AMY GOODMAN: And that is where he died. I remember at the time, afterwards, the New York Post headline that screamed, "Missing or Hiding?"
TALAT HAMDANI: "Or Hiding?"
AMY GOODMAN: "Mystery of NYPD Cadet from Pakistan." And it went on to say, "Hamdani was last seen, Koran in hand, leaving his Bayside, Queens home for his job as a research assistant at Rockefeller University, but he never made it to work," the New York Post wrote, and vilified him.
TALAT HAMDANI: They did. And the paper went on to say that at 11:00 a.m. he was seen at the Midtown tunnel, and to look for him, not under the rubble, but he's hiding. You know, they slandered. They slandered him, you know? Character assassination, you know? I mean, a person gives his life.
AMY GOODMAN: You went with your husband, your late husband, who I had the good fortune to meet a year after the 9/11 attacks when you both walked quietly down to 9/11 on the anniversary.
TALAT HAMDANI: First anniversary.
AMY GOODMAN: And you went to Mecca to pray. Back here at home, the press was all outside your door.
TALAT HAMDANI: All outside.
AMY GOODMAN: "Had they found the 9/11 bomber?" was the idea.
TALAT HAMDANI: Yes, that was--now I realize it. At that time, I wasn't here. But my sister and my 85-year-old mom was there. And she--they tell us that there were all those three cars. So I just asked her--she said, like for three days, they were parked out there.
AMY GOODMAN: From villain to hero. Ultimately, at your son's funeral, the mayor spoke, the police commissioner spoke. And he is named in the USA PATRIOT Act?
TALAT HAMDANI: For his heroism, as a 23-year-old Pakistani American of--no, 23-year-old American of Pakistani descent who went down there to help and is missing now. So, at the time when the PATRIOT Act was introduced, October 4, 2001, it was missing, because he was missing at that moment. And now he's dead. The Congress needs to honor him.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And when you sat there in the hearing yesterday and saw Congressman King call some families there who were blaming the Muslim community for recruiting their sons into extremist actions, obviously, the congressman never thought to ask you to speak at the hearing.
TALAT HAMDANI: Congressman King, he knows me. We had--I'm a member of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows. And we had been asking him to give us a meeting for two weeks. After two weeks, finally, the office said, "OK, we'll give you a meeting in D.C." So we traveled, three members, although Mr. King lives in New York, we are in New York, all three New Yorkers. We traveled from New York to D.C. to meet him on February 28th. And what does he do? As we walk into his office, he's walking out to another meeting.
So we told the aide, Dina, that "We are willing to--we've come all the way here. We'll wait, one hour, two hour, five hours. Whatever it takes, we'll wait." And she said, "No, there's no way that you can have a meeting with him." So this is who this congressperson is. I mean, we traveled, victims--you know, we lost our children. And he does not have the courage to sit down and talk.
AMY GOODMAN: Among the fiercest critics at the hearing was Texas Democrat Sheila Jackson Lee.