COMMENTS: Breathing Dust & Mining Data

The attacks of September 11th, 2001, resurfaced on CBS and NBC. NBC's Mike Taibbi brought us the case of Felicia Dunn-Jones, a 42-year-old lawyer. She did not die at the World Trade Center on that day, but New York City's Medical Examiner has now ruled that the toxic dust she breathed there was as fatal as if she had been felled by debris. The verdict of death by natural causes from lung disease has been changed to homicide. Taibbi pointed out that 80,000 were "at or near Ground Zero during and after the attacks," of whom many may be terminally impaired and "could be deserving of millions in death benefits."

CBS' Bob Orr covered a dispute between the Department of Homeland Security and the European Union over airline passengers from so-called visa-waiver countries. EU citizens need only a passport in order to enter the United States, rather than having to undergo screening for a visa. So Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told Orr that his agents need detailed information on arriving passengers to perform background checks. Chertoff claimed that his checks, if they had been in place at the time of 9/11, would have flagged eleven of the 19 hijackers including ringleader Mohammad Atta. DHS wants the following data: name, date of birth, address, frequent flyer accounts, credit card accounts, telephone numbers and travel history.

Orr is not fan of privacy rights. He was categorical that Chertoff's demands are not unreasonable: "9/11 proved there is no other safe option."


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