Local members of Congress have asked for a special counsel to be appointed to probe whether Christie Whitman should face criminal charges for misleading the public about post-9/11 health risks.
Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) and Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) said yesterday that Whitman's repeated reassurances about air quality near Ground Zero in the days after 9/11 endangered the lives of thousands of people. "People are probably dead because of what she did," Nadler said, citing recently unearthed internal memos and court rulings suggesting the Environmental Protection Agency knew the air at Ground Zero was unsafe.
The lawmakers have asked the U.S. attorney general for a special counsel because the Justice Department is defending Whitman, who was head of the EPA at the time of the terror attacks, and the agency in an ongoing class-action lawsuit.
Whitman has denied any wrongdoing and suggested in a recent interview on "60 Minutes" that city officials - and even Ground Zero responders - failed to heed warnings about hazardous conditions on the smoldering pile. "It's absurd," Nadler said.