Rudy Giuliani's Five Big Lies About 9/11

On the stump, Rudy can't help spreading smoke and ashes about his lousy record

The mayor had also done nothing to make the radios interoperable—which would have enabled the police and firefighters to communicate across departmental lines—despite having received a 1995 federal waiver granting the city the additional radio frequencies to make that possible. That meant the fire chiefs had no idea that police helicopters had anticipated the partial collapse of both towers long before they fell.

It's not just the radios and the OEM: Giuliani never forced the police and fire departments to abide by clear command-and-control protocols that squarely put one service in charge of the other during specified emergencies. Though he collected $250 million in tax surcharges on phone use to improve the 911 system, he diverted this emergency funding for other uses, and the 911 dispatchers were an utter disaster that day, telling victims to stay where they were long after the fire chiefs had ordered an evacuation, which potentially sealed the fates of hundreds. And, despite the transparent lessons of 1993, Giuliani never established any protocols for rooftop or elevator rescues in high-rises, or even a strategy for bringing the impaired and injured out—all costly failings on 9/11.

But perhaps the best evidence of the Giuliani administration's lack of readiness was that no one at its top levels had a top-secret security clearance on 9/11. Hauer, who had left the OEM in 2000 to become a top biochemical adviser at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, was invited to Gracie Mansion within days of 9/11 for a strategy session with Giuliani and a half-dozen of his top advisers, including Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik, Tom Von Essen, and Richie Sheirer, who succeeded Hauer at the OEM. Hauer, who had the highest-level clearance, says that "no one else in the room had one at all." He was told that the FBI "was trying to get them expedited clearances."

Illustration by John Kascht


Additional research assistance by Benjamin Bright, Ben Greenberg, Jan Ransom, Ethan Strauss, and Tom Wiedeman.

Hauer had previously taken Sheirer down to the White House to meet with top counterterrorism brass and learned on his way into the meeting that Sheirer hadn't "filled out the questionnaire." When Kerik's nomination as homeland security secretary blew up in 2004, news accounts also indicated that he'd never filled it out. Von Essen was so out of the loop that he said that prior to 9/11, he was told "nothing at all," and that he started hearing "talk of an organization called al Qaeda and a man named Osama bin Laden" a few hours after the attack. "It meant nothing to me," he wrote in his own book.

"I was reading the daily intelligence in Washington," Hauer recalled, "and I didn't feel comfortable talking about things that people weren't cleared for. Talking in general with Rudy one-on-one was one thing, but talking to Richie and Bernie and Tommy violated my security clearances." Though Giuliani's top team had failed to seek the clearances they needed prior to 9/11, Kerik and Giuliani attacked the FBI for not sharing information with local law enforcement officials when they testified a month after the attack at a House subcommittee hearing.


3. Don't blame me for 7 WTC, Rudy says. In response to his critics' most damning sound bite, Giuliani is attempting to blame a once-valued aide for the decision to put his prized, $61 million emergency-command center in the World Trade Center, an obvious terrorist target. The 1997 decision had dire consequences on 9/11, when the city had to mobilize a response without any operational center.

"My director of emergency management recommended 7 WTC" as "the site that would make the most sense," Giuliani told Chris Wallace's Fox News Channel show in May, pinpointing Jerry Hauer as the culprit.

Wallace confronted Giuliani, however, with a 1996 Hauer memo recommending that the bunker be sited at MetroTech in Brooklyn, close to where the Bloomberg administration eventually built one. The mayor brushed the memo aside, continuing to insist that Hauer had picked it as "the prime site." The campaign then put out statements from a former deputy mayor who said that Hauer had supported the trade-center location at a high-level meeting with the mayor in 1997.

Hauer doesn't dispute that he eventually backed the 7 WTC location, but he clearly favored MetroTech. His memo said that MetroTech "could be available in six months," while it took four and a half more years to get the bunker up and running at 7 WTC. He said that MetroTech was secure and "not as visible a target as buildings in Lower Manhattan"— a prophetic comparison. Listing eight positives about MetroTech, the memo also mentioned negatives, but said they weren't insurmountable. "The real issue," Hauer concluded, "is whether or not the mayor wants to go across the river to manage an incident. If he is willing to do this, MetroTech is a good alternative." Notes from meetings indicate that Hauer continued to push MetroTech in the discussions with the mayor and his top deputy.

But Hauer says Denny Young, the mayor's alter ego, who has worked at his side for nearly three decades, eventually "made it very clear" that Giuliani wanted "to be able to walk to this facility quickly." That meant the bunker had to be in lower Manhattan. Since the City Hall area is below the floodplain, the command center—which was built with a hurricane-curtain wall—had to be above ground. The formal city document approving the site said that it "was selected due to its proximity to City Hall," a standard set by Giuliani and Giuliani alone.

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