that they would face “national embarrassment” if work on the 9/11 museum was not resumed before President Obama’s impending visit to the World Trade Center site.

No such luck. The President will inspect the project on Thursday, Flag Day, and the construction crews remain off the job.

Responsibility rests with the PA, led by Christie’s Chairman David Samson and Cuomo’s Executive Director Pat Foye.

They have been negotiating a deal to share construction costs with the foundation that oversees the museum and the Trade Center memorial, with Mayor Bloomberg’s team sitting on the foundation’s side of the table.

Choosing From the Many Lessons of Sept. 11


June 4 Choosing From the Many Lessons of Sept. 11

Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times
In eight years of planning a museum at the National September 11 Memorial, every step has been muddied by contention.
One of the difficult questions that the National September 11 Memorial Museum has grappled with is how to explain why a group of radical Islamists wanted to bring down the World Trade Center towers and attack the Pentagon. We asked a group of historians and educators to talk about what they thought was essential for people to understand about the history leading up to 9/11.

David Blight, a professor of American history at Yale University and an adviser to the museum, started off the discussion by urging people to take the long view and place the attacks in a larger tapestry of human experience.

What do you think is essential for people to understand about the history leading up to Sept. 11?

Mr. Blight: To concentrate only on the horror and drama of that day and the events in its immediate aftermath, while utterly compelling, does not necessarily leave us understanding anything. While mourning, people are not easily capable of seeking historical understanding, of taking a long view; 9/11 seemed so unparalleled, unique, without precedent. But is it? The methods and the overwhelming and immediate results were new. But the human impulses, as well as our own human reactions, were and are hardly new. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, we desperately searched for historical analogies through which to find understanding. Was this a Pearl Harbor? An Antietam or a Fort Sumter? Was this only the beginning of an enveloping conspiracy against Western values and societies? Was this warfare of a new kind for which we had no analogies?

All the panelists agreed about the importance of understanding the historical context. But the other commentators — Anthony Gardner, whose brother died in the attacks and is on the museum’s advisory committee; Bill Braniff, executive director of the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) based at the University of Maryland; and Wilfred M. McClay , a professor of humanities and history at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga — took issue with Mr. Blight’s approach, particularly his insistence on a centuries-long timeline and his reluctance to single out the Sept. 11 attacks as special.

The 5 Most Contentious Exhibits in New York's Fraught September 11 Memorial Museum


The 5 Most Contentious Exhibits in New York's Fraught September 11 Memorial Museum

Rendering by Squared Design Lab, Courtesy of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum
A rendering of the 9/11 Museum pavilion
by Benjamin Sutton
Published: June 4, 2012
Given the hundreds of officials overseeing its creation, the thousands of victims' family members keenly watching its development, and the millions in New York and beyond who witnessed the events it commemorates, the level of scrutiny on the National September 11 Memorial Museum is unheard of, both in its scope and its sensitivity. A fascinating New York Times feature on the development of the massive 110,000-square-foot subterranean institution's permanent exhibition outlines the contraditions inherent in creating a display that both memorializes and historicizes, showing how such tensions — and input from innumerable parties — have guided curatorial decisions. In so doing, the article also more or less reveals exactly what will be included in the Museum's permanent exhibition when it opens — at a date that has been delayed again due to disputes over its financing. Here are the five most contentious exhibits visitors to the September 11 Memorial Museum will likely find.

At Museum on 9/11, Talking Through an Identity Crisis


June 2, 2012
At Museum on 9/11, Talking Through an Identity Crisis
It seemed self-evident at the time: A museum devoted to documenting the events of Sept. 11, 2001, would have to include photographs of the hijackers who turned four passenger jets into missiles. Then two and a half years ago, plans to use the pictures were made public.

New York City’s fire chief protested that such a display would “honor” the terrorists who destroyed the World Trade Center. A New York Post editorial called the idea “appalling.” Groups representing rescuers, survivors and victims’ families asked how anyone could even think of showing the faces of the men who killed their relatives, colleagues and friends.

The anger took some museum officials by surprise.

“You don’t create a museum about the Holocaust and not say that it was the Nazis who did it,” said Joseph Daniels, chief executive of the memorial and museum foundation.

Such are the exquisite sensitivities that surround every detail in the creation of the National September 11 Memorial Museum, which is being built on land that many revere as hallowed ground. During eight years of planning, every step has been muddied with contention. There have been bitter fights over the museum’s financing, which have delayed its opening until at least next year, as well as continuing arguments over its location, seven stories below ground; which relics should be exhibited; and where unidentified human remains should rest.

Even the souvenir key chains to be sold in the gift shop have become a focus of rancor.

But nothing has been more fraught than figuring out how to tell the story.

The sunken granite pools that opened last Sept. 11 and that occupy the footprints of the fallen towers were designed as places to mourn and remember the dead. Yet nowhere on the plaza is there even a mention of the terrorist attacks that caused the destruction. The job of documenting and interpreting the history has been left to the museum, and it is an undertaking pockmarked with contradictions.

Alice Greenwald, the director of the new museum, and her team must simultaneously honor the dead and the survivors; preserve an archaeological site and its artifacts; and try to offer a comprehensible explanation of a once inconceivable occurrence. They must speak to vastly different audiences that include witnesses at the scene and around the globe, as well as children born long after the wreckage had been cleared. And many of those listening have long-simmering, deeply felt opinions about how the museum should take shape.

“Whose truth is going to be in that museum?” asked Sally Regenhard, whose son, Christian, a firefighter, died in the north tower.

U.S. owes apologies for mistakes in its war against terror


U.S. owes apologies for mistakes in its war against terror


"Morally speaking, … indifference to evil is worse than evil itself."


IN JEWISH tradition, every human being is created in God’s image, b’tzelem elohim. This concept from Genesis 1:27 means that every human being – whether friend or enemy – deserves basic respect and requires ethical treatment.

It means that even when we deal with those who try to harm us, we have an ethical standard by which we judge our own actions.

After Sept. 11, 2001, our country lost this moral compass, and we committed acts of torture against 9/11 detainees that were illegal under both American and international law. Fear became a driving force over our long-cherished values. And in return, both our values and our safety were compromised.

Dept. of Homeland Security Forced to Release List of Keywords Used to Monitor Social Networking Sites


Reuven Cohen, Contributor
The Digital Provocateur. A focus on disruptive trends in technology.

TECH | 5/26/2012 @ 8:21PM |36,959 views
Dept. of Homeland Security Forced to Release List of Keywords Used to Monitor Social Networking Sites

If you are thinking about tweeting about clouds, pork, exercise or even Mexico, think again. Doing so may result in a closer look by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

In a story appearing earlier today on the U.K’s Daily Mail website, it was reported that the DHS has been forced to release a list of keywords and phrases it uses to monitor various social networking sites. The list provides a glimpse into what DHS describes as “signs of terrorist or other threats against the U.S.”

The list was posted by the Electronic Privacy Information Center who filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act, before suing to obtain the release of the documents. The documents were part of the department’s 2011 ’Analyst’s Desktop Binder‘ used by workers at their National Operations Center which instructs workers to identify ‘media reports that reflect adversely on DHS and response activities’.

The information sheds new light on how government analysts are instructed to patrol the internet searching for domestic and external threats. The Daily Mail’s article noted the Electronic Privacy Information Center wrote a letter to the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counter-terrorism and Intelligence, describing it’s choice of words as ‘broad, vague and ambiguous’.

What wasn’t disclosed is how the agency actually gains access to the various search engines and social networks to monitor the specified keywords. My guess is the DHS has a “special arrangement” with companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo and Twitter to gain secure direct API access. This type of access would allow it to use distributed cloud technologies to monitor the daily flow of social media and search activity in something close to real time.

People Who Lived Near World Trade Center Report More Lung Disease


People Who Lived Near World Trade Center Report More Lung Disease

Residents of homes close enough to attacks to sustain damage had more symptoms 5 years later

May 25, 2012

FRIDAY, May 25 (HealthDay News) -- People in lower Manhattan whose homes were damaged in the 9/11 terrorist attacks are more likely to have symptoms of respiratory diseases than those whose homes were not damaged, a new study indicates.

Thousands of lower Manhattan residents experienced some type of damage to their homes -- such as broken windows and ruined furnishings -- after the collapse of the World Trade Center's Twin Towers.

Previous studies found an increased level of asthma among residents who had a heavy layer of dust in their homes after the attacks. The new findings examine how damage to homes is associated with respiratory diseases and symptoms.

Researchers analyzed data from nearly 6,500 lower Manhattan residents who took part in the World Trade Center Health Registry. Five to six years after 9/11, 61 percent reported new or worsening upper respiratory symptoms.

Study: 9/11 WTC dust sickened residents years later


A study blames long-term sickness on 9/11 dust from the World Trade Center. These shoes were found nearby days after 9/11.
May 22nd, 2012
11:30 AM ET
Comments (83 comments)

Study: 9/11 WTC dust sickened residents years later
Several years after dust from the World Trade Center twin towers found its way into thousands of homes and nearly every crevice in lower Manhattan, area residents still suffered health problems, according to a new study.

People living in homes damaged after 2001's Trade Center attacks were more likely to report respiratory illness or disease years later, when compared with people whose homes were not damaged, according to a recent analysis of World Trade Center Health Registry data.

"This study highlights the magnitude of the 9/11 attacks by showing that people exposed to dust in their homes continued to have respiratory problems even five to six years after the fact," said study author Dr. Vinicius Antao, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, in a press release.

Breathing problems most often reported by residents post-9/11 included upper respiratory problems such as shortness of breath, wheezing and chronic cough. Less frequently, residents reported asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which can cause progressive deterioration of lung function.

About 41% of residents surveyed say they had either "some" or "intense" exposure to the 9/11 dust cloud, according to the study abstract, which will be presented Wednesday at the American Thoracic Society annual meeting.

"The folks who had higher exposures certainly would be more likely to develop disease," said Dr. Jacqueline Moline, director of the Queens World Trade Center Clinical Center of Excellence. "It's also noteworthy that 59% were not in the dust cloud. So you didn't have to be in the dust cloud for there to be these problems."

Among the 6,463 residents included in the study, more than half reported upper respiratory problems. About 16% had shortness of breath; 11% reported wheezing; and 8% had asthma symptoms that either developed or got worse after exposure to dust.

Muslim leaders summoned to meeting with NJ attorney general


Muslim leaders summoned to meeting with NJ attorney general

MONDAY, MAY 21, 2012 LAST UPDATED: MONDAY MAY 21, 2012, 6:36 PM

Muslim leaders say they have been invited to a meeting Thursday with the state attorney general in Trenton for an update on a possible investigation into New York Police Department surveillance operations.

Muslim leaders have demanded that state Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa investigate NYPD activities in New Jersey since news of surveillance broke. A spokesman in Chiesa’s office said Monday “we have no comment.”

The NYPD surveillance program targeted Muslims at businesses, universities and mosques, including one in Paterson and several in Newark, as well as student groups at 16 Northeast colleges, including Rutgers University.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the Police Department have defended the spying program — first detailed in a series of articles by The Associated Press — as lawful and necessary.

Some civic and religious groups and lawmakers, though, have blasted the surveillance as a violation of civil rights and have called for an investigation.

Top law-enforcement officials in New Jersey met with Muslim leaders in Trenton on March 3 to address concerns and told them fact finding was under way to determine whether to launch an official investigation.

Who Will Rescue Us From Post 9-11 Thinking?


Who Will Rescue Us From Post 9-11 Thinking?

By Curt Day (about the author)


What is Post 9-11 thinking? What preceded it? Do inquiring minds really want to know?

Well, in case they do, we will start with pre 9-11 thinking. With pre 9-11 thinking, we treated terrorism like crime in that we didn't react to it until it occurred. And because we didn't pre-emptively act against terrorism, we didn't act against American citizens with today's surveillance. Thus, pre 9-11 thinking granted American citizens a few more rights and privacy than post 9-11 thinking did. However, pure pre 9-11 thinking really didn't exist. For example, our government had acted pre-emptively to stop "millenium" terrorist attacks in 1999. Regardless of how the would-be attacks were discovered, the Clinton Administration acted pre-emptively.

Then, tragically, the 9-11 atrocities occurred and we were asked to think in a new way, which was not really new to some in the Bush Administration or the rest of the country. The "new" way of thinking included more than just pre-emption, it meant that America could assume this dominating position over the rest of the world so that no rival would emerge. And a side benefit was that we would have more access to important resources and our products would have more access to markets around the world.

This new 9-11 thinking was based on then President Bush's analysis of the attacks. He claimed we were attacked because those who want our destruction were jealous of our freedoms thus implying that future attacks were a fixed cost. But Chalmers Johnson and others pointed out that our foreign policies, including our history of covert actions, gave more than adequate motivation to many groups, let alone Al-Qaida, for attacking us. In addition, interviews with Bin Laden pointed to policies like the Iraq sanctions, which caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children, along with our unbalanced support for Israel in its brutal occupation and taking of Palestinian land as reasons for the attack.

Q. & A.: Ali Soufan


May 17, 2012
Q. & A.: Ali Soufan

Posted by Amy Davidson

In the past couple of weeks, Ali Soufan, the former F.B.I. agent who led the investigation into the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole and into events surrounding 9/11—and was the subject of a 2006 New Yorker piece by Lawrence Wright and is the author of “The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al Qaeda”—has been drawn back into the debate about torture and the war on terror by the publication of “Hard Measures: How Aggressive C.I.A. Actions After 9/11 Saved American Lives,” by Jose Rodriguez, Jr. Rodriguez, in his book and in a “60 Minutes” interview, argued that techniques like waterboarding are necessary tools; Soufan has a different view. Below, he answers questions about post-9/11 interrogations, the roles of the C.I.A. and F.B.I., and whether torture works.

Who is Jose Rodriguez? What does he know about the waterboarding of detainees after 9/11, and what we did or didn’t learn from it?

Jose was a C.I.A. officer whose area of expertise was in Latin America, but after September 11, 2001, he was put in charge of the C.I.A.’s Counterterrorism Center, and now he’s claiming responsibility for introducing the so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” (E.I.T.s). In 2005, he ordered the destruction of tapes that showed the harsh techniques being used, apparently contrary to orders. He was later reprimanded by the C.I.A.’s inspector general’s office.

The claims he’s recently been making about the success of the harsh techniques are the same false claims that have appeared in now declassified C.I.A. memos, and which have been thoroughly discredited by the likes of the Department of Justice, the Senate Intelligence Committee, and the C.I.A.’s Inspector General.

The person making those claims isn’t the same Jose that I knew. I don’t know what he really knows, whether he was fed false information, or if he’s trying to defend his legacy, but what he says is at odds with the facts.

Speaking science to power EPA researcher gets her job back ― for the second time.



Speaking science to power
EPA researcher gets her job back ― for the second time.

Jeff Tollefson
17 May 2012

People working in the rubble of the World Trade Center towers were exposed to more corrosive dust than the EPA let on, according to Cate Jenkins.

Last week a federal appeals board sent Cate Jenkins back to work at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), marking another victory in the rabble-rousing chemist's colourful career. The agency had fired the 65-year-old scientist in December 2010, alleging that she threatened a supervisor, but the US Merit Systems Protection Board ruled that the EPA failed to inform Jenkins of all of the charges against her.

Jenkins maintains that she was fired in retaliation for her work exposing pollution dangers at the World Trade Center site in New York after the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001. In parallel with her formal work at the EPA, Jenkins has alleged, among other things, that EPA used a falsified health standard that remains in place today to downplay the dangers of corrosive dust at the site. In the months and years following the attacks, Jenkins reported her findings to the EPA Inspector General, Congress and the FBI. Although she has now been cleared to return to work, the whistle-blower case continues in a separate process at the US Department of Labor. The EPA could also choose to dismiss her again, this time following the proper procedures.

Jenkins says that she was fulfilling her obligations as a federal employee, responding to individuals and organizations that seek her expertise in reviewing technical data. She won an earlier whistle-blower case in 1996 involving Vietnam War veterans’ exposure to Agent Orange. She talks to Nature about her work, her advocacy and the manipulation of scientific data.

Why Real ID program offers a false sense of security: A Q&A


Why Real ID program offers a false sense of security: A Q&A
Published: Monday, May 14, 2012, 8:08 AM
By Star-Ledger Staff

Mitsu Yasukawa/The Star-Ledger
A driver license and insurance card are pictured in this file photo. Jim Harper of the Cato Institute discusses by the Real ID program offers a false sense of security in this Q&A.
Last week, the American Civil Liberties Union won an injunction against New Jersey’s TRU-ID program, the state’s version of the federal Real ID secure driver’s license program. Created in the aftermath of 9/11, the law is an attempt to close loopholes that allowed the 9/11 hijackers to acquire U.S. driver’s licenses.
Security and privacy experts say Real ID does little for security, but places personal privacy at risk.
Jim Harper is director of policy studies at the libertarian Cato Institute, where he is an expert in security and privacy. He spoke last week with Star-Ledger editorial writer Jim Namiotka.
Q. How will Real ID improve our national security?
A. It won’t.
Q. Please explain.
A. The driver’s license isn’t a security tool, and the things that Real ID does would be trivially easy for terrorists or other attackers to avoid. There isn’t a real security value in Real ID.
Q. Why the focus on driver’s licenses?
A. The proponents of Real ID talked about terrorism as the reason for passing the law. Actually, their goal is immigration control. They want a national ID in place that would be used to do a background check on everybody when they start employment. In the future, it could be used to control access to financial services, to control access to health care, or housing, or pharmaceuticals, for example.

In Congress, City’s Lawmakers Tackle NYPD Surveillance


May 10, 2012, 1:20 PM ET
In Congress, City’s Lawmakers Tackle NYPD Surveillance

Associated Press
A protest in November against the New York Police Department’s alleged surveillance of Muslim communities.
Most of New York City’s House delegation backed a failed measure to rebuke the New York Police Department’s intelligence-gathering efforts focused on Muslim groups.

Rep. Rush Holt, a New Jersey Democrat, introduced an amendment to a Justice Department appropriations bill that would have blocked spending on police programs found to violate the U.S. Constitution or federal antidiscrimination laws. The measure, Holt made clear, was part of his broader push to stop the NYPD’s counterterrorism and surveillance efforts focused on Muslims.

“My amendment would ensure that no federal funds are flowing to any law-enforcement entity that the [Justice] Department has identified as engaging in racial, ethnic, and religious profiling,” he said in introducing the measure.

It failed Wednesday night in a largely party-line vote, 232 to 193. Almost all of New York City overwhelmingly Democratic House delegation voted in favor of the amendment.

Only Staten Island Rep. Michael Grimm and Queens Rep. Robert Turner, the city’s two Republicans, voted against it. Two Long Island lawmakers, Republican Rep. Peter King and Democrat Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, also opposed the amendment.

The NYPD’s counterterrorism tactics have come under scrutiny as the result of an Associated Press probe into efforts targeting Muslim groups in the city and across the region, including in New Jersey. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly have defended the department’s approach as necessary and legal.

Heights of Hypocrisy: The Universal Use of 9/11 in Politics


Kristen Breitweiser9/11 widow and activist

Heights of Hypocrisy: The Universal Use of 9/11 in Politics
Posted: 05/ 3/2012 9:32 am

A year ago, I wrote a blog about the death of Osama bin Laden, "Today is Not a Day of Celebration for Me."

I wrote the blog after witnessing so many Americans celebrating, fist-pumping, dancing, and reveling in the streets about the death of bin Laden.

Seeing so many Americans acting like that was too much of an uncomfortable reminder of those who celebrated in the streets during the attacks of 9/11 while men like my husband either burned alive, were crushed alive, or horrifically jumped to their deaths.

A year ago, what drove me to write was my sadness in bearing the sight of Americans celebrating the death of anyone -- even the man largely responsible for the murder of my husband.

Now one year later, I am once again driven to write due to witnessing President Obama resort to the same campaign tactics as George W. Bush.

Frankly, for what it's worth, it sickens me; and it saddens me.