FOS11 Newsletter, Volume #2, Issue #9July/August 2003

Welcome | Issues Update | Upcoming Events | Resources | Contact Us | Donate

Families of September 11 is now operating as the For Action Initiative. The web pages on this site are available for informational purposes only. Please visit us at www.foractioninitiative.org.

Welcome

In light of the recent headlines and hubbub, much of it regarding the release of the Joint Intelligence Committee report, we want to update you on the activities of our organization.  Over the past month, Families of September 11 members have participated in a number of important 9/11 meetings.  Highlights include:

  • Members met with FBI Director Mueller to discuss the state of the FBI, the agency’s cooperation with the 9/11 Commission, what changes have been made in the FBI since 9/11, and how they plan to continue to modernize the agency to make sure it is able to stop future attacks.  We plan to continue discussions with Mueller in future meetings.
  • We continue to work closely to monitor the 9/11 Commission and its investigation into all that led up to and happened on September 11, 2001.  Families of September 11 was glad to help the Commission bring to the attention of the public and government its concerns about the lack of cooperation the Commission has experienced from government agencies thus far.  We are dedicated to making sure the Commission has as much support as is necessary to conduct a thorough investigation whose recommendations are implemented.  

The New York office of Families of September 11 recently held its second focus group, this time they met with parents who lost adult children.  The group discussed parents’ challenges and unique needs.  A report from this discussion is available on the FOS11 website homepage http://familiesofseptember11.org – we encourage you to review the family feedback and send us your input via e-mail to http://www.info@familiesofseptember11.org or contact us by phone at 212-575-1878. 

Issues Update

9/11 Lawsuit deadline extended
New York Governor George Pataki has signed into law a measure that will extend the filing period for wrongful death lawsuits on behalf of victims of the September 11th attacks by an additional six months, until March 11, 2004.  A bipartisan agreement on the legislation was reached during this year’s legislative session between the governor, Senate Majority Joseph Bruno, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.  Family members of September 11th victims have two options for seeking compensation: You can file a claim with the federal September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (the deadline is December 2003), thereby waiving your right to sue, or you can bring a wrongful death action in court (the new deadline is March 11, 2004).  These deadlines do not affect any litigation against foreign states of funders of terror.

Family Rooms in NYC
Two areas have been created by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation for the families to observe the site in quiet contemplation.  The first of these rooms is the One Liberty Plaza Family Room, located on the 20th floor of One Liberty Plaza, overlooking the World Trade Center Site.  The second room, the Liberty Street Family Room, is on Liberty Street, which is located at the World Trade Center Site.  Both of these areas provide a private, peaceful setting. Family members are allowed to bring guests; however they ask you to limit the number to one or two guests, when possible.  To make arrangements to visit the areas, contact Davella May, of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey by phone at 212-435-5552 or by e-mail at dmay@panynj.gov.

WTC – New York City Memorial Update
Entries for the WTC memorial were due by June 29th, 2003.  At this date, more than 5,000 entries have been logged and will be reviewed. The jury will convene in August to select five finalists.  For a full accounting of the process, visit the LMDC website at www.renewnyc.com.

WTC DNA Identifications Update – Office of Chief Medical Examiner, New York City
The Medical Examiner's office has begun using new DNA techniques to identify victims’ remains from the WTC disaster.  The advanced technology will help to identify remains that were unidentifiable using traditional DNA testing methods. There are three additional techniques being used: Bode-Plex, Mitochondrial DNA, and SNPs.  As of June 2003, the Medical Examiner’s office has identified 1,505 of the 2,792 victims from the WTC disaster. Using these new techniques, they hope to identify at least another 100-200 victims. We anticipate it may take over a year to receive and analyze all the new data.  For more information about the new technologies, call the WTC hotline, seven days a week (between (9:00AM – 5:00PM), at 212-447-7884. 

9/11 Commission Releases Interim Report
On Tuesday, July 8th, Governor Thomas Kean and Representative Lee Hamilton, Chair and Vice Chair of the 9-11 Commission, released a progress report on the Commission's work at a press briefing in Washington DC. Both Governor Kean and Representative Hamilton expressed concern over the level of cooperation they were receiving from certain government agencies, including the Department of Justice, Department of Defense and the White House.   Families of September 11 thanks both Governor Kean and Representative Hamilton for taking the time to outline the progress of the commission to date.  However, we remain very concerned with the delays faced by the Commission and are disappointed by the apparent lack of full cooperation by the White House, Department of Justine and Department of Defense.  We will remain vigilant in following the progress of the Commission and doing all we can to help it fulfill its mandate.  We remain hopeful that the independent commission will be able to provide a full and complete report detailing the events that led up to the September 11th terrorist attacks and provide recommendations that will be implemented to help prevent future attacks.  To view a copy of the Joint Inquiry's Final Report, go to: http://www.gpoaccess.gov/serialset/creports/911.html.

Joint Intelligence Committee Releases De-Classified Version of Report
On Thursday, 24 July 2003, the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) released the public version of their investigation into the lapses and gaps in intelligence preceding the September 11 attacks.  The investigation was limited in scope to intelligence, but will serve as a building block for the 9/11 Commission.  We were disappointed that the report was held up for 7 months by the White House due to squabbles about what information needed to remain classified, and were troubled to learn that the identity and details of those who funded the terrorists were not disclosed to the public.  Senator Graham, on July 28, 2003, asked the President to release the information.  We will keep you updated as we learn more.

Legislation, Treaties and Other Developments
Senate Bill S 1275
A "Benefits for Victims of International Terrorism Act of 2003" was introduced in the Senate on June 17, 2003 and assigned to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. A first Hearing on this proposed bill was held on July 17, 2003.  The purpose of that bill; is to "establish a comprehensive program to provide benefits for US victims of international terrorism and for other purposes."  If the bill is enacted, it would be retroactive to 1979 and is essentially intended to provide limited damages for victims of terrorism going back to the Iranian hostages (the hostages recently lost a court decision disallowing damages awarded in the judicial system because the Treaty of Algiers leading to their release specifically excluded damages claims against Iran).

The proposed law - S 1275 - will not apply to the 9/11 victims families whose damages are addressed in the Victims Compensation Fund.  As it is presently written it appears to not interfere with ongoing 9/11 anti-terrorist litigation.  The amount of proposed damages would be limited to the 1968 Public Safety Officers' Benefits Program that is an amount inadequate under present day’s values.  The act in its present form does not prevent any victim from bringing action against terrorists in the judicial system.  Further developments of this proposed legislation will have to be observed carefully and families’ input should be considered.

On July 31, 2003 the Senate gave its advice and consent to the new "Montreal Convention" of 1999 and to "The Hague Protocols" of 1955 by unanimous consent.  Both Treaties will modernize the international air transportation liability system (the Warsaw Convention of 1929).  The United States will hopefully be the 30th country needed to put the Treaty into effect – hopefully by November 2003 (60 days after deposition).  "Montreal" codifies and extends the already existing private "International Airline Transportation Association" (IATA) agreement of 1996 which governs claims by 9/11 families with international tickets. The salient features of the new system are a reversal of burden of proof of liability (the airlines admit liability unless they can prove to have "taken all measures" for the tragedy not to happen), full liability for provable economic and non-economic damages with a first step of "strict liability" of about $140,000 (with a provision that this amount is kept at present value), and advance payments (which some airlines like Air France, Swissair, Alaska Air and others are have already started to make. The new Treaty also introduces the right to the jurisdiction of the passengers’ domicile, meaning that in the future American citizens and U.S. residents who travel internationally have the right for their damage claims be settled in U.S. courts regardless of where they are traveling in the world.  The liability is also extended to code share or alliance arrangements among the airlines as being “continuous” transportation. The Hague Protocols also contain a provision that the airlines are liable for all costs if the ultimate amount of damages exceeds the initial settlement offer of the carrier.

Starting with the KAL007 Families Group in 1983 and joined over the years by families of other air transportation tragedies worldwide, families have been active participants in the development of the new "Montreal" system. They are presently represented in a study group at the "International Civil Aviation Agency" (ICAO), a United Nations organization with 187 member countries to modernize the "Treaty of Rome," and address the damages caused on the ground by airplanes (9/11, AA 587, AF4590, SAS-Linate, EL-AL - Amsterdam, etc). We have a copy of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Report to the Senate including the families’ group statement.  If you have questions about this information or would like to learn more, contact Hans Ephraimson, spokesperson for the Air Crash Victims Families Group (ACVF), by phone at 201-825-1124 or by e-mail at acvfa@cs.com.

Terrorist trials
The first trial of an accused terrorist in Germany resulted in the conviction of Mounir El Mottassadeq with a maximum sentence of fifteen years. Now, the German Federal Prosecutor has brought an indictment against Abdelghani Mzoudi another member of the Hamburg cell that hatched the 9/11 terrorist acts. The trial will start in August and court proceedings are presently scheduled through December.  Under German law 9/11 victims’ families are again admitted as co-plaintiffs.  In the first trial the family association was able to recruit two prominent German trial lawyers to represent 9/11 co-plaintiff interests on a "pro bono" basis - which is rare in Europe.

The two attorneys: Dr. Ulrich von Jeinsen, senior partner at Goehmann Wrede Haas Kappus & Hartmann in Hannover and Andreas Schulz in Berlin have again graciously consented to represent 9/11 co-plaintiffs interests donating their time on a pro bono basis.  The participation as co-plaintiiffs in the first terrorist trial was of great benefit to the families, because it gave them access to all of the court files (45,000 pages), which they could contribute to the Independent Commission, and to the attorneys involved in the litigation process in the US.  The judges also specifically stated in their conviction of Mottassadeq that the families’ participation was essential in their better understanding of the human dimensions of those heinous acts - and persuaded them to mete out the maximum allowable sentence under German law. 

It is quite important that in the new trial as many families as possible join as co-plaintiffs – we urge you to join as co-plaintiffs.  Please contact Dr. Ulrich von Jeinsen by e-mail at Ulrich@vonjeinsen.de and Andreas Schulz by e-mail at RASBerlin@aol.com for more information.

German 9/11 families – Joining together to develop a National Crisis Management Program
The German Government is developing a coordinated interagency crisis management organization, and all of our German members are invited to participate.  The genesis of this organization was the mounting attacks (Sept. 11 attacks, the attack of a German tourist group in Djerba, Tunisia, the taking of tourist hostages in Algeria) involving Germans worldwide.  Families of those tragedies, including German 9/11 families are invited and continue to join this working group.  To learn more, please e-mail Manfred Gorki at marlis.gorki@firemail.de

Upcoming Events

Family Meeting for 9/11 Families in IL, WI, IN, and MI – AUGUST 16th
The next group meeting of Chicago area Families of September 11th victims which is a breakfast meeting planned for   Saturday, August 16th, 9:00am, The White Eagle Restaurant, Niles, Illinois.  More details will be sent from Willow House, including directions, when closer to the date. RSVPs are requested so the group can to plan accordingly.  All families in the area are encouraged to contact Stefanie T. Norris, Executive Director of Willow House, by phone at 847-940-0779 or by e-mail at willowhouse1@aol.com

The Past and Future of the WTC (A Municipal Art Society walking tour)
On Sunday, Aug 17, 2003, from 9:00AM - 5:00AM, family members are encouraged to participate in the Municipal Art Society's walking tour of the World Trade Center Site. The walk will discuss the past and future of the site. For more information, please visit the Rebuilding NYC Calendar at http://www.gothamgazette.com/rebuilding_nyc/calendar.shtml.

VCF or Civil Lawsuits: Forum for September 11th Victims and Families, Suffern, NY
Educational forum for families and victims: This event takes place on Tuesday, August 19, 6:00PM-9:00PM, at the Holiday Inn at Suffern, 3 Executive Boulevard Suffern, NY.  Registration begins one hour before the forum. A light meal will be served. Please check www.ncvc.org for changes, updates and future forum announcements. Please reserve your space by calling 1-800-FYI-CALL (1-800-394-2255), TTY 1-800-211-7996; sign language interpreting is available upon request. Please let us know when you call to register. The National Center for Victims of Crime is the nation's leading resource and advocacy organization dedicated to helping victims of crime rebuild their lives.  For more information, please visit their website at http://www.ncvc.org.

Events in NYC to commemorate September 11, 2003
Families of September 11th is compiling a list of September 11 commemorative activities taking place in the next two months.  If you are aware of events taking place in your town or city, please contact Paige Panzner, our program director, by e-mail at ppanzner@familiesofseptember11.org and share your information.  Please view the list on our website’s homepage at http://www.familiesofseptember11.org.  The list will be updated as we receive new information – and we thank family members who have already shared event details.  For additional event information, please visit our events calendar at http://www.familiesofseptember11.org/events.

City Hall in New York City is presently organizing its September 11 memorial gathering.  Although details for the day have not as of yet been finalized, we have been told that the plan largely resembles that of 2002.  Most likely the area will be open at 7:30AM, with the first ceremony beginning at 8:48AM.  The American Red Cross will not be providing travel benefits for families this year.  We will provide an update to this information as we receive more details. 

Resources

WTC Hotline:
If you have any questions about World Trade Center operations at the Medical Examiner's office, or if you would like to schedule a visit to Memorial Park or attend one of the DNA tours, please call our WTC hotline at 212-447-7884, 9:00 am - 5:00 pm, seven days a week.

New resource from the 9/11 United Services Group
The 9/11 United Services Group has put together an Assistance Guide directory of over 160 services, programs and agencies that are still available to individuals affected in various ways by the events of September 11th.   Visit this informative website at http://www.sept11help.org and learn more about resources available to you. 

Property Clerk Update and Contact Information
Please call Michael Henley of the NYPD Property Clerk at 646-610-5531 to inquire about lost property.  His office is handling identifiable jewelry and personal identification.  If you want to alert him to jewelry you believe they might find, please send a brief description along with pictures, a serial number, photos from a catalog or website or any other material that they can use to identify it as your loved one’s property.  You can mail this information to: 1 Police Plaza, Manhattan Property Clerk, Room S 20, NY, NY 10038.

To identify any clothing that was possibly worn by your loved one on September 11th, contact the morgue at 212-263-7882.  At the present, the Property Clerk’s Office is also holding all key rings, and has not provided information about when it will beg to distribute these keys.  Families of September 11 has learned that within two months, a website will be available for families to view unclaimed jewelry and personal photographs.  We will continue to work with the Property Clerk and other appropriate officials to expedite the return of ALL of our loved one’s personal property.

Support Groups for 9/11 Mothers and Children
Since 2002 Dr. Beatrice Beebe has been directing a project to treat mothers, infants and small children of families where the fathers were lost on 9/11 and the mothers were pregnant.  She has worked with 40 of the 103 women who matched this description.  She is actively seeking to connect with all the families.  Her team has a special expertise in mother-infant and mother-child communication and bonding.  There are numerous support groups open to mothers and children (infants – 12 year old children).  If you would like to speak with Dr. Beebe or learn more about her work, please call her at 212-675-1918 or e-mail her at beebebe@pi.cpmc.columbia.edu.

Remember. Honor. Hope.
FOS11 offers a wrist band, in hope for a better future. Click here to learn more.

Contact Us

Online

Become a Member
Donate Now
info@familiesofseptember11.org

By Phone

General information: 212-575-1878


 
Families of September 11 (FOS11) is a 501(c)(3) organization founded by families of those who died in the September 11 terrorist attacks. Membership is open to anyone affected by the events of September 11, 2001. More than 2,400 people worldwide have chosen to join us.



Families of September 11 is an accredited charity and is a member of the Seal Program, which indicates that our organization has met the 20 Standards for Charity Accountability. For more information about the Standards, please visit the BBB of Metro New York's website at http://www.newyork.bbb.org/.

Is this email going to your junk/bulk folder? Add info@familiesofseptember11.org to your address book to ensure that you receive all future mailings in your Inbox.