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President Obama to Visit Ground Zero Thursday

By Heather Grossmann | May 2, 2011 9:18pm | Updated on May 3, 2011 11:01am
U.S. President Barack Obama will reportedly visit Ground Zero on Thursday.
U.S. President Barack Obama will reportedly visit Ground Zero on Thursday.
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Brendan Smialowski-Pool/Getty Images

By Heather Grossmann and Julie Shapiro

DNAinfo Staff

MANHATTAN — President Barack Obama visit Ground Zero on Thursday to mark the death of Osama bin Laden and pay homage to the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks.

The president will follow in the footsteps of the hundreds of people who have streamed to the World Trade Center site since bin Laden was killed in Pakistan on Sunday.

On Thursday, Obama also plans to meet with the families of 9/11 victims, a White House official confirmed. The details of the meeting remain unclear, and all of the families of 9/11 victims contacted by DNAinfo said they had not yet been approached by the White House to participate.

It was also unclear where Obama would meet the families and how the selected relatives would be chosen.

Jim McCaffrey, whose brother-in-law, FDNY Battalion Chief Orio Palmer was killed on 9/11, said it was "symbolically fitting" for Obama to pay his respects at Ground Zero.

McCaffrey, 51, a Yonkers resident, said that if he was able to talk to Obama for a moment, he would urge the president to keep the Guantanamo Bay detention center open, because much of the intelligence that led to bin Laden's death came from suspected terrorists who were held there.

"You need a place where you can interrogate terrorists," McCaffrey said. 

Rosemary Cain, whose firefighter son George Cain was killed on 9/11, said she was skeptical of Obama's motives in visiting Ground Zero.

"It's a photo op for him," Cain said. "He's going to use this every chance he gets to pay himself on the back. I'm sure it's part of his campaign strategy for his election."

Cain said she would want to ask Obama why his administration took such proper care to give bin Laden a proper Muslim burial, when tons of pulverized debris from Ground Zero, which likely contained human remains, was dumped unceremoniously in the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island.

Another 9/11 family member, Talat Hamdani, said she wants Obama to reconsider the country's Bush-era policies in light of bin Laden's death.

"I would like to see our civil liberties and Constitution and rule of law restored, which it has not been since 9/11," said Hamdani, who founded September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows after her NYPD cadet son Mohammad Salman Hamdani was killed on 9/11. "That doesn't mean we let our guard down, but this [should be] the end of an era of revenge."

In the wake of the announcement of bin Laden's death, visitors streamed to the World Trade Center site to celebrate.

Many family members of the victims said they had mixed feelings about the death of the 9/11 mastermind.

"I thought I'd be happier," McCaffrey said. "If it was the end fo the War on Terror, I'd be dancing in the streets like everyone else. But the war goes on."