Kristin Breitweiser is a member of the “Jersey Girls” (a.k.a. the Jersey Widows), a group of four women from New Jersey whose husbands were killed in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York. (The other three women are Lorie Van Auken, Mindy Kleinberg, and Patty Casazza.) Following 9/11, the four, who did not know one another prior to the attacks, joined forces and traveled regularly to Washington, DC, where they lobbied members of Congress to create a 9/11 Commission. “We simply wanted to know why our husbands were killed,” Breitweiser would later explain, “why they went to work one day and didn’t come back.”
Breitweiser, who was 30 when her husband died, is an attorney by profession. She says that she voted for George W. Bush in the presidential election of 2000. But after 9/11, she placed ultimate responsibility (for failing to prevent the attacks) on Bush himself. Now an outspoken critic of the Bush administration, the Iraq War, and homeland security measures like the Patriot Act, she has said: “President Bush and his workers … were the individuals that failed my husband and the three thousand people [who died] that day.”
During the run-up to the 2004 presidential election, Breitweiser and the Jersey Girls supported the John Kerry campaign, stumping with him in an effort to portray him as a candidate who would be tough on terrorism. In the process, they delivered blistering attacks on the incumbent President Bush.
In May 2004 Breitweiser and her fellow Jersey Girls received a Ron Ridenhour Award (given annually for achievements in “truth-telling”), sponsored by the Fertel Foundation and The Nation Institute and named after the whistleblower who exposed the My Lai massacre in Vietnam. (The previous year, the award was given to former U.S. ambassador Joseph Wilson.) In her remarks at the awards ceremony, Breitweiser asserted that since 9/11, the U.S. had “squandered [the] worldwide good will, faith and common purpose to fight terrorism” that the rest of the world had felt. She impugned the U.S. for having “spent billions on starting a war with Iraq — a nation that had nothing to do with 9/11 [and had] no weapons of mass destruction.” She further charged that “because of our invasion of Iraq, terrorist recruitment for al Qaeda has soared, making us even less safe than we were before the Iraq War”; that “instead of successfully prosecuting al Qaeda terrorists and bringing them to justice, all we hear about is torturing ‘enemy combatants’ and detaining them indefinitely”; and that “instead of opening up government to restore trust and faith, we created the Patriot Act.”
Also in 2004, Ms. Magazine named Breitweiser and her three cohorts as co-recipients of its Women of the Year award. Other winners that year included Los Angeles Congresswoman Maxine Waters; Betty Dukes, the lead plaintiff against Wal-Mart in the largest class action sex-discrimination suit in American history; and Saudatu Mahdi, a Muslim feminist who contends that Sharia — Islamic law — treats women just as well as men when it is fairly implemented.
Breitweiser has been a contributing blogger at the Huffington Post since May 2005. On June 23, 2005 she posted an open letter to White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, wherein she complained that “we invaded Afghanistan, took down the Taliban, and left without capturing Usama Bin Laden — the alleged perpetrator of the September 11th attacks.” She also noted sardonically that “the Caspian Sea [oil] pipeline is better protected by U.S. troops who now have a ‘legitimate’ excuse to be in that part of Afghanistan.” “[T]here were few terrorists in Iraq before our invasion,” added Breitweiser, “but now Iraq is a terrorist hot-bed. America had the sympathy and support of the whole world before Iraq. Now, thanks to your actions, we find ourselves hated and alienated by the rest of the world. Al Qaeda’s recruitment took a nose-dive after the 9/11 attacks, but has now skyrocketed since your invasion of Iraq; … In effect, what Bin Laden could not achieve by murdering my husband and 3,000 others on 9/11, you handed to him on a silver platter with your invasion of Iraq.”
In May 2006 Breitweiser appeared on the television program Hardball, hosted by Chris Matthews. “Three thousand people were killed,” she said. “We have not prosecuted anyone successfully. Zacarias Moussaoui [the so-called “twentieth hijacker”] pled guilty … to charges that were not very directly related to 9/11, and to me that’s sad.” She conceded that Moussaoui was “a terrible person” but claimed there were no legal grounds to execute him. “The reality,” she said, “is our Justice Department prosecuted the wrong person [Moussaoui].” She went on to name three terrorists who were then in U.S. custody, and alleged that “because of our [supposedly torturous and illegal] interrogation techniques of those individuals we are unable to prosecute them.” She also implied that former CIA Director George Tenet and two named FBI agents deserved the death penalty as much as Moussaoui, for their failure to do what was necessary to avert 9/11.