Doctor added to 9/11 victims list...

Behind The News
July 10, 2008 1:08:58 PM PDT
There's no such thing as real closure for emotional pain and loss - but the family of Sneha Anne Philip may have come fairly close tonight. She was a month from her 32nd birthday when she went shopping at Century 21 across from the World Trade Center. It was the evening of Sept. 10, 2001.

The young physician was never seen again.

She did not return home that night, according to her husband, Ron Lieberman. And, after the terror attacks, her family assumed she had died at Ground Zero, perhaps helping people. She lived and worked nearby, so the theory was certainly plausible.

The first judge to hear their argument didn't agree; in fact, authorities had suggested -- over the family's strenuous objections and denials - that Dr. Philip had somehow disappeared under rather distasteful circumstances that included drugs, alcohol and an unhappy marriage.

Last January, an appellate court disagreed - and declared Dr. Philip dead and a victim of the terror attack.

Tonight, the New York City Medical Examiner, still sifting through thousands of bits of evidence, many involving DNA, has now made it official.

Sneha Ann Philip died, the M.E. ruled, by "blunt trauma," and even though -- like a lot of victims of that day -- her body has not been found, she was declared a victim of homicide from the attacks. Officially, she is victim number 2,751.

I don't believe in closure - pain just doesn't work like that. But tonight for Dr. Philip's widower and her family, they have touched the concept.

And make no mistake - this isn't about money. The victims' fund payouts ended years ago. This is about truth.

We are efforting a response from them, tonight at 11.

Also at 11, we're following the political campaign of the Presidential candidates, which tonight means watching the fallout from Jesse Jackson's remarks trashing Barack Obama. He talked off air but on an open mike to a reporter at Fox News that he wanted to break Obama's "nuts" because of the way he "talks down" to black people.

Specifically, Jackson was referring to remarks Obama made calling on some African Americans to take responsibility as parents, fathers especially. Jackson has apologized -- and the flap has been the rage of the cable news networks today.

There are those who cringe at the internal debate; they don't like the charged inner-ethnic debate splayed out for the public to see. Many ethnic groups have long felt like this -- I know my grandparents didn't like anyone talking negatively in public about a fellow Jew. Dirty family laundry, and all.

But Bill Cosby changed all that for African Americans, when, years ago, he chastised black men who didn't own up to their responsibilities as fathers. He was criticized - but the truth is that he spoke the truth. And the truth won out.

Now Obama is taking some of that same tact. And Jackson, talking to a black reporter, spoke his mind. He now regrets it - or at least he says he does.

There are others who believe the whole controversy is a set up -- designed to help Sen. Obama's standing among some whites, especially conservatives. It seems a bit conspiratorial to me, but that feeling is certainly out there.

We're also going to put to rest the celebrity divorce trial of the week - the Christie Brinkley case. Today she and her soon-to-be ex-hubby, architect Peter Cook, reached a settlement. It's everything he wanted from the beginning, Cook said. And that statement has a lot of people shaking their heads tonight, because what he got was $2.1 million. In exchange he gave up custody of his two children.

Shouldn't he have wanted to give up the money in exchange for custody? Many are asking that question.

The answer is: Apparently not.

Either way, the case, as my father would have said, was always something of a pi**ing match between two skunks. Ms. Brinkley went out of her way to take this case public, and put her children through all this public humiliation in the process -- humiliation that included disclosures about their father's affair with an 18-year-old and his obsession with Internet porn.


We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Jeff Smith (in for Lee Goldberg) with his AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Sade Baderinwa (in for Liz Cho) and me, tonight at 11.

Bill Ritter