Stop the lies
Myths of a 9/11 hero, debunked
After the terrorist attacks, Mayor Giuliani was the man. Now his leadership comes under fire in "Grand Illusion."
By Kit R. Roane
Special to The Times
August 22, 2006
'Grand Illusion: The Untold Story of Rudy Giuliani and 9/11'
Wayne Barrett and Dan Collins
HarperCollins: 390 pp., $25.95
Few reporters who covered New York City government during Rudolph W. Giuliani's reign would dispute that the mayor saw himself as a powerful leader destined for greatness. But many were shocked when much of the country began to agree.Yeah, Kelly hates Giuliani.
Giuliani was a lame duck when 2000 drew to a close, a mayor whose political stature was in a tailspin and whose private life was being rocked by illness and scandal. A local tabloid had revealed Giuliani's long-term affair with a pharmaceutical sales manager, which led to an equally public call for divorce from his apoplectic wife. Meanwhile, prostate cancer had forced him from a tepid U.S. Senate campaign against Hillary Rodham Clinton.
To Giuliani's political enemies, this delicious farrago had been a long time coming. They relished the comeuppance of a man whose self-assured rhetoric often came off as mean-spirited bullying and who most often reacted angrily to criticism when he wasn't being dismissive in the extreme. Many New Yorkers thought Giuliani would have had trouble being elected dogcatcher. Talk of a run for president of the United States would have been rich indeed. But as Wayne Barrett and Dan Collins note in "Grand Illusion," their superb dissection of the reality behind the Giuliani myth-making after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks: "What a difference a day made."
But although Giuliani's "quick response and personal fearlessness ... provided a clean and reassuring narrative," Barrett, a senior writer at the Village Voice, and Collins, a senior producer at CBSNews.com, argue that there is a darker, more important narrative of the mayor's failures, one they contend cost many lives on Sept. 11 and may contribute to future illnesses and deaths due to lax safety standards during the cleanup. The tone of "Grand Illusion" is often prosecutorial. But the writers' extensive research results in a convincing indictment of Giuliani's priorities as mayor and his later self-promotion as a terrorism expert.
The focus of their ire is Giuliani's claim that, although the magnitude of the attacks was unforeseeable, he had assumed from the moment he came into office in 1994 that terrorists would attack New York City and so he made the city's emergency response a priority. There has been little in Giuliani's record to support that claim. But "Grand Illusion" now reveals a record that directly contradicts it.
It is not that Giuliani wouldn't have had reason to prepare. After all, terrorists had exploded a car bomb underneath one World Trade Center tower in 1993. But Barrett and Collins' detailed research shows a mayor who utterly failed to grasp the importance of readying the city for another terrorist attack. Lou Anemone, the police department's chief operating officer during much of Giuliani's tenure, recalls trying to brief the mayor on a citywide terrorism security plan in 1998. "Rudy glazed over," he said, adding: "We never had any discussion about security at the World Trade Center. We never even had a drill or exercise there.... There was just a lack of recognition of the problem at City Hall."
................................ But the wealth of material paints a clear picture of City Hall ineptitude in the face of continuing terrorist threats.
Some of the book's sources may have an ax to grind. Giuliani dismissed one of them, New York's current police commissioner, Raymond Kelly, when he became mayor in 1993. And some may have minimized their own failings. Jerome Hauer, Giuliani's first director of the Office of Emergency Management prior to Sept. 11, is lauded by the authors for attempting to force the city's notoriously antagonistic police and fire departments to work together. But Hauer also was intimately involved in some of the mayor's biggest missteps, chief among them locating the city's emergency command center in the World Trade Center complex.
Luckily, "Grand Illusion" is too well-sourced for such concerns to be a major issue. The book handily punctures a hole in the myth of Giuliani as a praiseworthy terrorism czar who had prepared his city for the tragedy that unfolded. Although there is plenty of blame to go around, Giuliani, as mayor, set the tone of his administration and picked the people who would be counted on to respond appropriately. At both tasks, he failed miserably, the book shows, choosing politics over public safety.
"The facts — depressing but unavoidable — were that Giuliani had allowed the city to meet the disaster of September 11 unprepared in a myriad of ways," write the authors, a statement that rings depressingly true by the end of "Grand Illusion."
Kelly was a Marine Infantry officer, Vietnam Vet, former street cop and retired from the Marine Reserves as a Colonel. He thinks Giuliani is a pussy.
The whole thing of Giuliani as hero was bullshit anyway. He did his job on 9/11, but Kerik didn't. A lot of people didn't, and his money making after 9/11 was sleazy.
What people don't understand is that when Giuliani became mayor, Sharpton was little better than a joke. Tawana Brawley had done a number on him in the press. His lawyers were in deep shit and facing legal sanction. Calvin Butts was getting a lot of positive press while Sharpton's Brooklyn base was stagnating.
By the time he left City Hall, Sharpton was the most powerful politician in the city.
Because he was the only opposition to the mayor and he NEVER called him a racist. Which left Giuliani sputtering. Giuliani's disrespect towards half of the city was amazing. It was as if he was at war with black New York. By 9/1o he was headed towards ignominy. Even Ed Koch had no use for him.
The glow of 9/11 lasted about a week in New York. Yes, just one week. Two things happened which reminded people exactly why they hated him.
One, Giuliani tried to extend his term to March, 2002. Pataki was going along with it, but Roger Green, head of the Black and Latino caucus in the Assembly threatened to block legislation if they even tried it. Then Gail Collins delivered the final blow condemning it in the Times.
Two, the weekend after or close to it, it's fuzzy, Giuliani went on Saturday Night Live with 100 firefighters, cops and EMT's. Not one black person included. People noticed. I remember seeing this and being pissed. 100 people, not one black face.
While the rest of the country was falling in love with him, New York was planning to move past him and his racist confrontational methods. Giuliani's baggage is massive and this is just part of it.
posted by Steve @ 2:01:00 AM