Volume 16 • Issue 39 | February 27 - March 4, 2004


Bush continues to obstruct 9/11 panel

This week marks the 11th anniversary of the first terrorist attack on the Twin Towers. The six people killed by Islamic extremists Feb. 26, 1993, quite appropriately will be included in the World Trade Center memorial that will also honor the thousands killed on Sept. 11, 2001. But the investigation into our intelligence before those two attacks and other terrorist incidents continues to be stymied by the Bush administration. It is of course essential to honor those who died. It is more important to make sure they did not die in vain and to do as much as we can to prevent future deaths of innocent people.

Several weeks ago President Bush finally agreed to allow his 9/11 Commission two more months to look into the attacks. The bi-partisan panel, formally known as the National Commission of Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, has been delayed since its inception from foot-dragging from the White House and the Pentagon. Two days ago — the day before the 11th anniversary of the first bombing — the Republican and Democratic chairperson and vice chairperson, Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, revealed that Bush and Vice President Cheney have agreed to meet only with Kean and Hamilton and only for an hour.

In addition, Condoleeza Rice, Bush’s national security advisor, who has met privately with the commission, has refused to appear before the panel at a public hearing. Kean, Bush’s appointee, and Hamilton released a joint statement expressing “disappointment” at Rice’s refusal to appear in public and “hope” that the president and vice president will reconsider their refusal to meet with the entire 10-member panel.

Former President Clinton and Vice President Gore have agreed to meet with the entire panel about the terrorist attacks that occurred under their watch and Sandy Berger, their security advisor, has agreed to answer questions in public. Their willingness to answer tough questions is to be commended and renders moot any theoretical executive privilege arguments. Hopefully their courage will rub off on those who succeeded them.

If President Bush wants people to think that he has nothing to hide about 9/1l, than he should stop acting like he does.

Affordable housing at Independence Plaza

There are few places in Lower Manhattan with a large number of relatively affordable apartments. There’s Southbridge Towers, Gateway Plaza and Independence Plaza North, which has the most immediate threat of losing its middle class rent protections. New luxury housing is going up all over Downtown. There are many good things to say about this rapid development in Lower Manhattan, but it is also essential to preserve at least some degree of income diversity.

I.P.N.’s new owner, Larry Gluck, has applied to take the 1300-apartment complex out of the Mitchell-Lama middle income housing program. He continues to conduct what tenant leaders describe as good-faith negotiations to minimize the effects of switching to market rate housing. Leaders say in two weeks, they will know whether a reasonable deal is obtainable. We strongly encourage the parties to find a way to allow most people to stay in Independence Plaza.

The cheapest way to insure that there is affordable housing Downtown is to preserve what is already there.

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