5 Times Square
NY, NY 10036
May 22, 2004
Dear Mr. Giuliani,
At the 9/11 Public Hearings you announced that all the anger and blame should be focused on the 19 terrorists who piloted the planes. You went on in your press conferences to state that you understood that the comments from the crowd were due misplaced anger from the grieving process. We respectfully disagree with you on both accounts.
It is true that on September 11th, nineteen terrorists were responsible for murdering nearly 3000 people. But the terrorists could not have succeeded if there had not been loopholes, inefficiency, and lack of collaboration, communication and coordination in our national security system. Something went terribly wrong which allowed the terrorists to launch a surprise attack here in America, using hijacked airplanes. All the factors, which contributed to the death of so many on September 11th, must be identified and corrected. Certainly, the terrorists are at the top of the list, but there is much more to this story and it cannot be swept under the rug, as if it does not exist.
Your statement, ” Our enemy is not each other, but the terrorists who attacked us,” implies that asking questions about our government’s knowledge, preparedness and response prior to and on 9/11 is somehow wrong. To suggest that an investigation is synonymous with attacking each other is a deliberate misrepresentation of the goals and work of the Commission whose mandate is to tell the full story and make recommendations for correcting the problems.
First and foremost our government is obligated to protect us. That means it must be honest about what went wrong. If our internal security and emergency response problems are not corrected, terrorists may once again succeed in killing many innocent Americans. When the Commission suggests that the emergency response might have operated more efficiently with one command center overseeing the entire operation, or someone posits that many fire fighters might have been saved if their radios had been working properly, that in no way reflects on the heroism we witnessed that terrible day.
Nothing can diminish the valor of the civilians who tried to help those who were injured or trapped, or the heroism of the Police, the Firefighters or the EMS personnel who rushed into the burning buildings to save lives. Thousands of lives were saved by their bravery. The survivors and the families of those they tried to rescue will never forget the sacrifice of those who gave their lives trying to help. All Americans salute the heroes of 9/11 and honor the memory of those who perished.
The families who vented at this last hearing did not do so out of misplaced anger. They did so out of frustration–frustration that significant issues like non-functioning fire fighter radios were not being publicly addressed. To ignore what went wrong will undoubtedly put lives at risk.
We are calling on you, Mayor Giuliani, to once again display the courage and leadership that you exhibited on 9/11. Instead attempting to deflect attention from the flaws in our national security system and concerns about the emergency response, by commenting that only the terrorists were responsible, it would be refreshing and courageous for you and other leaders to publicly acknowledge some of the things that went wrong. Such an acknowledgement would go a long way to restoring trust in our government and faith that our government officials understand that those issues must be corrected if New York and the nation are to be more secure and better able to handle the next attack.
The Family Steering Committee