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Eight years ago, thousands of families lost loved ones in one of the worst tragedies to befall the United States. After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, most of the families accepted compensation from a special government fund. Another hundred or so filed lawsuits against the airlines and airport security companies and won a total of $1.5 billion.
The family of Boston-based flight attendant Sara Low, though, is one of three remaining families that hasn't settled lawsuits against the airline industry. Low was aboard American Airlines Flight 11.
We spoke with her father, Mike Low, about what he hopes to get from the case.
Bob Oakes: Take us back and tell us why your family didn't settle this case a long time ago.
Mike Low: There are too many unanswered questions. In the first days after 9/11, everything just closed down as far as access to information, a veil of secrecy if you will, and that has continued from the Joint Congressional Inquiry through the 9/11 Commission, and for my daughter I felt like it was my duty and obligation to pursue the truth and some accountability.
Give us an example of some of the key questions you think remain unanswered at this point, that you'd like to find answers for.
Most of my questions deal with the security companies: those that were on the front line and could have prevented 9/11, should have prevented 9/11.
Over the six years since we filed our suit, I have read depositions and I personally am convinced 9/11 could have been prevented, that the security situation in my opinion was more of a facade and I want some major accountability and some justice.
What are you hoping will result from the lawsuit, then?
I want a public trial, or at least an archiving of all of the information, over a million pages of depositions and testimony, that belongs in the public arena.
Generally speaking, without violating that confidentiality order, what's in them that we should all know about?
One of the few true and strong statements that came out of the 9/11 Commission was retired Admiral Lehman, I think, that said that for 19 of 19 hijackers to make it on board the aircraft with prohibited weapons was gross negligence. These documents will show what happened.
Are you confident in security measures that have been instituted since at the nation's airports?
I think there has been some improvement, I think mostly a heightened degree of awareness. But my fear is that the same culture of complacency moved from the corporate security companies into the government-run TSA.
I think quite a bit of the TSA's efforts is for show and for public consumption and I think there's quite a bit to go yet.
So then do you fear that 9/11 — the bringing down of airplanes — could be repeated in the U.S.?
Oh, I don't think there's any doubt. 9/11 will happen again. It may not be in an airliner, it may be in a cruise line, a rail line, a stadium — but it will come.
Mike Low, how will you spend this day?
My daughter Alyson and I spent Wednesday in Boston, walking in Sara's footsteps, and took the train down to New York and we will be at the ceremony at Ground Zero. We will be there with our Sara, it's something that we need to do each year and will continue to do for Sara.
This program aired on September 11, 2009.
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