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Christie Whitman Can’t Escape Responsibility for Health Problems Following 9/11

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If you want to know what moral authority sounds like, don’t bother listening to the State of the Union address, and don’t waste your time scanning the utterances of Bill Bennett, Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson.

Turn, instead, to the words of U.S. District Judge Deborah Batts, who yesterday refused to give Christine Todd Whitman, onetime Environmental Protection Agency head and former New Jersey governor, immunity from a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of residents of lower Manhattan and Brooklyn who were exposed to poisonous fumes and vapors following the destruction of the World Trade Center. Despite abundant evidence that the air was unsafe, Whitman (as head of the EPA) assured everyone that it was okay to return to work and their homes. Using phrases like “conscience shocking” to describe Whitman’s callousness, the judge made it clear that this classic “moderate Republican” is in for a world of hurt:

No reasonable person would have thought that telling thousands of people that it was safe to return to lower Manhattan, while knowing that such return could pose long-term health risks and other dire consequences, was conduct sanctioned by our laws.

As the death toll rises among the heroic people who walked into the maw of hell every day in order to clean up the wreckage of 9-11, survivors are calling for the appointment of a “9/11 Health Czar” to cut through the cloud of obfuscation and deceit swirling around the environmental and health consequences of 9/11. Meanwhile, Whitman has scarcely broken stride as she moved from head of the EPA to head of the Whitman Strategy Group, which lobbies for FMC Corp., one of the most notorious polluters in the country.

A “pro-choice Republican” who wouldn’t stick up for abortion rights, a “budget-cutter” who simply pushed costs down onto municipalities – in every way, Christine Todd Whitman is the classic, useless “moderate Republican.” Last January, when I reviewed Whitman’s weasel word epic It’s My Party Too, about her ambition to take the GOP back from religious extremists, I noted that “The story of how [Whitman] helped present the rescue workers of Ground Zero with lasting health problems will have to be told, I suspect, with the help of subpoenas and lawsuits rather than ghostwriters.” Praise God, that day of reckoning is now several steps closer.


Originally posted at The Opinion Mill

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About Steven Hart

  • No, Whitman is facing accusations based on policies which were set by her agency based on past policies for similar situations, and at the time there was no consensus that the policies were in any way inappropriate. And in fact, there still isn’t agreement among experts as to whether these claims of medical harm are at all valid. Whitman’s personal responsibility here is nil, but the issue is being used to smear her because some people perceive her as a threat.


  • Dave: How exactly is Whitman being “swiftboated”? Swiftboating — as demonstrated by the jihad against John Kerry by those Swift Boat Veterans for Truth sleaze weasels — is a blend of lies, distortions and gossip. Whitman is facing the truth.

  • Great post. Unfortunately, all too true. And still… people continue to get ill or die for name-tags.

    Perhaps one day, in a world far, far, far, far, away, the branding will not exist and we will see each other as what we are- “humans”.

    Such a short word with so many implications.

  • Bliffle

    I knew when they said it was ‘safe’ that they were lying. We know from other fires that the combustion products of modern synthetics are highly toxic. It was irresponsible and dangerous. I would think that any citizen, even moderately informed, would have concluded the same thing. At the time I was surprised that a government agency would be so wrong and make such a blunder, but now I think that public deception is common with this administration.

  • Ah, so it’s begun already I see. Last night Gov. Whitman was on The Stephen Colbert Show and he half-jokingly commented that as the election approached she, Giuliani and McCain could expect to be ‘swiftboated’ by the extreme right. She wryly replied that she expected it. Clearly she wasn’t wrong.