WTC Tapes' Release Evokes Mixed Emotions

Leila Negron, whose husband was killed at the World Trade Center, dreads hearing the details of the emergency calls made from the twin towers that day.


NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -- Leila Negron, whose husband was killed at the World Trade Center, dreads hearing the details of the emergency calls made from the twin towers that day.

``For me and my children, it's like being slapped in the face with it happening again,'' said Negron, 36, whose husband, Peter, worked at the trade center as an environmental specialist.

The impending release of the transcripts of the calls is evoking a range of responses from victims' families less than three weeks before the second anniversary of the Sept. 11 attack that killed 2,792 people.

A state judge ruled Friday that the transcripts must be released by the close of business Thursday, rejecting a bid by Port Authority, which owned the trade center, to back out of an agreement it made last month with The New York Times.

The agency had argued it was trying to protect the privacy of victims' families by preventing release of the transcripts, which cover radio transmissions and calls to Port Authority police on the morning of the attack.

The Port Authority decided Monday not to appeal but urged the news media to ``refrain from publishing gruesome, gratuitous or personal details.''

Laurie Tietjen, whose brother Kenneth Tietjen died in the attacks, is not optimistic about how the media will react.

``People are looking for the horror stories, not the good things,'' said Tietjen, 31, who said she has read the transcripts. ``A lot of the information there is pretty personal. It doesn't help to have it out there in the public. It's just extremely hurtful to the families.''

Tietjen said her family already knew about the actions of her brother, a Port Authority police officer, from his partner, who survived.

Monica Gabrielle of West Haven, Conn., welcomes the release of transcripts. Her husband, Richard, died in the attack.

``I think the public needs to be aware that they are in situations that aren't exactly perfect. And this comes from knowledge,'' said Gabrielle, co-chair of a skyscraper safety group formed after the terrorist attacks.

``There's not much that's private about this,'' she said. ``Hopefully, there's a whole host of information there that can contribute some information as to what went wrong, what could be done better, what went right.''

The tapes that are the source of the transcripts have already been given to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which is studying the collapse, Port Authority spokesman Greg Trevor said.

Theresa Riccardelli, whose husband, Francis, died in the attack, said she declined the Port Authority's offer to read the transcripts.

``I know the final outcome. My husband didn't get to come home,'' said Riccardelli, 41. ``It's not that I don't have an interest. I can't.''

She said she can understand why people are interested in the material, but for her, ``I know everything my husband did that morning, and that's enough for me.''

His widow now cares for their five children, ages 3 to 11.

Dorothy McLaughlin, whose 36-year-old son George died in the attack, acknowledged the transcripts could be disturbing, ``but by the other token, I know that a lot of families would like to hear.''

``For myself, I'm not 100 percent sure,'' McLaughlin said. ``I don't know that Georgie was able to make any calls out.''

The Times began seeking tapes, transcripts and reports of emergency calls in March 2002.

The Port Authority last year released a 73-minute recording of radio communications from firefighters in the stricken World Trade Center after the Times went to court.