Sunday, September 17, 2006

Smoking Gun May Implicate Christy Todd Whitman in Felonies

Jenna Orkin*

EPA Senior Policy Analyst Hugh Kaufman revealed today what he called a "smoking gun," documents showing that Administrator Christy Todd Whitman committed a felony when she reassured New Yorkers that their air was safe to breathe following the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

The internal documents, obtained by Congressman Jerrold Nadler whose district includes Ground Zero, consist of notes written in preparation for the EPA Inspector General's Report of August, 2003. That report showed that at least one EPA press release was edited by the White House Council on Environmental Quality to replace cautionary statements about asbestos with reassurances.

In the notes, EPA Spokesperson Tina Kreisher is asked whether there was a 'conscious effort' to reassure the public. Ms. Kreisher responded that there was such an effort and that it came both from the Administrator and the White House.

The newly unearthed notes are particularly damning, Kaufman says, because Whitman had a personal financial interest in getting Lower Manhattan up and running again. She owned millions of dollars' worth of bonds from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey which in turn owned the WTC site. A letter from Whitman dated January 19, 2001 to Ann Wolgast, an EPA Ethics official, states that Whitman understood that certain of her family's financial interests, including the PA bonds, presented potential conflicts of interest. Thus when she took office on February 1, 2001, she recused herself from cases involving the PA, among other companies.

She therefore broke the law by getting involved in the World Trade Center case at all, Kaufman says. The case should have been handled by her Deputy, Linda Fisher, who had 25 years' experience.

On September 13, 2006, Congressman Nadler, along with Congressmen Weiner and Pascrell, wrote to Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez requesting that a Special Counsel be appointed to investigate whether criminal charges should be brought against former Administrator Whitman as well as against other government officials for possibly endangering the lives of thousands of people following the attacks.

"Christie Whitman repeatedly declared the air safe, and now thousands of people are sick, and some have died, from World Trade Center contamination," Nadler said. "To add insult to injury, she just went on 60 Minutes and tried to blame everybody else for her misdeeds. She must be held accountable."

Kaufman says that Whitman may also have been motivated by a second conflict of interest from which, however, she did not recuse herself: She owned $250,000 stock in Citigroup which in turn owned Travellers' Insurance, a major downtown insurance company. Her husband John had worked for Citigroup before running a spinoff, Sycamore, which managed Citigroup's Far East branch.

Kaufman was the Chief Investigator for the EPA Ombudsman's Office until Whitman shut that office down by folding it into the Inspector General's office. The move ended the transparency which had been the hallmark of Ombudsman investigations; the IG Office focussed on enforcement. However Nikki Tinsley, the IG in charge of the highly critical report on the World Trade Center, is also no longer in office.

The documents obtained contain enough evidence, Kaufman says, to warrant hiring a Special Prosecutor. Possible crimes include wrongful endangerment and manslaughter. "The heroes should have their day in court and all enemies, foreign and domestic, should be held accountable."

*One of twelve original plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit against the EPA.


Rice Farmer said...

Aside from providing futher evidence for a heinous crime, it's interesting to read about Whitman's financial interest in the WTC.

In other news...
"Spy Agencies Outsourcing to Fill Key Jobs",0,3821049.story?coll=la-home-headlines

More integration of the corporation and the state... and a great new market!

Rice Farmer said...

"Tourism slump worries US"

"Fortress America" is losing a big piece of the international tourism pie. Reasons cited for the decline include the Heathrow bomb scare and the onerous security requirements at airports, including "hostile receptions."

Howlin_Dog said...

T'ain't anything going to happen to Christy Todd Whitman:

For Christy to be found guilty would require Americans to loose their Pollyanna vision of the America the Righteous and the images of our strong first responder, our soldiers of the streets. Forget the fact that we still have not provided them radios that communicate correctly. Forget the fact the we send them out without protection. Forget the fact that some are probably coughing up blood right now.

Heck, there is a market out there and we can't muck it up with the facts. Who would buy a photograph of firemen hoisting a flag if they though one was dead or dying from the bad air? Who would watch a TV special about the hero's of 9-11 (and the attached commercials) if we thought our government allowed some to be slowly poisoned? The fact that some were crushed to death under the buildings adds to the romantic view, but allowed to die by our leaders does not.

If Christy and the EPA was found guilty of incompetence then we would have to spend more money at the EPA like we do for all of the other “incompetent” agencies like the CIA, NSA, FBI, ... etc. Since people are finally questioning the budget deficit, that might mean Rummy and friends might not get the money they want.

If it is noted somewhere other than the back pages of main-stream news and “alternative” news sources that the EPA lets us down, the American people might actually come together against a common enemy, our government. However, the way it is, there is money to be made by the demagogy of the demagogues by the other demagogues. (Give
em hell Ann!)
Who would worry about how curly the hair is, or the shape of the lips, or shape of the eyes on the people on the statue honoring the first responders if we knew they are now dead or dieing because of government slime balls?

And finally, the main reason it won't happen. We cannot blow the Pollyanna vision of America and the view that N.Y.C. was just a big “Little House on the Prairie” and that all decisions were for the common good. I mean... if NYC ain't “Little House on the Prairie”, then Rudy Giuliani can't be Charles Ingalls and there goes another rising star among the Republican presidential hopefuls.

(A final note: I do support and honor those who still believe... the soldiers, the first responders. I actually wish I could still believe and I am sorry if my making light of the media/government bullshit sounded as if I was putting down these brave and honorable folks. It was not intended to. )

Rice Farmer said...

"Pollyanna vision of America" -- aka, American exceptionalism. Such terrible things happen in other countries, not the US of A! Keep coming with those trenchant observations, Howlin Dog!

Rice Farmer said...

"World Water Demand Surging Due to Rising Population"

The implication is more bad news for biofuels.

Rice Farmer said...

Today's financial page carried a story about the Japanese government's first FTA negotiations with the GCC countries, which are to begin on September 21. GCC countries provide about 75% of Japan's crude imports, 22% of natural gas imports, and 80% of LPG imports (these figures are from the article). Thus Japan's main aim, says the article, is to tighten economic ties with GCC countries and lock in stable supplies of crude and natural gas.

The article also mentions that stalled negotiations with Saudi Arabia over an investment agreement will be resumed in October.

Japan also wants to work out individual agreements with other GCC countries in an attempt to expand investment in oil field development.

JMC said...

Well, whatever our lingering depressed feelings about 911, there is organization to push for a new independent inquiry into 9/11. Politics 911 is working to make a new inquiry central to congressional elections this 2006 political season:

I just had to pass that alone for all those desperate to DO something. And it's also a chance to get together with other people doing politics. Yes, peak oil is the final bottom line, but the friendliest civil situation we can make before that happens, the best chance we'll have to come out the otherside more or less intact.

Long live the Jersey Girls.

Rice Farmer said...

Peak oil is the bottom line, but I think 9/11 is big, too. I feel that 9/11 is such a monstrous crime that its exposure would also expose the rot at the core of Corporate America. It would liberate millions of Americans from the belief in "American exceptionalism." So briefly, that's why I think it's worth pursuing.

Meanwhile, gotta harvest my rice crop.

Edward said...

CTW may have committed felonies. But you have to ask yourself, is she connected? Probably so. In which case, save your time and energy. Dubya has committed numerous felonies - how about one for each wrongful Iraqi death in the last 3 years? When's he going to trial?