- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 20, 2001

Thirty-three bodies pulled from the rubble at the Pentagon were identified yesterday by the forensics specialists at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, investigators continued to scour the country including the Maryland suburbs for hijacking collaborators and leads, and pressure grew to reopen Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.
This is Washington, D.C., one week after America came under terrorist attack.
The remains of 118 victims have been recovered from the Pentagon since Sept. 11, when hijackers flew American Airlines Flight 77 into the building. Seventy-one persons are still missing.
At the Pentagon crash site, recovery crews wearing chemical suits, hard hats, rubber gloves and respirators sifted through tangled, charred debris yesterday.
They said jet fuel had burned out rooms throughout the western face of the Pentagon. What used to be furniture is now small clumps of dust.
"There's rooms with nothing left in them, just blackened down," said Arlington County firefighter Homer McElroy.
Workers said more than 5,000 tons of debris have been removed, with a pile a story high still inside.
"My response at this site is obviously a response of anger. Then it's a response of sympathy to the victims and to their families," Attorney General John Ashcroft told reporters after touring the scene. "And then it's a response of renewing a commitment to make sure that the network of individuals responsible for this would be brought to justice and would pay the price."
Sens. John Warner, Virginia Republican, and Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, visited later in the day.
A search-and-recovery team from New Mexico and Northern Virginia firefighters are working with the Army to find bodies and uncover evidence. Teams from Fairfax County and Montgomery County have returned home.
Military facilities like the Pentagon have been put on threat condition "Charlie," meaning only military personnel and other authorized persons are allowed access.
Heightened security is causing rush-hour traffic backups around Bethesda Naval Hospital, Andrews Air Force Base and the National Institutes of Health.
Arlington County police said delays around the Pentagon will continue. Chief Ed Flynn said commuters should consider it their contribution in the fight against terrorism.
Metro General Manager Richard A. White said the Defense Department has requested that Metrorail open earlier to help ease Pentagon traffic. Trains began running at 5 a.m. today, a half-hour earlier than usual.
"We are encouraging everyone to use public transportation as a means to travel throughout the national capital region, and to stagger their work hours whenever possible," Mr. White said.
The Defense Department has asked that the early start time be continued for an unspecified period of time, something the Metro Board will take up today.
Also yesterday, politicians continued their push for the reopening of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, while congressional sources said federal authorities are looking at reopening the airport in early October at the earliest.
Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore III, a Republican, and other Virginia lawmakers stood with hundreds of airport workers in one of the terminals to announce a series of measures designed to blunt their economic loss.
To the business owners and employees adversely affected by the indefinite closing, the governor said: "Bear with us while we go about the business of getting this airport open as soon as possible."
The airport, which serves about 45,000 people each day and generates $5 billion annually, has been shut down since the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Education Secretary Rod Paige stopped by Patrick Henry Elementary School in Arlington to announce that schools in Northern Virginia affected by the Pentagon attack will receive $500,000 in federal aid.
Mr. Paige said money will be used for counseling, hiring substitute teachers, improving security, among other needs.
Maryland and the District also have been offered support.
In Maryland, Gov. Parris N. Glendening joined other leaders in condemning attacks and threats on Muslim Americans.
"I am concerned that some of our population are being singled out for abuse," said Mr. Glendening, a Democrat.
He urged people to "look very carefully at groups that are soliciting donations."
About 300 airline employees and 500 others attended a memorial service in Culpeper, Va., for a husband and wife who worked as flight attendants aboard the doomed Flight 77. Mr. Gilmore also attended.
Meanwhile, investigators are swarming the Washington suburbs of Laurel, Bowie and Greenbelt, following up on leads that tie a group of suspected hijackers to area motels, gyms and an adult video store in the days leading up to the attacks on Washington and New York.
This article is based in part on staff and wire service reports.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide