Able Danger Blog

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Thursday, March 23, 2006

Weldon responds to the Inquirer

To the Inquirer:

On March 22, Tom Ferrick wrote a column entitled “Weldon’s Interests Must Return Home.” His column reads more like fiction, and if anything, is a prime example of why The Philadelphia Inquirer was recently put on the auction block. If Mr. Ferrick would leave the Inquirer’s Ivory Tower on Broad Street for one minute and actually go into the Philadelphia suburbs, not only would the Inquirer garner more respect, but perhaps it would prevent Mr. Ferrick from putting his foot into his mouth.

In his column, Ferrick refers to an incident in Washington, D.C. a few years back, where I gave an afternoon speech on the Senate-side of the U.S. Capitol on peace strategies just several days after leading the first delegation to Libya in nearly 40 years. The point of the trip, and the crux of the speech, was to detail my successful efforts in reaffirming Ghadaffi’s commitment to voluntarily give up his weapons of mass destruction. Without checking his facts, Ferrick states that I attended an event that evening in which Reverend Sun Myun Moon appeared with several Democrat Members of Congress. In actuality, Rev. Moon was not present at the earlier event in which I spoke. If he had checked his facts, Ferrick would have known that I was not even there.

I am proud of my national leadership for America’s first responders, and my authorization of programs that have funded over $3 billion directly to America’s 32,000 fire and EMS Departments. Furthermore, I am proud that on April 6th, over 2,000 national fire and EMS leaders will convene on the nation’s capital for their 17thannual national gathering that I have organized to honor their service to America.

Mr. Ferrick’s primitive analysis of Able Danger mirrors that of his colleagues Goldstein and Mondics at the Washington Bureau. It is amazing how so many writers from the Inquirer claim to speak with authority on Able Danger, yet have never taken the time to speak with a single member of the highly talented unit tasked by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to track al-Qaeda worldwide prior to 9/11. Ferrick fails to mention that 248 Members of the House of Representatives, including over 100 Democrats, signed a letter to Secretary Donald Rumsfeld demanding open hearings on Able Danger. He also doesn’t mention that this critical issue of pre-9/11 intelligence caused former FBI Director Louis Freeh to publicly ask for explanations about Able Danger on Meet the Press and in a Wall Street Journal editorial last fall. Nor does Ferrick mention the fact that five career national intelligence officials swore under oath about the cover-up that followed Able Danger’s findings. I pursued this issue so that the American people would know all of the facts about our intelligence failures prior to 9/11.

Ferrick should leave his Ivory Tower and visit my District, which I have served faithfully for 20 years. He could then visit with the 5,000 workers at the Boeing Plant in Ridley whose jobs are now safe because of my efforts. There are also 25 new and expanding companies he could visit, that through my efforts have created thousands of new jobs in the region. Ferrick could see one of the two playgrounds at local schools I helped build in honor of two local 9/11 heroes, and visit one of the 47 local fire companies that have directly received more than $5 million from a national grant program that I fathered. His next stop could be one of the sites of the most successful Community Action Agency in Pennsylvania serving the poor in Delaware County, of which I am the founder. There are also several colleges and universities he could visit like Villanova, Neumann, Widener, West Chester, Cheney, Eastern, Penn State, Drexel and Delaware Community that I have helped get funding for specific and expanded programs for their students. It’s not hard for Mr. Ferrick to come and look at these things, but he chooses not to.

If Ferrick came to my District, he could also witness how it has benefited from the SMART Regional initiative I created that has brought together major institutions in the four-state region of Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey and Maryland to allow our region to lead the nation in science, technology and research. Perhaps Ferrick could take time out of his busy day to learn about the “Dime-Out-A Dealer” Program I created and raised funds for in cooperation with the District Attorney’s Office. He could also then receive a briefing on the International Center for Rotorcraft Innovation that was also initiated right here in the Delaware Valley.

If that’s not enough, Ferrick could take a trip out to the recently protected land acquisitions at Brandywine and Paoli Battlefields, which I successfully engineered. Ferrick also might want to stop at the new Pennsylvania Veterans Museum in Media that I helped fund with a $1 million infusion, or talk to the six busloads of WWII Veterans and their friends for whom I arranged travel to Washington, D.C. to see the new WWII Monument. He could also interview the local veteran leaders who joined me in our recent visit to Walter Reed Army Medical Center to thank our wounded troops. I welcome Ferrick to stop by the John Heinz Wildlife Refuge and ask them who their champion has been over the last decade, even though the Refuge is not in my District. He can ask the Chester County Commissioners about the effort I led to protect hundreds of acres of open space along the Schukyll River.

For his last stop, Ferrick can visit my hometown of Marcus Hook to which he refers in his column, and ask the Mayor and Council Members who obtained the transfer of ownership of the Riverfront Federal property that now houses the finest waterfront park on the Delaware River.

I could go on and on, but why waste my time? The Inquirer is completely out of touch with the suburbs and Mr. Ferrick is a symbol of why this newspaper is in trouble. The local suburban newspapers, talk radio (like BigTalker 1210), and our local television stations get it, why not the Inquirer?