Effort to Get New York City to Release 9/11 Documents

With the 20th Anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in 2021, Representatives Carolyn Maloney and Jerrold Nadler wrote to Mayor DeBlasio and called on him and his administration to open the City’s files and help provide to injured and ill 9/11 responders, survivors, and their families a better understanding of what the Giuliani Administration knew about the likely scope of the health crisis that would affect so many and when they knew it.

This was after the recent efforts of President Biden to finally declassify what the Government knew about Saudi Arabian involvement with the 9/11 attacks.

We know, based on reporting by Anthony DePalma at the New York Times in 2007 in his article “Ground Zero Illnesses Clouding Giuliani’s Legacy” May 14, 2007 , that while then Mayor Giuliani’s administration was saying that the air was safe to breathe, they were privately predicting 10,000 liability claims for injuries from toxic exposures.

Robert Adams, director of environmental health and safety services at the Design and Construction Department, told the City Council’s environmental committee in early November that even unprotected ground zero workers would not experience long-term health risks. In an interview last week, Mr. Adams, now working for a consulting firm in Princeton, N.J., said that he still believed that based on the information available at the time, the right decisions were made.

Whatever they were saying publicly about the safety of the air, Mr. Giuliani and his staff were privately worried. A memo to Deputy Mayor Robert M. Harding from his assistant in early October said that the city faced as many as 10,000 liability claims connected to 9/11, “including toxic tort cases that might arise in the next few decades.”

The Members of Congress stated that they believed that the Giuliani administration intentionally failed to disclose what they apparently knew in September-October of 2001 and because of that thousands of responders and community members would end up facing tremendous long term health impacts. Had the Giuliani administration had disclosed what they knew when they know thousands of responders and survivors exposed to the toxins at Ground Zero would have had a much better health outcomes.

Because it appears that the Giuliani administration hid what they knew, the response to the health care crisis facing so many was delayed for years. Moreover, in that time, the City Health Department continued to deny the hazards from exposure to toxic dust inside the homes, schools and workplaces contaminated in the disaster.

They urged Mayor DeBlasio to have the City Department of Investigation conduct an independent review of the City’s files and, in the interest of transparency, fully release any information they have on what then Mayor Giuliani and his administration knew about the hazards from the toxins at Ground Zero faced by so many responders and survivors and when did he and his administration know it.

20 years later, a full review remains essential, and we believe that only an independent review by the City Department of Investigation of all the relevant files will allow for the full disclosure with the confidence that it will be forthcoming that we believe injured and ill 9/11 responders, survivors and their families need and deserve.

Then Mayor DeBlasio never responded to their request and left office at the end of 2021.

In May of 2022, the Representatives sent a letter to Mayor Eric Adams asking the new Mayor to open the City’s files and reveal what the City knew and when did it know it.

Mayor Adams responded with a July 6th 2022 letter to the Members of Congress.

His letter stated:

My administration is deeply committed to ensuring that the responders, survivors, and their families are supported. As Chair of the House Oversight Committee and Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Congresswoman Maloney and Congressman Nadler continue to lead advocacy on highlighting the emerging needs of responders, survivors and their families for the City of New York. To that end, I would like to invite your offices to a meeting with my team, so we can determine the best path forward. We sincerely appreciate your concerns and your interest in the continued support of New Yorkers and those affected by the 9/11 attacks. I look forward to ongoing collaboration.

While the letter’s tone was promising, when the staff of the Members of Congress met with the City’s lawyers, they were reportedly told that no information would be released unless the Members of Congress got the law changed limiting the City’s liability to zero.

As of the 21st Anniversary in 2022, Mayor Adams was till refusing to overrule his lawyers and release the documents.

Documents

“Ground Zero Illnesses Clouding Giuliani’s Legacy”
By Anthony DePalma, May 14, 2007
Anyone who watched Rudolph W. Giuliani preside over ground zero in the days after 9/11 glimpsed elements of his strength: decisiveness, determination, self-confidence.

Letters

September 20th, 2021, Letter to Mayor DeBlasio
May 12th , 2022, Letter to Mayor Adams
July 6th , 2022, Letter from Mayor Adams to Members of Congress

News Articles

NYC REFUSING TO RELEASE 9/11 RECORDS WITHOUT LAWSUIT IMMUNITY
NY Post | September 10, 2022
The stubborn stance comes as two New York Congress members demand the mayor release all records kept under wraps since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

MALONEY & NADLER REQUEST GIULIANI ADMIN DOCUMENTS ON 9/11 TOXINS
Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney | September 20, 2021
“The time has come for a full accounting of the history of 9/11.”

MALONEY, NADLER ASK NYC MAYORS WHAT THEY KNEW ABOUT HEALTH HAZARDS AT GROUND ZERO
NY Daily News | September 20, 2021
The new letter suggests that at least two members of Congress do not believe the administrations of Giuliani and his successor, Michael Bloomberg, delivered all the goods.

NADLER, MALONEY PRESS CITY FOR 9/11 DOCUMENTS ON AIR-QUALITY HAZARDS
The Chief-Leader | September 28, 2021
9/11 World Trade Center health advocates from first-responder unions and the lower Manhattan neighborhood supported the call for the city to disclose all documents.

REPS. MALONEY, NADLER CALL ON MAYOR ADAMS TO DISCLOSE CITY RECORDS ON GOVERNMENTAL KNOWLEDGE OF THE SCOPE OF THE HEALTH THREATS TO 9/11 RESPONDERS AND SURVIVORS
Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney | May 12, 2022
Congressmembers Carolyn B. Maloney and Jerrold Nadler asked Mayor Adams to release “any documents related to 9/11 from the period of September 11, 2001 through the spring of 2002.”

N.Y. LAWMAKERS ASK NYC MAYOR ADAMS FOR HELP IN GETTING ANSWERS ABOUT GROUND ZERO TOXINS
NY Daily News | May 12, 2022
The city had never given a full accounting of what the mayor and his team knew about the situation, and when they knew it, the lawmakers say.

NYC MAYOR ADAMS TO WORK WITH REPS. MALONEY, NADLER ABOUT WHAT CITY HALL KNEW ABOUT GROUND ZERO TOXIC AIR AFTER 9/11
NY Daily News | July 11, 2022
In a letter, the mayor invited their offices to discuss their long-standing request for a full accounting of the city’s actions and knowledge about the dangerous environment in lower Manhattan.

PRESSURE MOUNTS ON CITY TO COME CLEAN WITH 9/11 WTC FILES
LaborPress | July 15, 2022
In 2003, the EPA Inspector General was harshly critical of how the EPA downplayed and actually misrepresented the hazards in and around the World Trade Center site. 

NYC CONCERNED ABOUT LAWSUITS AFTER RELEASE OF POST-9/11 MEMOS ABOUT TOXIC AIR AT GROUND ZERO
NY Daily News | August 1, 2022
Municipal attorneys said they might release the undisclosed material, but only if the lawmakers met three eyebrow-raising demands.

Editorials in Support

OPEN THE NYC 9/11 FILES: THE CITY MUST RELEASE ITS ARCHIVES ON AIR QUALITY DURING THE RESCUE AND RECOVERY EFFORTS
NY Daily News | August 4, 2022
Lawyers for the City of New York are sitting on a hidden library of documents about the environmental and health hazards from Ground Zero dating back to 2001 that must be published.

Last updated: September 12, 2022