An officer who was rescued from the World Trade Center after it collapsed finally goes home. A Muslim woman says her airport strip-search was discrimination. The Hart Senate Building's reopening is delayed.
Last Man Saved From WTC Goes Home
W E S T H A V E R S T R A W, N.Y., Jan. 17 — With his 4-year-old daughter curled up in his lap, a police officer who was the last person pulled alive from the World Trade Center went home from the hospital today after ticking off the "miracles" that saved him.
"How did we survive the collapse of two buildings on top of us?" Port Authority Sgt. John McLoughlin asked. "How did a Marine somehow find us in the debris field? How did the rescuers dig us out? How did the doctors get my legs working?"
McLoughlin, 48, whose legs were crushed in the catastrophe, rolled into the news conference at Helen Hayes Hospital in a wheelchair. He wore a Port Authority Police Department cap and daughter Erin wore a shirt that read, "Never forget." He was joined by his wife, Donna, and their three other children.
McLoughlin had hurried to the trade center after the first hijacked plane hit the north tower Sept. 11. He said he was in an underground concourse when one building collapsed, and soon found himself buried under 30 feet of debris, pinned from his hips to his feet in a tiny cavern "the size of a body."
He could talk to a buried colleague, Officer William Jimeno, and their cries were eventually heard. Both were saved, but it took rescue crews 22 hours to pull McLoughlin out.
Deputy Chief Robert Caron said the sergeant was the last survivor pulled from the rubble.
During his underground ordeal, McLoughlin said, "there was a point of acceptance of dying." But when he thought of his family, "I had to get out for them."
He vowed "to be walking as I used to and get back to work and back to my precinct." He also said he was looking forward to his wife's eggplant parmigiana and a Boy Scout meeting with his son.
Asked what lesson he had learned, he said, "Don't give up. There is always hope."
— The Associated Press
Muslim Woman Charges Discrimination in Strip-Search
C H I C A G O, Jan. 17 — A Muslim woman and the American Civil Liberties Union are suing the Illinois National Guard and airport security officers following a strip-search that they said amounted to discrimination.
It is the ACLU's first lawsuit in what it claims have been about 100 cases of airport discrimination against Muslims since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Samar Kaukab of Columbus, Ohio, alleges she was strip-searched at O'Hare International Airport before a Nov. 7 flight simply because she was wearing a Muslim head scarf.
Kaukab, a 22-year-old U.S. citizen who was born in this country to Pakistani parents, claims the black scarf — which covers her hair, shoulders and chest, but not her face — led a guardsman to instruct Argenbright Security guards to take her aside for a thorough-search even though she tripped no metal detectors.
The lawsuit seeks a federal injunction forcing airport security firms to provide training so guards will not base searches solely on a person's religion or ethnicity.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages from the National Guard and Argenbright.
Lt. Col. Larry Andrews, spokesman for the Illinois National Guard, said officials had not reviewed the lawsuit and would not comment. Argenbright spokeswoman Christine DiBartolo said the company is looking into the matter, but she added workers are trying to "protect the flying public."
— The Associated Press
Senate Delays Opening Hart Building
W A S H I N G T O N, Jan. 17 — Plans to reopen the Hart Senate Office Building, which has been closed for three months due to anthrax were put on hold today after gear associated with the cleanup was found inside the building.
In addition, basement rooms in the adjoining Dirksen Senate Office Building that share the same ventilation system have been closed, the Senate's Sergeant at Arms office said in a statement on its Web site.
The statement said bagged "personal protective gear used in dealing with hazardous material" had been found in the hallway ceiling outside Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle's office on the sixth floor of the Hart building.
"It has not been determined whether this discovery poses a health risk," the statement said.
It added: "The Hart building will remain closed and the cleaning of the Hart building has been suspended pending the receipt and analysis of test results."
People in the area of the discovered gear have been placed on preventive antibiotics.
Just one day earlier, officials had pronounced the building free of anthrax, and maintenance crews began preparing it for a Friday reopening. Health and environmental officials had said repeated efforts to cleanse the building had "achieved the goal of eliminating viable anthrax spores."
The building was closed after a letter believed to contain billions of anthrax spores was opened Oct. 15 in Daschle's office.
The letter — which also contained a threatening note — came as anthrax was detected in dozens of locations around Washington, New York and elsewhere, causing five fatalities and a national focus on bioterrorism. The nine-story Hart building, which houses the offices of half the 100 senators, has been closed since Oct. 17.
In the initial days after the Daschle letter was opened, officials said Hart could be cleaned up and reoccupied by mid-November.
— The Associated Press