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PolitiFact New Jersey remembers solemn anniversary

By Caryn Shinske September 11, 2013

Twelve years ago today, on a cloudless Tuesday, planes struck the World Trade Center’s twin towers in New York and the Pentagon just outside Washington, DC.

A fourth crash also occurred that morning after several passengers on a California-bound plane that departed late from Newark International Airport learned of the attacks on the twin towers and the Pentagon. The passengers fought off hijackers and the plane crashed in rural Shanksville, Pa.

In all, nearly 3,000 people -- including many New Jerseyans -- died in the attacks.

Today, PolitiFact New Jersey recalls the solemn anniversary with a look back at some past fact-checks related to Sept. 11, 2001.

Population growth

Despite the devastation of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, population growth in lower Manhattan boomed during the next decade, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said two years ago.

"Over the past 10 years, the number of people living in Lower Manhattan has nearly doubled," Bloomberg said during a Sept. 6, 2011 speech. "In fact, Lower Manhattan has added more people over the last 10 years than Atlanta, Dallas and Philadelphia combined. In 2001, no one could have believed that that would happen."

The Truth-O-Meter rated the claim True.

Too much government?

Former Gov. Tom Kean Sr., who headed the 9/11 Commission formed to study the attacks, offered a surprising statistic about the U.S. Department of Homeland Security during an Aug. 30, 2011 interview with radio host Brian Lehrer.

As Kean and Lehrer discussed counterterroism issues, Kean noted that Homeland Security, created about a year after the attacks, reports to approximately 100 congressional committees and subcommittees. The department’s creation combined all or part of 22 different federal departments and agencies.

Kean’s claim rated True.

Myth debunked

State Sen. Kevin O’Toole raised the issue of 9/11 in an Aug. 21, 2011 opinion piece he wrote for The Times Of Trenton, about what he said was a "critical" need to upgrade New Jersey’s Motor Vehicle Commission computer system. A computer failure the month before affected commission offices and other state agencies.

O’Toole (R-Essex) suggested that some of the 19 terrorists who hijacked four planes that day used New Jersey driver’s licenses to board their aircraft.

The hijackers had gathered driver’s licenses and state identification cards from five states, but not New Jersey, according to reports by the FBI and the 9/11 Commission staff.

Both the FBI and the 9/11 Commission had debunked the driver’s license myth less than two years after the attacks.

We rated O’Toole’s claim False.

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PolitiFact New Jersey remembers solemn anniversary