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Officials defend plan for freedom museum at Ground Zero site


NEW YORK - Ground Zero officials defended plans to build a museum on freedom at the site as dozens of victims' relatives yesterday launched a nationwide effort calling for its removal from the plans.

John Cahill, Gov. George E. Pataki's chief of staff, stressed that rebuilding officials won't allow the museum's mission to be "hijacked from the political right or the political left."

"We were attacked that day because of our values and because of our freedom," Cahill said.

The center is expected to have exhibits on slavery in America, the Holocaust and global human-rights issues, but families are worried that some exhibits would take away from the sanctity of the adjacent memorial.

Relatives rallied at Ground Zero yesterday as they stepped up their opposition to the center, set to be in a building next to the Twin Towers' footprints that will be the centerpiece of the memorial slated to open in 2009.

"If you put something like that there, it would be a magnet for protesters," said Charles Wolf, 51, of Manhattan, whose wife, Katherine, died in the Sept. 11, 2001, attack.

Newsday is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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