Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Have a Nice Day, Christy Todd Whitman

BBC (uk): Problems mount from 9/11 fallout

The number of people with medical problems linked to the 9/11 attacks on New York has risen to at least 15,000.

The figure, put together for the BBC, counts those receiving treatment for problems related to breathing in dust.

Many of the victims say the government offered false reassurances that the Manhattan air was safe and are now pursuing a class-action lawsuit.


The apparent cause? The long line of contaminants carried by the dust into the lungs of many of those at, or near, the scene on that fateful day.

'Real' figure

One list of sufferers has been compiled at the Mount Sinai Medical Center. Its World Trade Center Screening Programme has 16,000 people on its books, of whom about half - 8,000 - require treatment.

A further 7,000 firefighters are recorded as having a wide range of medical problems, producing a total of 15,000. But the overall numbers affected could easily be far higher.


Many of the people now suffering were sent to Ground Zero to help search for survivors. Others volunteered. Still more just happened to be living or working in the area.

The latter feel particularly aggrieved, even betrayed.

In the days following the attacks, the head [CHRISTY TODD WHITMAN] of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared that monitoring operations had proved the "air was safe to breathe". And with that reassurance, the authorities reopened the globally important financial hub of Wall Street.

At the time it was seen as a critical morale-booster to a wounded nation.

Yet now the federal courts have allowed a class-action lawsuit to be filed against those very authorities.

Last month, a judge described the EPA's reassurances as "misleading" and "shocking the conscience". The legal process could last years.

Historical note: The phrase "Have a nice day" is taken from the classic Doonesbury cartoon from the early 1970s, summarizing the murders of four students at Kent State after Nixon's Attorney General, John Mitchell, had ordered the National Guard in to Kent State. The final square of that cartoon read "Have a nice day, John Mitchell". I probably have it somewhere in a box. It is embedded in my brain, along with "Dare to be great, Ms. Caucus" and "But this war had such promise."

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