UQ Wire: Voices of September 11 Calls For Answers
Presented by… http://www.unansweredquestions.org/
First public hearing of the National Commission on Terrorist
Attacks Upon the United States
Statement of Mary
to the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States
March 31, 2003
Good morning. My name is Mary Fetchet. Thank you all so much for being here. I tragically lost my son Brad in the attacks on the World Trade Center. I am Co-Chair of Voices of September 11th and a member of the steering committee for the 9/11 Independent Commission. I am honored to be here today and want to thank Governor Kean, Mr. Hamilton and all the commissioners for allowing me the opportunity to discuss my expectations for the 9/11 Independent Commission. I want to express to all of you my very deep concern about the progress and the responsibility of the commissions investigation and how very important it is to our national security. The responsibility of the success of this investigation rests on your shoulders. We have waited far too long for this commission to get up and running.
As a mother who lost her child I feel it is my moral obligation to speak on behalf of my son, myself and my family and for the other families who lost loved ones on September 11th. We deserve answers to the growing questions we have about how could this have happened on our own soil. What were the failures? And most importantly I am also here as a citizen, like you and the rest of the nation who continues to feel unprotected at these volatile times. For the sake of our children we feel a great sense of urgency.
Brad was 24 years old and the oldest of our 3 sons. He worked at Keefe, Bruyette and Woods as an equity trader on the 89th floor of Tower 2. Brad was an understated, athletic, handsome young man with a keen sense of humor, a sparkle in his eyes and a wonderful smile. Much like the 3,000 other innocent victims Brad was hardworking and dedicated to his family and friends. Brad was planning to become engaged to his girlfriend of 3 years, Brooke. When Brad died, my husband and I lost a son and our dreams for his future-a wedding, a daughter-in-law and grandchildren. His younger brothers have lost a friend, a coach, a mentor, a confidant, and a companion. It is incomprehensible that the devastation was so great that our families are being notified of only minute body parts such as a finger, a portion of a jaw or a vertebrae, or worse nothing at all. We have been notified of Brad's limited remains on three occasions and have had a memorial service and burial. We will wait until the notification process ends before we have a final burial. It may continue for years.
On September 11th, Brad called my husband at work shortly after the first plane hit tower one. Like other times when there was an emergency in the building, he wanted to reassure us that he was o.k. He was shaken, because he had seen people "dropping from the 90th floor…ALL THE WAY DOWN." He knew a plane hit tower one, but wasn't aware it was a commercial jet. The Port Authority directed my son's company to stay put in their office, "that the building is safe and secure." He left similar messages at home and with his girlfriend, Brooke. As always he finished his calls to all of us with "I Love You. He asked me to return his call "that he thought it would be business as usual". I never had the chance to say goodbye and tell him I love him. Brad made his last call to his girlfriend after the second plane hit Tower 2. The message was brief. Sirens were sounding in the background, and he was frantically trying to escape the building. Other families received similar calls from their loved ones who knew they were going to die, who were trapped above the fire and unable to escape. THEY DIED A HORRENDOUS DEATH. So I ask you if the house next door to you were hit by a plane or on fire, would you direct your family to remain in your home? How is it that people would be directed to remain in a 110-story building supposedly "safe and secure" when its twin tower is billowing in smoke - people jumping to their death to avoid a high-rise fire?
Unlike Brad's situation, Rick Rescorla, Director of Security for Morgan Stanley directed his employees to leave the building -- to disregard the Port Authorities commands to evacuees to "return UP to their offices." How is it that they were receiving such conflicting information which ultimately, senselessly cost my sons life and the life of 600 others in building two? Were there evacuation policies in place? Were they followed? NOONE IN BUILDING TWO SHOULD BE DEAD TODAY. WHAT WERE THE FAILURES AND AGAIN WHO IS ACCOUNTABLE?
Furthermore, what communications existed to warn city authorities and the Port Authority that hi-jacked commercial aircraft appeared headed for their targets? More specifically what was New York City and the Port Authority told about the findings of the Joint FBI and NYPD Terrorist Task Force. What were the breakdowns in communication between the control towers, the FAA, NORAD, and other government agencies? On a larger scale, what was the CIA, the FBI, the INS and the military doing to protect our country? What were the systemic failures? Who should be held accountable? September 11th has repeatedly been referred to as a "wake-up call". Our President said on September 27, 2001, "We have awakened to a new danger, but our resolve is great…" (Remarks to Airline Employees at O'Hare International Airport, Chicago, Illinois) As late as May 16, 2002 Condoleeza Rice stated that "I don't think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center, take another one and slam it into the Pentagon; that they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile." (Press Briefing, May 16, 2002).
But September 11th was not a "wake up call." Nor was it a "new danger." September 11th should have been predictable. The loss of life in the 1993 bombing and the continued threats specifically on the World Trade Center and on other New York City landmarks should have been THE wake up call.
In fact the Joint Intelligence Committee concludes; "there was considerable historical evidence that international terrorists had planned and were, in fact, capable of conducting major terrorist strikes within the United States."
The Hart-Rudman Commission released in February 2001 also predicted a terrorist attack of great magnitude and loss of life on our own soil. However their recommendations to address these threats were never implemented. The report sat on a shelf.
It is also important to note that two earlier Presidential Commissions on airline safety, security and anti-terrorism were implemented following airline disasters - the Pan Am Flight 103 (1988) and the TWA Flight 800 (1996). However, these costly commissions were bogged down by lobbying from the aviation industry and financial expenditures were given priority over the safety of human lives. During this time what steps did the aviation community take amidst this growing threat, one which centered on using aircraft as bombs and American cities as targets. HOW DID BOXCUTTERS GET THROUGH SECURITY? What were the failures and who is accountable?
WHAT WE WANT FROM THE COMMISION
Thankfully we live in a country with freedom of speech. Yet our elected officials have neglected to implement the commission's important recommendations to improve airline and national security. We have strong military support, yet they were not able to protect us within our own borders. We have sophisticated intelligence agencies that for reasons unknown to the public have been proven to be ineffective, at least as far as protecting American lives. Our nation is technologically advanced, yet the technology is not protecting the skyways of America.
For 18 months our families have been denied the truth that a thorough investigation would reveal. As a family member I am frustrated, to have suffered the loss of a son and yet be required to spend time away from my family and fight for the establishment of a commission that should have been in place on the day of tragic event. Following the recent mining disaster and tragic Columbia aircraft explosion commissions were established immediately. It is now 18 months later. We are at war with heightened alert. Yet the Commission has had a slow start. A quest for the truth has to begin at the top. We call on the administration to sign an executive order to require all governmental agencies to provide necessary documents and act in full cooperation with the commission throughout their investigation. Security clearance for all commissioners should be expedited. Necessary funds should be allocated for a commission of this magnitude.
I found a journal my son began writing at age 21. On the first page he wrote a quote which best describes how he lived his life. "You can tell the character of a man by what he does for the man who can offer him nothing."
I CHALLENGE the Commissioners, staff and all those involved in the success of this commission to approach this important inquiry with the same manner that Brad approached life. To approach it with an open mind and with integrity. Above all with a sense of urgency and a full commitment to the time and energy that will be necessary to do a complete and thorough job. It is your MORAL responsibility to leave no stone unturned. The commission will only be successful if it has the full support of the administration and government agencies. It must begin with an executive order which encourages full disclosure from all government agencies. OUR NATION DESERVES FOR THIS COMMISSION TO BE DIFFERENT. We want answers to our questions. We want recommendations. Despite the cost we want follow through and we want accountability. You are accountable for the success of this commission.
We want to prevent a similar event from happening again or other families from suffering the loss we've had to sustain. May God Bless my son and all those who perished on September 11th and those brave soldiers who are risking their lives in Iraq….and may he grant you the strength and wisdom as you proceed with this important contribution for the sake of our nation. Thank you.
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