Outside the New York metro area people think ex-mayor Rudolph Giuliani is some kind of 9/11 hero because he looked better on TV than George Bush did, but take it from someone who lives here: he's a prick. Apparently the 9/11 commission asked him a bunch of softball questions about his performance that day, and were surprised when New Yorkers started screaming from the galleries. Jimmy Breslin best expresses the anger many people here feel about this (now very rich) man's unjustified reputation:
Giuliani wanted a high security bunker, placed 23 stories high in a building at 7 World Trade Center. Anybody with the least bit of common sense knew that the bunker in the sky was insane and the price, $15.1 million, a scandal. But he said it would house "My Police Commissioner" and "My Fire Commissioner." In Giuliani's world, everything was "mine."
Steve Gilliard, another New Yorker, has more here (scroll down).
And on the morning of Sept. 11, Rudy Giuliani's bunker went out into the air like a Frisbee.
The first thing he did, he was telling the 9/11 Commission yesterday, was to go out and search for a new command post. He walked away from the trade center and headed for the command post that made his career: the nearest television camera.
Thanks for those links. I remember, close to the end of 2001, seeing a pile of those man-on-the-street interviews with a variety of New Yorkers, all were singing the praises of Giuliani. The exception was one person who was enraged by Giuliani's mishandling of the attack response, declaring that the mayor should be investigated. It was quite jarring to hear, and this being network news, no one asked man-on-the-street why, or followed up on the possibility that the mayor wasn't everyone's hero.
I've said before that "9/11 isn't the type of thing that happens absent negligence" (or a conspiracy). It wasn't a force of nature, it was a whole bunch of people asleep at the switch, at the very least. The thing that's so gallingly, maddeningly horrible is that none of these mofos--Pres, Mayor, Building Owner, Airports, Intelligence Agencies--will take one iota of responsibility for it. We are told over and over that "there's nothing that could be done" to prevent it, like we're complete gullible idiots. Giuliani should be sweeping streets somewhere; instead he is a multimillionaire "security consultant" because of his moment in the spotlight. When he appeared before the 9/11 panel it was all "let's not blame anyone" and "time to put this behind us." Nobody dared ask about the stupidity of his "bunker in the sky," the breakdown in communications between the police and firemen, instructions (from his command center?) for people in Tower 2 to stay in their offices after the planes hit Tower 1... What Gilliard and others are saying is exactly right: New Yorkers as individuals behaved beautifully that day, after their institutions completely failed them--they kept the problem from getting worse. Now people want answers, and all we get is obfuscation and denials from our fat and sassy leaders. The Mayor, and the entire Bush Administration, should have resigned in shame on Sept. 12. Instead of getting more powerful.
Here's another good Gilliard post on the ex-mayor:
For a long time, 9/11 was turned into the Rudy Giuliani show. Reporters, eager to have a hook on the story, focused on our control-freak egomaniac of a mayor as the city's savior. That crap ended after a few weeks here, because Rudy overplayed his hand and tried to stay in office past his term. The Times killed that idea, but 9/11, for Rudy, became his salvation and gave him a national profile.
The firefighters and police, who hated the way he used them, even as they liked his racial politics, were eager accomplices in the deception, because it veered away from the hard questions, like the institutional hatred between the two services. To this day, no one wants to deal with the frightening level of non-cooperation and poor coordination between the two services. People died because police and firefighters didn't cooperate.
Say that firefighters stole from the dead, and you get protests by the late Stephen Jay Gould's wife. Tell people that the cops saved themselves, and you get denials. Everyone wants to cloak 9/11 in heroism even when it shouldn't be.
The sad truth is that New Yorkers saved themselves on 9/11, with scant help from City Hall or anyone else. The story of 9/11 is about the way people, in good order, walked away fromn the World Trade Center and got home. No one panicked, no one got trampled, no one rioted. New Yorkers pulled together and got about saving themselves.
The city has been in denial for years. About the way Giuliani and the EPA lied about the air quality, as thousands of workers now suffer from mysterious illnesses. You could smell the burning flesh and plastic from miles away, I know I choked on it for days. When I went down to Ground Zero in October, there was still a fine dust covering everything on Broadway. People had to be sick from this.
But the biggest denial cuts to the heart of Giuliani's management style, the inefficient and ultimately contrary way he managed the uniformed services. The rank and file of both the FDNY and NYPD hated Giuliani because he wouldn't give them decent raises. Things were so bad that the LAPD and LA Sheriff's Department held successful recruiting drives in New York. However, he lavished praise on their management, despite the rank incompetance of Howard Safir, Giuliani's lacky and the commissioner of the NYPD during it's worst racial incidents.
The firefighters absolutely hated their commissioner, former union chief Thomas Von Essen. He was so hated he was disinvited to several funerals.
Giuliani picked his staff based on loyalty, not competence. Kerik , PC during 9/11, was a step up in quality, most people would have been, but he shared many of the same showboating qualities of his former boss.
When the commission said the command and control of the 9/11 response was flawed, they aren't coming up wth some grassy knoll theory. They are stating the obvious. But New Yorkers are never more obstinant or provincial than when discussing our uniform services. We don't learn from others, we teach. Giuliani constantly said that the NYPD was the "world's finest police force". Which is just silly. Half the city neither trusted nor liked the cops. Besides, such boasting prevents long needed reforms.
Some of protesters yelled out about the radios, which had not worked for 10 years. Despite attempted fixes, it didn't ever get resolved.
It was clear, and 343 deaths should make it crystal clear, that the way the NYPD works with the FDNY is dysfunctional. But instead of conceeding ground and the brutal 9/11 report which is coming, Giuliani lied and said we did everything we could. Well, yes and no. On 9/11, the firefighters gave their last full measure. The question is why did they had to.
Giuliani, who's political career is dead, the reaction at the hearings should demonstrate that, wants to remain cloaked in the mantle of 9/11, in the forlorn hope someone will appoint him to a job. In New York, he has far too many tough questions to answer from a city who long ago tired of his act. The deference shown Giuliani was wildly misplaced. As the micromanaging mayor, he had his hands in every pie. The failure of the uniformed services on 9/11, and remember, 343 firefighters died in about 2 hours, was Giuliani's and his commissioners. Bush's cowardice on 9/11 doesn't make Giuliani a hero. It made him competent for the job at hand. But then he ruined it by making 9/11 about him and not the city and the people who acted with amazing grace, dignity and generousity in the days after the attack.
All war, and this was an act of war [I don't agree--unless we're talking about a state actor like Saudi Arabia --tm], reveals the best and worst of people. Giuliani didn't save a person, or do much more than his job. But he stole the credit for what the city of New Yorkers did, and refuses to accept the blame for which he directly controlled.
If you live outside New York, you may not realize that the feelings about 9/11 remain deep, and largely unspoken. The newspapers carried funeral stories for a year. Every day, you'd open up the News or Newsday or the Post or even the times, and there was a 9/11 death story. You'd have to skip over them just to not think about it. The city changed, for the better, in most cases. People were and are more civic minded. That's the story which Giuliani stole from the rest of the country.
The reaction to Giuliani was long suppressed anger at the lies and obfuscation handed down by politicians. People want to know why their kin died, why those who worked at Ground Zero are sick. Giuliani's ass-covering excuses are no longer acceptable. We're past the time for myths and need real answers.
--so said Steve at 7:44:44 AM
Out of curiosity, have you read "American Ground" by William Langewiesche?
I haven't. It caused a big stir here because he dared to criticize the firemen. Have you read it? He should probably do a second edition, given what we know now about the EPA suppressing the health risks, the controlled demolition of Tower 7, etc.
Speaking of Tower 7, here's the Complete 9/11 timeline's entry:
A New York Times article theorizes that a diesel fuel tank was responsible for the collapse of Building 7 near the WTC. It collapsed on 9/11 even though it was farther away than many other buildings that remained standing. It was the first time a steel-reinforced high-rise in the US had ever collapsed in a fire. [Actually the third, since it was supposedly the burning plane fuel in WTC 1 and 2 that brought the buildings down] The fuel tank had been installed in 1999 as part of a new “command center” for Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. [New York Times 3/2/02; Dow Jones News 9/10/02] What's curious, especially given all the Wall Street scandals later in the year, is that Building 7 was where the SEC was storing files related to numerous Wall Street investigations. All the files for approximately 3,000 to 4,000 SEC cases were destroyed. Some were backed up in other places, but many were not, especially those classified as confidential. [National Law Journal, 9/17/01] Lost files include documents that could show the relationship between Citigroup and the WorldCom bankruptcy. [The Street, 8/9/02] The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission estimates over 10,000 cases will be affected. [New York Law Journal, 9/14/01] The Secret Service also lost investigative files. Says one agent: “All the evidence that we stored at 7 World Trade, in all our cases, went down with the building.” [Tech TV, 7/23/02] It is also eventually revealed that there was a secret CIA office in Building 7. [CNN, 11/4/01] A few days later, the head of the WTC collapse investigation says he “would possibly consider examining” the collapse of Building 7, but all the rubble has already been removed and destroyed. [Committee on Science House of Representatives testimony 3/6/02]
So many unanswered questions here. Does Langewiesche talk about the "removed and destroyed building rubble" of Tower 7?
I read the serialized version in Atlantic, and I don't recall any detailed mention of Tower 7 (but never trust my memory, I can check back through my copies of the magazine.)
I just quickly went through your links on that subject. Wow, what the hell was going on? Was this info publicized much at the time of the events?
Langewiesche describes more of the details of the process of organizing the salvage, re-enforcing the retaining wall, organizing the cleanup etc. I remember the criticism for his description of the abandoned fire truck with all the booty, but I also had heard that story earlier from other sources. (could have even been BBC world news)
Anyway, I plan to re-read it in its book form, and I recommend it if you are fascinated in the technicalities of the engineering and civic organization.