New York Post
September 25, 2005

CENTER'S FOES HAIL HILL

By HEIDI SINGER

Opponents of the proposed International Freedom Center heaped praise on Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton yesterday after she denounced the planned Ground Zero project.

But the center's president blasted New York's junior senator for failing to consult with families who support the project.

Clinton opposed the center in yesterday's Post, saying she couldn't support the project because of concerns by victims' families.

"It's not a political issue — it's an issue of right and wrong," said Pat Lynch of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association. "In our view, the IFC simply doesn't belong at Ground Zero, and we appreciate Sen. Clinton's support."

Steve Cassidy, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association, echoed those words, saying the center doesn't belong on "the hallowed grounds of the World Trade Center."

And Debra Burlingame, an activist for 9/11 families, pointed out that Clinton's position makes the opposition bipartisan.

"Opposition to the IFC by these respected leaders, 9/11 families and thousands of first responders should move Gov. Pataki to take the next necessary step: Remove the IFC from the World Trade Center site," she said.

Groups representing victims' families have attacked the planned center, worrying that its emphasis on poverty as a barrier to freedom would diminish the tragedy. Some also predicted a "blame America" explanation for the attacks.

But some 9/11 relatives sit on the center's advisory board and disagree with the criticism.

Chris Burke, whose brother worked at Cantor Fitzgerald, said he's not sure whether the center belongs at Ground Zero, but believes in "reason and dialogue."

"In terms of the freedom center being un-American, I just can't find any evidence of it," he said.

And Richard Tofel, the center's president, said despite his disappointment with Clinton's position, "we remain committed to creating the International Freedom Center."