Able Danger Blog

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Friday, March 10, 2006

The Perils We Face

Rep. Curt Weldon, R-PA, delivered a speech entitled "The Perils We Face" at Restoration Weekend, which took place in Phoenix, Arizona from February 23-26, 2006. Front Page Magazine has a full transcript of the speech. The audio of all but the first section of his speech was posted online and you can listen here. It starts at the segment titled "9/11: What I Saw at Ground Zero" and here are some of the new details he describes:

After talking to Ray’s sons, and sharing their grief for the loss of their father and my friend, they asked me to go back. I said, “I can’t go back, I’m all dirty, I don’t have a change of clothing.” They said, “Don’t worry, Curt. The firefighters want you to be there to greet the family members of the missing, because President Bush is arriving tonight and they want you to seat them until he arrives, and talk to them.”

I was reluctant, but I felt it was my responsibility, so I went. I cleaned up as best as I could, and with the president of the Firefighters’ Association of New York, we went into the Javitz Center. On one side of the room were the urban search and rescue teams arriving from all over America; on the other, 700 folding chairs, all neatly lined up in front of a podium, where President Bush would speak to the families that night. He was supposed to speak for 30 minutes. But, knowing the kind of human being our president is, he stayed for two-and-a-half hours. With no media, with no politicians in the room, he wept, he consoled, and he shared the grief of the families.

My job until the president arrived was to greet the family members, and two families will forever be blazoned into my memory. The first was a woman in her late 30s. She had a baby in her arms, and her brother and sister with her. When I went over to her, she was sobbing uncontrollably. I introduced myself, gave her a hug and said, “I’m terribly sorry, ma’am, who’s missing?” She said, “Congressman, my life’s over. He meant everything to me. He served his country in the military. When he got out, we got married. He’s not just my husband and the father of our children. He coached Little League for our kids. He was involved in our church. And when the neighbors had a problem with their car, he was the first one out early in the morning to get it started. Why did they take him away? He only wanted to help people.”

Here is his decription of Zelikow's testimony:

When Phil Zelikow came in, and he wouldn’t testify in open session – even though he gave us no classified information in closed session – I asked him, “Did you interview the Able Danger principals?” And he said, “No, Congressman.”

I said, “Why would you not do that? These were CIA-trained case officers and career military professionals. Why wouldn’t you want to get the facts?”

He replied, “Because we think we’ve gotten all the information we need.”

I asked, “And why would you not include that in the 9/11 Report?” He answered, “Because we thought it was historically irrelevant.”