Son of 9/11 Victim on Rice's Testimony - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

04/08/04

Son of 9/11 Victim on Rice's Testimony

Today was the day for the much anticipated testimony on Capitol Hill from national security advisor Condoleezza Rice. Rice appeared before the 9/11 Commission to answer questions about the terrorist attacks. She says a memo was sent to President Bush in 2001 that warned of Al Qaeda groups in the United States, but there were no specifics about when an attack would happen.

"There was nothing in this memo that suggested an attack was coming in New York or DC to warn of potential hijackings," Rice testified.

The families and friends of the victims of 9/11 were paying close attention to today's hearings. WTOC spoke with a Hilton Head man who lost his father in the World Trade Center attack. Steven Morello, Jr., was looking for answers, but he says there's really nothing the 9/11 Commission or the Bush administration can say that will satisfy him.

"I think Condoleezza Rice was offered up as the sacrificial lamb," he said.

Morello says the national security advisor's appearance before the commission was largely ceremonial. "It was almost as if it were just a 'nice gesture' that she was testifying."

Still, Morello, like the many who lost loved ones on September 11, were eager to hear what Rice had to say, especially if anything could have been done to ward off the attacks on America that day.

Reacting to Rice's testimony that "there was no silver bullet that could have prevented the 9/11 attacks," Morello told us, "To an extent, I do believe it. The main issue I had was, warnings were issued about a possible hijacking on US soil."

Morello says FBI warnings were issued to the airlines, but not enough was done to increase security. "If it was serious enough to issue memos to those airlines, they should have beefed up security at that time in the airport."

Although the administration has acknowledged communications problems with the FBI and CIA, Morello says they need to take responsibility. "If you and I messed up on our jobs that bad and something horrible happened, you may not be specifically to blame but you have to take your punches," he said.

In the 2 1/2 years since 9/11, it has been a very tough time for Morello and the other victims of 9/11. They will never forget what happened, but they're hoping something can be done to help prevent future attacks.

Reported by: Liz Flynn, lflynn@wtoc.com

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