In interview, Giuliani says mistakes were made on Sept. 11Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 29, 2002
NEW YORK -- Rudolph Giuliani, in his first detailed account of his administration's actions on Sept. 11, said mistakes were made at the World Trade Center, but the city was as well-prepared as could reasonably be expected.
He also said he believed that some firefighters, aware of the peril, died after choosing to stay in the doomed buildings to save others.
"They weren't going to abandon the ship," the former mayor said in an interview with the New York Times on Friday. "You have to understand the nature of a firefighter. It's like the nature of a Navy captain."
Giuliani's remarks came in an interview timed to coincide with this week's release of his book, Leadership, in which the Sept. 11 attack and aftermath are a major topic. The book is part autobiography, part management advice and part overview of his eight years as mayor. It also covers his work as a federal prosecutor and as a Justice Department official in the Reagan administration.
But his discussion of Sept. 11, of how he as a human and as the leader of a city responded and how the events affected him personally, surface repeatedly in the book.
In the months after the attack, two separate inquires by an independent consultant retained by the Bloomberg administration concluded that the police and fire responses that day were plagued by a lack of training, limited coordination and a perceived lack of leadership at the scene. The reports found that Fire Department commanders lost touch with many of their companies once those companies ascended into the towers, while many police officers did not know who was in charge or where to report.
On Sept. 11, firefighters also carried with them the same kind of radios that failed to work properly in the complex during the bombing of the trade center in 1993. Once inside, firefighters in the north tower on 9/11 did not hear or did not follow an order to evacuate, issued before either tower fell. And then, once the south tower collapsed and a police helicopter crew hovering overhead concluded that the north tower would soon crumble, a final warning transmitted to police officers did not reach most firefighters, according to scores of interviews with firefighters and commanders.
Giuliani attacked the reports by the consultants, saying they lacked credibility because the investigators had failed to talk to him or to his director of emergency management. He said he continued to believe many firefighters had heard evacuation orders, but had heroically chosen to ignore them. He also asserted that the fire and police chiefs at the scene were following an agreed-upon system of coordinated command, and that he had played a role in making sure that possible secondary targets across the city were covered after the towers were struck. After the 1993 bombing, the city, under Giuliani's leadership, frequently boasted about how much effort it was putting into preparing for a future attack, including the construction of an emergency command center.
"They don't know most of the things that happened," Giuliani said, referring to McKinsey & Co., the consultants hired by the city to examine the police and firefighter response. "Maybe if they read the book, they will get a sense of the facts they missed in doing the report."
But Giuliani's version of events is at odds not only with the findings of the consultants, but also with many firefighters interviewed by their department.
Giuliani, in his book and in the interview, recounted how he visited the Police and Fire Departments' on-the-scene command posts in the minutes after the towers were struck, but before either fell. At the Fire Department's command site, which was just across the street from the burning towers, he spoke with the two most senior fire officials: First Deputy Commissioner William Feehan and Chief of Department Peter Ganci.
"I told Pete, "I think you should move this command post,' " Giuliani writes in his book. "They were going to, he said -- they planned to relocate further north." But before they moved far enough away, Feehan and Ganci were killed when the second tower fell.
Watching the events unfold, and then leading the city through the aftermath, demanded that Giuliani maintain a strong public face. But he writes in the book about the moments when he lost control of his own emotions, like when he heard that his friend Barbara Olson, a TV commentator, had died on American Airlines Flight 77.
"I felt like crying right there at the press conference, but couldn't," he wrote. He did so only when he found a room where he could be by himself.
Building near World Trade Center to be destroyed
NEW YORK -- Streets were blocked off around a two-story building near the World Trade Center site Saturday after cracks were found in an exterior wall and the windows began bulging.
Officials were making plans to demolish the building, which sits on the corner of Greenwich and Rector streets, directly above a subway station that was closed for more than a year after the Sept. 11 attacks. It is four blocks south of the World Trade Center site.
It wasn't clear what caused the structural problems.
Frank McCarton, deputy commissioner for the city's Office of Emergency Management, said the building posed an immediate danger. Occupants of the building, which houses a cafe and a salon, were evacuated.
Elsewhere . . .
EXPLOSION ROCKS KABUL: A powerful explosion shook the northeastern part of the Afghan capital of Kabul Saturday night, shattering glass in a multistory apartment complex but causing no serious injuries. The blast was in the neighborhood of the U.S. embassy.
BULLET GRAZES U.S. SOLDIER: A bullet fired by an unidentified assailant grazed a U.S. soldier in the leg on Saturday as he was traveling to Kabul, the military said.
Troops in the convoy were unaware they had been fired upon and did not see the gunman, U.S. military spokesman Col. Roger King said.
In a separate incident, King said a rocket exploded Saturday near a U.S. special forces base in the eastern city of Gardez. No injuries were reported.
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