Giuliani's 9/11 Myth Begins to Take on Water
This morning the Post reports on how 9/11 families are inconveniently refusing to play along with the Rudy Giuliani 9/11 Hero Myth. This is one of the biggest political con jobs - well, there have been a lot of political con jobs over the last few years, but this is a big one, too - and I know I won't be the only one talking about it over the coming months. But let's start with Sally Regenhard and the Skyscraper Safety Campaign.
From the Post:
"I can't see why any 9/11 family member who knows the truth about the failures of the Giuliani administration . . . would not be outraged about the failures," said Regenhard.
She co-founded a group called the Skyscraper Safety Campaign and heckled Giuliani when he testified at 9/11 commission hearings in 2004. She has long blamed Giuliani for communications failures, including faulty radios, at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
Giuliani's self-serving version of the 9/11 story doesn't include the part about his own incompetence:
In the epic accounts of Sept. 11 provided over the last two days by former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and his aides, the Police and Fire Departments bravely worked together, and no catastrophic failure to communicate doomed scores of firefighters inside the World Trade Center.
Instead, Mr. Giuliani testified, those firefighters heard an evacuation order, but still did not leave the building. They were "standing their ground" to make sure civilians got out, he said. [...]
For all the power of his voice and stature, however, Mr. Giuliani's account must compete with a substantial and diverse body of evidence that flatly contradicts much of what he and his aides say happened that day, particularly on matters that could be seen as reflecting on the performance of his administration.
"America's Mayor," whether to bask in reflected glory - or merely to divert attention from his own failures - insists that the firefighters who remained in the WTC did so of their own informed choice. But that's not what everybody else says:
Witnesses who escaped from the tower tell a vastly different story than Mr. Giuliani. They say that in the north tower's final 15 minutes, only a handful of civilian office workers were still in the bottom 44 floors of the building, perhaps no more than two or three dozen. Many of the firefighters who remained in the towers were between the 19th and 37th floors, having made slow progress up the stairs in their heavy gear.
It is clear, witnesses said, that even after the south tower collapsed, many, if not most, of the firefighters had no idea that they were in dire peril, or that it was time for them to leave. In contrast, police officers received strong guidance from their commanders to get out of the building, the commission reported, thanks in large part to the information sent to the ground by police helicopters.
The police knew to evacuate. The firefighters did not. Why couldn't the police tell the firefighters? Giuliani claims it was impossible. In fact, it was a result of his own management failures:
Another conflict emerged from Mr. Giuliani's explanation of why the city did not have radios that permitted firefighters and police officers to communicate with each other. A member of the panel, Richard Ben-Veniste, noted that branches of the military had found radios that permitted them to communicate, overcoming barriers of pride.
"What barrier was there that prevented you from ordering standardization?" Mr. Ben-Veniste asked.
"No barrier," Mr. Giuliani replied. "The technology. And that's the reason why there isn't technology today." He went on to say that the two departments had radios configured to serve their different missions. He agreed that they ought to have radios that could connect to each, but said, "Those radios don't exist today."
Later in the day, however, Jerome M. Hauer, who had served as director of the Office of Emergency Management for Mr. Giuliani, said the city had purchased radios to permit the two agencies to communicate, but had run into political problems.
Not only were the FDNY radios incompatible with those of the NYPD, they were poor radios in and of themselves - a problem related to political incompetence for which the mayor's office should ultimately have been answerable. The radios in use on 9/11 were Saber-brand Motorola radios, old and known to be inadequate but pressed back into service because the city's shoddy purchasing process had botched the attempt to upgrade to a newer model:
In May 2001, City Comptroller Alan Hevesi said he had found widespread problems with the city's purchasing methods for the XTS-3500 model radios and with the radios' performance. The radios were in use for only one week in March 2001 before they were pulled from service due to communication failures. [...]
[FDNY Captain John] Joyce's book, "Radio Silence FDNY," lays out the many problems with the purchase of the Motorola XTS-3500 radios and with their operational problems at fires and other emergencies before the radios were pulled from service. [...]
In the book, Joyce questions how many of the 343 firefighters who died on Sept. 11, 2001, might have escaped the World Trade Center if they had new working radios - instead of the older Saber radios that were reissued after the XTS-3500s were pulled from service in March 2001.
The book puts the blame for deaths on Sept. 11 squarely on the shoulders of the terrorists, but adds: "Officials should not be allowed to wrap themselves in the sanctity of the deaths of New York's Bravest to escape answering for their conduct."
During the 9/11 Commission hearings, Commissioners harshly questioned administrators who had worked under Giuliani, but fawned over the mayor himself with predictable obsequiousness. Evidently, in the face of such intense myth-making as has surrounded Giuliani since the attacks, the politicians on the Commission found themselves powerless to remember the first rule of accountability and leadership: the buck stops at the top. But Rudy doesn't want to talk about that, and neither do his worshippers among the illuminati. So it's left to the ordinary victims of his incompetence to tell the truth:
Outraged relatives of World Trade Center victims heckled former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani on Wednesday as their hopes that he would be grilled by the Sept. 11 commission faded in the face of gentle questioning and effusive praise from panel members.
"My son was murdered because of your incompetence!" shouted Sally Regenhard, whose firefighter son died in the trade center. Seated three rows behind Giuliani, she jabbed her finger at the former mayor and waved a sign that read "Fiction" as he gave the city's emergency response a glowing review.
Fiction, of course, is what Rudolph Giuliani is made of.