April 1, 2006
Encouraging answers today from Pennsylvania Rep. Curt Weldon’s in a Town Hall Meeting when he’s asked questions by 9/11 activists, Dave Slesinger and Jon Gold. Interesting perspective on Weldon’s passion about our firefighters, especially, and why he’s continuing to push for answers.
Weldon states he’s “willing to challenge the system… I hate to say that sometimes I don’t trust my government, but sometimes I don’t trust the government.” “Do I automatically accept what the government tells me? No.”
Audio file provided thanks to Gold’s 9/11 forum:
The questions were read by the same person on 3×5 cards.
Dave Slesinger: First, I want to praise you for your Able Danger efforts. Since you are the Congressman most sympathetic to firefighters, have you looked at the quotes from NYC firefighters at the World Trade Center on 9/11 about explosives. If you have, will you accept information on for later comment.
Rep. Weldon: I will absolutely accept information, and I’m very close to the NYC firefighters because one of my best friends was killed there. You see I go on all of the disasters because of my leadership on fire and (inaudible) issues, I’ve been to all of them. Hurricane Andrew, Hugo, I was in Katrina two days after it happened, in fact, I raised $440,000 from private companies in our region to help the fire departments down there which we gave them about a month ago in Upper Darby. Uh, I was at the World Trade Center in 1993, when the fire commissioner at the time, Howard Safer (sp?) assigned a young officer to take me through the bombed out parking garage. That young officer’s name was Ray Downey. Ray and I became good friends. It was Ray who convinced me to introduce legislation to create a commission to look at ways that our military could assist in preparing for the next attack. That commission became known as the Gilmore Commission. On 9/11, Ray was killed. Ray was the chief of all rescue for the NYC fire department. He was the guy who oversaw the largest and most successful rescue in the history of mankind. They brought 70,000 people out of the trade center complex. 3000 died. Ray Downey was an American Hero. In fact, you might remember I brought Ray’s family, his widow and five kids down to the county a month after 9/11. We had a parade, we honored Ray as an American Hero in (inaudible) Park, and I continue to interact with Ray. Ray was the guy who oversaw the 343 firefighters that were killed.
I talk to the fire department on a regular basis. When the Republican convention was held in New York in 2004, I went up a day early, I went down to the fire department headquarters. I spent the day with them. And when I finished the briefings, and getting their input, as to what happened on 9/11, which I had ongoing, I went up and spent two hours running with Engine 54 (inaudible) in midtown Manhattan. And I wanted to do that because on 9/11 all 15 firefighters on duty from that station were killed. And I wanted the firefighters to give me their views without going through any chiefs or other officers about what happened.
Now, there’s a lot of theorists out there about what occurred. And uh, I haven’t gone into the structural elements of the building. The fact that there are reports on multiple explosions on other floors… I am open to that information. I’m willing to challenge the system. And uh, and don’t automatically discount anything that’s told to me because I’ve seen, I’ve seen too much. I mean, ya know, I hate to say that sometimes I don’t trust my Government, but sometimes, I don’t trust the Government. The bureaucracy. Ya know the best evidence of that is we had the, uh, Tillman, the football player. Joined the army, he was killed. We now find out that the army burned his clothing. So the family never got to get the real story about how Pat Tillman died. Now if it was an accident, so be it. You don’t hide that information because somebody is going to be embarrassed.
That’s the whole story with Tony Shaffer. It’s the bureaucrats trying to hide information and facts, so they’re not embarrassed. So, do I automatically accept what the Government tells me? No. And that’s why I get myself in trouble. I challenge the CIA, I challenge the DIA. I’ll challenge our Defense Department. That’s why you send me there. If you want somebody to go there, and just go along, you would send a robot. That would vote the way the party wanted, and would go along with the current President. I won’t do that. So I’m absolutely open to any information anyone has that challenges anything about the 9/11 Commission or the work there.
Dave Slesinger speaks up: Congressman, that was my question, I, uh, wanna give out, anybody who wants this, this is a speech by a physics professor at BYU, Steven Jones.
Rep. Weldon: Yea.
Dave Slesinger: It’s the hottest thing happening on the 9/11 issue. In his speech, he praises Congressman Weldon, he’s a conservative Republican, he praises Reagan, he quotes St. Paul. I think I have enough for everybody. Just ask me.
Rep. Weldon: It’ll open your eyes, because his allegations are pretty strong.
Jon Gold: Why did the Bush Administration try to limit the scope of the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry?
Rep. Weldon: It wasn’t just the 9/11 Commission. They didn’t do it on their own. The 9/11 Commission…
Jon Gold speaks up: No no… I’m sorry, the question was… They, uh, Bush went to Tom Daschle privately to discuss limiting the scope (Rep. Weldon: Oh, limiting the scope…) of the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, not the 9/11 Commission.
Rep. Weldon: Yea, Congressional. And And… ya know, I… since I’ve been involved in the Able Danger battle, I’ve been bucking up against both this Administration and the previous Administration. And I’m a loyal Republican, I’m a independent Republican, and stand up for what I believe, but I am a Republican because I believe that bigger Government is not the answer to the problems that we have.
Jon Gold: Also… I’m sorry, also they fought against the creation, they fought against the family members…
Rep. Weldon: For the creation of the 9/11 commission. But as you all know the 9/11 family members, even though they’re split, have come out publicly now, and challenged the 9/11 Commission itself, and their findings.
Jon Gold: Absolutely.
Rep. Weldon: What I think happened here, if I give it to you in a nutshell… I think people from both Administrations decided that they didn’t want the 9/11 Commission to embarrass either Administration, and because 9/11 happened 9 months after a new President came in, they got together, and said, “let’s limit the scope, and let’s not go certain places where…” cause there’s blame that could go on the Clinton Administration, cause it happened, in the run up happened there, and there’s blame that happened in the (inaudible).
Jon Gold: I, I completely agree with you, but 9/11 was the catalyst for everything that’s happened since then. The Iraq War, the Afghanistan War, the Patriot Act, everything… and it… to me, it makes sense that we need to investigate it because it wasn’t investigated.
Rep. Weldon: And that’s exactly right, and I..I.. I will tell ya this, I had to get 247 of my colleagues to sign a letter asking for…
Jon Gold: Yes, and I congratulate you (inaudible)…
Rep Weldon: …hearings to push the Secretary of Defense to let us have Tony Shaffer who sat in the first hearing in the Senate, Arlen Specter wanted him to testify and the Pentagon said no. He can sit there, but he can’t speak. Am I right Tony?
Tony Shaffer: Absolutely sir.
Jon Gold: Well, they did the same thing to Sibel Edmonds…
Rep. Weldon: Yea, I met Sibel…
Jon Gold: And Sibel Edmonds said, that once this issue gets to be investigated, 9/11, there will be certain American people facing uh… prosecution, criminally.
Rep. Weldon: Well, I guess in the end what we have to understand is what I used to tell my kids when I taught school in (inaudible) they would say, “Well Mr. Weldon, ya know… you’re telling us all of these great things about Democracy and our system of a representative Government, wait a minute, we have poverty, we have racial prejudice, we have unemployment…”, and well, nobody ever said it was perfect. There are no perfect Governments in the world. They don’t exist except in text books. But our system is the most responsible on the face of the earth because the people, in the end, can control what happens. Richard Nixon resigned. He was the most powerful man in America. Because he covered up a third rate burglary. The system works, but it only works when the people are involved. And when the people challenge what’s going on… and when you don’t challenge… it’s like when I go out and speak to groups, and I say, ya know “How many of you are not registered to vote?”, and (inaudible).. well then, you have no right to talk to me, because you’re the problem. I don’t care whether you’re Democrat, Republican, or Independent, you have to be involved. And if you’re not going to be involved then you’re the reason why the Government gets weak, and you’re the reason why bureaucracy becomes out of control. And while people are able to do things that none of us would accept if we knew what were going on. I mean, the Pat Tillman case, it’s outrageous that a family would not know how their loved one was killed, and we would try to cover that up to protect somebody’s career in the military, that’s wrong. And the same thing with 9/11 only to a greater extent because it was the single largest attack against our country in the history of America. Far bigger than Pearl Harbor in terms of deaths…
Jon Gold: But it’s been used…
Rep. Weldon: It’s been used by people in both parties… Lemme finish here, I’ll take one question, then I gotta run.