Some 9/11 Victims' Families Irate
.c The Associated Press 

NEW YORK (AP) - While some relatives of Sept. 11 victims refused to cast blame, many others were outraged as they learned that President Bush had received advance warning Osama bin Laden's terror network might hijack U.S. planes.

``I believe our whole government let people down,'' said Bill Doyle of New York, whose son, Joseph, was killed in the World Trade Center. ``It's shocking, every time you turn on the TV, to see what's coming out in the wash.''

Doyle said Thursday he has received numerous phone calls from other victims' relatives, all distraught over revelations that Bush was told in August about potential hijackings. Officials said the president and U.S. intelligence did not know that suicide hijackers were plotting to use jetliners to slam into buildings.

``If our president was told in August, someone had to drop the ball at the airports,'' Doyle said. ``Were they alerted by the FBI or the CIA?''

Stephen Push, whose wife of 21 years, Lisa Raines, was killed aboard the hijacked plane that hit the Pentagon, said she would not have taken that flight - for what he called an ``optional business trip'' - if she had known of terrorist hijack danger.

``It's shameful that they know as much as they did and didn't warn anyone,'' said Push, of Great Falls, Va. ``They put the business interests of the airlines above the lives of the citizens.''

Yet some relatives refused to blame Bush for any security lapses.

``The groundwork for us winding up with a weak CIA and FBI, the weakening of our defense systems based on political correctness and expediency, happened long before Bush took office,'' said Sally Regenhard, whose son, Christian, was among the firefighters killed in New York.

She strongly endorsed the push for a high-level investigation.

``It's too late now for my son,'' she said. ``But I do want to make the country safe. Right now, we're not there.''

Several relatives expressed hope that the revelations would intensify pressure for a high-powered investigation into possible intelligence and security failures preceding the attacks.

``We want an investigation to make sure something like Sept. 11 never, ever happens again,'' said Kristin Breitweiser, whose husband, Ronald, died at the World Trade Center.

She is part of group of Sept. 11 widows from New Jersey who are organizing a rally for victims' families and friends on June 11 at the U.S. Capitol. The purpose is to support a bill introduced by Sens. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., and John McCain, R-Ariz., that would establish a national commission to investigate the attacks.

``I want accountability,'' Breitweiser said.

Breitweiser said she became convinced shortly after the attacks that U.S. authorities mishandled clues that could have helped avert the carnage. She also contended that Bush, if he had received private advance warnings, should have acted more decisively at the first signs of trouble on Sept. 11.

``They said they couldn't connect the dots, but once the dots were connected and the picture was drawn on the morning of 9/11, why did they do nothing?'' she asked. ``Why was the president allowed to sit for 35 minutes with a group of second graders when this country was under attack?''

Donn Marshall of Marbury, Md., whose wife, Shelley, died at the Pentagon, also questioned Bush' actions.

``It sort of makes you wonder where the get-tough president was when he was getting all this information, why they didn't react act more vigorously,'' Marshall said. ``The notion that American planes might be hijacked, that should have caused more concern, even if we didn't think that they might be flown into things.''

Marshall was also upset that Republican fund-raisers were selling pictures of Bush on Sept. 11.

``I don't appreciate that,'' said Marshall, a Democrat. ``After Sept. 11 he showed leadership and I salute him for it. But now he's getting to the point of invoking it to buttress his popularity.''

Craig Sincock of Dale City, Va., who lost his wife, Cheryle, in the Pentagon attack, empathized with officials who received a flurry of intelligence information.

``They had an awareness of it but they did everything they could have possibly done, in my estimation,'' he said. I don't want to look back and start pointing a finger of blame ... I'd rather say what are we going to do now how are we going to go forward.''


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