We should never forget all of those who needlessly died after the 9/11 World Trade Center attack. They died because of the Big Lie told by Christie Whitman, who was then head of the EPA. Within days of the attack Christie Whitman went on national T.V. and stated that the air at the World Trade Center site and in lower Manhattan was safe.
Because of this statement from the Environmental Protection Agency, the construction workers, police, and search teams all worked at Ground Zero for many months without adequate protective gear. Years later these people were dying of cancer, emphysema, and many other diseases caused by breathing in the toxic air at Ground Zero.
One of the saddest parts of this whole episode is that these deaths were totally unnecessary. Proper equipment was available for people to work safely at Ground Zero after 9/11. Chemical factories, steel mills, automobile paint shops, all had specialized breathing and safety equipment they wanted to donate to help the workers at Ground Zero. However, these companies were told that their donations were not needed.
All of these companies had the equipment, and the trained workers with the skills to be able to safely work at Ground Zero, if only they had been asked.
The question is why did Christie Whitman and the EPA lie about the safety of the air at Ground Zero? The reason seems to be that there was real pressure from top government officials to get the country “back to normal”. The top people also did not want to scare the general public. The worry was that the general public would panic if for many months T.V. news showed all the people in lower Manhattan wearing protective gear like they were in outer space. That would look like the terrorists had won.
This government view is insulting to the American public. People are are not stupid. Everyone knew that the country had been attacked and that the attack was a success. What mattered is that people responded with dignity and courage after the attacks. No one would have been frightened seeing workers in protective suits. No one would have panicked. The really frightening part is that Christie Whitman and the EPA chose to lie to the public they are supposed to work for.
You may wonder why a web site that usually has short stories, book and movie reviews chose to cover this topic. It is because we have always been very proud of the way the people from this area responded to 9/11. The little town of Basking Ridge New Jersey, which is the home of this website, had 17 people die on 9/11. There is only one person from New Jersey who we are not proud of. That is Christie Whitman, the former Governor of New Jersey who was head of the EPA on 9/11 and told the Big Lie.
A lot of people died after 9/11 who did not have to. With the right safety equipment these people would be alive today to watch movies, read books and spend time with their kids. At a time when it mattered most they deserved the truth from their government. It is a shame they did not get it.