Go to previous post:
Mel Gibson, Christian.

Go to Electrolite's front page.

Go to next post:
Warren Zevon, 1947-2003.

Our Admirable Sponsors

September 7, 2003

Two years on. It’s a hell of a thing when I, a two-decade citizen of the state of New York, have to go to a British newspaper for full coverage of what my own Senator is up to.

Briefly, our junior Senator has announced that she will block the nomination of Utah governor Michael O. Leavitt as EPA administrator until the Bush administration provides some straight talk about air quality around the World Trade Center site—and the White House’s role in pressuring the EPA to falsify itself on the subject.

A number of New York City webloggers have made an ongoing gig out of their anger and outrage over September 11, 2001. Words like “idiotarian” figure prominently in their arias.

I was there, too. I saw the towers burn from my office in the Flatiron Building. And I came home to Brooklyn, hours later, to see the vast plume dropping its particulates on my block. I inhaled those silicates, and those human remains. As did my friends, my neighbors, my wife.

So here’s the New York Times story about our junior Senator’s stand:

“It’s unfortunate that Senator Clinton would seek to politicize such a qualified nominee as Governor Leavitt,” said Taylor Gross, a White House spokesman. “He’s well regarded throughout the nation as a known consensus builder, bringing people to work together on solutions for environmental improvement.”

Last month, the inspector general of the environmental agency released a report saying that after the World Trade Center attack, White House officials instructed the agency to reassure New Yorkers that the air was safe to breathe, even though deadly contaminants were present. E.P.A. officials have defended their actions.

But Senator Clinton and Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut sent a letter late last month to President Bush, asking for a “thorough and expeditious accounting of what transpired” among White House officials by Sept. 5. And Senator Clinton and Representative Jerrold L. Nadler called for a Congressional inquiry into the environmental agency’s response.

Senator Clinton said yesterday that she had not yet received a response from the White House, and that her request for a hearing was denied by the chairman of the Senate environment committee.

By contrast, here’s a newspaper that doesn’t need to care what Karl Rove thinks:
A news release issued on 18 September 2001 left out a line raising health concerns both for rescue workers digging through the rubble at ground zero and for Wall Street employees nearby. Instead of noting the presence of deadly contaminants, the release said that the air was generally safe to breathe.

According to Nikki Tinsley, the EPA’s acting inspector general, official eagerness to get Wall Street up and running took precedence over providing the fullest information available.

“That was wrong. That was inexcusable,” Mrs Clinton said. “I want to know exactly what happened.” Mrs Clinton and another influential Democratic senator, Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, wrote to the White House 10 days ago demanding a “thorough and expeditious accounting” of what happened by the end of last week. But the White House was silent, accusing Mrs Clinton of exploiting the issue for political gain.

The former EPA administrator Christine Todd Whitman has defended herself vigorously against charges of impropriety. “There’s no way in hell—excuse my language—that I would ever, ever play games with this kind of information,” she said last week.

Mrs Clinton’s sights are set not on Ms Whitman but on the President’s immediate entourage. “I know a little bit about how White Houses work,” she said. “I know somebody picked up a phone, somebody got on a computer, somebody sent an e-mail, somebody called for a meeting, somebody in that White House probably under instructions from somebody further up the chain told the EPA, ‘Don’t tell the people of New York the truth’. And I want to know who that is.”

I’ve never been an unalloyed Hillary fan. But when the Executive Branch screws around with the well-being of my respiratorily-impaired wife, I’m all for my Senator “exploiting the issue for political gain.” That’s her job. Meanwhile, note who reports on the story in plain English, and who doesn’t. And to think I once had critical words for Media Whores Online. [11:30 PM]
Welcome to Electrolite's comments section.
Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on Two years on.:

Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2003, 12:03 AM:

Damn straight. I know I've had a harder time with my respiratory system since 9/11 than before. And Christie Whitman should die a horrible death at the hands of her former constituents in New Jersey who may have been disserved by her inaction, too.

Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2003, 02:27 AM:

And to think I once had critical words for Media Whores Online

And many of us agreed with you and are very very very sorry that we all seem to have been wrong. I still don't think shrillness and harshness and stuff like that is a good thing, in theory. But as they say, we don't live in theory.


jane usually naive ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2003, 02:51 AM:

I have been surprised all along that this hadn't been followed up rigorously. You cannot dump that much toxic stuff in the area and NOT have some major problems. And to suggest--as Whitman et al did immediately--that there was nothing to worry about raised my antenna when it happened.


Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2003, 02:58 AM:

As you know, I live less than 2 miles from Ground Zero myself. I remember the foul odors for months afterward. I remember having respiratory trouble afterwards. I don't see how you can have that much concrete, steel, electronic equipment, etc. get blown up into the air without having a lot of nasty stuff in the air. I've been convinced that the reports of clean air are bogus since day one. Good for Hillary if she ever gets to the bottom of this. I'm not optimistic, but I'm fine with what she's doing.

Scott ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2003, 10:40 AM:

I work up in Times Square, and even though I'm somewhat away from the actual residual effects, I'm sure we've had our share of issues.

Nice to see Hillary doing something about it. The Daily News' article on it yesterday was pretty thin.

Charlotte Freeman ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2003, 11:35 AM:

Not to scare you guys to death -- but here in Montana we're all too aware of the asbestos issue. The fact that the Bush admin covered this up seems consistent with their policies on almost everything -- Just say No, it didn't happen. At any rate, my neighbor Andrea Peacock has just published a book on the asbestos coverup up here: Libby Montana, Asbestos and the Deadly Silence of the American Corporation. It's worth a look.

Donald Johnson ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2003, 12:35 PM:

Since part of the point of your post was to bash the NYT, let me add my two cents. The NYT is the most overrated news organization on the planet. They've had their rare moments of glory (publishing the Pentagon Papers is maybe at the top of a short list), but for the most part it's the paper you read if you want to find out how a bunch of timid Establishment centrist types wants you to view reality. They'd rather be respectable than right.

End of rant.

Invisible Adjunct ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2003, 01:03 AM:

A preliminary study suggests that pregnant women who were exposed to the 9/11 pollution were twice as likely to give birth to smaller babies. Of course the findings are preliminary, followups will have to be done, and etc. But not a good sign.

Josh Prophet ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2003, 11:02 AM:

Maybe the Bush administration should get this lawyer on the case, anyone remember this quote from the LA Times:

This case illustrates Republican arrogance. The Los Angeles Times
reported that an administration lawyer, arguing for military readiness,
contended that naturalists benefit when the military kills birds because
"bird-watchers get more enjoyment spotting a rare bird than they do
spotting a common one."

David Bilek ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2003, 01:57 PM:

Not to be a downer, but I just saw a bit on CNN concerning a study done by UC scientists about the air quality around the WTC after the attacks. They took over 8000 measurements in a square mile area across several months.

The results were the highest levels of air pollution ever recored at a single site.

People working around the site on a lengthy basis almost certainly suffered permanent damage, likely to shorten lifespan. The scientists described the air quality as "brutal".


Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2003, 12:57 PM:

I'm not an unalloyed Clinton fan either, but I like her better than I like our senior senator. And she does indeed know a bit about how White Houses work. (Digression: that sounds like a stefnal bit about automated/AI dwellings, in which different colors correlate with different models or functionality.)

xian ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2003, 02:44 PM:

Meanwhile, even Nova is trying to scare us with the prospect of a 'dirty bomb' as if U.S. industry/regulatory policy doesn't poison us far worse and far more consistently as it is.

Jon ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2003, 10:21 AM:

I see that spammer jackass is back.