PAULA ZAHN NOW
New York City Hosts September 11 Town Hall Meeting
Aired September 11, 2003 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Standing in the shadow of the World Trade Center, Saint Paul's Chapel survived the terrorist of attack of September 11, 2001, and became a place of comfort, solace and healing for hundreds of firefighters, rescue and recovery workers.
Tonight, just footsteps from ground zero, two years after the 9/11 attacks, a town hall meeting from Saint Paul's Chapel in New York City. This is a very special edition of PAULA ZAHN NOW.
And good evening and welcome.
We come to you from this historic place of worship, a place that was, after 9/11, a vital center of refuge for so many. And while this building survived the attacks, it does bear scars. You can see pews that were scraped and scuffed by the equipment of firefighters and other rescue workers when they came here to rest. They took comfort next to the pew where America's first president worshipped more than 200 years ago.
Through this town meeting, we'll be talking with some of the people who were, like this chapel, forever changed by the attacks. Our audience is made up of, among others, survivors, firefighters, and students the nearby Stuyvesant High School. And we'll be talking with them throughout this evening, searching for answers, for meaning, and for inspiration.
First, though, I am joined by a very special guest, New York Governor George Pataki, who will be with us throughout this program.
Governor, welcome. Good evening.
ZAHN: Nice to have with us.
GOV. GEORGE PATAKI (R), NEW YORK: Thank you, Paula. It's an honor to be with you.
ZAHN: Thank you.
(APPLAUSE) ZAHN: So, Governor, you have spent much of the day attending ceremonies all over the state in honor of those who lost their lives two years ago today. Reflect on that experience.
PATAKI: Paula, of course, two years later, it's still a very sad day. It's a day when we mourn the loss of true heroes who gave their lives to protect our freedoms. So it's appropriate that we honor their memory and make sure we never forget.
ZAHN: And yet it is very hard to erase from our collective memories here the devastation of ground zero that many of us have seen here. We visited ground zero not long after that attack on September 11.
ZAHN: I think the news that has pierced New Yorkers the hardest is the fact that some 250 firefighters have lost their lives.
PATAKI: And it's just a tragedy, because these are true heroes and brave New Yorkers who risked their lives and gave their lives to save others.
And when I was down there early this morning, you could see in the eyes of the firefighters who were down there in the rescue operation, you could see the pain. But you could also sense the courage and sense the professionalism, as they went about the effort of digging through the rubble, trying to save their colleagues. And this is an unspeakable tragedy. And it is an act of war.
But even among the death and the destruction, you see the hope of people trying to save other lives, people trying to do their jobs professionally, as Americans always do.
These are the guys who are making it better every day.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor, how are you?
PATAKI: How are you? God bless you. Thank you for all you're doing. We're proud of you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. Thank you very much.
PATAKI: How are you? How you doing?
ZAHN: I know it doesn't get any easier each time you come here, but what are your thoughts today?
PATAKI: Paula, it's just -- it's always different when you're actually here.
When I crisscross the city or the state, you feel such tremendous confidence and optimism and such spirit. But even four months later, when you actually come to ground zero, you can't help but sense the sadness and the tremendous sense of loss. And that's why this is a very special place, a very hallowed ground. And I don't think any Americans will ever forget what happened here.
ZAHN: Memories of the attacks also remain vivid for survivors and those left behind.
I am joined by some other guests now: Eric Jones, who helped rescue people at the Pentagon; Monica Iken, who lost her husband, Michael, at the World Trade Center; and firefighter Bruce Stanley, who was part of the recovery team at the World Trade Center; and Alice Hoglan, whose son Mark Bingham died aboard United Flight 93; and former Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke, who was actually working at the Pentagon the day of the attacks.
Welcome to all of you.
ZAHN: Eric, even at this two-year mark, is it still difficult for you to process what you saw? You were involved with the recovery of some 90 bodies. You were also involved with saving some lives at the Pentagon.
ERIC JONES, PENTAGON RESCUER: Of course, it's still difficult. As time goes on, it does get easier.
Some of the negative images are fading away gradually. And, slowly, the positive things that we experienced as well are coming to light. So it does get easier over time. Of course, it's still -- every day is a challenge. But I'm sleeping a little better at night. So...
ZAHN: Bruce, you were hurt very deeply, obviously, by the tremendous losses the fire department suffered on September 11. How are you facing life these days?
BRUCE STANLEY, FDNY: Well, there's been a bit of frustration on my part, because, during that time, I was on medical leave. I was at limited service duty, so there wasn't much I could do for at least a couple of weeks. And that was frustrating.
As I came across the Verrazano Bridge, I witnessed the second plane hit the building. And because I was stunned in disbelief, I made a wrong turn, which took me into Brooklyn, instead of bringing me immediately into Manhattan. I relive that and I wonder if I could have gone the other way instead, with things -- just the uncertainty of what would have happened had I gone the other way instead.
ZAHN: Oh, I'm sure that would be very hard to wipe out of your mind.
ZAHN: Monica, you have been involved with family members of victims. Where are you in the process? And what is it that the two- year marker means to you? MONICA IKEN, WIDOW OF WORLD TRADE CENTER VICTIM: It really means that, when it happened, we had a fear of the unknown: if our loved ones were alive, if they could have survived that attack. And now it's the same.
We have a fear of the unknown, of families being left behind and not being a part of the memorial process and the communications going forward, that we really need to not feel that we're being left behind, that we have to stay involved as much as possible. And we're grateful to the governor for being there for the families and being supportive and meeting with us on a regular basis.
And we just look to you to help us to continue to do that with the agencies you have in place for this memorial process, because we don't want to be left behind. We really need to feel now is the time that we are involved as much as possible and keep the communication lines open as we go forward.
ZAHN: And yet, Governor, you would be the first to recognize that that is a very tough balancing act, balancing the needs of business, the need to grow jobs downtown, at the same time, honor the memories of those lost.
PATAKI: Well, I think Monica hit it right on the head. We can never forget the families. And we have to make sure they understand, as we go forward, how we're going forward.
Today is a day when we mourn the loss of our heroes. But when you see their families, when you see those who show so much courage after such horrible losses, it gives you strength and it gives you pride. We owe it to them, as well as to the heroes we lost, to make sure we do it right. And we are going to do that.
ZAHN: Alice Hoglan, I know it was important for you to be in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, today for some very poignant ceremonies. Share a little bit of your experience with us now.
ALICE HOGLAN, MOTHER OF UNITED FLIGHT 93 VICTIM: Well, that's exactly right, Paula.
It's been beautiful here in Shanksville. It was important for my family and me to come back here, because there's no better place to commune with people who really feel the pain of the Flight 93 families. It's a lovely, verdant rural setting here, and it's like balm for the spirit.
ZAHN: And, Torie Clarke, I think a lot of people affected by this strategy are looking for balm for the spirit. You were in the Pentagon when that jet bomb exploded there. What is it that you can't wipe out of your memory?
VICTORIA CLARKE, FORMER PENTAGON SPOKESWOMAN: It's really a couple things.
The incredible sadness of it is -- even though two years have gone by, you still think of the senseless loss of all of those lives. And I know some of the families and what an impact it has on them. So it's a very sad day. But, at the same time, there's a certain amount of hope out there. I know this country is filled with great young people like Eric and others who are up to the challenges that lie ahead. And we do have challenges lying ahead.
ZAHN: And I believe we have now a question from one of our audience members. Please go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Governor Pataki, looking forward towards the future, we all want to make sure that something like September 11 will never happen again. With all of the skyscrapers in New York City and across the country, how can we ensure that the deadly mistakes made in the evacuation of the towers will never be repeated?
And, furthermore, can you assure the people of this city that the new World Trade Center will be built under the legal jurisdiction of New York City building and fire codes and will not have the same immunities that the former World Trade Center had?
PATAKI: Well, that's a very important question.
But let me first say, we have to be extremely proud of the heroic efforts that led to the saving of more than 20,000 people on September 11. We are brokenhearted for the 3,000 people that we lost. But because of the heroism because of those who went into the buildings and those who were in the buildings who put other people's lives ahead of their own, thousands and thousands are alive today. So we have to be thankful for them.
As we go forward, we have to make sure that we learn the lessons of September 11. One is that we can't take our freedom for granted and assume that, because we're separated by oceans, we can be secure. We have to be vigilant. We have to be aggressive and proactive in going after those who would do us harm before they have a chance to do it again.
And then we have to be prepared to respond. And I can assure you, there's no place in America better able to respond with greater local police and fire departments, emergency services. There's no better cooperation than you see between the people and the government of New York City, New York state, and the federal government. We are going to make sure, as we rebuild, that we do it not just with the confidence in the future and the respect for the heroes that is required of us, but in a way that makes sure, at the same time, the people who live, work, visit those buildings are as safe as possible.
ZAHN: Thank you.
Governor, Monica Iken, Eric Jones, Bruce Stanley, Victoria Clarke, Alice Hoglan, we appreciate your sharing all of your stories with us this evening.
After the attacks, many people asked, where was God? Next, we pose that question to clergy of three faiths, as our town hall meeting continues.
But, first, a look at the tribute in light commemorating the exact spot where the Twin Towers once stood.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today is a day of prayer. We pray for the husbands and wives and moms and dads and sons and daughters and loved ones, of those who still grieve and hurt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Welcome back.
Many Americans saw their faith shaken on 9/11.
Joining me now, three clergymen from three faiths. Rabbi Marc Gellman, Monsignor Tom Hartman are co-hosts of the New York talk show "The God Quad." We are also joined by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf. He is the founder of the ASMA Society. That is an organization dedicated to building bridges between American Muslims and the American public.
It's an honor to have all three of you with us this evening.
ZAHN: Imam Feisal, how difficult is it for the Muslim community to reconcile the fact that the men who committed these horrendous attacks and were in fact Muslims and Muslims died in the process?
IMAM FEISAL ABDUL RAUF, FOUNDER, ASMA SOCIETY: It was very difficult, Paula, a very painful experience for the Muslim community, because what happened on 9/11, as was mentioned by many Islamic leaders around the world and the greatest Islamic jurists, is outside the box of Islam.
ZAHN: There has been a lot of controversy about whether the Koran allows for this type of barbaric act to take place?
RAUF: The Koran, Islamic law, Islamic jurisprudence, is explicitly against any kind of terrorism. And Islamic jurists have made it very clear. Among the best, among the most well-known Islamic jurists have actually issued a fatwa within a month after 9/11, saying that what happened on 9/11 is an act of haraba (ph), an act of terrorism, as it's inconsistent with Islamic jurisprudence and law and ethics.
ZAHN: Monsignor, where was God on September 11, 2001? I'm sure you've heard that question from children and adults.
MONSIGNOR TOM HARTMAN, "THE GOD SQUAD": In the midst of the fear, the pain, the distress, God was right here. Firemen came here overwhelmed by what they had seen, overwhelmed by the hours they put in. And they found sustenance here. People took time to pray, regain hope and regain courage. God was with us suffering right here.
ZAHN: Rabbi, I know you have talked with hundreds of people whose faith was severely tested throughout this wretched period of our history. What do you say to them?
RABBI MARC GELLMAN, "THE GOD SQUAD": Well, I've learned to listen to people who are in grief and not to give them five simple, foolish, pat reasons why they should just knit together all the broken parts of their soul.
What I know now, two years later, is that the people I know who have had the toughest time are the people who have tried to heal themselves up alone. And the people who have done the best of the ones who have been cradled in a spiritual community that cared about them and helped them to slowly, slowly regain their hope and their faith.
ZAHN: You can't help but be touched by the stories you hear when you come into these chapels, when you talk with a firefighter who talks about what it was like to work 24-hour shift after 24-hour shift. And this was the place, the only place where they felt whole.
We're going to take a question now from our audience.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good evening. My name is Sherry Clemens (ph).
And my question is, I want to challenge the theology that espouses terrorism and oppression of women and minorities as a way to further religious spiritual objectives. What can we in the United States do as individuals and as a nation to challenge those who would use terrorism and repression in this way? Thank you.
ZAHN: Do you want to take that first, Rabbi?
GELLMAN: Well, it's hard to hear the question. It was about the use of repression and...
ZAHN: And terrorism.
Look, every religion goes through its dark ages. If we were gathered together in the 10th to the 13th century talking about the Catholic Church, we would have the same feelings of despair and anger that people legitimately have about these dark ages of Islam that Islam is going through now as it struggles to expel the poison of terrorism in its midst.
It is their struggle to do this. And I pray for their success. And the bridges that we are trying to build between Muslims who truly and absolutely are revolted by what happened, by Muslims who are proud Americans, and who understand that it wasn't just planes that were hijacked on that day. It was an entire religion that was hijacked. We have to find them. They are a very large community in America. They are a new community.
They are not well-integrated into the political fabric of our nation or the cultural fabric of our nation. And so, in that way, we need to help give them strength, to expel those who have distorted their religion. But I believe Islam can do that. And I believe that it will do that and it is doing that in its best parts. We just have to listen to the voices of reason and not condemn an entire religion our people because of the difficulties they face now.
ZAHN: Thank you for your question.
And thank you, Rabbi Marc Gellman, Monsignor Tom Hartman, and Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf.
After the break: Are we safe from another attack? I'll be talking with a person who sounded the alarm before 9/11 and was largely ignored. Former New Hampshire Senator Warren Rudman will join us. We'll also be joined by New Jersey Governor James McGreevey, as well as our special guest, Governor Pataki of New York.
We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KOFI NYANTAKYI, DOORMAN, MILLENNIUM HILTON: I saw people leap from the top of the No. 1 World Trade Center coming down, literally leaping to their death. And that's a sight that I don't think I will ever forget. It still haunts me close to two years now. (INAUDIBLE) but I don't think I can ever get that memory out of my mind.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: So the question tonight is, are we any safer than we were two years ago?
Former Senator Warren Rudman of New Hampshire was co-chair of the Hart-Rudman Commission, which made several widely-ignored security recommendations before 9/11. He joins us tonight from Washington. New Jersey Governor James McGreevey is here with us in New York. He helped establish New Jersey's Office of Counterterrorism. And, of course, we're rejoined by Governor Pataki.
Senator Rudman, I'd love to talk with you about this report that came out well in advance of 9/11, when you basically predicted the United States was very vulnerable to a terrorist attack on American soil. Did anybody pay attention to what you were saying?
WARREN RUDMAN, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Not surprisingly, very little attention. But then, of course, nobody paid much attention in 1940 and '41, until Pearl Harbor threatened our democracy. This is not unusual, in my view. And I blame no one for it.
The answer today is, how do we defend against it in the future? And I want to start out by saying that no one should ever say that we can prevent it from ever happening again. That is an impossibility. What we can do is to work on prevention, protection, and response. So that we can deal with this kind of a tragedy if it happens again in a forthright manner. But, yes, we are safer, but we are not safe.
ZAHN: What kind of grade, Senator, would you give the United States for its state of preparedness tonight?
RUDMAN: Well, probably as we are today, two years later, in the area of protection, I think the intelligence agencies have vastly improved their focus. I'd probably give them a B.
In terms of protection of vital infrastructure, I'd probably give it a C. In terms of first-responders, many of whom are sitting with you tonight, they don't have the equipment to deal with what could be a horrific chemical or a biological or nuclear attack. It is the responsibility of this country to make sure these people are adequately prepared. We have said so in a number of recent reports. And I hope people pay attention.
ZAHN: Governor, do you agree with that assessment?
PATAKI: Well, I certainly believe that, here in New York, both the city and state are better prepared and better able to respond than we were on September 11.
We're very proud of the tremendous response we saw on that horrible day. But today, there's been additional training, additional coordination. And like -- Governor McGreevey and I work together with Governor Rowland to make sure that the Connecticut State Police and New Jersey State Police have a power zone and commuter trains between New Jersey and New York.
And we have a better ability to communicate with every level of law enforcement, from the local official on the street to the highest officials in Washington.
ZAHN: Let's address, though, those two areas that Senator Rudman was talking about. He gave the country a C for guarding its vital infrastructure and a D when it came to the kind of resources we have for first-responders and their training.
GOV. JAMES MCGREEVEY (D), NEW JERSEY: Where, I think, Paula, we've done so much a better job, as Governor Pataki has said, in integrating the FBI or state police or local police. And every governor has done it, our hospital supplies.
I think the real legitimate question is that 90 percent of this nation's infrastructure is under private control, the private sector, and so that you have to work with the private sector, very specific industries, whether it's logistic, petrochemicals, whatever those industries are, to adopt best practices. And that's a radical change for the private sector. Normally, it's state governments. It's the federal government that's used to protecting our infrastructure, our bridges, our tunnels.
And now we're saying to the private sector, you need to be part of this equation. And, frankly, that's a relatively foreign notion to most of the private sector in this nation.
ZAHN: But the federal government is also putting pressure on individual states.
ZAHN: And when you look at major cities across the country who are experiencing tremendous fiscal problems, where does that leave you?
MCGREEVEY: And that's -- respectfully, I think Secretary Ridge has done a tremendous job as being the governors' advocate for the Department of Homeland Security. But, frankly, many of us are frustrated by the funding ratio.
For example, New York, New Jersey, California gets less than $1.75 per person, whereas Wyoming gets $10 per person. And North Dakota gets over $7 per person. And I think what governors have said, Republican and Democrat, is that the money ought to be tied to a rational threat nexus. And in those states where we have a disproportion amount of potential targets, that's where the dollars should be.
ZAHN: Senator Rudman, you get the final thought tonight. I know you said it probably is impossible to ever make this country terror- proof, but where do we go from here?
RUDMAN: Well, I think that I agree with the governors.
And let me say that New York is remarkable. It always has been. Its response on that day was unlike it probably would have been any place else in America. But let me simply say this. There has been strong evidence over the last few years that chemical or biological weapons, in particular, could get in the wrong hands.
It is vital that first-responders across this country are able to deal with that, if it happens, because, if they're not able to, we will see the horrible loss of life amongst first-responders and citizens. I say that not to scare anyone, but the evidence is overwhelming that that statement is true.
ZAHN: Senator Rudman, Governor McGreevey, Governor Pataki, again, thank you, all three, for joining us tonight.
ZAHN: Our homeland security discussion will continue straight out of this break.
Among our panelists, the former commissioner of the New York City Fire Department.
Please stay with us.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ZAHN: And welcome back. Two years after the 9/11 attacks, many Americans still appear to be worried. In a recent CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll, 4 out of 10 people said they were concerned that they or someone in their family could be a victim of terrorism. And the signs are there. Just yesterday, we saw what is portrayed as a new tape of Usama bin Laden and heard threats of more attacks. Those tapes and what is called increased terrorist chatter prompted the State Department to issue a worldwide caution to Americans abroad, but the White House has not raised the threat level from "elevated" to "high."
I'm just curious, for those of you who are joining us out there tonight (UNINTELLIGIBLE), how many of -- are you are worried about your own personal safety? Just a simple raising of hands. Pretty representative, I think, of what we are seeing in the polls.
Joining us now in our discussion, Jerry Hauer of the Department of Health and Human Services, former New York City fire commissioner -- you'll see him shortly -- Thomas Von Essen, former assistant FBI director James Kallstrom and Judith Miller of "The New York Times." Welcome all.
Jerry, is there anything you can say to our audience tonight that would reassure them that they are indeed safer than they were two years ago?
JEROME HAUER, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES DEPARTMENT: Sure. I think, as you look at what we've done in the last two yours, we've made great strides in better preparing the nation as a whole to both prevent and respond to these horrific acts. There has been an enormous amount of money that has gone into -- particularly from our department -- over $2.5 billion has gone into better preparing the health care system, public health. The state of New York has received well over $100 million so far in the last two years. There's been a lot of activity to better prepare first responders.
We're not there yet. We still have a lot of work to do, but a significant amount of effort has gone into ensuring that we have the capacity to deal with these events. And under the new Department of Homeland Security, there's an enormous amount of activity going in to ensuring better communications with the governors. I know Governor Ridge -- Secretary Ridge has conference calls with the governors now on a regular basis. Information is now getting out to the homeland security adviser. These are things we didn't have before September 11.
ZAHN: James, a lot of pressure now falls on local law enforcement to be the eyes and ears. Tell us through -- walk us through the change of process.
JAMES KALLSTROM, SENIOR ADVISER TO GOVERNOR PATAKI: You know, prior to 9/11, this was largely a federal issue, the FBI the CIA, people at the borders and ports, the FAA. I think now we're learning the lesson we should have learned a while back, that we need a much more comprehensive team. The governor said to me and honored me to come back out of retirement and spend a little bit of time in this business of trying to protect our society -- and he said, Jim, do everything humanly possible you can do with your team to stop the next event. And I think we owe that to the victims. We owe it to ourselves, to our children.
I think a key part of that is something we're doing here in New York and throughout the United States, and that is to get state and local police, 750,000 strong in the United States, 75,000 strong here in New York, to be the eyes and ears for the FBI, to be the people that have the ability to see the indications and warnings of terrorists that are here among us, and to -- well within our constitution, well within our law, well within our privacy, to play a more effective role. The states are stepping up to the plate. They're looking at the infrastructure. They're rearranging their medical communities to better communicate. We're looking at food supplies, water supplies. I mean, an awful lot of work is going on in the states.
ZAHN: Judith, I think it's laudable that all these efforts are being made, but if we're going to be perfectly realistic here this evening, there is no way to make this country 100 percent safe, is there?
JUDITH MILLER, "NEW YORK TIMES": I don't think there is.
ZAHN: No matter how much money you spend.
MILLER: No matter how much money we spend. But I don't think that's a excuse no not spending the money. And it's true, I think we haven't begun to look at how that money is being spent. Is it being spent effectively? I do think that what has happened because of September 11 is the ability to have that money to spend. President Clinton tried to do much of what President Bush has now been able to do, unfortunately, because of 9/11. But some of the spending needs to be made, such as investment in public health, the doctors, the nurses, the pharmacists who keep us safe -- that hasn't been made yet, and these people are really our first line of defense in a real biological or chemical emergency.
ZAHN: Commissioner Von Essen, we heard the horror stories of firefighters who, on the day of September 11, said they didn't have the necessary equipment to go into these buildings and pull off the heroics so many of them did. What are the lessons learned for fire departments all across the country?
THOMAS VON ESSEN, FORMER NYC FIRE COMMISSIONER: Well, it's hard to say. That day, I think that we did have the equipment we needed. The radio communication, of course, wasn't working as well as we would want it to work. But otherwise, we had the clothing and the protection and the training and everything that we needed. We were devastated by an attack that firefighters aren't trained for. I mean, it was an act of war. Our guys ran into a building, expecting to put out a fire and rescue people, get up as far as they could as fast as they could. When they realized that the fire was so bad they couldn't put it out, they kept going anyway, just to get the people out, and they saved thousands of people. The mission of a firefighter has always been a little more simple, not to be concerned about chemical or biological terror. The training that we need now is far greater than we've ever needed before. It's a different world, and in New York City, the experience that we've lost is going to be impossible to replace. So that has to be replaced with better training, better technology, better communications, of course. And they'll always do the job, but I think that we let them down by -- today I think the most frustrating thing I heard in all the interviews -- I listened to the senators and the congressmen all complaining about senators and congressmen. I thought, Well, why don't you fix it? If it's the Senate and the Congress that is causing the problem, why aren't they fixing it? Why aren't they doing their job? I don't think they are.
ZAHN: Is there a lot of passing the buck, in your judgment?
PATAKI: I think there's too much of that. I think what Tom, the commissioner, just indicated is very important. The role of the first responders has changed. It's no longer a police officer just patrolling the beat. It's no longer a firefighter being prepared to put out a fire in a building. As Judith says, they have to be trained and equipped to deal with possible chemical or biological threats. Much more needs to be done there, and the states, the cities, the localities need the help. And Jerry, thank you for what you and the secretary are doing, but I think the commissioner is right. We need Congress to understand the importance of doing that.
We have made tremendous progress. When Jim Kallstrom helped to set up our Office of Public Security, he reminded me that one of the hijackers on September 11 had been arrested in Maryland a few days before but wasn't detained because there was no ability to check his background out on the streets in Maryland. We now have the ability on the Canadian border for a local sheriff's deputy or the New York state police to check with INS, to check with the FBI when they stop someone for a traffic infraction, to see if there might be some outstanding risk that they pose to the people of America.
So we've made progress, but the role of the first responders is different. We have to train and equip them better, and we're going to have to continue to work to try to make sure that happens.
ZAHN: A question now from our audience for our panel.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. Arthur Safelli (ph) from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. And my question is to Governor Pataki. And let me preface it by saying that the leadership and compassion that both you and Governor McGreevey have shown in these difficult times is truly comforting.
At your direction and the direction of Governor McGreevey, the Port Authority spent nearly $500 million on making our airports and facilities safer. What other new initiatives can we look to from you out of Albany to make the citizens of both New York and New Jersey a lot safer than they are?
PATAKI: Well, first, let me thank you. We're so proud of the Port Authority police and Port Authority civilians who saved so many lives, along with the NYPD and the fire department and the emergency service workers.
We have taken enormous steps at the Port Authority to upgrade security at our airports. Again, it's something we have to do with the federal government. If there was one area where I think -- I know more has to be done, it's with the actual ports themselves. We are inspecting more ships that come from overseas. We are putting place detectors that can detect potential biological or radiological materials on ships. But what should be happening is, before those ships even leave harbor, wherever they might be going, to come to the harbor in New York or to come to a harbor anywhere in America, we should know what's on them and what is in that manifest.
So there's more that has to be done. We're proud of the steps we have taken. But I think Judith understands, we can never say we're totally safe. We are a free society. We are an open society. We respect our civil liberties. We just have to train more, we have to prepare more, we have to inspect more, and most importantly, we have to go after those who would attack us, not here, by responding on the streets of New York, but by responding in the hills of Afghanistan before they have the chance to launch any attacks against us.
ZAHN: Thank for you your question. And thank you, our esteemed panel, for joining us here this evening. Appreciate your time.
The last two years have been a period of rebuilding for New York and the rest of the nation. A look at that when we come back. Please stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE HERBERT WALKER BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: think, in the long run, it will be that they hit us and they underestimated -- they, the terrorists (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- underestimated the will of the American people to persevere.
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DANIEL LIBESKIND, ARCHITECT: It's not easy. Why should it be easy? It's a tough thing. This was a tough event, and it's unprecedented in history. And yet the process has been transparent, and I think everyone in New York, everyone in America, everyone in the free world is looking towards this to be an answer to this tragedy, something positive to come out of it.
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ZAHN: That was Daniel Libeskind, the architect chosen to design the new buildings for the Trade Center site, talking about the controversy over how to rebuild. The memorial that will be built here will be unique. It will honor victims from 26 states, 91 nations. And while it will built on sacred ground, it will be also be woven into the daily commercial life of the city.
Joining us is now is Kevin Rampe. He is the president of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, the agency overseeing reconstruction at Ground Zero. Jane Rosenthal, a film producer and creator of the Tribeca Film Festival, and Madelyn Wils, chairwoman of the Community Board of Lower Manhattan. Of course, Governor Pataki's still with us.
Kevin, this issue of a memorial is a very emotional issue for family members. They view this site as hallowed ground. They are accusing the state of going back on its word to honor the footprints of the original buildings. And they say the memorial that you all have in mind does not start at the base of the pit, but above the pit. They basically say the state has lied to them about what might ultimately be built. What do you say to them?
KEVIN RAMPE, PRES., LMDC: Well, I think it's first important to remember today, on September 11, as we remember every day, really, the courage and the strength of all the family members who have engaged in this process. It's extremely painful. And they have been there with us. And while it's not a perfect process, it is a better process because of their involvement. And I know that the result's going to be better because of their involvement.
ZAHN: But you no doubt have heard -- we were at Ground Zero, and you took a lot of heat from some of the people we visited with. They said you are building infrastructure at the base of that pit that shouldn't have to be there.
RAMPE: And Paula, that's just not the case. We're very proud of the overall conceptual design that's been advanced by Daniel Libeskind. The process, where more than 10 million people responded to the LMDC's Web site with comments as to what they thought should be built -- the centerpiece will be a memorial. And on the footprints, so long as I have anything to say about it, there's not going to be any retail, any residential, any commercial, any office. The only thing that will be there is necessary support, if it has to be, to support whatever the memorial design ultimately turns out to be.
ZAHN: You say "if it has to be." Does it...
RAMPE: Oh, and the families understand that. We don't -- we haven't seen the memorial design yet. We have -- just as we had a process to select the Libeskind design plan, we now have a process, a jury of 13 world-renowned experts looking at more than 5,000 submissions for the memorial. And I don't know what form that will take. The jury doesn't know. And what will happen is the jury will advance five or six concepts that they think are the best. We'll have public comment, and then we will move forward. But it's going to be done respectfully. We're going to honor the heroes we lost September 11. We're going to honor their families. As Kevin said, the strength they've shown has been an inspiration to all of us. We're going to do it right. ZAHN: One thing that a lot of people think that was done right was the Tribeca Film Festival. I know, in the beginning, people were thinking that was a risky thing to try. They didn't know how successful it was going to be. What has that meant to the community and those who have chosen to live in and around Ground Zero?
JANE ROSENTHAL, FILM PRODUCER: Well, the film festival really helped celebrate our community. It helped to give our community another memory, a happy memory. Three hundred and twenty-five thousand people came down to the festival, not just from New York City but from all over -- all over the world. So it was really -- everyone embraced it as their own.
ZAHN: Madelyn, I know there are a lot of challenges for those folks who have remained in this area. What is the biggest challenge today, as they try to rebuild their lives and watch their neighborhood change before their eyes?
MADELYN WILS, COMM. BOARD OF LOWER MANHATTAN: Well, as you probably know, Paula, 30,000 residents were evacuated from their homes on September 11. Thousands of homes were destroyed. Five thousand small businesses were lost, and 300,000 workers were displaced, as well. So a lot of people were devastated by what happened on September 11.
And frankly, the only reason that we could come back was because our governor said to us that, We will rebuild the World Trade Center, and it will be better than it ever was before. And it made the neighborhood, for the first time, after weeks of devastation and living in the war zone, have hope for the first time. And we were able to come back and say, This is the place that we love, and we need to rebuild it. And it is a long, long road.
And I also want to say that the memorial is a very, very important part for also the residents and workers who live down here because we are the survivors. We're the ones who lived through this. We had no food, no water, no electric, no phones, no plumbing. We had nothing for months. I ran into someone today. After two years, he's still displaced from his home. So there's a lot to endure down here. But we feel very good right now that we're on the right track and that we're going to get there.
ZAHN: Madelyn Wils, Jane Rosenthal, Kevin Rampe, Governor Pataki, thank you so much. We're going to take a short break. Up next, some thoughts on September 11 from the future of the nation, its children. Stay with us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What matters? I don't know. It's our tendency, I guess, to just go back to normalcy. I would say forget it, but I don't think that's such a good word, just forget about it. Not think about it, I guess, is a better word. You -- you're never going to forget about it, but it's so much easier on you to just not think about it. The moment right before a test, that test is the world to you. Your life depends on it. After you take the test, you just wonder, Well, what? What matters?
ZAHN: Thank you, Tim. Those are the reflections of 17-year-old student Tim Dreenen (ph). He goes to Stuyvesant High School, just four blocks from the World Trade Center. An English teacher there, Annie Toms (ph), had her students assemble monologues based on interviews with fellow students and school employees to help deal with the physical and psychological aftermath of the attacks. Thank you very much for sharing that with us tonight.
Again, Governor Pataki, we thank you so much for being with us tonight.
PATAKI: Thank you, Paula.
ZAHN: On this two-year marker.
PATAKI: Thank you. Well, as that student said, we were tested, but it's a test we'll never forget. And we have won the test. We have overcome the fears and the terror, and we will do so as we go forward.
ZAHN: Again, thanks for your time...
PATAKI: Thank you, Paula.
ZAHN: ... this evening.
Horrible as it was on that day and for many days thereafter, we are one nation. And what has affected me most in the past two years is witnessing the resilience of the American people and our ability to find our way from the darkness into the light. So we leave you tonight with these moving images of 9/11, and even more importantly, of how much has changed since then. Thank you so much for joining us tonight.
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