9/11 Families, NTI Launch Campaign to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism; Want to Turn 9/11 Commission’s ‘D’ into an ‘A’
Concerned that not enough is being done to keep nuclear weapons and materials out of the hands of terrorists, “Families of September 11 (FOS11)” and the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) have distributed three new television public service announcements to every broadcast and cable television station in the United States urging citizens to join in supporting efforts to prevent nuclear terrorism.
The announcements are part of a national public education campaign to raise awareness of the threat of nuclear terrorism and practical steps that can be taken to prevent it. The campaign urges citizens to take immediate action by calling for a dramatic acceleration of global efforts to lock down nuclear weapons and materials and by joining the Safer World Action Network, a community of citizens that has come together to help reduce these dangers.
Members of “Families of September 11” will be on Capitol Hill today and tomorrow visiting with key members of Congress to discuss the campaign and distribute related materials, including the “Securing the Bomb” report, an annual report by Harvard experts analyzing the security of nuclear materials and weapons around the world and recommending steps to reduce the threat.
The non-partisan project has a number of high profile supporters, including NTI Co-Chairmen Ted Turner and former Senator Sam Nunn; Board members of “Families of September 11”; and 9/11 Commission Chair and Co-Chair Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton.
“Increasingly, we are being warned that an act of nuclear terrorism is inevitable. I am not willing to concede that point,” said Senator Nunn. “But I do believe that unless we greatly elevate our effort and the speed of our response, we could face disaster. We are in a race between cooperation and catastrophe, and at this moment, the winner is unclear. The world’s political leaders will respond vigorously if we have a nuclear catastrophe. Thus far, they are not responding urgently to the threat. Citizen knowledge and involvement are essential to move these issues to the front burner. Americans always pull together in a crisis. Now we need to pull together to prevent one.”
NTI and FOS11 Join Forces. The campaign was initiated when Board members of “Families of September 11” -- Carie Lemack, Elinor Stout and Nancy Aronson -- came to NTI as the work of the 9/11 Commission and the 9/11 Public Discourse Project was winding down. They thought that the Commission’s recommendations about preventing a terrorist attack with weapons of mass destruction were among the most important, and they didn’t want the focus to end with the Commission. They said they wanted to work with NTI to raise public awareness about the urgency of the threat and the need to dramatically accelerate work to secure nuclear weapons and materials around the world.
“I believe the best way to honor my mother is to make sure what happened to her never happens again,” said Carie Lemack, co-founder of “Families of September 11”, whose mother Judy Larocque was a passenger on American Airlines Flight 11 on September 11, 2001. “Nuclear terrorism is the most potentially devastating threat facing the world. Osama bin Laden has said that acquiring nuclear weapons is a ‘religious duty.’ An al Qaeda member has said they ‘have the right to kill 4 million Americans, two million of them children.’ We decided to do our part to make sure no terrorist gets a nuclear bomb.”
Campaign Activities. In its initial report, the 9/11 Commission recommended an all-out effort to secure weapons of mass destruction, but in its final report card issued last year, the Commission gave the government a “D” for its progress so far. The joint public education campaign is named and focused on Turning the “D” into an “A”.
Components of the campaign include:
- Three public service announcements: “Protect America” which features three “Families of September 11” Board members; “Scenario” which shows terrorists stealing nuclear weapons materials, as well as some of the ways it can be protected; and “Coming Together” featuring Chairman Kean and Vice Chairman Hamilton. The PSAs can be viewed at www.saferworld.org.
- The PSAs direct citizens to a toll free phone number (1-800-336-0035) and a comprehensive website -- www.saferworld.org -- where people can learn about the threats, what should be done to address them, and can make their voices heard by signing onto the Safer World Action Network.
- Nationwide public meetings and screenings of the nuclear terrorism docudrama Last Best Chance to encourage citizens to learn more about preventing nuclear terrorism. The screenings are being planned in a variety of venues from universities and communities to private homes. (For more about the film, visit www.lastbestchance.org).
- Learning materials to be used by leading educators to teach about nuclear threats. The educational packet includes resource books, a self-guided tutorial on nuclear threats, and other multi-media resources and is being provided to professors nationwide.
“There has been far too little public pressure for action, because most people aren’t aware of how little is being done to defend against these threats,” said Ted Turner, co-chairman of NTI. “I hope that this campaign will be a wake-up call to the public and to policymakers about the gap between the threat and governments’ responses to it.”
“Nuclear terrorism is the gravest threat facing our nation,” said 9/11 Vice Chair Hamilton. “But we had to give the government a ‘D’ for their efforts to prevent terrorists from acquiring nuclear weapons.” 9/11 Chair Kean added, “We want to turn that ‘D’ into an ‘A’. Together we can.”
The project is also supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Toledo Community Foundation and donations from concerned citizens, including Dick and Fran Anderson of Ohio.
About NTI and Families of September 11 NTI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to reducing the global threats from nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. NTI is governed by an international Board and is co-chaired by philanthropist Ted Turner and former Senator Sam Nunn.
“Families of September 11” is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to raising awareness about the effects of terrorism and public trauma and championing domestic and international policies that prevent, protect against and respond to terrorist attacks. The organization has more than 2,200 members from 48 states and 20 countries. Members include 9/11 victims’ family members, survivors of the attacks and concerned citizens.