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After 12 years of legal wrangling and a month-long trial, six jurors in Manhattan Tuesday were asked to decide whether the Port Authority should be held liable for the 1993 terrorist bombing at the World Trade Center. In his closing argument, Marc E. Kasowitz of Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman, which represents the Port Authority, implored the jury to end what he described as a “historic” trial with a message: that terrorists, not his client, were responsible for the bombing that killed six people and injured more than 1,000. “What you decide here is going to have great consequences,” Kasowitz said. “We cannot, we should not hold [the Port Authority] responsible for the heinous acts of these killers. That’s not the message we should send.” Kasowitz said the Port Authority had done much to protect the building, but no matter what it did, the terrorists, who were bent on destroying a “symbol of America” and a “symbol of capitalism,” would stop at nothing. David J. Dean of Sullivan Papain Block McGrath & Cannavo, which represents the plaintiffs, said the trial was not about diverting blame from the terrorists. Instead, he said, it was about an agency that was repeatedly warned of security threats yet failed to act because of stupidity and greed. “I say what they did was reckless,” Dean said. “It’s not just negligence.” He scoffed at the suggestion that the terrorists could not have been stopped, describing the now convicted bombers as “the dumbest terrorists going.” Supreme Court Justice Nicholas Figueroa charged the jury after lunch. If they determine that the Port Authority was liable for the attacks, the more than 400 cases that were consolidated for this trial will be separated for determinations on damages. The jury deliberated the rest of the afternoon without reaching a verdict. Hanging over the trial from the start has been the fact that the bombing in question occurred at a building that ceased to exist after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Neither attorney directly referred to those attacks Tuesday, seemingly sensing that the jury had enough to deal with without having to relive the horrors of four years past. A DIFFERENT ERA Instead, they concentrated on a time period — 1985 to 1993 — that was portrayed as a different era, far more distant than a mere 12 years. For Kasowitz, the timing of the attacks made a “no” verdict the logical choice. The bombing, he told the jury, was the first attack of its kind in the country. Back then, he said, there was no everyday concern about terrorism. In fact, he said, those in charge of the Port Authority were under the impression that the parking garage was a “low risk” target, inferior to the building’s plaza or concourse, where hundreds of people gathered daily. As he tallied up the names of personnel who concurred on this assessment, Kasowitz wrote them out in marker for the jury. Kasowitz also rejected assertions that the Port Authority did nothing to secure its property. He described the garage as the “most heavily armed in the country.” He said the executives who decided to keep the garage open worked in the building and would not have jeopardized their lives or those of their workers and families. As for their purported “greed,” Kasowitz said the assertion was “ridiculous, and quite frankly, it is offensive.” He noted that the Port Authority is a not-for-profit agency. And even if additional security measures were taken, Kasowitz said, nothing would have prevented the bombing, which he described as “the first shot in a war by people seeking to destroy our civilization, civilization as we know it.” Had the garage been closed to the public, he said, the terrorists would have forged a pass for tenant parking or slapped “1-800 Flowers” on the side of a truck and delivered the bombs to the building’s truck dock. Other than turning buildings into “armed fortresses and armed camps,” he said, the only solution was to rely on intelligence gathering — which, he said, is what the Port Authority did. “It didn’t work here,” Kasowitz said. Dean told jurors that Kasowitz’s arguments and his list of names amounted to “smoke and mirrors,” better suited to “trying to sell cigarettes.” The real job for the jury, he said, was to determine what the Port Authority knew about threats, when it knew about them, and what it did to prevent attacks. Dean accused the agency of “burying” reports that warned of the garage’s vulnerability to a bomb attack. There were five reports in all, he said, and each one refuted the agency’s defense. The agency had a “wait-and-see” attitude, he said, and they waited until it was too late. ‘GO DOWN IN HISTORY’ While both attorneys deftly interspersed loud, emotional arguments with soft, touching words, Dean engaged in more banter with the jury. He said he would likely see terrorism again in his lifetime, and that his son, and the jurors’ children, would live with it for the foreseeable future. He told the jury that they had been “extraordinary” and said they “must feel thrilled to be part of a case that will go down in history.” He also relied at times on humor and humble remarks, as when he promised he would not speak as long as Kasowitz, if only for biological reasons. “I can’t go an hour without leaving this courtroom, as you’ve seen, I confess to you,” he said (his argument lasted just over an hour). Dean assailed the notion that the terrorists could not be stopped, calling them “stupid.” He pointed out that after the attacks, they returned to the Ryder truck rental company to report their vehicle stolen and then tried to recover their $400 deposit. “They would have wrote 1-600 Flowers on the side,” he said. He added that if the bombing was a wake-up call for the Port Authority, this was only “because they were asleep.” For years, he said, the agency had failed to listen, both to security experts and reports that assessed risks at the Trade Center. “Maybe,” he concluded, “they will listen to you.”

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