U.S. News

September 11 families argue for security papers release

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Families of three victims who died in the September 11 attacks argued in a federal court on Wednesday for the release of materials relating to airline security procedures in 2001.

A family member of one of the victims of the September 11 attack on the Pentagon waves a flag during ceremonies in honor of the victims, outside the Pentagon in Washington September 11, 2006. REUTERS/Jim Bourg

After the attacks, more than 90 claims were filed by families against the airlines and their security contractors seeking damages and information. All but three have settled.

In Manhattan federal court on Wednesday, family members requested that more than 200 depositions and almost a million pages of documents be made public. They say the documents reveal new details about the attacks.

U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein did not make an immediate decision, but said he would likely rule against the families because sorting through so many documents would delay a civil trial.

“My goal is to move these cases to trial,” Hellerstein said, arguing that with a future trial “the history of what led to 9/11 may come out to some degree, or maybe it won’t.”

After the hearing, family members of victims said they would continue to seek the release of the records.

“We want the facts of that morning to come out,” said John Keating, whose mother Barbara Keating died on American Airlines Flight 11, which crashed into the World Trade Center.

Mike Low, whose daughter Sara Low was a flight attendant on Flight 11, said he was “disappointed, but not surprised” by the judge’s likely decision, considering what he called the “veil of secrecy” that has shrouded information following the attacks.

He added the records would show “the terrible ineptitudes and failures that led up to 9/11 and that day. That is our goal.”

The New York Times and The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press joined the case to seek the release of the records.

A lawyer representing the airlines and security contractors, including American Airlines, a unit of AMR Corp and UAL Corp’s United Airlines, argued the documents should be released during trial.

A trial date has not yet been set.

The plaintiffs who sued the airlines decided not to participate in a special victims compensation fund set up by the U.S. Congress that disbursed $5.99 billion to 2,880 families of deceased victims of the attacks.