Sep 22, 2005

Sweeney, Fossella, & King Issue Ultimatum to Int’l Freedom Center

Prospect of Congressional Hearing Looms As Friday Deadline Approaches

Washington, D.C. - Congressman John Sweeney, joined by Congressmen Peter King and Vito Fossella, today gave the International Freedom Center (IFC) a Friday ultimatum: Either present an acceptable plan for a museum at Ground Zero or face a Congressional hearing/investigation into the $2.7 billion in federal funding that will be spent at the site.

The lawmakers were joined at a press conference this morning by Debra Burlingame, a 9/11 widow, Steve Cassidy, President of the Uniformed Firefighters Association (UFA) and Edie Lutnick to raise the stakes in the ongoing battle to ensure that any museum at Ground Zero focuses exclusively on the events of 9/11. The IFC is expected to publicly present its final plan for the museum this Friday.

The hearing would be conducted by the Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Transportation, Treasury, and Housing and Urban Development, The Judiciary, District of
Columbia. Sweeney is Vice-Chair of the Subcommittee.

Sweeney said, “Ground Zero is sacred, hollowed ground,” Sweeney said. “Federal tax dollars have been secured by the American people to rebuild Lower Manhattan and honor those who lost their lives on September 11th. It is our duty to ensure that the intent of Congress, the memory of the fallen, and the will of the American people is not thwarted by a museum that could diminish the heroic efforts witnessed in a location where thousands of Americans were brutally killed.”

Fossella said, “It’s now or never for the IFC. The museum can do what is right or face the consequences of their actions. We have forewarned the IFC that it must offer a vision for the museum that reflects the heroism and tragedy that marked the most deadly attack ever on American soil. We will not allow the American people to subsidize a museum that blames this nation for the attacks of 9/11. The IFC should either honor the lives of all those lost on 9/11 or not exist at all.”

King said, “There is no place at Ground Zero for anything other than a memorial, an historic record of what occurred on September 11th. Anything else desecrates sacred ground.”

The IFC has been at the center of controversy for several months since Burlingame first revealed that museum officials planned to include anti-American programming. Fossella, King and Sweeney have taken the lead in Congress to block the IFC’s efforts, including pledging to withhold federal funding unless the museum is focused on September 11th and its aftermath.