Call in military, say 9/11 kin
BY PAUL D. COLFORD, New York Daily News
November 3rd, 2006
Lawmakers and 9/11 family members converged at Ground Zero yesterday to demand that Mayor Bloomberg bring in an elite military unit to lead the new search for human remains at the attack site.
But Bloomberg insisted the city could handle it.
"We do not trust the city and state governments to do the job right because they haven't done it for five years," Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan) said at the emotional rally, which drew about 200 victims' loved ones.
The family members have been calling for the search to be handled by an elite military unit - JPAC, or the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command - ever since hundreds of body parts were recently discovered in a manhole along the western edge of Ground Zero.
"I am totally mystified," Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan) told the crowd. "Why will the city not ask the federal government to join with them? They have expertise in this area. ... But they cannot come unless the city asks."
City Councilman Alan Gerson, who represents lower Manhattan, said he was ready to introduce a resolution inviting JPAC to the search, which could take up to a year to complete.
"We should not, however, need a resolution," Gerson said. "Mr. Mayor, in the name of human decency ... let us make a unified call. Let federal experts work with city experts."
But Bloomberg told reporters in Brooklyn, "It's the city's responsibility. We're not going to walk away from our responsibility and let somebody else bear the pressure of the work.
"Our medical examiner has an enormous amount of experience and competency," Bloomberg said. "We have a complete plan to make sure that we go every single place, and this is an investigation where, when you have the expertise, you really want to do it locally.
"And our medical examiner and all of these agencies - the Port Authority and the MTA, the City, all the different city agencies, Con Ed, Verizon - everybody really is working together here and I think we'll do a great job," he said.
Several family members at the rally praised the city's plan to hire 10 forensic anthropologists to join the search, but they insisted that outside supervision was still needed.
"We have had enough of being asked to trust the system," said Diane Horning, whose son Matthew was killed on 9/11. "We want a new entity to do the oversight."
More than five years after the twin towers' destruction, 1,148 of the 2,749 people killed there either have not been found or not been identified.