Elise Cooper for BLACKFIVE
Kathryn Turman has been the Director of Victim Services for the FBI since 2002. Shortly after college, she worked with neglected and abused children. Her impressive resume includes work for the late Senator John Heinz and the Department of Justice before she was asked by Director Mueller to head up the victim services program. Ms. Turman is definitely an unsung hero who puts in countless hours to best serve the victims of terrorist crimes.
This is the only terrorist victim assistance program in the country. The responsibility of the unit is to ensure that the victims of all FBI terrorism investigations get assistance and services from the very beginning. She summarized her job as providing “immediate assistance programs for the families that include ongoing support and information on coping with the crime as well as the status of the case.”
Ms. Turman pointed out to blackfive.net that there are many different factors for those murdered by terrorist acts than other homicides. The terrorist victims tend to be a part of multiple horrific deaths, more likely to be highly public. The images of the victims are also played over and over again, and they are murdered because they represent America.
She cited the Pan Am 103 terrorist act as an example. It was obvious as she spoke that there is a special place in her heart for this group of families. It took eleven years from the bombing for the perpetrator to be tried because those who committed the act hid behind the immunity of their government. Kathryn noted that “it’s horrible for the families. They are back home waiting for justice. It’s not fair.” What made the situation even worse for these families was Gaddafi’s recent appearance at the United Nations in New York. During the interview, blackfive.net could hear how she identifies with the families (note how she says WE); “Gaddafi coming to New York was horrible. One more slap in the face to the families. We sort of expected it. We are not surprised but we are horribly disappointed.”
Learning from previous terrorist cases she was able to set up a call center that could be activated within 2 hours with over 900 counselors available. She commented that “when 9/11 happened I activated it that morning. During the first 12 hours we took in 18000 calls of those looking for their loved ones.” Richard Marquise, the chief FBI investigator who worked with her on the Pan Am 103 case noted that “Kathryn cares about people and certainly those most affected by crime.”
Why does it appear that most Americans have a short memory? She explained that “most people are built with a self defense mechanism. They don’t want to be reminded of their own mortality. People need to be more empathetic than they are. It’s one of those things we are missing so much in this society right now.”
What she would like to see in the future is for communities to have a day of remembrance for all the many terrorist victims: Oklahoma City, Pan Am 103, USS Cole, 9/11, and the embassy bombings to mention just a few. In the event of another terrorist attack her goal is “to make sure that people have a place to go for information and assistance.” She wants to build on the accomplishments initiated after the Pan Am 103 bombing. Kathryn Turman proudly noted that the Pan Am families have “been amazing in their activism, input, resilience, and how they keep supporting each other.” Actually, Ms. Turman it is you who is amazing for the job you have done and continue to do.