Video: Widows react to 9/11 testimony

updated 4/15/2004 4:28:43 PM ET 2004-04-15T20:28:43

Kristen Breitweiser and Lorie Van Auken are two of outspoken 9/11 widows that recently received some criticism in the press for their media exposure. MSNBC's Chris Matthews talked to Breitweiser and Auken and asked them about what they thought.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST, HARDBALL: What did you think of the “Wall Street Journal” article by Dorothy Rabinowitz today, blasting you two, saying that widows during the blitz of London during World War II would never have blamed Churchill for their husbands being killed, whereas you folks are blaming the United States government.? What do you make of that, Kristen?

KRISTEN BREITWEISER:  Honestly, I think there is a nuance that needs to be understood.  I‘m well aware of the fact that 19 hijackers killed my husband.  And I‘m also well aware of the fact that my government failed to mitigate any damage. 

I don‘t think the government killed my husband.  I think that they failed to save lives.  And I think if you do a truthful, constructive examination of the failures that occurred that day, you would learn that there were things that could have been done that would have saved lives. 

If you look towards the rescue workers in New York and the uncommon valor that they showed, if you look toward the gentleman from Morgan Stanley, that is the same effort, the same insight that I would have hoped that our government would have had with regard to NORAD, with regard to the FBI and the CIA, the FAA, the INS.  And unfortunately, that didn‘t occur. 

MATTHEWS:  You wanted to see more initiative like we got from the RAF during World War II?

BREITWEISER:  Listen, I heard a lot of talk about not having actionable intelligence.  Where was the initiative to make the intelligence that they had actionable?  That‘s someone‘s job. 

MATTHEWS:  The president, you mean?

BREITWEISER:  That‘s someone‘s job to say—to turn to the intel agencies and say, “Make it actionable.”

MATTHEWS:  Are you concerned that the president and the CIA director didn‘t talk in the entire month of August before 9/11?

BREITWEISER:  You know, the president was on vacation.  I think what‘s scary is that we have announced to the terrorists that there‘s a nice time to attack us, and that‘s the month of August when everyone is on vacation and at the transition period when we have a new administration coming in. And I‘m hoping that the commission will address those loopholes and those time periods so that that doesn‘t happen again. 

MATTHEWS:  Lorie, your thoughts about the “Wall Street Journal” piece, written by Dorothy Rabinowitz, trashing—well, blasting you women for coming out against—so critically of the government?

LORIE VAN AUKEN:  We‘re saying the things that we think are right to say.  We feel really what we‘re doing is patriotic because we see problems that were not being addressed.   And I think in some way we‘ve actually been vindicated, because everybody is saying that the commission is actually doing some very good work.  We‘re finding structural problems with different agencies.  And nobody was looking at this. 

So I think we‘ve been vindicated in asking for the 9/11 commission. 

And the funny thing is we know a lot of reporters but we never met this woman.  So I don‘t even know who she is. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, she‘s a columnist.  By the way, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.  And you‘re getting it.  Thank you very much, Kristen Breitweiser and Lorie Van Auken. 

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