June 26, 2006
Associated Press coverage of the New York 9/11 Truth group’s “9/11 First Responders: Voices From The Pit” speak-out. This is the group’s latest outreach effort to the toxin-stricken first responder community, which badly needs the solidarity given the stunning official neglect it still endures.
David Miller coughed into a napkin, leaving behind a quarter-sized
smear of blood.
The hacking is a constant reminder of the 10 days the National
Guardsman spent clearing debris at Ground Zero.
Forty-eight hours after he arrived in the smoking aftermath of the
Sept. 11 attack, Miller said yesterday, the health effects from
airborne debris were obvious and severe.
“I was practically blind, I was coughing, I had blisters all up and
down my arms,” he said. “If I’d been smart I wouldn’t have gone back.”
Today, Miller’s health is crumbling. The 39-year-old Bronx
construction worker said he suffers chronic lung infections, skin
rashes and a 60 percent drop in lung capacity.
Miller and several other 9/11 first responders spoke yesterday about
lingering health problems at The Community Church of New York on East
35th Street in Manhattan. The forum is part of a series of lectures,
films and public protests organized by the nonprofit group New York
9/11 Truth. The organization accuses the government of covering up
intelligence failures leading to the attacks and allowing first
responders to work in toxic conditions at Ground Zero, among other
The event came just days after a U.S. Federal Court judge in
Manhattan heard a pretrial motion in an ongoing lawsuit against the
City of New York brought by more than 8,000 police officers,
firefighters and others claiming their health was harmed by exposure
to toxic materials at Ground Zero. The city has moved to dismiss the
suit, arguing it has legal immunity.
Yesterday’s panel included several first responders who related their
experiences at the site following the attack on the World Trade
Center, as well as the long-term health problems they say resulted
from breathing toxins at Ground Zero.
In addition to these failures, many spoke of lingering psychological
effects. Kevin McPadden, a former Air Force medic, said he came to
the rubble pile alone on Sept. 11 and spent the next four days
searching nearby buildings for bodies and survivors.
He said he continues to struggle with depression and anger stemming
from his days of working at Ground Zero. Since Sept. 11 he said he’s
had trouble keeping a job. “Every day is a challenge,” he said. “I
really don’t feel alive. I’m a very bitter man.”
In addition to first responders, the panel included Janette
MacKinlay, author of a book describing her 9/11 experiences, who
lived across the street from the World Trade Center. MacKinlay was
home on the morning of Sept. 11 and she said the windows of her home
were blown in when the towers collapsed.
MacKinlay sharply criticized what she called the government’s failure
to address health problems of first responders. “This injustice has
become part of the grief and trauma of 9/11,” she said.
Event organizer Les Jamieson said the forum’s purpose was to raise
awareness of health problems and other issues associated with working
at Ground Zero.
“Many people who breathed that air, they won’t get sick until eight,
10 years later,” he said. “This story is just beginning to unfold.”
Jamieson also said the event was an opportunity for people who felt
they should have been compensated under the September 11th Victim
Compensation Fund to have their stories told.
“We’re not just talking about health here. There are serious
financial and psychological issues as well, and a lot of people are
being left out in the cold,” he said.
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