[Vision2020] Jersey Girls

Tom Hansen thansen at moscow.com
Sun Sep 10 07:16:21 PDT 2006

>From this morning's (September 10, 2006) "Sunday Morning" on CBS -


Jersey Girls
Sept. 10, 2006

(CBS) For Lorie Van Auken, Mindy Kleinberg and Patty Casazza, Sept. 11 still
happens every single day. 

"I can't believe that my kids are five years older. And that my husband's
been gone for five years," says Van Auken, choking up. "Five years is a long
time to not see someone." 

"I wake up with that every morning. It's the same feeling, whether it's an
anniversary or not," Casazza says. 

Asked what the feeling is, Casazza says, "It's despair and hope and sorrow."

"And hope?" CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric asks. 

"You have to have hope. We have children. You want something better for
them," Casazza replies. 

When their husbands, John, Kenneth and Alan, died in the World Trade Center,
they left behind six children who are still dealing with that loss. 

Mindy Kleinberg's 7-year-old son tries to stay connected to his father by
visiting a skate park dedicated to his memory. 

"They had built a skate park in the town and they had dedicated it to my
husband. And he has felt very strongly that it's disrespectful if we don't
go there a lot. And he is talking more and more about how it feels for him
not to have a father," Mindy Kleinberg explains. "You know, he tells me time
and time, 'I didn't really know him.' And when he says it, it's

But Lorie, Mindy and Patty aren't just single moms and grieving widows. Just
a few months after Sept. 11, they teamed up with fellow widow Kristen
Breitweiser. They became self-taught, some say self-appointed, experts on
9/11 and began to push hard for an investigation. 

They were dubbed the "Jersey Girls" and joined forces with other 9/11
families to fight a White House reluctant to mount an investigation. They
finally wore Washington down. 

"Tom Kean, who was head of the 9/11 commission, said 'I doubt very much we
would be in existence without them,' meaning without you all. Why was it so
important for you to make sure that commission was created in the first
place?" Couric asks Van Auken. 

"We had questions that were not being answered. We knew we were still at
risk. We knew that we couldn't make changes without an accurate and truthful
look back at what had gone wrong," she replies. 

On the first day of hearings, Mindy testified. 

After 15 months of grueling testimony, the commission's final report came
out with 41 urgent recommendations. These included distributing homeland
security funds based on risk, making major improvements in airline passenger
screening and securing nuclear materials. But two years later, the
commission's chairman says some of the most important recommendations have
not been fully implemented. 

"What will need to happen for people to take the commission's
recommendations more seriously?" Couric asks Tom Kean. 

"I'm scared to death it will take another attack. I mean, that's what really
worries me," he says. 

His commission disbanded, Kean has now written a book, and is still fighting
to implement the recommendations. 

"Who do you blame? Congress? The administration? The American people, quite
frankly, who aren't screaming from the mountaintops to get this stuff done?"
Couric asks Kean. 

"Well it's a combination of blame. I think the president ought to be
leading, congressional committees ought to be holding hearings about it,"
Kean says. "Unfortunately, everybody I've talked to believes that sooner or
later there's going to be another attack. Now, if we're not doing everything
we can to prevent that attack, God help us." 

The "Jersey Girls" blamed the Bush administration, and just before the 2004
elections, they went public. The women announced their support for Sen. John
Kerry, saying he fully embraced all of the 9/11 commission's

But taking sides came at a price. 

"Rush Limbaugh referred to you all as Democratic campaign consultants, not
grieving family members. Ann Coulter, in her book, wrote, 'These broads are
millionaires, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by
'griefarazzis.' I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so
much,'" Couric tells the women. 

"We fought for their safety as well as our own," says Van Auken. "We were
never coached by anybody, never funded by anybody." 

"Party difference does not enter your mind when your loved one just called
you on the phone to tell you he's gonna die. It's so not political, it's
just life and death, if you want to know the truth of it," Casazza says. 

"We have not learned the lessons from 9/11," Kleinberg adds. "And when the
building blows up or you have another attack, it's not going to make me feel
like 'I told you so.' It's going to feel desperately horrible that we could
do nothing. Walk with us now so you don't have to walk in our shoes."


"I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so much."
- Ann Coulter

Seeya round town, Moscow.

Tom Hansen
Vandalville, Idaho

"Patriotism is not a short and frenzied outburst of emotion but the tranquil
and steady dedication of a lifetime." 

--Adlai E. Stevenson, Jr.

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