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Thread: The 9/11 Commission

  1. #16

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    Newsday
    May 17, 2004

    9/11 hearing set for Tues.

    Associated Press

    In the years since the Sept. 11 attacks, a rising chorus of New Yorkers has demanded a hard-edged probe of the city's emergency response, a public airing of shortcomings that would assign responsibility for a series of systemic flaws.

    They may be disappointed when the national commission investigating the attacks meets Tuesday in a university auditorium in Greenwich Village.

    The commission is expected to describe serious gaps in communication and coordination between the police and fire departments. But members of the commission and others familiar with its work said it would also seek to dispel what they called misconceptions that cast the city's rescue efforts in a poor light.

    What's more, New York's efforts to improve emergency response since Sept. 11 will be cited as a national model, despite charges from victims' family members, firefighters and others that poor communication and cooperation between the police and fire departments has not improved, commission members said.

    "They've made their evaluation and made corrections and made their preparations. I think the rest of the country has a lot to learn from the New York experience and I hope we play some role in disseminating that experience," said Lee Hamilton, the commission's vice chairman and a former Democratic congressman from Indiana.

    "The picture that emerges will make people feel better about the New York authorities," said one person who helped produce a pair of reports to be delivered Tuesday morning, speaking on condition of anonymity because its findings were not yet officially released. "There's more good news in the story than embarrassment, for sure."

    That portrayal may not be well received by relatives of the dead, many of whom believe that long-standing problems in the city's emergency response systems led to deaths in the towers.

    "If the public understands that some of this could have been prevented, that there were systemic failures, perhaps that will help push change and reform," said Monica Gabrielle, who lost her husband.

    Among a host of questions, relatives of the dead want to know why the twin towers' rooftop doors were locked on Sept. 11. Some workers were rescued from the north tower by helicopter during the 1993 trade center bombing.

    Whether or not the doors were locked on Sept. 11, emergency officials have told commission researchers that heavy smoke and fire, along with a cluster of antennae on the north tower, would have made rooftop rescue virtually impossible.

    "There is almost no possibility that anybody could have been rescued from the roofs," the person familiar with commission findings said.

    Congress established the Sept. 11 commission to examine what led to the attacks and advise ways the government can do a better job of tracking terrorists and responding to an attack. The 10-member bipartisan panel is to issue its final report on July 26.

    Last month, commissioners heard from President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, former President Bill Clinton and ex-Vice President Al Gore, as well as national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, CIA Director George Tenet and Attorney General John Ashcroft.

    The panel will release its findings on planning and emergency response on Tuesday as current and former officials of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the New York fire, police and emergency management departments, the Homeland Security Department and the Arlington, Va., fire department sit down for two days of testimony at the New School University.

    Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and his heads of fire, police and emergency management are expected to portray the city's efforts that day as a flexible, cooperative response.

    While some 2,749 people died, Giuliani, widely seen as heroic for his stewardship of the city through the crisis, has described the efforts -- in which 25,000 people were saved -- as the "greatest rescue mission in the history of the United States."

    Current New York fire, police and emergency management officials are expected to testify Tuesday that relationships between the agencies have improved.

    Police and firefighters fought for months over a set of rules governing which agency holds sway in emergencies ranging from water rescue to biological attack. The rules were completed last week and announced Friday. Sept. 11 commission members say those rules and other improvements could form part of a set of recommendations for national emergency response standards.

    Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly is expected to emphasize New York's continuing vulnerability to terrorist attack, citing the case of a Pakistani-born truck driver, Iyman Faris, who was accused of plotting to cut through the cables of the Brooklyn Bridge and sentenced last year to 20 years in prison.

    Kelly also plans to cite the case of Uzair Paracha, a Pakistani man accused of aiding al-Qaida by agreeing to help terrorists sneak into the United States, an official familiar with the commissioner's prepared testimony said.

    Associated Press Writer Sara Kugler contributed to this report.

    Copyright 2004 Newsday, Inc.

  2. #17

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    NY1 News
    May 17, 2004

    Bloomberg To Testify Before 9/11 Commission

    Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Monday decided to testify at the 9/11 commission hearings in New York City this week.

    This is the second time the mayor, who took office three months after the September 11, 2001, attacks, has appeared before the commission. He also testified last year.

    The hearings begin on Tuesday, and Bloomberg is scheduled to take questions Wednesday morning.

    Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani is also among the current and former city officials scheduled to testify.

    The hearings in New York will focus on communication among emergency responders in the city after the World Trade Center was attacked. There's word commissioners have already questioned at least one deputy fire chief about radio communications.

    There have also been reports the commission will point to a lack of communication between agencies but will praise the bravery and heroism of first-responders.

    ----------------------

    More than two and half years after the September 11th terror attacks, the federal investigation will now publicly focus on the city's emergency response. What questions remain unanswered? NY1's John Schiumo has more in the following report.

    No one can criticize the people who responded, the men and women who successfully led an unprecedented evacuation, the people who responded and helped save an estimated 25,000 lives. The response plan, however, was far from perfect.

    “We don't know how many people got the word to evacuate. We're trying to put that together by having interviews,” former Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Essen said in December 2001. “We do know many people passed that word onto others.”

    Poor communication - perhaps the greatest failure of the city's emergency response. For an example, look no further than when a police helicopter warned that the North Tower looked ready to collapse. Police officers heard the radio transmission and started to evacuate. Firefighters did not.

    The failure to share critical information will be one focus of the 9/11 Commission.

    “Everybody has a different recollection. In the chaos, people will remember different things," said former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in 2001.

    Two and a half years later, those in charge that day will be asked to remember why certain decisions were made. Why was the emergency command post first established inside the lobby of the doomed South Tower? Why did the Fire Department lose track of units and lose communication with others? How would the city have responded to a secondary attack, given that every available first responder was called to the World Trade Center?

    Given the chaos of the moment, critical decisions were made on the fly. Like when the city ordered police helicopters to crash - in a suicide mission - into the fourth hijacked plane if it too targeted the Twin Towers.

    “In reality, we were grasping at straws,” said Former Office of Emergency Management Commissioner Richard Sheirer in 2001.

    Many of the problems of the day have been addressed. Better radios have been purchased. Cops and firefighters now conduct joint drills and exercises.

    But many questions from that day remain unanswered. Why did public address announcements in the South Tower urge occupants to remain in the building moments before it was struck? Why were the rooftop doors locked, preventing possible rescue? What did city officials learn from the federal government about the threat of terrorism pre-9/11?

    As the national spotlight continues to shine on the commission and its investigation, you can expect more defining moments in the aftermath of 9/11.

    The 10-member panel is expected to issue its final report, complete with recommendations, before the end of July. Will lessons learned prevent another tragedy?

    - John Schiumo

    Copyright 2004 NY1 News

  3. #18

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    May 18, 2004

    9/11 Panel Has a Question: Why Wasn't the City Prepared?

    By PHILIP SHENON and KEVIN FLYNN

    WASHINGTON, May 17 - Members of the commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks say current and former city officials in New York will be confronted at public hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday about why New York was not better prepared to deal with a catastrophic terrorist attack and why the city is still struggling to coordinate the disaster-response plans of its police officers and firefighters.

    The commission members said that many of the questions would center on the city government's failure before Sept. 11 to insist on greater cooperation between the long-feuding Police and Fire Departments, especially since the city had been the victim of earlier terrorist attacks, including the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.

    Interim staff reports expected to be released at the hearings will praise the heroism of emergency-response workers on Sept. 11 but will suggest that their efforts were hampered by inadequate communications and a lack of coordination between the Police and Fire Departments, people who have seen drafts of the reports said on Monday.

    Witnesses at the hearings will include Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who announced on Monday that he had decided to accept an invitation to appear before the 10-member panel, and his predecessor, Rudolph W. Giuliani, along with the city's current and former police and fire commissioners.

    "We'll be asking questions that haven't been asked before, at least not publicly,'' said the panel's chairman, Thomas H. Kean, the former Republican governor of New Jersey.

    Mr. Kean said in an interview that many questions about failures in the city's anti-terrorism planning before Sept. 11 and in its response the day of the attacks had not been asked in previous investigations because the issues were considered too sensitive given the loss of life at the World Trade Center and out of respect for the police officers and firefighters who died at the scene.

    "I think the shock was so great to all of us who lived in the region, and we were so stunned for such a long time, that it wasn't the time for those questions,'' he said. "Now is the time.''

    McKinsey & Company, an independent consulting firm, performed extensive studies of the police and fire responses for the city in 2002 that addressed many of the same issues now being considered. But the consultants, who did not charge the city, said at the time that their efforts were focused more on identifying specific improvements than in chronicling the day's events in exhaustive detail.

    A Democratic member of the commission, Bob Kerrey, the former Nebraska senator who is now president of the New School University in New York, which is playing host to the hearings this week, said that "as we accumulate additional knowledge, it gets clearer and clearer how unprepared New York was.''

    He said that much of the blame should fall on the federal government, which he said had failed to provide New York with the anti-terrorism help it deserved both as the nation's biggest city and as a past terrorist target. "You've got to see New York as a separate preparation issue,'' he said. "You've got to prepare it separately from every other location in the United States.''

    Other commission officials said that unflattering comparisons would be drawn between the emergency responses in New York on Sept. 11 and at the Pentagon that morning.

    The scale of the attack was significantly smaller at the Pentagon, which was struck by one of the hijacked planes, killing 59 people on the plane and 125 others on the ground. But the emergency-response has generally been praised for its coordination and speed.

    "We certainly have an extremely difficult time making comparisons between the attack on the Pentagon and the attack on the World Trade Center,'' said another of the panel's Democrats, Timothy J. Roemer, a former House member from Indiana. "But the Pentagon response went pretty darn well. They implemented their existing emergency plan very well, and they had a single individual take control.''

    Another scheduled witness at this week's hearings, Edward P. Plaugher, chief of the Fire Department in Arlington County, Va., which responded to the Pentagon attacks, said in an interview that he had long been surprised by the lack of coordination among emergency-response agencies in New York, especially between the Police and Fire Departments. "They had bifurcated,'' Chief Plaugher said. "They had pretty much established that they weren't going to work together.''

    By comparison, he said, emergency-response agencies in communities in suburban Virginia around the Pentagon had drilled together for years, and had established radio frequencies that allowed them to talk to one another easily in the hours after the Sept. 11 attacks.

    "We communicate regularly with all of our police and firefighters on the same radio system,'' he said. "We had actually drilled with the folks at the Pentagon. We knew the folks at the Pentagon by their first names, and at the F.B.I."

    Mayor Bloomberg announced last week that the city's emergency agencies had reached a new, formal agreement to coordinate their response to major disasters, including terrorist attacks. But several academic experts and security consultants, as well as the chairman of the City Council's Public Safety Committee and the president of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association, have described the plan as seriously flawed.

    The disparity between the positions of the Police and Fire Departments on how the lack of coordination affected the emergency response on Sept. 11th was evident two years ago when McKinsey & Company released its findings. In its report on the Fire Department, produced in collaboration with fire commanders, the consultants said the agency's response suffered because of a lack of coordination with the Police Department. In the Police Department report, similarly prepared with the help of police officials, the consultants said the coordination question was beyond the scope of its inquiry.

    Philip Shenon reported for this article from Washington and Kevin Flynn from New York.


    OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

    Save the Rescuers From One Another

    By DENNIS SMITH

    Today and tomorrow the 9/11 commission holds hearings in New York to examine the response of local and federal emergency response departments to the attacks. As someone who has spoken to hundreds of people who worked at ground zero, from top fire and police commanders to those who sifted through "the pile," one question continues to gnaw at my understanding: why was there such a disparity in the loss of life among first responders?

    The heroism displayed by firefighters, police officers and emergency personnel on and after 9/11 will stay with me forever. As a New Yorker and a former firefighter, I will always be proud of their courage. Yet I have reluctantly come to the belief that the crisis at the World Trade Center was worsened by a lack of cooperation between the Fire and Police Departments.

    The age-old antagonism between the services has become institutionalized. No other city in the nation has police and fire services as redundant and competitive as New York's. Though the beginnings of the rift are murky, it was created by the establishment of two special rescue organizations, one in each of the two largest emergency service teams in the world. For the safety of both our city and our first responders, these two operations should be merged.

    Any analysis of 9/11 will show that the Fire and Police Departments, with some exceptions at the lower levels, could hardly be said to be working together. There is much evidence of inadequate communications on 9/11. The McKinsey report on the Fire Department's preparedness cited many communications received by 911 operators that were passed to the Police Department but never forwarded to the fire chiefs, information that could have saved lives.

    When a Police Department helicopter pilot saw that the South Tower was falling, his announcement was instant — and police command issued a forceful and robust order to evacuate the remaining building and to move all department vehicles to safety. But fire chiefs did not hear this order. The command of the North Tower was covered with debris when the South Tower fell, and Chief Joseph Pfeifer, in darkness, gave the order, "All units in Tower One, evacuate the building."

    Just how many firefighters escaped in the minutes from Chief Pfeifer's order until the tower's collapse is uncertain, but we do know that several police officers from the city and the Port Authority were killed when the second tower collapsed — along with 121 firefighters. Others were killed on the street. In all, almost 15 firefighters died for every city police officer. This suggests that there were successful communications in the Police Department, but not within the Fire Department or between the two departments.

    One definition of readiness is to be highly motivated and fully understanding of both mission and risk. Yet it also means being properly trained in systems, procedures and equipment adequate to an emergency. Under this definition, it cannot be said that our first responders were prepared at ground zero. Fire and police were not having regular drills before the emergency, and there was no meaningful protocol in place.

    The Department of Homeland Security has ordered the National Incident Management System to ensure an organized command during emergencies. Their coordination is codified by signed protocols — agreements of incident command between responding emergency organizations, whether they are local, state or federal. Just days ago, the Police and Fire Departments of New York signed a new protocol — 32 months after 9/11.

    Yet protocols are not the answer. We have had them before. Except for the current commissioners, who have worked to solve the problem, the indifference of each department for the work of the other will remain.

    Why? Because there is a territorial imperative that separates the two departments, which is caused by their separate rescue units. The Fire Department has five rescue companies, and the Police Department has an emergency services unit with 10 truck groups. Each police officer and firefighter in these units is well trained.

    But their similarity in mission causes competition that is often divisive and sometimes harmful. It is this competition that will be found, historically, as the basis for the communications failure on 9/11, and which continues to this day.

    Police officers and firefighters in these units also undergo similar training, no doubt share motivations and have a certain self-sufficient psychology. "This is my job, and I can handle it," both are likely to say. On 9/11, that psychology seemed to say, "We'll do our job, and let them do theirs." There is no reason to believe that this will change, for the new protocol relies on the recognition of core competencies to determine command. But each department believes it can handle any event.

    The only way to solve these issues for the long run is through a third department — a Department of Rescue and Emergency Service. This new department could be created relatively quickly and cheaply, since the expertise and equipment for it already exist. Its commissioner would report directly to the mayor.

    The Fire Department's rescue companies and Police Department's emergency services units have heroic histories, and many in their ranks have died saving the people of New York City. To meet the special demands of our times, however, the city would benefit by the creation of a third force, staffed only by elite members of the Police and Fire Departments.

    Rescue companies and emergency services units are the lifeblood of any emergency operation. In New York City, both the Fire Department and Police Department have performed their duties with honor and bravery. But for our city to be prepared, we must not allow them to be competitive.

    Dennis Smith, a former firefighter, is the author of "Report From Ground Zero: The Story of the Rescue Efforts at the World Trade Center."

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  4. #19

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    New York Times
    May 18, 2004

    Former City Officials Strongly Rebut Criticism of 9/11 Panel

    By KIRK SEMPLE and TERENCE NEILAN


    Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly testified about the elaborate series of institutional, technological and personnel improvements that have been implemented in his department.

    Neveral former New York City emergency service officials testifying today before the commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks vociferously rebutted charges that their departments' response to the catastrophe suffered from age-old rivalries and a lack of coordination between the departments.

    "I have yet to hear a single instance where anybody shows me anything where the agencies did not work together and coordinate their efforts," said Richard Sheirer, former director of the New York City Office of Emergency Management. "I urge the commission to take a very close listen to the tapes on all the various agencies."

    A 26-page staff report by the commission concluded that faulty communication severely hindered rescue efforts by city workers on Sept. 11, 2001. The report praised the heroism of many of the city's workers, but pointed out communications gaps that included a lack of coordination between the Police and Fire Departments and an inability to share information effectively between on-scene officials and 911 phone operators. The report also suggested that the longstanding rivalry between the Police and Fire Departments contributed to the failure in communication.

    Mr. Sheirer's staunch defense of the the city's response on Sept. 11 was echoed in angry testimony from two other former emergency-services officials, Bernard B. Kerik, former police commissioner of New York, and Thomas Von Essen, the city's former fire commissioner. The men were among eight former and current city officials who testified in the first day of a two-day hearing by the commission, which is exploring the city's disaster preparedness both before and since the terrorist strikes.

    The commission has for months worked out of Washington and kept its focus on federal responsibilities leading up to the attacks. But the proceedings acquired a new level of resonance and poignancy today by shifting to an auditorium in downtown New York, only blocks from the World Trade Center site, the place where the attackers inflicted their deepest wounds.

    The commissioners acknowledged the sensitivity of their task here. "Today will be a very difficult day, to relive the loss and the terrible devastation," the panel's chairman, Thomas H. Kean, said as he opened the hearing. "Our purpose in presenting this information is to obtain the perspective from those who responded to the attacks. We want to know how and why they made the decisions they made, often in the absence of good information, and sometimes under the most adverse conditions."

    The session opened with a dramatic presentation of the staff report, which documented the heroics and the failures of the response to the 9/11 attack. The commission illustrated the presentation of its report with documentary-style video testimonies from witnesses and survivors, photographs, and charts and other graphics, created a dramatic minute-by-minute rendering of events inside and around the World Trade Center on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.

    Victims' relatives, survivors and rescue personnel packed the auditorium at New School University. As the panel replayed amateur video footage of the two planes slamming into the towers, and the towers' subsequent collapse, some members of the audience wept.

    After the reading, Mr. Kean called for a moment of silence.

    The hearing took a dramatic turn early in the afternoon when John F. Lehman, a commission member and former secretary of the Navy, said the command and control of New York's public service was fractured and "dysfunctional."

    "It's not worthy of the Boy Scouts, let alone this great city," he said, addressing Mr. Sheirer, Mr. Kerik and Mr. Von Essen. "It's not rocket science. It's just overruling the pride of the individual agencies" so that "you don't get into fistfights of who's in charge in an ambiguous situation."

    Mr. Von Essen told Mr. Lehman that such comments were "outrageous."

    "You make it sound like everything was wrong about September 11 or the way we function," Mr. Von Essen said angrily.

    Mr. Von Essen, Mr. Kerik and Mr. Sheirer are retired from the city but have continued to work together, as consultants in the consulting firm of former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who was their boss on Sept. 11.

    The panel quizzed the witnesses — also including the current top emergency service officials and former officials of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey — on a wide range of questions regarding training, rescue and evacuation procedures, emergency communication systems and command and control.

    The commissioners also wanted to know about the level of catastrophe preparedness at the World Trade Center, particularly following the bombing in 1993.

    Alan Reiss, former director of the Port Authority's world trade department, said there was concern about a vehicle-borne bomb "but never did we have a thought about what happened on 9/11."

    He added that the department was never briefed by the F.B.I. on Osama bin Laden, or that hijacking might be in his terror group's plans.

    He also said that in terms of lessons learned from 9/11, response plans must be in place before an emergency happens, and that there should be a change in the sharing of intelligence at the state, local and federal level, "and that those who refuse to change must be removed."

    Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta and Joseph F. Bruno, the current commissioner of the New York City Office of Emergency Management, who appeared before the panel in the afternoon session, testified about the elaborate series of institutional, technological and personnel improvements that have been implemented in their departments.

    Mr. Kean, a former Republican governor of New Jersey, said in a recent interview that the panel was prepared to ask the tough questions that have been avoided in previous investigations because the issues were considered too sensitive given the loss of life at the World Trade Center and the devastating impact on the Police and Fire Departments.

    "We'll be asking questions that haven't been asked before, at least not publicly," he said in an interview.

    "I think the shock was so great to all of us who lived in the region, and we were so stunned for such a long time, that it wasn't the time for those questions," he said. "Now is the time."

    Witnesses at the hearing on Wednesday will include Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and his predecessor, Rudolph W. Giuliani, along with Thomas J. Ridge, secretary of homeland security.

    McKinsey & Company, an independent consulting firm, performed extensive studies of the police and fire responses for the city in 2002 that addressed many of the same issues now being considered. But the consultants, who did not charge the city, said at the time that their efforts were focused more on identifying specific improvements than in chronicling the day's events in exhaustive detail.

    A Democratic member of the commission, Bob Kerrey, the former Nebraska senator who is now president of the New School University in New York, said in a recent interview that "we accumulate additional knowledge, it gets clearer and clearer how unprepared New York was."

    He said that much of the blame should fall on the federal government, which he said had failed to provide New York with the anti-terrorism help it deserved both as the nation's biggest city and as a past terrorist target. "You've got to see New York as a separate preparation issue," he said. "You've got to prepare it separately from every other location in the United States."

    Mayor Bloomberg announced last week that the city's emergency agencies had reached a new, formal agreement to coordinate their response to major disasters, including terrorist attacks. But several academic experts and security consultants, as well as the chairman of the City Council's Public Safety Committee and the president of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association, have described the plan as seriously flawed.

    The disparity between the positions of the Police and Fire Departments on how the lack of coordination affected the emergency response on Sept. 11 was evident two years ago when McKinsey & Company released its findings. In its report on the Fire Department, produced in collaboration with fire commanders, the consultants said the agency's response suffered because of a lack of coordination with the Police Department. In the Police Department report, similarly prepared with the help of police officials, the consultants said the coordination question was beyond the scope of its inquiry.

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  5. #20

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    New York Times
    May 19, 2004

    Giuliani Mounts Spirited Defense of City's Response to 9/11

    By TERENCE NEILAN

    Former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani mounted a calm but spirited defense today of the role played by firefighters, the police, and their leaders after the attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

    A day after criticism of New York City's fire and police commissioners by members of the independent commission investigating the attacks, Mr. Giuliani said that rather than seeing uniformed officers fleeing as civilians were left behind, "we got a story of heroism, we got a story of pride, and we got a story of support that helped get us through."

    He also told of a "a superb command structure" that "was beyond any expectation that anyone could possibly have had."

    Mr. Giuliani declared in an opening statement that although mistakes had been made, "Our enemy is not each other, but the terrorists who attacked us."

    He added, to applause from the audience, "The blame should be put on one source alone, the terrorists who killed our loved ones."

    The former mayor, who was addressed with respect by panel members, gave a detailed account of his actions the day of the catastrophe, explaining how he went to the area of the Twin Towers accompanied by top officials.

    "I said to the police commissioner that we're in uncharted territory," he said, "we've never been through anything like this before and we're going to have to do the best that we can to keep everybody together, to keep them focused."

    Mr. Giuliani was widely hailed at home and overseas for his take-charge attitude after 9/11, becoming the central figure in rallying New Yorkers and instilling a sense that even a catastrophe of such magnitude could be faced and overcome.

    Day after day, his calm explanation of complicated, tragic news was credited with helping to convince a traumatized city that it would pull through.

    He attended funerals, comforted survivors, urged New Yorkers to continue to dine out and tentative tourists to visit. The man whose political career had seemed over just a few weeks before was now being greeted with cheers wherever he went.

    The former mayor, whose main claim to fame in office before 9/11 was in overseeing a dramatic drop in the city's crime rate, even suggested a subsequently rejected plan that would have allowed him to continue in office after his term expired on Dec. 31, 2001.

    "Rudy's focus was on crime," said the man who succeeded him in office, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. "My biggest problems are going to be education and the deficit, along with the problems from the economy and the World Trade Center terrorism. It's just going to be a different measure."

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  6. #21

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    After hearing this, I'm happier than ever that the WTC site didn't become a 16-acre memorial :roll: .

    Giuliani Lauds 9/11 'Heroes' Amid Angry Hecklers during 9-11 Inquiry

    By Ellen Wulfhorst and Caroline Drees

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani (news - web sites) on Wednesday passionately defended local firefighters and police after the rescue departments' response to Sept. 11 received sharp criticism from the commission investigating the attacks.

    Giuliani's ardent testimony was at times interrupted by emotional hecklers, including one who shouted her son was murdered. He spoke after a commission staff report said rescue officials in New York and Washington are still not prepared to handle another disaster because coordination and communications flaws that hampered rescue efforts on Sept. 11 persist today.

    "Catastrophic emergencies and attacks have acts of great heroism attached to them. They have acts of ingenious creativity attached to them and they have mistakes that happen," Giuliani said. "When human beings are put under these conditions that's what happens."

    "Blame should be directed at one source and one source alone -- the terrorists who killed our loved ones."

    The commission said on Tuesday, the first of two days of hearings, that rivalries between the police and fire departments, equipment problems and weak coordination had hurt rescue efforts.

    Giuliani rebuffed talk of confusion over who was in charge during the disaster, saying, "There was not a problem of coordination on Sept. 11."

    Rescue officials "carried out the mission under great emotion, under great stress flawlessly, and that's because they have a superb command structure and a structure in which they know how to deal with emergencies," Giuliani said.

    About 25,000 people escaped or were rescued from the 110-story twin towers before they collapsed after being hit by hijacked airplanes, but nearly 3,000 people, including 343 firefighters and 23 police, were killed.

    ANGRY HECKLERS

    Angry hecklers in the audience, which included family members of victims, lashed out at Giuliani and the commission, saying they were dodging the tough questions about what went wrong in 2001.

    One woman (Sally Regenhard- remember her? :? ) cried, "My son was murdered." Another man shouted "talk about the radios" -- a reference to communications problems on the day of the attacks.

    One man was removed from the room after he demanded time to question the mayor, screaming: "Three thousand people murdered does not mean leadership. ... Let me ask the real questions."

    The commission, meeting less than two miles from where the World Trade Center towers once stood, said earlier that while progress had been made to iron out problems exposed by the attacks, rescue officials were still ill-prepared to handle a similar incident.

    "It is a fair inference, given the differing situation in New York City and northern Virginia, that the problems in command, control and communications that occurred at both sites will likely recur in any emergency of a similar scale," a commission staff report said.

    It said both cities, as well as cities across the United States, had to ensure their emergency response plans were in place and effective. The national capital region already had such an "incident command system" before Sept. 11, while New York only launched its own on Friday.

    Mayor Michael Bloomberg also spoke on Wednesday and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge was scheduled to testify later in the day.

    On Tuesday, the commission said that apart from reports of turf battles, which rescue officials said were overblown, the rescue mission suffered from communications equipment such as radios which were not designed to link different departments.

    "The biggest failure was our inability to get the two (fire and police) to talk on the same (radio) frequency," Jerome M. Hauer, former director of New York City's Office of Emergency Management, acknowledged on Wednesday.

    The commission is working to complete its final report by July 26.

    For more info look up http://story.news.yahoo.com/fc?cid=3...;cat=Terrorism

  7. #22
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    Monica Iken, Nikki Stern, and the less-vocal 9/11 family members are now the only ones whom I have real respect for. As much as we on this forum may disagree with them, particularly about the redevelopment of Ground Zero, they have dignity and tact that I can't help but admire. I still have sympathy for Sally Regenhard and her ilk for their losses, but let's think. This (Giuliani) is the man who comforted them in their hour of need as best a politician can, attended their loved ones' funerals, stood beside them and lobbied with them for what they wanted in a memorial downtown. This is how they repay him?

    My honest, current opinions of them as human beings cannot possibly be written or articulated in a remotely civil way.

    I'll leave it at that.

  8. #23

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    May 20, 2004

    WITNESSES

    Mayor Tells Panel 'Pork Barrel Politics' Is Increasing Risk of Terrorism for City

    By PHILIP SHENON and KEVIN FLYNN

    Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg told the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks yesterday that the federal government is placing New York City in greater danger by providing too little money to defend the city against future terrorist attacks.

    Describing the nation's counterterrorism budget as "pork barrel politics at its worst,'' Mr. Bloomberg told the commission that under current spending formulas, states and cities with little threat of being attacked are getting far more in federal subsidies per capita than New York. "It's the kind of shortsighted 'me first' nonsense that gives Washington a bad name,'' the mayor said, and "has the effect of aiding and abetting those who hate us and plot against us."

    At the same time, however, Mr. Bloomberg testified that his efforts to make New York the safest big city in the nation had helped make it "better prepared than at any time in its history to prevent and respond to any danger, no matter its source.''

    The mayor's barbed remarks came in a 15-minute statement he made on the second of two days of landmark hearings in Manhattan by the commission, which came to New York to offer to most exhaustive public accounting to date of how the city government responded to the attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11. He was not questioned by the 10-member commission, whose star witness yesterday was Mr. Bloomberg's predecessor, Rudolph W. Giuliani.

    Mr. Giuliani defended his administration from criticism leveled by the panel on Tuesday that the heroic response of the police and firefighters, while generally effective, had been undermined by problems including faulty communications and a lack of coordination between the agencies.

    The panel, which met at the New School University, not far from the attack site, was noticeably softer in questioning Mr. Giuliani than it had been with his former police, fire and emergency management commissioners the day before. But New York's readiness for another attack remained an issue.

    Commission members have accused the Bloomberg administration of doing too little to force the city's Police and Fire Ddepartments to work together to deal with terrorist threats. Although Mayor Bloomberg announced a new plan last week to coordinate the response of the Police and Fire Ddepartments at emergencies, panel members criticized it on Tuesday as too complex and lacking clear lines of authority. The commission's vice chairman described it as a "prescription for confusion.''

    Mr. Bloomberg lashed out at that criticism yesterday, saying detractors did not understand how the plan would work.

    "We all seek clarity in complex situations," he said. "But that doesn't mean we should seek simplistic solutions to complex situations."

    One critic of the plan, Mr. Giuliani's former emergency management commissioner, Jerome M. Hauer, testified yesterday that the roles of the agencies must be more clearly defined. "Too much time is spent on needless haggling over who's in charge when the time would be better spent in interagency drills and training,'' Mr. Hauer said.

    The Bloomberg administration has said it views Mr. Hauer's criticisms as politically motivated because he campaigned for the mayor's Democratic opponent in the last election.

    The secretary of homeland security, Tom Ridge, testifying after Mr. Hauer, said the city's plan appeared to be a step in the right direction. But he said it may need modifications if it is to qualify for federal funds that are being made available to localities with approved emergency response plans.

    At the conclusion of the hearing, the panel's chairman, Thomas H. Kean, and its vice chairman, Lee H. Hamilton, released a joint statement that saluted the "acts of heroism'' on Sept. 11 but repeated many of the criticisms aired Tuesday.

    "Effective decision-making in New York was hampered by limited command and control and internal communications,'' they said. "Poor communications across agencies harmed situational awareness. Fire chiefs did not know what the N.Y.P.D. knew and knew less than what TV viewers knew.''

    In a staff report yesterday, the commission drew a sharp comparison between New York City's response and the "generally effective'' response by rescue agencies in northern Virginia that rushed that same morning to the scene of the plane crash at the Pentagon. While acknowledging that the Pentagon attack was significantly smaller in scale, the report found that the response there "was mainly a success'' that could be credited to "strong professional relationships and trust established among emergency responders'' in the Virginia suburbs of the capital.

    New York's need for counterterrorism financing resonated throughout the hearings as panelist after panelist reiterated a belief that it was only a matter of time before the next terrorist strike and that the city was a likely target.

    Mr. Bloomberg, a Republican, primarily blamed Congress, noting that the proposed 2004 federal budget cut the city's homeland security funds by nearly half, to $96 million.

    But Representative Anthony Weiner, a Democrat who represents Brooklyn and Queens, said after yesterday's session that part of Mr. Bloomberg's problem - the growing number of cities that are being defined as high-threat areas eligible for counterterrorism funds - was the work of the Bush administration.

    "The mayor chose party-line defense of the president,'' he said, "over full-throated criticism of an administration that has directed New York's terror funds to cities like St. Paul and Louisville."

    A spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security, Katy Mynster, said the agency had been working to respond to New York's needs. In 2003, she said, the federal government gave the city and its region more than $281 million in grant money as part of the Urban Area Security Initiative. "This is far more than any other urban area in the United States,'" she said, "and more than twice as much as the national capitol region that includes D.C.''

    Soon after Mr. Bloomberg took office, his administration had a consulting firm, McKinsey & Company, prepare detailed analyses of the city's response on Sept. 11 that identified a number of shortcomings in the city's brave and aggressive response. In his testimony yesterday, though, Mr. Bloomberg chose to accentuate the positive, describing critics of the efforts as "self-styled experts.''

    "It is easy to make decisions when you know all the facts,'' he said. "The challenge is making decisions when you don't have the facts. Those are the dynamics I bear in mind when I conclude that on 9/11, it is amazing how well everyone performed."

    Mr. Bloomberg said critics had overstated the rivalry between the Police and Fire Departments and the impact that the agencies' generations-old feuding had on Sept. 11.

    "The armchair quarterbacks forget that New York City police officers and firefighters work together hundreds of times a day on such incidents as building collapses, fires and traffic accidents," he said. "The shortcomings that have been identified by the commissions' response to 9/11 were the result of problems in communications, not the result of any battle of the badges.''

    Mr. Hauer, however, has told the panel that decades of competing have created a situation in which the police and fire agencies have at times run separate responses to an emergency and have not been able to talk to one another because they used different radio frequencies. In his remarks yesterday about Sept. 11, he said, "I see our inability to get the departments to talk with one another on a common frequency as one of the issues that might have had an impact in reducing the loss of life."

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company


    Unfair Share of Security Money

  9. #24
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    I am so tired of politicians looking at the bottom line and saying "They are spending twice as much as they are in DC!!!"

    Well, for one thing, NYC is more than twice as large as DC, also, cost does not go up linearly with city size.

    I mean, look at how many bridges we have here, and what about large structures? And unlike the Washington Monument, we can't call for buildings around to be demolished and roads closed to get stand-off distances.

    Then add into it some of the absurdity of states like Montana getting cash from this program.

    WHY DO THEY NEED ANY CASH?!? I would be impressed if these terrorists would be able to point out places like Montana and Oaklahoma on a map nevermind blow something up in them!

    What are they going to protect against? Terrorist cow-tipping?

  10. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ninjahedge
    WHY DO THEY NEED ANY CASH?!?
    they don't. why are they getting it? look at the birthplaces and/or residences of members of the bush administration and members of congress. rich white conservatives usually aren't children of the cities.

  11. #26

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    May 22, 2004

    Man Sought by 9/11 Panel Emerges to Tell of Chaos

    By IAN URBINA and KEVIN FLYNN


    Lloyd Thompson was deputy fire safety director in the north tower.

    For several months, the national commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks has been searching in vain for a man it believes could help answer some of the most critical questions of what happened inside the World Trade Center that day. His name is Lloyd Thompson, and for much of that morning two and a half years ago he was posted at the epicenter of chaos.

    As the deputy fire safety director in the complex's north tower, Mr. Thompson stood in the lobby, fielding panicked calls from those trapped on the upper floors. He struggled to make evacuation announcements over a public address system that was damaged by the plane crash. And, most significant, he had a role in overseeing a powerful piece of radio equipment that the commission believes is central to one of the core mysteries of what went wrong that day: Why did fire chiefs have such a hard time communicating with firefighters upstairs in the building?

    Yesterday, weeks after the commission began sending him letters, interviewing former colleagues and checking with employers, Mr. Thompson emerged to tell his story. Contrary to what some investigators have speculated, Mr. Thompson said that he did not believe he ever touched the radio equipment known as a repeater, a device that amplifies the hand-held radios firefighters use.

    The panel found that the repeater was working that day but fire chiefs mistakenly thought it was broken and stopped using it. The problem, the panel said in a report earlier this week, is that someone forgot to push a button, a mistake that created confusion about whether the repeater was working.

    But the button was indeed pushed, although not by him, Mr. Thompson said yesterday as he gave an account that is at odds with the commission's leading theory on what went wrong.

    "There was total chaos, and the situation at the console was not simple," he said in a telephone interview, referring to the security desk in the lobby at which he was stationed. "I think the commission will need to take a closer look at this."

    Mr. Thompson's testimony is critical because communications difficulties have emerged as one of the leading problems that hindered emergency rescuers after the terrorist attack. The commission has concluded that the repeater could have provided an effective communication link among fire officials. Indeed, a fire chief in the south tower somehow later discovered that the repeater channel was working and used it to communicate as he climbed to the 78th floor.

    These transmissions were captured in a tape recovered from the rubble and proved that, for at least a part of the morning, the repeater was working. But fire officials have consistently said the repeater did not work reliably enough to have been used.

    At least a third of the 343 firefighters who died on Sept. 11 were in the north tower, where evacuation orders, issued before and after the collapse of the south tower, were not heard by many firefighters. On Wednesday, the families of some of those who died heckled former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani as he testified before the commission because they said they did not believe he was honestly discussing the communication and other coordination problems.

    Mr. Thompson said that he, too, continued to suffer the memories of that day. "The most painful thing is that they died, but I'm still alive," he said in an hour-long interview.

    Mr. Thompson, who lives in Yonkers, said he wanted to rebut depictions of him as a mystery man who had made himself unavailable to the investigation. He said he never received the commission's letters or knew they were looking for him. "I was definitely not hiding. I've actually been seeking them out, not the other way around," he said. "I've been getting up every day and going to work just like a normal citizen.''

    Al Felzenberg, the commission's spokesman, said Mr. Thompson had left a phone message at the panel's New York office yesterday but no one from the commission had spoken to him yet. "The commission staff has tried to locate him, and I know they are looking forward to speaking with him," Mr. Felzenberg said.

    Mr. Thompson, who still works as a fire safety director in a building, said the calls from the upper floors and the images from the lobby had been impossible to forget. After a year of psychological counseling, he said he still struggled with nightmares, and colleagues at work knew not to ask about what happened.

    Visits to the families of the victims help in healing, he said. But he said he still could not watch video taken in the lobby that morning. "It's too painful," he said, his voice breaking.

    Mr. Thompson, a fire safety director for 17 years, said he grew up in New York, dreaming of becoming a firefighter, but a spinal condition prevented him from passing the physical test. Instead, he worked as a fire safety director for private companies that help manage emergencies in buildings. He had been working in the trade center for eight years at the time of the terrorist attack and was employed by O.C.S. Security, which held the security contract.

    From a command desk in the lobby, he was responsible for watching the building's various security and fire safety computer systems. A normal emergency might mean that one alarm button on the console would light, Mr. Thompson said. On Sept. 11, 2001, however, the panel was red with panic calls. "The problem was that no one had any idea what had happened," he said.

    Mr. Thompson also sat near the console that operated the repeater, which was installed after the 1993 trade center bombing, when firefighters also had difficulty communicating with each other. Their radios have historically had problems sending signals in high-rise buildings because of the many layers of concrete and steel that must be pierced. The repeater was designed to boost the signal.

    The repeater was in 5 World Trade Center, an adjoining building, but it could be operated from consoles in the lobbies of the north and south towers. The consoles, which looked like phones, had several buttons, one of which was pressed to turn on the system and a second that activated the handset to talk through.

    The commission concluded that the second button was not pressed down, creating the perception that the repeater itself was not working when fire chiefs tested it. Consequently, the chiefs decided to switch to alternative radio channels that did not have the benefit of the booster.

    Video from that morning shows Deputy Assistant Chief Joseph W. Pfeifer, one of the first fire officials on the scene, asking Mr. Thompson to turn the repeater on. But Mr. Thompson said yesterday that when he looked over to check the repeater, which was about five feet from his post, it was already on. A red light that only came on when both buttons were pressed was lighted, he said, and several supervisors confirmed that the unit was operating.

    But when Chief Pfeifer tested the system minutes later, he could not communicate with another chief standing nearby in the lobby. "I don't think we have the repeater," the video shows Chief Pfeifer saying to the other chief. "I pick you up on my radio, but not on the hard wire," he said, referring to the repeater's handset.

    Chief Pfeifer has said he believed that he could not rely on the repeater at that point and switched to another radio channel. A spokesman for the Fire Department, Francis X. Gribbon, said yesterday: "There is overwhelming evidence that the repeater could not possibly have worked correctly and completely throughout the morning. Chief Pfeifer did not have the luxury of time to figure out what was wrong with it."

    Without the boosted channel, a fire chief who tried to call units down to the north tower lobby at 9:32 a.m., about half an hour before the south tower collapsed, found that no one acknowledged his message. A second evacuation order given by Chief Pfeifer, after the south tower had collapsed, was heard by some firefighters.

    Chief Pfeifer has said it was a good thing that he was not using the repeater channel when he made that announcement because the repeater antenna was damaged as the south tower collapsed, and thus no firefighters would have heard his order. Mr. Thompson agreed. "They would have been in trouble once the repeater system went down with the collapse of the first building," he said. "They would have had no other method for communicating."

    The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owned the trade center and installed the repeater at the Fire Department's request, has said it worked that morning. Mr. Thompson said he was not sure who was responsible for turning the repeater on.

    On Monday, Mr. Thompson will release a statement of his account to the commission, said Ronald L. Kuby, his lawyer. Mr. Thompson said he hoped to move forward with plans to be married once the attention subsided. For now, he said, the anguish of Sept. 11 has returned, not just for him but for his family and fiancée.

    "It's my duty to help in whatever way I can to get answers about the events that day," he said, "and I'm eager to do that. But in the end, I just want to get back to the healing process, which has taken a long time to start."

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  12. #27

  13. #28

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    May 26, 2004

    OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

    Missing a Chance to Learn From 9/11

    By JOHN F. LEHMAN

    By their incredible bravery and selflessness, New York's firefighters and police officers saved far more civilian lives on Sept. 11 than anyone could have expected. Their leaders were also heroic, rushing to the scene and providing calm and decisive command and control under unbelievable conditions of pressure and peril. Commissioners Bernard Kerik of the Police Department, Thomas Von Essen of the Fire Department and Richard Sheirer of the Office of Emergency Management were part of this leadership team.

    I regret that during last week's commission hearings, my assessment of the city's command control and communications systems within and among the agencies that responded to the Sept. 11 attacks was taken by some as a criticism of their leaders. That was not my intention.

    It has long been military practice to do a thorough study after every battle to find the lessons to be learned. This does not dishonor the heroes of that battle. In addition to recognizing the magnificent heroes of 9/11, the commission must learn lessons and recommend actions to fix problems. Some will deride this as Monday morning quarterbacking, but it is a necessary duty.

    It is understandable that the arrival of our investigators in any agency is about as welcome as an I.R.S. audit. The federal agencies got over that reaction and have been cooperating with us, acknowledging mistakes and making reforms. New York City has not yet adopted that attitude. It is our hope that it will.

    The investigations of our commission staff leave no doubt that there are long-standing ambiguities and sources of confusion in procedures for command and control of crises. These traditional practices are adequate for most civil calamities but they are not adequate for the threats that our terrorist enemies are determined to carry out. New York's new incident management system does not provide clear-cut unity of command in all potential crises. This could lead to uncertainty and confusion in a future complex and multiple attack.

    Hardware, training and procedures for communicating within and among these elite organizations do not have the robustness, breadth of frequencies, redundancy or technical support necessary to deal with the magnitude of attacks that Al Qaeda hopes to perpetrate.

    My criticism was drawn from my experience managing similar problems with two other elite institutions. As secretary of the Navy, I was responsible for ensuring the training and equipping of the Navy and Marine Corps. Each had individual missions and communications requirements, but they had to work together in many battles on land and sea. When a marine under attack needs to call in naval gunfire from 10 miles at sea to enemy positions only yards from his foxhole, he must have communications with the Navy that work in any conditions reliably and redundantly. That requires diverse equipment, regular training and technical experts in all frontline units.

    On my watch in 1983, we lost 241 marines, sailors and soldiers to a terrorist attack in Beirut. The subsequent investigation revealed that significant confusion in command and control contributed to the vulnerability. These findings were painful to bereaved families and unwelcome to many in the chain of command. But the resulting changes from those lessons learned saved lives.

    During the 9/11 hearings, witnesses have repeatedly reminded the commission that police officers and firefighters are not the military. In valor and professionalism they are certainly the equals of military professionals, however, and it is past time that they be provided with the quality of communications support that is taken for granted in the military.

    In the new age of jihadist terror, our firefighters and police officers need nothing less, and they don't have it. They need a combined signal corps of highly trained communicators and technicians to deploy with the first responders. The federal government needs to make many new radio frequencies available.

    New York's Finest and Bravest are very likely to be the nation's first line of defense in the next terrorist attack. They deserve crystal-clear command and control procedures and state of the art communications equal to the best in the armed forces. The federal government should finance and support this as a priority of preparedness.

    John F. Lehman, secretary of the Navy from 1981 until 1987, is a member of the 9/11 commission.

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  14. #29

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    Newsday
    May 31, 2004

    Newsday examines 9/11 findings

    By Graham Rayman, William Murphy, and Dan Janison

    The city's response on Sept. 11, 2001 wasn't the picture of coordination that former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and his emergency leaders painted for the 9/11 commission, the panel's staff concluded.

    For nearly three years, the emergency response to the nation's worst terrorist attack in history has been the subject of bitter debate.

    The commission's staff findings -- the most extensive independent report to date on the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center -- along with testimony before the commission, found many areas that added new detail or cleared up disputed questions on the response of New York's emergency services that day.

    While the findings are preliminary, they offer a window into actions, and problems, of some of the city's first responders. Staff conclusions are based on hundreds of interviews with witnesses and leaders in the aftermath of the attacks.

    On the other hand, many of the questions raised by the staff report were not asked by the commission in the hearings.

    In a joint statement, 9/11 Commission chairman Thomas H. Kean and vice chairman Lee H. Hamilton lauded the "courage and determination" of civilians, firefighters and police officers. But they added, "Poor communication and the lack of knowledge of evacuation procedures proved costly.

    Few tenants in the World Trade Center complex had a plan, or exercised a plan, for emergency preparedness .... Effective decision-making in New York was hampered by limited command and control and internal communications."

    Those comments do not represent the final conclusions of the commission, which are expected July 26. However, the commission's work to date sheds light on several areas, adding new insight to the record of the disaster.

    Newsday offers a look at some of the conclusions reached, and detail developed, by the staff or in testimony before the commission in New York last month.

    The bunker

    Shortly after the Twin Tower attacks, the mayor's famous 23rd-floor emergency command center in 7 World Trade Center was evacuated; the vacant building then burned for several hours and collapsed.

    Testifying before the commission, Richard Sheirer, the Office of Emergency Management director in 2001, made waves by saying he would not have located the office in a skyscraper. He strongly suggested that blame lay with his predecessor Jerome Hauer, who was to testify the next day.

    But speaking separately to reporters after their testimony, Giuliani and Hauer were consistent in their accounts of how the command center came to be removed from 1 Police Plaza in 1996 and put in leased space at 7 WTC.

    Both said Hauer and other mayoral aides drove the decision, but Giuliani guided them and ultimately made the choice. He'd directed Hauer to find a place close to City Hall.

    Underground facilities were ruled out because of flooding concerns and it was considered ideal that the CIA and Secret Service were already in 7 World Trade Center.

    Helicopter rescue

    In the days and weeks after the attack, many questions were raised about why helicopters were not used to save some of the people trapped on the fire floors in each tower.

    About a dozen people were rescued from the roof by air following the 1993 bombing, but that was more than 10 hours after the explosion, Alan Reiss, the director of the World Trade Center on 9/11 told the commission. He said doors to the roofs were locked on Sept. 11, 2001 and that tenants had been told during fire drills they should evacuate downward because hot gas and smoke rises. He conceded, though, the tenants had never specifically been told to avoid the roof.

    Police Officer James Ciccone of the police Aviation Unit told the 9/11 commission staff that he did not see anyone on the roofs and that the police helicopters were hard to handle. "The heat actually made it difficult for us to hold the helicopters because it would interfere with the rotor system," he told investigators.

    Giuliani told the commission that he asked fire Chief of Department Peter Ganci at some point whether a helicopter rescue was feasible.

    "And Pete pointed to a big flame that was shooting out of the north tower at the time. And he said to me, 'My guys can save everybody below the fire. But I can't put a helicopter above the fire,'" Giuliani told the commission.

    The police Chief of Department gave an order at 9:06 a.m., three minutes after the second tower was struck, "that no units were to land on the roof of either tower," the report said.

    Evacuation

    Most commentators have praised the emergency workers and said they helped save the lives of the 25,000< people who got out alive. The commission's report found that many office workers in the towers had actually left on their own, sometimes against advice from security to remain where they were and without clear instructions or information from the city's 911 operators. "Most civilians began evacuating without waiting to obtain instructions over the intercom system," the report said. It concluded that in both towers, "civilians became first responders." Building intercom and phone systems were damaged by the impacts. Although the acting fire safety director in the north tower had immediately ordered everyone to evacuate that building, the public address system was damaged and apparently no one heard the announcement. In the south tower, a building announcement initially told tenants to stay put, so many civilians remained on their floors or returned to their offices. At 9:11 a.m., Port Authority workers at the 64th floor of the north tower were told by the Port Authority Police desk in Jersey City to stay near the stairwells and wait for assistance. These workers eventually began to descend anyway on their own, but most of them died in the collapse of the North Tower. It is now believed by scholars that there were only about 15,000 people in the towers at the time of the attacks. Several ongoing studies are examining this issue. 911 dispatchers

    "The 911 system was not ready to cope with a major disaster," the commission found.

    The staff report depicted the civilian 911 and FDNY dispatchers as overwhelmed by the volume of calls and unable to tell callers what to do because they did not know the seriousness of the situation.

    At least 100 people remained alive on the 88th and 89th floors of the north tower, in some cases calling 911 for direction. Without information to pass on, 911 operators and FDNY dispatchers fell back on procedure, directing tenants to stay low and wait for assistance.

    One civilian said in private testimony that was quoted in the commission report that he was put on hold three times by 911 workers and passed along to others.

    Commission members closely questioned city officials about how the operators and dispatchers were kept informed.

    Former Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik said he was unfamiliar with such procedures. Raymond Kelly, the current police commissioner, told the panel later in the day that a police supervisor is now assigned to monitor both police and fire frequencies and keep the dispatchers informed.

    Badges

    Then-commissioners of the three main city emergency agencies, the police and fire departments and the Office of Emergency Management all told the commission that there had been no "battle of the badges" problems between police and fire on 9/11.

    The staff report released just hours earlier said that about 9:15 a.m., a police rescue team from the Emergency Service Unit arrived at Tower Two and "attempted to check in with the FDNY chiefs present, but were rebuffed." None of the commission members questioned the apparent discrepancy.

    And the staff concluded that despite contentions to the contrary, Giuliani's emergency command structure had not stopped the police/fire rivalry. "By September 11, neither had demonstrated the readiness to respond to an 'incident commander' if that commander was an official outside of their department," staff wrote. "The mayor's Office of Emergency Management had not overcome this problem."

    "On 9/11, the problem was less about turf battles on the scene," staff wrote. "It had more to do with command systems designed to work independently, not together."

    Panel staff also found it inconsistent with a Giuliani directive that the Fire Department "was not responsible for the management of the city's response to the emergency."

    The staff report said that "even prior to its evacuation" from 7 WTC, the Office of Emergency Management "did not play an integral role in ensuring that information was shared among agencies."

    Fatality

    The first recorded fire fatality of the day was thought to be that of the Rev. Mychal Judge, a Franciscan priest who was a Fire Department chaplain He was assigned death certificate number 0001 by the city medical examiner's office because he was the first member of the fire service brought to the city morgue.

    The commission staff concluded that he was not the first member of the fire service to die. "The first FDNY fatality of the day occurred at approximately 9:25 a.m. when a civilian \[who jumped from a tower\] landed on a fireman on West Street," the staff report concluded.

    A top Fire Department official confirmed after the hearings that the first rescue worker fatality was that of Firefighter Daniel Suhr of Brooklyn's Engine Co. 216, who was struck by the falling civilian.

    Repeater

    Officials said in the days after 9/11 that a building booster for fire radio signals, called a repeater, did not work. The commission staff said the repeater was activated at 8:45 a.m., "but a second button which would have enabled the mast handset was not activated at that time."

    When a fire chief testing the system in the lobby of the North Tower at 9:05 a.m. could not communicate on his radio, he concluded the repeater was not working and switched away from the repeater channel. However, fire commanders in the South Tower found the repeater channel was working and used it to communicate, the report said

    Various city agencies are now debating how high-rise buildings should be equipped with repeaters.

    Fire battalion chiefs have been given a newly invented command post radio that boosts signals between the commander and firefighters' portable radios in a high-rise, but the department said much more remains to be done to improve communications.
    Fire drills

    The Port Authority was lauded for spending $100 million on a wide range of improvements following the 1993 bombing, but the commission raised questions about the towers' fire drills.

    During drills, which took place twice a year, fire wardens selected from each tenant company and fire safety specialists would gather tenants in a central place, give basic information and use an emergency phone to obtain instructions.

    But the commission found that civilians were not directed into the stairwells or provided details on the unusual configuration of the stairwells, which included hallways and smoke doors. There was no full or partial evacuation.

    Participation in the drills varied widely. In addition, a former fire warden told commission staffers that office workers before the attacks were "very uncooperative."

    Though some planned ahead, most companies in the WTC did not have independent evacuation plans, the commission found.

    Collapse

    The first report of collapse came not from emergency responders, but from a civilian at 9:37 a.m., on the 106th floor of the south tower. The civilian reported to a 911 operator that a lower floor -- "90-something floor" -- was collapsing. The 911 operator told an NYPD dispatcher. The NYPD dispatcher confused the report at 9:52 a.m.,telling NYPD officers that "the 106th floor is crumbling."

    A senior fire chief told the chief of department between 9:25 and 9:45 a.m. there might be a danger of collapse in a few hours, and therefore units probably should not ascend above floors in the 60s. But the commission did not find evidence that they did anything with that information.

    As for the police helicopters, the commission staff found that before 9:59 a.m., no NYPD helicopter transmission predicted that either tower would collapse. A police helicopter did report at 9:55 a.m.,four minutes before the collapse, that a large piece of the south tower looked like it was about to fall. Repeated updates from the NYPD aviation unit were not communicated to the FDNY, the commission concluded.

    "We didn't have a lot of information coming in," said fire Chief Joseph Pfeifer. "We didn't receive any reports of what was seen from the helicopters."

    Copyright 2004 Newsday, Inc.

  15. #30

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    New York Daily News
    June 15, 2004

    DAILY NEWS EXCLUSIVE

    Janitor tells 9/11 panel of brush with WTC thug

    By JAMES GORDON MEEK
    DAILY NEWS WASHINGTON BUREAU

    WASHINGTON - A hero janitor who helped victims escape from the World Trade Center's north tower before it collapsed told the 9/11 panel that he came across one of the hijackers in the building a few months before the attack.
    William Rodriguez, 43, of Jersey City met with the commission for the first time last week.

    A 20-year Trade Center employee who swept stairwells, he swears he saw United Airlines Flight 175 hijacker Mohand Alshehri in June 2001 and told an FBI agent in the family center at Ground Zero about it a month after the attacks. He never heard back from the bureau.

    Rodriguez said he was working overtime one weekend cleaning rest rooms on the concourse and mezzanine levels when Alshehri approached him.

    "I had just finished cleaning the bathroom and this guy asks me, 'Excuse me, how many public bathrooms are in this area?'" Rodriguez told the Daily News.

    "Coming from the school of the 1993 [Trade Center] bombing, I found it very strange," Rodriguez said. "I didn't forget about it."

    After Al Qaeda's attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Rodriguez recognized Alshehri's mug in newspapers.

    "I'm very certain, I'll give it 90%" that Alshehri was casing the towers before the attacks, the WTC ex-porter said.

    It is believed that American Airlines Flight 11 hijacker Mohamed Atta cased New York City targets, including the Diamond District, but Rodriguez may have given the 9/11 panel the first eyewitness testimony about a hijacker inside one of the towers before the terror strike.

    Little is known about the Saudi-born Alshehri, 22, or his travels after arriving in Miami on May 28, 2001. Alshehri used the alias Abu Dujana, the name of Islam's mythic Red-Banded Warrior, who fought for the Prophet Muhammed. It's a name other Al Qaeda attackers also have used, including one who claimed responsibility for the train bombings in Madrid on March 11 of this year.

    Rodriguez is credited with saving lives on 9/11 and for helping immigrants get 9/11 funds. He kept mum until now because he assumed the FBI was investigating his lead. FBI officials say they have never heard of Rodriguez but do not discount his story.
    The revelation, if true, comes as the panel meets this week to scrutinize - again - the military's Sept. 11 response. FBI agents and CIA officials also will testify about the post-attack probe of the plot.

    Copyright 2004 Daily News, L.P.

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