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Chertoff Denies Knowing Who Authorized
Destruction of 9/11 Steel
Chertoff Denies Knowing Who Authorized Destruction of 9/11 Steel
March 9, 2011
I am working on the final chapter of Solving 9/11, which focuses on the destruction of the crucial steel evidence from the World Trade Center. In the interest of accuracy and completeness this effort requires contacting the key players in the administration of President George W. Bush. Yesterday, I called and wrote to John Ashcroft and Michael Chertoff, respectively the U.S. Attorney General and Assistant Attorney General during the Bush administration. Ashcroft has not yet responded; Chertoff has.
U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft (right) and Assistant Attorney General Michael Chertoff of the Criminal Division during a news conference at the Department of Justice in February 2003.
Michael Chertoff, who headed the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice at the time, responded to my email question. Chertoff said that he does not know who authorized the destruction of the crucial evidence from the World Trade Center. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, it should be noted, an agency of the Criminal Division of the Dept. of Justice under Michael Chertoff, led the 9/11 investigation.
FBI Director Robert Mueller (right) at a press conference as Attorney General John Ashcroft looks on September 27, 2001 in Washington, DC. Robert Mueller had only been director of the FBI for one week when 9/11 occurred.
This is to say that Chertoff, the official who had the highest managerial responsibility for the FBI investigation, says he does not know who authorized the destruction of the evidence from the crime scene his agency controlled. How believable is that?
The FBI, which controlled the criminal investigation, had ultimate authority over the evidence from the World Trade Center.
The FBI website says this about its 9/11 investigation:
Our ensuing investigation of the attacks of 9/11—code-named “PENTTBOM”—was our largest investigation ever. At the peak of the case, more than half our agents worked to identify the hijackers and their sponsors and, with other agencies, to head off any possible future attacks. We followed more than half-a-million investigative leads, including several hundred thousand tips from the public. The attack and crash sites also represented the largest crime scenes in FBI history.
Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld at ground zero three days after the World Trade Center collapsed. A New York Times article entitled "Ground Zero Illness Clouding Giuliani's Legacy" reported that Giuliani “seized control” of the World Trade Center site. Why did the U.S. government allow him to destroy the evidence?
Here is the email exchange between me and Michael Chertoff:
I am a journalist working on an article about the destruction of the steel from the World Trade Center. The questions that I am posing herewith are for the purpose of this article.
When Kenneth Holden of the Department of Design and Construction of New York City gave his statement to the 9/11 Commission on April 1, 2003, he said that he had received "verbal permission" to send the steel to scrap yards in New Jersey, but failed to name the person who had authorized the move.
Did you give the permission to send the steel from the World Trade Center to the scrap yard? If you did not authorize the destruction of the steel, who did?
Chertoff responded the same day:
From: Chertoff, Michael
Subject: Re: Question for M. Chertoff on WTC Steel
Date: Tuesday, March 8, 2011, 11:39 AM
No. No idea.
I responded to Chertoff on March 9:
Thank you for your prompt response.
When Commissioner Holden was reappointed head of New York City’s Department of Design and Construction in January 2002, Mayor Bloomberg praised him saying:
New Yorkers are fortunate to have Commissioner Holden agree to remain as Commissioner of DDC. Over the last four months he has done a terrific job managing the clean up of the World Trade Center and so that the reconstruction process for Lower Manhattan can begin. By coordinating the movement of millions of tons of steel and rubble, excavating one of the most dangerous work sites in the world all seemingly ahead of schedule, under budget and without a fatality, Kenneth Holden has been the unsung hero of this enormous task.
Can you tell me why U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft and the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice, which you headed, allowed Mayor Giuliani to “seize control” of the crime scene and make decisions that resulted in the hasty destruction of crucial evidence before it could be properly examined?
The New York City Department of Design and Construction reportedly oversaw the recovery efforts. A New York Times article entitled "Ground Zero Illness Clouding Giuliani's Legacy" of 14 May 2007 reported that Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani “seized control” of the World Trade Center site:
An examination of Mr. Giuliani’s handling of the extraordinary recovery operation during his last months in office shows that he seized control and largely limited the influence of experienced federal agencies…
A Mayor in Control - From the beginning, there was no doubt that Mr. Giuliani and his team ruled the hellish disaster site. Officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, all with extensive disaster response experience, arrived almost immediately, only to be placed on the sideline. One Army Corps official said Mr. Giuliani acted like a “benevolent dictator.”
Despite the presence of those federal experts, Mr. Giuliani assigned the ground zero cleanup to a largely unknown city agency, the Department of Design and Construction. Kenneth Holden, the department’s commissioner until January 2004, said in a deposition in the federal lawsuit against the city that he initially expected FEMA or the Army Corps to try to take over the cleanup operation. Mr. Giuliani never let them.
Why did President Bush and Attorney General Ashcroft allow Mayor Giuliani to “take over the cleanup operation”?
Sources and Recommended Reading:
Bollyn, Christopher, “Who Destroyed the 9/11 Evidence?”
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