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.
Greetings from Families of September 11. This month we are pleased to announce some organizational initiatives, which we expect will result in a very productive year.
Beginning with a new slate of officers, new committees and, for the first time, an Executive Director, we hope to expand our outreach and meet the needs of our members, setting our priorities based in large part on the feedback you have supplied. Looking ahead, we will be monitoring the activities of the 9/11 Independent Commission as well as the development of the memorial at Ground Zero. We will deliver updated information to you, solicit feedback and, where appropriate, make recommendations. We plan to develop initiatives addressing future preparedness and the discussion of 9/11 in the schools and will speak to issues that will impact our efforts to prevent terrorism and improve our nation’s response to it.
We are expanding the capabilities of our website to offer more opportunities for our members to become involved and/or connect with other 9/11families. These include a bulletin board to post thoughts on various topics, member-specific chat rooms and more sophisticated polling techniques. We want our website to be a thorough and reliable source of current information and offer a variety of means of connecting our members through cyberspace, so that all members nationwide and abroad can be informed and play an active role in our community.
This year, we'd like to invite you to become a more active member of our organization. We are creating volunteer opportunities on a number of levels so that even those with limited time can help. We will seek your help in representing 9/11 families in Washington, DC and will continue to look to you to keep us updated as to how 9/11 issues are presented and addressed in schools. We will ask you to contribute stories, experiences and images of coping and healing to our newsletter and our website so that all family members can benefit and learn from them.
Thank you for all your support over the last two and a half years. We look forward to working with you to address your needs and the needs of families and victims of terrorism everywhere.
Mary Ellen Salamone
Three weeks ago, thanks to public pressure from 9/11 families, the White House reversed course and issued a public statement agreeing to a two-month extension to the 9/11 Commission’s deadline for issuing its final report. However, we are concerned that, as of this moment, there has been no legislation introduced that will allow Congress to officially grant at least a two-month extension.
If an extension of at least two months isn’t enacted by Congress, the Commission will not be able to finish its work and may have to cancel important hearings and interviews; it may not have time to analyze critical documents. The result will be an incomplete report that is likely to leave unanswered questions and fail to provide a full list of recommendations for preventing future attacks.
We need your help to convince Congress to pass legislation giving the Commission an extension. Bills on this issue might come up for a vote this week, so showing your support today is vital. You can do two things:
1) Send a fax to Scott Palmer, Rep. Hastert’s Chief of Staff, at fax number 202-225-0697, and tell him you want Rep. Hastert to support an extension of the Commission’s deadline. If you don’t have access to a fax machine, you can call Mr. Palmer at 202-225-0600 or 202-225-2976.
2) Contact your own Representative and Senators urging them to support the bills that would grant the Commission an extension: H.R. 3771 in the House and S. 2040 in the Senate. You can contact your Representative by going to the Web site http://www.house.gov/writerep. You can e-mail your Senators by going to http://www.senate.gov, choosing your state from the pull down menu, and clicking on the Web forms of the two Senators.
This matter requires urgent attention, because the Commission must be assured soon that it will receive an extension if it is to plan effectively for its last few months of work.
We have also learned that President Bush and Vice-President Cheney are not willing to meet privately with the entire Commission, but rather only with two of the Commissioners. We believe this is detrimental to the Commission and will not allow all Commissioners to have their important questions answered. Dr. Condoleezza Rice has declined an invitation to testify in public, which will limit the ability of all Americans to inform themselves about what was and was not known before the terrorist attacks. If you wish to let the Bush Administration know how you feel and ask them to reconsider, please email President Bush at firstname.lastname@example.org, email the Vice President at email@example.com, call the main switchboard at (202) 456-1111, or FAX at (202) 456-2461.
Former President Clinton and former Vice President Gore have agreed to meet privately with all the Commissioners, which we applaud. We ask that they further consider testifying in public.
On a related note, staff members of the 9/11 National Commission met with Andreas Schulz at the US Embassy in Berlin on February 18 and with Dr. Ulrich von Jeinsen in Hannover on February 19 to given them the opportunity to share their experiences and knowledge in connection with the Hamburg cell terrorist trials as well as their involvement with other terrorist cases.
To read to the February 25th Statement by the 9-11 Commission, please go to our website at http://www.familiesofseptember11.org.
Victims’ Compensation Fund
If you filed for the Victims’ Compensation Fund near the deadline of 12/22/03, your application packet may still be in review. The statutory 120-day time frame for review, hearing and settlement does not begin on the date you file your application. Instead, it begins when the administrators of the Fund review your packet and deem it substantially complete; that date will be on a letter you will receive shortly thereafter. Unfortunately, due to the high number of applications received late in the year, review of your application may take longer than you expect which can cause delays of several months.
Please be sure to notify your attorney if you anticipate electing to receive your distribution in the form of a structured settlement. You must make this election early in the application review process. You cannot request this type of distribution after you have received your settlement offer. Contact your attorney if you have any questions or concerns with regard to this issue or review the requirements on the DOJ website at http://www.usdoj.gov/victimcompensation/faq11.pdf.
Board Member Tom Roger, a member of the LMDC Families Advisory Council, represented Families of September 11 at a meeting of various family groups’ representatives who are trying to draft an alternative to the random listing of victims’ names on the Memorial, which our recent poll shows families do not support. Tom has drafted a proposal that is now being reviewed by various family constituencies. The meetings continue and it is hoped that a proposal can soon be presented to representatives of the LMDC and the Memorial designer.
German Trial of Accused Terrorism Conspirators & Related Proceedings
1. Legal Actions - Hamburg trial.
The Hamburg Court acquitted Abdelghani Mzoudi (on trial for conspiring with September 11th hijackers) because of lack of admissible evidence sufficient for a conviction. The Court’s decision was immediately appealed by the Federal Prosecutor and by the co-plaintiffs attorneys, Dr. Ulrich von Jeinsen and Andreas Schulz. The appeals process may delay proceedings for the deportation of Mzoudi to Morocco.
In the appeal of Mounir El-Mottassadeq, who is presently serving a fifteen-year jail term, the German Supreme Court has scheduled its next hearing for March 4, 2001. In view of Mzoudi's acquittal, the German Supreme is expected to either vacate Mottassadeq's conviction, or send it back to the Hamburg Court for a new trial. Both the trial in Hamburg and the Appeal in Karlsruhe were widely and extensively reported and commented on in the German media.
2. Treaty of Rome proceedings (Damages on the ground caused by foreign aircraft)
In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the "International Civil Aviation Organization" (ICAO) convened a study group to discuss the modernization of the 1952 Treaty of Rome to cover damages caused on the ground by foreign aircraft. FOS11 Advisory Board member Hans Ephraimson covered the four meetings in 2003 over a nine-day period, after which a preliminary Draft Treaty was submitted to the ICAO Counsel and referred to the ICAO Legal Committee to be considered at a meeting in March. Surviving families groups were represented on the ICAO study group for the first time Since the draft has not matured enough to be considered at a Diplomatic Conference, it is expected that it will be referred to a subcommittee for further discussions.
Last month Families of September 11 introduced a new feature of our monthly newsletter called “TOOLS.” In our process of moving on from the grief and loss that devastated us on September 11th, we have found that there are some tools (activities, exercises, etc.) we can use to make our journey a bit easier. Each month we will feature a different exercise designed to help us focus on our lives assist us in our search to find peace. At the end of the year, we will compile all the exercises and offer them to you in a booklet for future references. Each exercise will also be available on our website and we welcome your feedback and suggestions on methods which you have found helpful. Email us your thoughts at http://firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn about February’s tool on feelings by clicking here.
NYC Hall of Fame – Nominate Someone Today
The New York City Hall of Fame is a new non-profit organization that was created by Mr. Albert Stern, who wanted to do something wonderful for the City post 9/11. The Hall of Fame honors both notable personalities and less recognized individuals, from the past and present, who've done great things for the City, including 9/11. You may nominate a person or organization in any of the following categories: Architecture, Business Development, Charitable Contribution, Communications, Cultural Contribution, Education, Health and Science, Heroism/Act of Bravery, Humanitarian, Sports & Entertainment, and Volunteerism. The NYC Hall of Fame is currently a Web site and Mr. Stern is developing plans to create a museum for the City. If you are interested in making nominations, you may view the site at the following address: http://www.nychalloffame.org.
Attention Members who were physically injured on September 11
New York State established the World Trade Center Relief Fund immediately after 9-11 to provide surviving spouses, partners, children and parents with assistance and support. While past distributions of this fund focused on surviving relatives, the state is now seeking to disburse similar benefits to injured clients.
America’s 9/11 Memorial Quilts
The America’s 9/11 Memorial Quilt group is still looking for photos for their quilt. They are presently accepting photos for all flights and the Pentagon. If you would like to submit photos, or learn more about the project, please visit the organization’s website at http://www.911memorialquilts.com.
Comfort Zone Camp
Camp Sunshine in Casco, Maine, has created a special week of camp exclusively for 9/11 children and their families. The camp is free for 9/11 families and designed for the entire family! The 9/11 program, called Ray of Hope, is for all children – from infants to 19 year olds who lost their parent, and their families. This year, the Ray of Hope Camp will be held from July 25-30, 2004, in Maine. To learn more about the camp and program, please visit the camp’s website or call 207-655-3800. Family members that attended the 9/11 camp shared the following anecdotes about their experience:
Camp Sunshine has been our escape from the world of TV and newspapers. My two daughters were able to socialize with the other kids knowing that they are sharing the same issues. Camp Sunshine has revitalized the strength of our family - I feel that we are much stronger to return to New York, we will do much better.
Father, Daughters age 14 and 13
I thought vacationing with three small kids - packing, traveling, and entertaining was so overwhelming since the loss of my husband, so I kept putting it off. Yet I'm so glad that I finally made the trip to Camp Sunshine. For the kids there was such an emphasis on fun and for myself it was a stress free week.
Mother, Daughters 3, 6, and 7
I never realized how hard it would be to find down time for myself. I have been going on autopilot for so long and really felt the need to de-stress a little and get away from the city. Camp Sunshine was just what the doctor ordered, for an entire week my family spent such enjoyable time in the comfort of such caring people for the first time since Sept. 11th.
Mother, Sons 9 and 11
FOS11 offers a wrist band, in hope for a better future. Click here to learn more.