The scandal of the WTC Rebuild Part 2: by

This is copied from another blog i found on #3 parts in order;

• March 11, 2005 | 9:40 p.m. ET

Freedom Tower politics (David Shuster)

The blogs we've been posting on the Freedom Tower continue to generate a huge number of e-mails. Every day, I've been receiving articles and stories detailing a host of new engineering problems associated with the current plan for lower manhattan. [Blog: Freedom Tower Vs. Twin Towers; Blog: Rebuild the Twin Towers]

The latest issue concerns a plan by Governor Pataki to sink an eight lane street beneath the proposed Freedom Tower park.There are two problems: First, Verizon says it would need to relocate a massive amount of underground telecom gear in order to clear a path for the tunnel. (Verizon says this move could delay the entire project for two years.) Secondly, the proposed underground construction project would be akin to Boston's "big dig." Only this time, the chaos and mess would be in Lower Manhattan.

I could go on and on. It seems likely that this Freedom Tower project is going to keep a hole in the Manhattan skyline (and thrill Al-Qaeda) for at least a decade. Many of you have said that construction on "newer, stronger, and taller twin towers" should have already begun. To all of you who have been wondering, "Is it too late to scuttle the freedom tower and rebuild the twin towers?" the answer is clearly "No."

One of my contacts recently sent me a copy of the Environmental Impact Statement done a year ago in lower Manhattan. The 30-chapter volume refers to the Freedom Tower as the Proposed Action. But in Chapter 23, the EIS examines a "restoration alternative." This alternative is to "rebuild the Twin Towers." In other words, the environmental impact study for rebuilding the twin towers has already been conducted... a crucial first step. It's also worth noting that the public architectural blueprints and models for a new Twin Towers (architect Ken Gardner at are more detailed than the public blueprints and models for the Freedom Tower put forward by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation.

Putting all of that aside though, there is a factor that I'm convinced will soon come into play... presidential politics. New York Governor George Pataki (who has always backed the LMDC and the Freedom Tower) has made no secret of his 2008 presidential ambitions. And on the face of it, Pataki could be a formidable candidate. But imagine what will happen if John McCain holds a news conference, discusses the ongoing problems with the Freedom Tower, speaks about the need for America to stand tall, not weak, and declares that nothing is acceptable other than stronger, taller, Twin Towers. "Under this scenario," a political strategist told me, "Pataki would be dead, absolutely dead." Now imagine if Hillary Rodham Clinton is the first to hold such a news conference. As everybody in the U.S. Senate knows, Mrs. Clinton is preparing for a possible 2008 run by moving to the center, bolstering her standing on red state values issues, and looking for ways to demonstrate leadership and "toughness" on foreign policy issues. On the issue of terrorism, what would be "tougher" than bashing George Pataki's Freedom Tower and demanding, in the name of true freedom from our enemies, that the Twin Towers be rebuilt.

So, where do the possible 2008 presidential contenders stand?

John McCain, I've been told, "is not considering this issue right now." But, I was drawn to the words "right now."

Hillary Rodham Clinton, according to her spokesman, "has not taken a stand on the Freedom project or on the twin towers. The Senator believes lower Manhattan should be rebuilt." Hmmm. That is not an endorsement of the Freedom Tower. And given that Mrs. Clinton is one of the senators from New York, her withholding of any Freedom Tower endorsement, and her absence from all Freedom Tower events, is revealing.

Will presidential politics be the issue that ignites this debate? How nervous should George Pataki be right now? Who would win this fight?

Comments/ Questions/ Questions for the next blog cast:

By the way, for those of you who saw last week's blog cast and were angry with my display of the "Michigan victors" ring tone... you will be happy to know I was recently put in my place by my five year old nephew in California. One day this week to kindergarten, he proudly wore the "M" baseball cap I gave him recently. The teacher asked what the "M" stood for... and my nephew said, "The Oakland A's."


• February 22, 2005 | 6:52 p.m. ET

Freedom Tower versus new Twin Towers (David Shuster)

This week, New York City is rolling out its bid for the 2012 Olympic games. The bid includes proposed sporting venues, hotels, housing complexes, and office space in midtown Manhattan, New Jersey, and many of the city's boroughs. But lower Manhattan, the part of the city most recognizable around the world (until terrorists brought down the Twin Towers on 9/11) is totally and completely ignored. The proposed replacement known as the Freedom Tower is not mentioned or shown anywhere in the city's Olympic materials.

Talk about a lack of pride. 88 nations lost citizens in the WTC attacks on 9/11. Can you imagine an Olympic games 11 years after 9/11, where America's message to the world is, "Our most sacred piece of property is not even worth a mention or visit?"

If New York's Olympic bid committee is ashamed of the proposed Freedom Tower, the committee is not alone. One year ago, Donald Trump called the proposed tower "a 50 story building that looks like it's 120 stories." "It's a skeleton," Trump said, "and that's the last thing we need in New York is a skeleton representing the World Trade Center."

One of the workers from the WTC restaurant "Windows on the World" said that in memory of his colleagues and friends who were trapped and died on the 102nd floor... there is "no way" he will ever run a "Windows on the World" that sits on any building's 68th floor. (The "occupied space" of the Freedom Tower will be at least 30 stories shorter than the WTC towers.)

And just to remind you, Rudy Giuliani (who has been notably absent from every Freedom Tower event) has privately told friends he is "embarassed" by the design. Mayor Michael Bloomberg is said to have privately described the freedom tower a "disappointment." And members of the NYPD and the NYFD have openly declared the proposal to be an "embarassment."

So, why is the Freedom Tower moving forward? In going back through the selection process pushed forward by New York Governor George Pataki, I've been struck by a number of irregularities. All six of the final proposed WTC replacement designs were widely described by media articles two years ago as a "disappointment." Polls suggested the least disappointing of the final six was a scaffolding type rendition of the Twin Towers by an architect named Rafael Vignoli. But after secret meetings involving the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, Vignoli's design still came in as the "runner up" in the final selection. How did the Freedom Tower beat Vignoli's design? One of my reporting colleagues tells a chilling story about having set up an interview with Vignoli, who at first seemed eager to talk about his "view" of the selection process. The next day, just before the interview was supposed to take place, the architect's secretary called and said something along the lines of, "Mr. Vignoli is satisifed to have made it this far and has decided he will not be doing any interviews." Click. What changed? Mr. Vignoli and his associates are still not talking to reporters.

But never mind all of that for the moment... last week's blog generated an avalanche of e-mails. A few of you suggested I was too hard on Libeskind's Freedom Tower design, given that he offers the latest architectural and artistic principles and that "every building" faces some engineering challenges. Maybe so. However, most of you said the real issue is that the Twin Towers should be rebuilt. Anything less, you suggested, would be a victory for Al-Qaeda and a permanent shame.

Peter Walukiewicz wrote that he lost friends in the WTC on 9/11 and that "rebuilding the Twin Towers is the ultimate tribute to our fallen heroes... I can't think of a more powerfrul affirmation of our strength and resolve."

Tracy DiNardo, who lost a friend in the NYFD on 9/11, said "the towers should be built again as they were before with all necessary updates."

And one Hardblogger reader suggested, "Imagine the pride that would sweep across this nation as a modern, stronger, and taller version of the Twin Towers started rising again in the sky over Manhattan..."

The image of a new Twin Towers, slightly off-set from where the old ones stood, has already been embraced by several architects and designers. My question is, what do you think? Take a look at the photos for a "Twin Tower" design and compare it to the design planned for the "Freedom Tower."

"Twin Tower" design

Ken Gardner

Click here for the design planned for the "Freedom Tower."

Which building design would you prefer to see in NYC? You can vote here on this blog page. And I'll update you on the results...

In the meantime, there is a lot we've been uncovering about the politics behind the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation— the group in charge of Ground Zero. I'll have more on that aspect of this story later in the week. Stay tuned.



• February 25, 2005 | 6:22 p.m. ET

Rebuild the Twin Towers (David Shuster)

Live Vote
Which building design would you prefer to see in NYC? * 3483 responses
America's Freedom Tower
A new Twin Towers
Not a scientific survey. Click to learn more. Results may not total 100% due to rounding.
Your opinion was clear, resolute, and overwhelming. This week, when we asked which World Trade Center replacement you prefer in NYC, 80 percent of you chose the “New Twin Towers” design pictured below and only 20 percent picked the “Freedom Tower” selected by Governor George Pataki’s Lower Manhattan Development Corporation.

Nearly 3,500 of you participated in our online poll. And while online polls are not “scientific,” the results, I believe, are important. Ground Zero is hallowed ground. And the fact is, an overwhelming percentage of you hate the current plans.

Ken Gardner
A new Twin Towers?
Some of you took issue with the Freedom Tower design itself— Brendan called it a “decapitated pyramid with a chicken coop on top.” James noted only 70 stories will be occupied and added, “even if you count the miserable birdcage... the building will soon be eclipsed as the world’s tallest.” Others mentioned the “awful political cronyism.”

I received numerous requests to keep digging through the financial contributions from Ron Lauder (a friend of Daniel Libeskind) to Governor Pataki. And a few of you spoke about the “lack of excitement” after a separate architectural firm took over Libeskind’s original design and made some dramatic changes.

Most of you, however, said the issue is that the Twin Towers were an American icon and must be rebuilt:

* Steve wrote, “The greatest memorial to honor the thousands of lives lost is to rebuild the Twin Towers, stronger and mightier than ever.”
* Rick wrote, “Anything less is a memorial to fear.”
* Rich wrote, “My friend’s father was an FDNY Lieutenant (Lt. Vincent G. Halloran) who died when the buildings collapsed. He has told me that his father would want the towers rebuilt; that not rebuilding them is a defeat.”
* Jen wrote, “I lost a dozen people in the Trade Center. Most were friends and former colleagues at Marsh & McLennan that took Tower 1’s direct hit. No one I know wants the Freedom Tower and everyone I know overwhelmingly wants the Towers back.”
* Jack wrote, “A new Twin Towers is elegant in its simplicity. They knocked it down so let’s rebuild it, taller, stronger, better.”
* Mike wrote, “This is important, this is our Iwo Jima flag.”
* Jeff wrote, “We need to show the terrorists that although they might be able to knock us down once, we will only come back bigger and stronger.”

I could go on and on. I’ve received thousands of e-mails expressing the overwhelming desire that the WTC Twin Towers “rise again.” Many of you asked, “What can we do to make this happen?”

I am a journalist, not an activist or organizer. But I can report to you something that my friend Joe Trippi has been noticing and writing a lot about lately— Those of you on the Internet are gaining power and influence very quickly. You have the ability to organize, mobilize, inform, and take action in ways that have fundamentally changed American politics. The groups that want to rebuild the Twin Towers are out there ( and the people who support the “Freedom Tower” are organized as well ( But, this is a mismatch. And everybody knows it (including, I’m told, a 2008 Presidential candidate).

The question is how much damage does Governor Pataki and the LMDC want to inflict upon themselves before they wake up to reality? Americans, and especially New Yorkers, want their beloved city back.


That has to tell you something right there, after all David Schuster is a Journalist, and MSNBC is a real public news source -- Bring Truth to justice!