It should come as no surprise that The Left would begin the deconstruction of 9/11 and Rudy Giuliani eventually. The only real surprise is that the we really had to wait until Summer 2006 for it to begin in earnest.
After all, how can you display your intellectual sophistication by accepting what you saw plainly with you own eyes: terrorists captured boarding on security video, planes crashing into buildings, burning towers collapsing.
It was cultural expression... It was self-defense against The West's imperialist designs... It was for the oppressed peoples of Palestine... It was an extension of a thousand-year conflict. Call it anything except what it was: an act of profound evil.
Americans saw something else that day as well: a mayor of a city walking among the debris, directing the response, comforting a nation. Americans saw what leadership was that day.
Wayne Barrett, in his new book "Grand Illusion: The Untold Story of Rudy Giuliani and 9/11", wants to let you know what you really saw. Like the old Soviet-era photographs where the crowd in the picture become progressively smaller as history is revised, Barrett asks his readers to forget what they saw with their own two-eyes and replace it with the new picture he conveniently provides.
It wouldn't be so bad if Barrett hadn't relied on the smallest minutiae to base his criticisms, or presumed Rudy to be able to literally see into the future, or have expected the Mayor of New York City to have knowledge of evolving terror strategies that rivaled those in segments of the U.S. Defense and Intelligence community. When examined on their own merits, Barrett's problems with the way Rudy handled 9/11 are revealed for what they are: the nit-picked ramblings of someone with a personal grudge.
Let's take a look at Barrett's first 9/11 meme-
"I was really surprised at how the 1993 World Trade Center bombing had absolutely no effect on his consciousness. Six people died, but so many more could have and we show in four or five different ways how a much bigger catastrophe was only narrowly averted. Then in June of ’93 the FBI and the NYPD busted terrorists in Queens who were a week away from blowing up the Holland Tunnel, the United Nations, a whole series of targets. So 1993 was the peak year of terrorism in this country and in this city prior to 9/11, yet it did not register in any way in the Giuliani mind."-Interview with Williams Cole (producer of the film "Giuliani Time") published in The Brooklyn Rail, Sept 2006 edition.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Rudy Giuliani was one of the few elected officials in the United States who was thinking about the subject. In fact, you could argue that Rudy was more concerned about terrorism than the President of the United States, Bill Clinton (who when not avoiding contact with his CIA Director for numerous years of his administration was firing missles into emtpy tents in Central Asia & innocuous asprin factories in Africa).
The man charged with handling New York City's emergency preparedness and response was Jerry Hauer. Hauer served as director of the city's office of Emergency Management (which according to author Fred Siegel was even humorously known as "The Office of What If?")
"Everyone thought we were crazy for preparing for terrorism" Hauer said referring to the preparations.
According to Siegel, "Based on intelligence that emerged from the Blind Shiek's thwarted attack on Gotham's bridges and tunnels and newly developed information, it looked as if either the bombing of the bridges and tunnels and a biological attack were the most likely threats."
Now where would NYC's Office of Emergency Management obtain these threat assessments? That would the federal goverment. Unless you believe that Rudy was negligent in not developing an FBI/CIA style counter-terrorism force (hardly the perogative of the mayor of any city, even NYC), Giuliani cannot be held responsible for concentrating on what the FBI told him to. They had advised him that the WTC had been hit once before and was left standing (despite a 100 ft. hole in the foundation); the terrorists were moving on- focus on the tunnels and bridges.
Security was improved at the WTC site after the 1993 bombing. But the fact remained that the building had now withstood severe damage from a bomb. Precautions were increased. Security tightened. The terrorists could hardly be expected to try again with a bigger bomb in the basement. No one who advised Mayor Giuliani could have foresaw the possiblity of hijacked commercial jetliners, loaded with fuel, intentionally crashing into the buildings (the WTC towers were designed to withstand an accidental aircraft collision). Those who job it was to envision such circumstances (the FBI, CIA , or other counter terrorism agencies under the direction of the Clinton Administration) failed to do so.
So what was Hauer's department doing in preparation?
Again from Fred Siegel, "Hauer and his staff engaged in 'game playing'. They tried to put themselves inside the mind of a terrorist planning an attack to anticipate how the city should respond. Hauser had brought in Richard Clarke, then head of President Clinton's head of counter-intelligence, to lead an intense brainstorming session attended by the forty top members of the Giuliani Administration."
Describing one of their terrorist training events (this one just before 2000), Siegel writes, " Hauer organized numerous drills and tabletop scenarios, which Giuliani usually attended and in which the first responders, hospitals, and even non-emergency services could play through a variety of scenarios. One of the first drills was a mock attack on a rally being held at the base of the World Trade Center with a thousand injured." Said Deputy Mayor Joe Lhota, "You drilled and prepared over and over so that when trouble comes you don't have consult a manual or think things through again. You can react instinctively."
In Rudy's words, "After September 11th, I was frequently asked about staying calm in the face of crisis. As I have already discussed, it comes down to preparation. Throughout my time as mayor, we conducted tabletop exercises designed to rehearse our response to a wide variety of contingencies. We'd blueprint what each person in each agency would do if the city faced, say, a chemical attack or a biomedical attack. We went through how we'd act in the event of a plane crash or a terrorist attack on a political gathering. We didn't just choreograph our response on paper, either, but did trial runs in the streets, to test how long the plans took in practice. We even simulated an airplane crash in Queens and a sarin gas attack in Manhattan... We used to take pictures of these trial runs, and they were so realistic that people who saw them would ask when the event shown in the photograph had occurred. We did not anticipate that airliners would be commandeered and turned into guided missiles; but the fact that we practiced for other kinds of disasters made us far more prepared to handle a catastrophe that nobody envisioned."
In Wayne Barrett's world, Rudy Giuliani as the Mayor of New York should have been able to envision this scenario, even though the federal authorities that are responsible for envisioning such scenarios (such as the CIA or FBI) could not.
Which brings us to Barrett's second meme-
"...he’s the expert on terrorism because he faced it down that morning. He should have been operating less inspirationally and more effectively in a command center located at a responsible location, rather than at a most vulnerable location. And he should have been with his top chiefs, the fire department, police department, emergency management; he should have been making solid judgments about how to respond to this. Instead, he was walking the streets of lower Manhattan."
Giuliani described his decision this way, "As shocking as the crash was (referring to the first plane hitting the WTC), we had actually planned for such a catastrophe. My administration had built a state-of-the-art command center, from which we handled the emergencies that inevitably befall a city like New York... It was packed with computers and television screens to monitor conditions all over the city and beyond. It had generators in case the power failed, sleeping accommodations in case we had to stay overnight, storage tanks filled with water and fuel, and stockpiles of various antidotes."
Barrett's criticism of Giuliani's choice of locating the command center in Tower 7, is just another example of how he strains credulity to insist that Rudy should have known better. Giuliani chose Tower 7 precisely because it was the best choice based on the assessments provided to him. Besides tunnels and bridges, federal authorities advised the mayor that if a building were to be hit, it would most likely be in located near the financial district (like the New York Stock Exchange). Tower 7 would provide the perfect location in such an event.
Once again Barrett apparently blames Rudy for not being able to see into the future. Namely, that the one of the very few scenarios that could have destroyed Tower 7 (a scenario that Rudy had not been warned of by any federal agency like the CIA or FBI), jet planes loaded with fuel used as missiles, would come to pass.
Of course there was some initial confusion. We have the seen what it was like on the ground that day near the WTC complex. But the idea that Giuliani "walking the streets of lower Manhattan." incommunicado with his fire and police chiefs is contradicted by the facts. According to Rudy, "I immediately devised two priorities. We had to set up a new command center. And we had to find a way to communicate with people in the city. Bernie (Kerik-Police Commissioner) and his staff had already identified a building at 75 Barclay St., just northeast of 7 World Trade Center, as a possible site. I saw that news trucks were already arriving, and told Sunny Mindel, my Communications Director, to start organizing the press so we could brief them outside. As Bernie and I walked, he told me that they'd set up the fire command post between the Merrill Lynch and American Express building on West St."
Let me address Barrett's most feeble meme last-
"I think we have major, shocking revelations about the relationship between the Giuliani Administration and Motorola. There is such travesty in the fact that firefighters wound up with the same radios in their hands that malfunctioned at the ’93 bombing. We have one chapter devoted exclusively to tracking the narrative of why it was that no change occurred on the radio front, and that there are all kinds of relationships. A pivotal person at the city’s information agency had a sister who worked for Motorola in a high capacity, and this was the woman who steered the city, in large measure, toward the new radios that were purchased. But even so, the city waited until March of 2001 to actually put new radios in fire fighters hands, and then those radios malfunctioned within a week. The Giuliani Administration could have easily reconfigured those radios, the new radios, and put them back in fire houses in the intervening months between then and 9/11."
What liberal critique would be complete without somehow involving evil "Big Business". Dastardly Motorola strikes again!
No one can deny that any executive must delegate the execution of many details to subordinates. Rudy had a team of deputy mayors, as well as fire and police comissioners and their subordiates to assist him. Barrett at no time says that Rudy did anything unethical personally involving the purchase of the radios from Motorola. Barrett mentions explicitly the person rsponsible, an unnamed "pivotal person at the city’s information agency had a sister who worked for Motorola in a high capacity, and this was the woman who steered the city, in large measure, toward the new radios that were purchased." But yet the blame falls to Mayor Giuliani who should have stopped juggling the responsibilities of managing the most dynamic city in the world to personally get down to the warehouse to inspect the new radios.
Bernie Kerik addressed this issue in his testimony to the 9/11 commission stating, "Show me one radio that they will guarantee you this radio will go through that metal, it will go through the debris, it will go through the dust, and you will have 100% communication 100% of the time-there is none."
According to Siegel, if the 9/11 commission was concerned about anything, it was how inter-department rivalry inpeded communications, not radios. However, expert witnesses were unable to give examples of any specific instances. The 9/11 Commission's report concluded that "Understandably lacking experience in responding to events of the magnitude of the World Trade Center attacks, the FDNY as an institution proved incapable of coordinating the numbers of unit dispatched to different points with the 16 acre complex. It is clear that the lack of coordination (within the FDNY and between the NYPD and FDNY) did not affect adversely the evacuation of civilians (though Siegel notes that it did probably cost the lives of an unknown number of firefighters.)
The 9/11 Commission Report, which Barrett relied heavily upon for his research, concluded that 99.5% of people that could have been saved on that day were saved.
In the final analysis, Barrett's work amounts to little more than one of the most sadly embarrassing examples of "Monday Morning Quarterbacking" in recent memory. Especially considering that it took nearly 5 years for Barrett to even come up with even these flimsy accusations.
When a once in a lifetime catastrophe such a 9/11 occurs. I will take the decisions made (for better or worse) by a man like Rudy Giuliani, whose turnaround of NYC is one of the greatest American success stories in our nation's history, over the second-guessings of a man like Wayne Barrett; whose most thought inducing decision of the day must be which flavor of $6 a cup coffee he will drink in the morning.
*Wayne Barrett's quotes are from an interview with Williams Cole (producer of the film "Giuliani Time") published in The Brooklyn Rail, Sept 2006 edition.
**Quotes for this article were taken from Fred Siegel's "The Prince of the City" and Rudy Giuliani's "Leadership".