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America's New War: Mayor Giuliani Press Conference

Aired September 25, 2001 - 09:43   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to hold that thought, though, and move to New York, where Mayor Rudy Giuliani is talking right now.

Let's listen in.


MYR. RUDY GIULIANI, NEW YORK CITY: ... so that people could begin to prepare the procedure that now has been agreed upon for death certificates. And we will put out three-page document that helps to describe the things that people should bring with them.

We're going to begin tomorrow at 9:00 at the family center processing death certificates, for those people who want to do that, want to apply. This would be for people that are missing and we have not been able to identify their remains.

But if you know that your husband, or father or relative was working there, and you've come to terms with the idea they're dead and they're not going to be recovered, then you can make the choice, and it's your choice to apply for a death certificate. And what we've done is, we've gotten the help of numerous lawyers, and who will do this pro bono. In other words, you don't have to pay any money, and you can come to the family center, starting tomorrow at 9:00.

What we will do, is we will suggest -- we will subdivide the group into thirds by alphabetical order and suggested on Wednesday, the first third come, on Thursday, the second third, and on Friday, the third third, just so that we don't have a total overload.

However, if for some reason, you can't comply with that, then come. I mean, then we will figure out a way to do that. If you can organize it, so that if you're in the first third, you come on Wednesday, and the second third on Thursday, and the third third on Friday, then that would make it easier on the family center.

But if for some reason, you're only going to be in New York on one particular day, or you feel there's a need to expedite, we can work with you.

The forms will also be on the New York City Web site.

Are they there yet? Are the forms there yet? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

GIULIANI: So what time will that be there?

By noontime. By noontime, the forms will be on the Web site, and the Web site is, and they'll be /health or DOH. It will be on the Health Department's Web site.

Basically, I will summarize for you, and then give you more on the details. Basically, what you have to be able to do is, you have to be able to prove that you're the next of kin, which means you should bring with you some proof that you are. You have to prove who you are, and then if you tell us who the employer is, we will get the proof from the employer that the person was at work, or to the best of their knowledge, at work at the time that the buildings came down.

So what kind of proof you need of who you are? Driver's license, a Social Security card, something with a picture. Driver's license is probably the best piece of proof. What kind of proof would you need that you're next of kin? A marriage license, a birth certificate that shows you are the parent, something like that, if you have these things. And then proof of employment, so it will help us locate the employer, although we will follow through on that, would be maybe the last paycheck or statement from the employer, or something like that, so that we can easily contact, find the employer.

Because essentially, we have to present to the judges two affidavits, one that shows that you're the next of kin, and related to this person, and the other from the -- and whatever knowledge you have that the person was at work or in the World Trade Center at the time. And the second is an affidavit that shows that they where, in fact, employed by that particular employer at the time that the crash took place.

I know this is a very painful and very difficult process. And again, I emphasize, this is up to the family to decide whether this is the step they want to take at this time. It does recognize the fact that we are now two weeks into this terrible attack happening. And also two weeks into the rescue effort, but for the first day after, we have not been able to recover anyone that survived the crash. The fire department is still conducting it as a rescue operation, but the realities are just the realities of the amount of time that's gone by, and we have to just begin this process.

But we thought the best way to do it leave up to families to make this decision, because frankly, in our experience that we've had with it, families are reacting to this in different ways. They need time. I assure them that the operation is being done in a sensitive and careful way.

If for some reason miracle to occur and we could save someone, we would. And secondly, the main focus of the operation is, of course, to recover as many human remains as possible, which is something I have to also say we are going to end up with a situation where we don't recover a significant number of human remains. So people have to kind of focus on that a little bit also. Later this morning, about 11:30 or 12:00, Steve Fishner and Mike Hess will give a very detailed briefing and put out the three-page document that contains all of the steps, and the more you can let people know in advance, when they come in tomorrow, they will know what to bring with them. They won't have to go back home and get additional things. The rescue effort, of course, is still continuing, and we will give you all the details and the numbers on that -- we had the number -- do you have the number on -- I know it changed slightly.

We have recovered 279 bodies: 209 identified, 70 unidentified. And the numbers for the uniform services have changed somewhat because we recovered some firefighters yesterday. We haven't recovered a New York City police officer yet. Forty one New York City firefighters. We haven't recovered anyone from EMS. The police department -- the Port Authority police we've recovered four. The fire department of New Jersey, one. Civilian EMTs one -- or two, I'm sorry. And all together, 279 bodies have been recovered.

I believe that's the -- the number of missing persons has changed somewhat as it will as we keep going through it. The number now is 6,398. And that number keeps changing as we go through the list and find that there may be duplications, and then, even at this date, we have some people added to it, so the net number keeps changing.

Second thing that I think really needs to be said. New York City was before this happened the safest large city in America. New York City may be one of the safest cities in the whole world right now. The crime rate for the second week in a row has made a dramatic plunge. Last week, the crime in New York City was the lowest that it's been in about 40 years. This week we have an 18 percent reduction over last year at this time, and last year was one of the safest years this city had in 35 years. And this year we're 18 percent below last year.

Or to -- another way to look at it is, last week we had four homicides for the entire week. Last year we had 10 in that same week. Seven or eight years ago we would have 4 homicides in a day, sometimes six and seven in a day. So we had four for the week. Of course, it's four too many, it always is, but that -- I'm putting these numbers out and the police department will put them out in more detail on the police department Web site, but the reduction in crime in the city is dramatic, over and above and already very much decreased base.

And, as you would expect, the decline in Manhattan is the most significant of all. So from the point of view of people being afraid, this is -- remains not only the safest large city in America, it's become significantly safer, and people should feel every confidence in moving about, going about, that they have about as much safety as you are capable of in life.

I'll take a few questions, and then we'll have detailed questions at 3:00 when we have the full briefing.

QUESTION: Mayor, isn't the 6,600 dead and missing, though, in itself some sort of crime that will have to show up statistically as we?

GIULIANI: I don't know how you describe it. As an act of war, or you describe it as a crime, or -- I don't know.

QUESTION: How would you -- how do you suggest that the police department handle that?

GIULIANI: I have no idea. I haven't really thought about that it. It really seems -- it seems like one of the more insignificant questions, in terms of statistics, how you describe it. It's the worst attack on an urban population in the history of the United States, that's the way I would describe it.

QUESTION: But you did talk about it in terms of safety, that people should feel safe, and yet many people don't feel say specifically because of this attack.

GIULIANI: Well, we're trying to get them to, so I would really hope that you would cooperate in that. We're trying to get people to feel safe. What's the point of not feeling safe, you can't do anything about it, except to terrorize people, or to let -- or to sort aide and abet and assist in the effort of the terrorists to frighten people. Life the risky. We're going to walk out later, we're going to walk around, all of us, and something could happen to us. So then you can decide to do two things about it: You can decide to live your life afraid of that happening, or you can decide to live your life the way Americans live their lives, which is unafraid. There's no reason to have this increased fear. That incident was a once-in-our-history incident. Day in and day out this is the safest city in America. Your chances of your being victimized by a crime, your being hurt, harmed on a day-to-day basis are very, very small. And people should feel some confidence.

And I would hope we would kind of look at the other side it, because if we keep looking at just this side of it then we will unnecessarily frighten people in a way in which there's nothing that can really do about it. Everything is being done to provide for security. And the same way you would talk to young people, we should talk to the whole city, the same way you would tell them not be afraid, to go about leading their lives. They can walk down the street and they're going to be fine.

Now, that isn't a perfect guarantee. They can walk down the street and something can fall from building and harm or hurt them. Or I told you that, you know, there were four homicides last week in this city. There used to be seven -- six or seven in a day. For those four people who were the victims of homicide, they don't have a perfect guarantee. But that's the way life is, and I think we need to talk about the other side of it, which is that things are much safer in New York City than they even were last year at this time.

QUESTION: Right now, can you talk about the importance in terms of getting things back to normal of people going out and exercising their right to vote? Some people feeling a little deja vu because two weeks ago today was the primary, which had been put off? GIULIANI: There's no reason why they shouldn't go vote. There's no reason why they shouldn't go do the things that they normally would do in -- on any given day. I mean, this is a very safe city. There is -- I have no fear of going out. And if they're motivated enough they go. The Mets drew 40 thousand on Friday night. The Metropolitan Opera had three thousand people outdoors on Saturday night.

I think if the weather holds up, going to see Clemens pitch his 21st win tonight is going to draw a lot of people to Yankee Stadium.

So I think people -- you know, people go out if they're motivated to do it. they certainly shouldn't be afraid to go out, and they certainly should exercise their right to vote, if that's what they want to do.

QUESTION: Mayor, do you know that the mayoral candidates have attended some of your briefing and you've spoken to them. Have they been helpful to you in trying to bring the city back?

GIULIANI: I do not want to getting involved in the primary. But the answer is that some have and some have not. And after the primary I will explain that.


GIULIANI: Pardon me.

QUESTION: The Harlem Tunnel?

GIULIANI: The Harlem Tunnel will open up, I hope, pretty soon, but we don't have a firm date yet. We don't have a form time yet. And there are -- the Harlem Tunnel is right in the middle of the relief and recovery operation. It used to be a monumental traffic jam when things were the way they used to be, so we really have a lot of thinking about how to exactly get that open.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is Last question.

QUESTION: The firefighters and ironworkers at the scene tell us that they're concerned about the stability of the site in general and of this bathtub, specifically. Can you address the structural stability of the trade center site and the bathtub?

GIULIANI: Yes. I got you, the (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Right.

Yes, we are concerned about it. It isn't what we believe that by being concerned about it and watching it and being careful about what we do that that is the best way to handle it. We keep -- and as we get closer to removing the surface debris and we start taking structures that have been embedded out, we're going to have keep monitoring it to make sure that we don't do any damage. But I think it's -- I think they're concerned about it, but I think they believe they have it within their control, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are engineers on the site 24 hours a day just for that, watching the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) wall. Port Authority experts who were involved with the building of the Trade Center have provided information. We're watch that very carefully, and at this time, it's stable.

But, again, as the mayor said, we are going to watch that and continue to watch it to make sure it stays that way.

QUESTION: How far back will they eventually scale back the zone around ground zero? And you know, when will that be? Is that going to be sealed off, like, with plywood, like a construction site, at some point?

GIULIANI: This is Mr. scale-back right here. He's been scaling back for the last week, so why don't you tell him what the projections are?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are going to scale back a little bit more tonight and tomorrow. We're going to open Reed and Murray Streets for people to get contractors in to clean up their homes. We will continue to scale back. The fencing will continue to remain there, the cyclone fencing. And if it needs to be changed to a different type of security operation, I'll be in -- I'm in constant consultation with commissioner Carak (ph) and commissioner Varnez (ph) and all of those people that need to get in and get out. We want to make sure that people who don't belong in that site, don't need to be in that site, are not in that site, are that's very important, because it's a very dangerous place, in terms of the amount of construction equipment there, and they are taking -- they shouldn't be in there, and we're going to make sure they're not.

GIULIANI: All right, thank you very much. We will see you at 3:00 or 3:30, and we'll try to get a map that describes that more clearly, OK?

PHILLIPS: New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani giving his daily briefing there from New York.



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