The wish of a 9/11 widow
A member of the Family Steering Committee for the 9/11 commission, Beverly Eckert, 53, wants "something constructive" to come from the death of her husband, Sean Rooney, in the World Trade Center. After urging Congress to form an investigative commission, Eckert (pictured at a ground zero vigil last week) is now championing intelligence reform legislation that stalled in the House after key Republicans wanted more provisions: no driver's licenses for illegal immigrants, to name one.
Why is there an impasse?
People forget this is a bill about terrorism. You could put countless things in this bill and make a connection to our safety. We need to go one step at a time--and start by reforming the intelligence community. I want to deny terrorists driver's licenses, too, but I want to do that later.
Are you angry with House Republicans?
I'm angry with their leaders. The families left a note for Speaker [of the House Dennis] Hastert [last week] and reminded him he promised us in person that a bill would be on the president's desk before Election Day. Our message discussed the difference between democracy and tyranny--tyranny being the arbitrary use of power by a few, which is what we felt happened on November 30 when Hastert prevented the bill from going to the floor. There were enough votes to pass it.
What would you say to President Bush?
It's not enough to talk about your support at press conferences in other countries. Come to Congress and make a statement. Show us who is really in charge in this country.
Are Americans tired of hearing from the 9/11 widows?
I'm sure people are sick of us, but we don't have a choice. We need a safer government, safer buildings.
How are you holding up?
If I knew that [after] three years we would still be waiting for intelligence reform, I don't know if I would have signed up. My life feels like that movie Groundhog Day; I'm constantly getting out of a cab in front of the Rayburn House Office Building, trying to get something done. -Angie C. Marek
This story appears in the December 13, 2004 print edition of U.S. News & World Report.