The 9/11 Commission held its first day of hearings yesterday. The most notable portion of the day, besides the opening statement of the events on September 11 (with straightforward explanations, like "At 9:01 a.m., the NYPD patrol mobilization point at West and Liberty was moved to West and Vesey, in order to handle the greater number of patrol officers who would be responding to the Level 4 mobilization.") which replayed footage of the World Trade Center being hit and then collapsing, as well as first-person video accounts of what happening during those hours, was the testimony and later questioning of former Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik and former Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Essen (that's them pictured above, with former Director of the New York City Office of Emergency Management Richard Sheirer).
Kerik and Von Essen's actions came under the most fire during the hearings, with Commisssioner John F. Lehman saying their planning was faulty, not worthy of the Boy Scouts, let alone this great city." Von Essen then responded, "You make it sound like everything went wrong on Sept. 11. I think it's outrageous that you make a statement like that." When current police commissioner Raymond Kelly testified, he admitted that the city wouldn't be prepared to deal with 10,000 possible victims today, as well as emphasized the city's need for more federal dollars towards protection.
You can read the prepared statements from all parties here at the commissions's site for the NY hearings. All the local papers have interesting articles about the hearings. Of course, the New York Times has an excellent article and section dedicated to the hearings. Newsday's coverage is thorough, with maps of where emergency responders were from the 9/11 Commission. The Daily News has a special section, and you can sift through the Post's articles here.
Gothamist has mixed feelings about how we feel about these hearings. We feel it's important for what happened to be on the public record, but when, for the umpteenth time, one of the commissioners prefaces the attacks as being "awful," "horrible," "tragic," you name it, Gothamist got irritable. It is awful, horrible, tragic, and about a million words that can't describe it, so, please, stop the editorializing and get to the facts. Gothamist would rather hear new insights than retreading on what's been said before. Perhaps if the commission were to admit that it's mainly for public catharsis, what with all the catcalls, clapping, jeers (and don't get us wrong - we were doing the same, too), then maybe it wouldn't seem as much like lip service.
And Gothamist did not realize that former Senator, New School president, and 9/11 hearings commissioner Bob Kerry's young son was born on September 10, 2001.
You can listen to the hearings on WNYC 820 AM or watch them via streaming video on the NY Times site.