Senior FDNY officials yesterday listened
to an hourlong 9/11 tape of World Trade Center radio
transmissions found early this year, but would not disclose
what it revealed about the final moments of their lost
The Port Authority released the tape to the Fire Department
after top fire brass agreed to keep its contents under wraps
at the behest of federal prosecutors in Virginia, who plan to
use a copy at the trial of accused "20th hijacker" Zacarias
"This is an important case and we don't want to jeopardize
it," said a senior fire official.
There was some hope the tape would answer lingering
questions about how high fire companies got in the towers, the
problems they encountered and how many heard the evacuation
order issued before the towers fell.
Surviving firefighters have said they didn't hear the order
- which some officials attribute to a faulty radio
signal-boosting repeater mounted in a nearby building.
FDNY Capt. Pete Gorman, head of the Uniformed Fire Officers
Association, said he was troubled that the department didn't
arrange to listen to the tape earlier, while recovery efforts
were still underway at Ground Zero.
"If they had heard a certain ladder company was on a
certain floor of either tower, that might have told us where
we could find them in the ruins," he said.
Gorman also was puzzled about the need for confidentiality,
noting, "This is chitchat from firefighter to firefighter."
Moussaoui's fired public defender agreed, and said he
doesn't believe the confidentiality order applies to New York.
"It doesn't prevent the owner of the information - if they
want - from giving it out," said Frank Dunham.