On the final day of the 111th Congress, the Senate passed a $4.3 billion package to help the 9/11 rescue workers who were sickened by the toxins at Ground Zero. Democracy Now! co-host and New York Daily News columnist Juan Gonzalez, who first exposed what was happening to the Ground Zero workers, notes the “relative absence of some of the key figures who were involved at the time when the attacks happened,” like former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, former New York governor George Pataki and former President George W. Bush. [includes rush transcript]
AMY GOODMAN: And Juan, one other story that you really broke after the attacks at the World Trade Center, and for which you should have won the Pulitzer Prize, as well as other folks who did win the prize at the New York Daily News, the toxins a Ground Zero. The significance of the 9/11 fund bill being passed?
JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, this is a huge victory for all of those responders who have been getting sick and who will get sick in the future as a result of the exposure to the toxins at Ground Zero. Finally the Senate and the Congress have passed this bill.
You know, one of the interesting things that I noted about this is the relative absence of some of the key figures who were involved at the time when the attacks happened. Rudy Giuliani, “America’s Mayor,” did not really come on the scene until the last couple of weeks, advocating for this bill, even though he was the incident commander whose decisions were the ones that, in essence, did not assure that these responders were protected properly. Then you have Governor — former Governor Pataki, who still has presidential aspirations. Former Governor Pataki never said anything about this bill. And, of course, former President Bush himself, who was seen at Ground Zero many times praising the responders, but who had said virtually nothing over the past couple of years in terms of urging his fellow Republicans to pass this bill.
But at least it got passed. And thanks to the work of people like Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and others who kept — and Congresswoman Maloney, who we’ve had on the show many times, and Congressman Nadler, they finally did pass this important bill.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, we’re going to be talking about one of the bills that didn’t get passed, which was the DREAM Act, later in the broadcast, but now we’re moving on to WikiLeaks.