9/11 Survivors Wanting Benefits Must Be Checked Against Terror Watch List

Responders Never Told About Florida Congressman's Provision

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It is being taken as an outrage and an insult.

There were harsh words Friday for a little-noticed provision in the “Zadroga bill.” People who are ill because of the 9/11 terror attack won’t qualify for help until they’re checked against the terror watch list, reports CBS 2’s Tony Aiello.

They say it’s an affront to everybody who is sick and dying.

First responder John Feal, who was injured at ground zero, told Aiello it’s like a slap in the face — a letter going out to 9/11 survivors, warning them about a provision in the Zadroga bill.

“I’m gonna get a letter in the mail seeing if I’m a terrorist?” Feal said.

PHOTO GALLERY: Sept. 11, 2010 Memorial Ceremony

The letter warns that in order to qualify for Zadroga benefits for illnesses caused by ground zero exposure applicants must be checked against the terrorist watch list – all because of a little-noticed provision in the bill that says “no individual who is on the terrorist watch list maintained by the Department of Homeland Security shall qualify.”

At ground zero on Friday, the reaction was heated.

“I feel that the survivors and those who are sick have been through enough,” said Kimberly Trent of Princeton, N.J.

“Why would a terrorist even put in for the money other than as a sick joke?” added Daryl Bowen of Manhattan.

The congressman who put this provision into the bill is from Florida and he doesn’t think it’s a slap in the face; he thinks it’s common sense.

Republican Clifford Stearns called the terror watch list check a simple safeguard to protect taxpayers, pointing out thousands of residents, office workers and even visitors who were in the vicinity on 9/11 are expected to submit claims for benefits.

In a statement, Rep. Stearns called this an effort to inject controversy into a simple safeguard to protect American taxpayers. His statement went on to say:

“When anyone, including first responders and members of Congress, buys an airline ticket, their name is checked against a terrorist watch list. Every individual seeking benefits under the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act will have his/her name instantly checked against a terrorist watch list.

“This protection is appropriate because under this legislation, workers, residents, students, passersby, and anyone who was in the vicinity on 9/11 can join first responders and cleanup workers in submitting a claim for benefits. In addition, cleanup workers and maintenance workers who were in the area over a period of four months after the attack are eligible. This amendment imposes no burden on our first responders or others seeking health benefits. It imposes a burden on the U.S. government to ensure that no one on a terrorist watch list receives these benefits.

“There was no opposition to this amendment. No one expressed any concern, and it was adopted unanimously. In addition, the Senate made no effort to change the language because this is a proper safeguard.

“After I offered this amendment on May 25, 2010, in the House Energy & Commerce Committee, the Chairman of the Committee, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), stated, ‘I think it makes a lot of sense and I’m willing to support it.’”

Feal admitted many 9/11 survivors won’t mind the terror check, but for those still traumatized there are a percentage of them that are going to suffer.

It was four months ago Friday that New Yorkers led the celebration after the Zadroga bill was passed.

“Our Christmas miracle has arrived!” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said at the time.

But Sen. Gillibrand, Sen. Charles Schumer and other lawmakers neglected to mention the terror check. Feal now wants them to amend the bill and repeal that provision.

Aiello got a quick response from Rep. Nita Lowey’s camp.

“She thinks it is ridiculous and insulting. What is the theory here – that al Qaeda terrorists posed as 9/11 responders, put their lives on the line, and exposed themselves to a toxic environment all so that they could get medical problems treated 10 years later?” Press Secretary Matthew Dennis said. “My understanding is that it was one of a couple amendments accepted in order to prevent Republicans from offering poison pill amendments that would have sunk the entire bill.”

CBS 2 is still awaiting comment from both New York senators and several other members of Congress.

Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

More from Tony Aiello
  • RNita Lowey


    • db

      did they forget that all these men ansd women who came to assist on that day ahd to have a background check and a badge to prove they were allowed on the site???/

  • Auburn Dale

    Keep complaining about the terror watch list, people. After all these years, publicly complaining about the list is still THE best way to get on the list.

    • Nick

      So you take no issue with a terrorist watch list that is filled with the names of citizens that were only complaining about the existence of the list in the first place?

      • Auburn t out

        Don’t waste your time with brain dead people who, like the idiot you are trying to reason with Auurn Dale would just as easily fit in NAZI Germany, or Communist Russia, with that mentality.

  • Foxyroxy

    I agree with the clause in the bill – we need to be certain that we are not aiding anyone with terrorist ties. Finally a caveat that makes sense.

  • gg

    Congress is a criminal organization! Dodd admitted it! They have destroyed the USA!!

  • Nick

    Are you unable to make your point without applying a laughably inaccurate stereotype to a whole city of people?

  • JD

    Many responders disagree with the official story of 9/11. This is why first their due compensation was questioned, and now, their loyalty.

    • Auburn Dale

      WRONG. Nobody actually “doubts” the official 9/11 story. Yes, there are people who PRETEND to doubt it as part of a money-making scheme, but there are no real doubters.

      • TU

        your right, i don’t doubt it, i know it’s false.

  • Auburn Dale

    Actually, the first responders are NOT New Yorkers – they’re SUBURBANITES. The police and fire unions explicitly ban their members from living within the City limits, because letting them live here undermines the argument that they can’t afford to live here.

  • jerseyjoey

    The more i read on this issue the more it seems like the Gov is stonewalling the payouts, this is very close to the agent orange and falidimide law suits in the sense that niether has been settled and Gov is pushing off settlement , likely will not be to all parties are dead then gov will say (oh look no ones left to collect its ours then) Sad Days are ahead still for these heros and by now they should be compensated , cured and thanked. Seems all they get are lawyers, redtape and nowhere fast. Shamefull very Shamefull USA GOV.

  • KPMc

    Umm What’s the big deal? You don’t have to do anything. You don’t have to prove anything. They just check your name against a list. Unless you might be on the list I don’t see what the hubbub is about.

    • doc in NJ

      well said. Nothing further to add.

    • Auburn Dale

      Of course, anybody who complains too loudly will “magically” end up on that list.

  • Chuck's little girl?

    Why do they call Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Chuck’s little girl?

    • KPMc

      You’re the only one I’ve ever seen call her that. What’s your point?

  • Concerned Citizen Yay Nita

    Dear Nita Lowey,

    Although I am of the disposition that you are one of the several people in Washington out for your own benefit, over your elected duties, let me say this, I an exuberant that you are making the decision to be sward against the globalists movement that has permeated D.C.
    Thank you, Nita, for finally making a right choice with your decision.


    Is there the possibility of you influencing an inkling, the two Dead Head ignorant Zionist globalist NY Senators, toward your wisdom, with regard to this matter?



  • mike

    Before everybody starts jumping up and down, think about what the bill is trying to prevent. We all know that whenever there is money to be handed out by the government, everybody and their mother gets in line with their hands extended. This bill is simply saying that all recipients should be checked to make sure we are not paying terrorists for their terroristic acts against our city. It would actually be nice if they could check and make sure that all recipients were present during the 9/11 attacks but we know that won’t happen.

    When the government gives away money, fraud and lawyers, are right behind it.

    • Mo

      Thanks For That! Put Very Eloquently……..I am a sister of a taken FDNY Brother on that Horrific Day!

  • Larry Schwarz

    This stupid provision was put in by this Rep.Clifford Stearns of Florida.FLORIDA,a state where if something makes sense they do exactly the opposite.This ia a perfect example of that.It is an insult to the surviving victims of that horrific day.Maybe we should put Florida hurricane victime through the same background check before helping them.

    • heyjoe

      excellant point! i will be demanding that my house rep. put that provision in any bill that helps florida residents

  • steve

    How delightful. Our government at work. Meanwhile, foreign spies and terrorists threaten our national sovereignty and live within our borders. Mexican drug lords kill our citizens and their mules move unimpeded across our border. Government agencies still don’t play nice with each other in the sandbox. The average Congressman has been in attendance only 50% of sessions. When does it end?

  • mj

    THIS is why it should be illegal to ADD something on to a bill that is likely to pass . each bill should include ONLY legislation that is relevant to it . the guy responsible for this should be impeached

  • HooDatIS?

    god bless the survivors and there families, god keep us safe
    visit my blog

  • nathan

    Thanks for posting that picture. I needed to be reminded one more time. This site is more and more like the NY Post.

    • dico j.

      We should be reminded as often as possible……NEVER FORGET !

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