George W. Bush has officially told the people of New York City that as far as he's concerned, they can drop dead. And thanks to his lies, many of them will.
With his latest attack on the Clean Air Act he's said the same to millions more.
Bush has used the 9/11 "trifecta" to build his popularity, fund the military and tear up the Bill of Rights. But the GOP's cynical uses of the tragedy have gone to a new level.
The White House directly interfered with planned Environmental Protection Agency warnings about the toxic fallout from the World Trade Center explosions. It had "competing considerations" that came before protecting the health of the people of New York. Among them were re-opening the stock exchange as quickly as possible, and limiting clean-up costs and liability claims.
Because of Bush's lies, thousands of Americans will suffer cancers, emphysema, heart attack, stroke, birth defects, stillbirths, sterility, eye/ear/nose/throat disease and much more.
There have been few toxic events to match the explosions that pulverized the two World Trade Center towers. The short-term deaths of three thousand people will be dwarfed over the long term by the lethal fallout.
These were two of the last big buildings constructed with asbestos, whose health effects are infamous. Once ingested, the fibers can and do make cells cancerous. Thousands of miners and others exposed to asbestos have filed lawsuits against Johns-Manville and others.
The EPA knew that spewing all that asbestos into New York's air was a horrific event, and that lives could be saved by taking certain public precautions. Bush stopped that from happening.
The WTC also contained countless computer screens, light fixtures, calculators, telephones, network servers, paging systems, copy machines and much more high-tech office equipment laden with mercury and other toxic metals. The concrete, flooring, plastics, chemical cleaners, furniture, metal struts, window glass---all that was also pulverized into a horrific brew of murderous dioxins, furans and lethal powders with hideous killing power.
Where did it all come down? Who has breathed it? How many were elderly? Who might be uniquely sensitive? How many were pregnant, with vulnerable embryos? How far did their lethal powder spread through the region? Where is it now? How long will those poisons kill again and again and yet again? What could be done to prevent further sickness and death?
As the EPA knew, those living nearby were owed detailed information denied them by Bush. So were those working in the ruins for days, weeks and months. And those who have innocently proceeded with lives downwind.
At very least, people working on or near the site should have been wearing respirators. All downwind buildings should have been intensely monitored. Many should have been fitted with advanced filtration units. All carpeting, furniture, walls and fixtures should have been repeatedly measured and cleaned. And then cleaned again. And then cleaned yet again.
But such things cost money. And some buildings might never have reopened. And the stock market might have stayed shut longer.
Lives would have been saved, but Bush decided they were less valuable than those competing considerations.
Now he's decimated the Clean Air Act, allowing more power plant emissions in yet another give-away to the rich corporations that fund the GOP. So more Americans will die. But Bush will have more money to spend on his 2004 re-election campaign.
This man has horribly wronged the people of New York, whose terrible tragedies he continues to exploit. He puts us all at risk in exchange for campaign contributions.
New Yorkers---all Americans---suffer and die as a result. It's a debt that can never be repaid.
Harvey Wasserman is senior editor of www.freepress.org and co-author (with Bob Fitrakis) of 'THE SUPERPOWER OF PEACE'.