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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Former NYC Mayor Testifies Before 9/11 Commission
Aired May 19, 2004 - 08:32 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: As we've been mentioning, the 9/11 Commission is doing their second day of hearings in lower Manhattan. This morning, we're going to hear from Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City. He's testifying this morning. He starts with his opening statement.
Let's listen in.
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RUDOLPH GIULIANI, FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: ... holding American flags, waving to the president, waving to us, telling the president they loved him and they were together as New Yorkers.
I did note for the president that none of the people had voted for him or me or Governor Pataki. But that's the point. They were all united as Americans because we understood who our enemy was. Our enemy is not each other.
Catastrophic emergencies and attacks have acts of great heroism attached to them. They have acts of ingenious creativity attached to them and they mistakes that happen. Hopefully this commission will assess that correctly, with compassion and with understanding. And then the next one will be done a little bit better. But the next one, unfortunately, is probably going to be a mix of exactly those same things -- acts of great heroism, many, many creative and brilliant things done and some terrible mistakes that were made. Because when human beings are put under this condition, that's what happens.
So our anger should clearly be directed and the blame should clearly be directed at one source and one source alone -- the terrorists who killed our loved ones.
For each other...
GIULIANI: For each other, there really should be compassion, understanding and support, because we're all suffering.
The attacks of September 11,2001 were the worst attacks in the history of our country. Nothing like that had ever happened to us before. Hopefully they'll remain the worst attacks in the history of our country, even if there may be others.
I believed then, I believe now, that the terrorists had two purposes in attacking us. One purpose was to kill many, many people to make some kind of, in their words, spectacular demonstration. And the other was to break our will, because they were convinced we were a weak people, that we would become disunited, that we would start fighting with each other, that there would be tremendous chaos and confusion.
And I believe today, I believed then because I observed it and was part of it, and I believe it because I knew so many of these men and women that it was their initial heroism that thwarted the objectives of the terrorists by going into the building, by standing their ground, by interrupting an evacuation order the way a brave rescue worker would interpret an evacuation order, which is to first get the civilians out and then get yourself out.
By doing that, they thwarted the objective that the terrorists had. The terrorists killed too many people -- almost 3,000. But the first number that I was given in less than one hour of the collapse of the two buildings was that over 12,000 people had died. And, in fact, at another point, I was given a figure of 15,000 people. That was the calculation made by the Port Authority and at others of the number of people that had been in the building at the time of the attack, which may have been close to 22,000 to 25,000, and the number of people you could conceivably have gotten out in the amount of time that the rescue workers had to get people out. And their calculation was 12,000 to 15,000 people.
When I said to the people of New York and the people of America that the losses were too much for us to bear, that was the number that was in my mind. They were too much for us to bear, even what it turned out to be. But the reason that you have that difference between the 12,000 to 15,000 originally estimated and the less than 3,000 that actually took place is the way in which a combination of the rescue workers and the civilians themselves conducted this evacuation and not flawless, not without mistakes and not with some terrible tragedies attached to it, but overall maybe 8,000 people more, maybe 9,000 people more than anyone could rightfully expect evacuated from that building because firefighters were walking upstairs while civilians were walking downstairs.
I can't tell you how many civilians come up to me, no matter where I go, and say to me, I want you to thank your fire department. I want you to thank them. And I'll say why. And they'll say because I was walking down or my brother was or my sister or my father and I saw one of your firefighters walking up while we were rushing down. And I said well, what did that do? And they'll say that made me calmer, that made me feel confident, that made me continue to walk in the right direction.
What we avoided was exactly what any novelist would have written about in an attack like this, had it been written the day before. He would have written that the evacuation, the exit from the building would cause more casualties than the actual attack.
It's happened. I don't want to mention the emergencies -- I know them, you know them -- in which more people are killed trying to get out of the building than are actually killed in the fire or the attack. People exited this building carefully. They exited this building quickly. They exited this building without harming or hurting each other. And the credit for that goes to Pete Gancy and Bill Feehan and Terry Hatten and Patty Brown and Michael Judge. And I wish I could mention all of the firefighters and the police officers. Those happen to be the ones that I saw that morning right before they died. And that's the reason why they were thwarted in their ambition of sort of breaking our will.
Maybe it would be helpful if I just outlined quickly what I did in the first hour or two that morning, why I did it and then, you know, whatever questions that you have.
The morning of September 11,2001 was primary day in the City of New York. The Democratic Party and the Republican Party were voting to select the next mayor of the city. And I was having breakfast that morning at the Peninsula Hotel on 55th Street with two old friends and colleagues, Dennisan Young, who was my counsel, and Bill Simon, who was my assistant United States attorney, who had worked with me.
As we finished breakfast, the police notified Denny -- the two police officers that were on my detail that morning were notified and then they notified Denny Young, my counsel, and Denny walked up to me and he said the following, that it's been reported that a twin engine plane has crashed into the North Tower and there's a terrible fire there.
So I left immediately, walked out into the street and as I walked out into the street, Denny and I looked up in the sky. And what we saw was a beautiful clear day, about as clear as we had had in a long time, and came to the immediate conclusion that it could not have been an accident, that it had to have been an attack.
But we weren't sure whether it was a planned terrorist attack or maybe some kind of act of individual anger or insanity or some person angry at some business in the building or whatever. But we knew it was an attack.
We began to proceed south as quickly as we could. And maybe this is helpful on the telephone contact. We started to make telephone contact in order to get more information. I tried to reach all the people that you -- the mayor would generally be in contact with at that point, including we attempted to reach the White House and the governor's office.
I was successful in speaking with the police commissioner. I was able to get through to him on the phone. He gave me an initial briefing. I was able to speak to some members of my staff that gave me information. I was not able to reach the fire commissioner. I was not able to reach the head of emergency services, Mr. Shirer (ph). We were not able to make a call outside the city to the White House, which led me to believe that we had to have hard lines available in order to do that.
As we were coming down very, very close to this building, just a few blocks from this building on Sixth Avenue, on Sixth, we passed St. Vincent's Hospital. And I looked outside and I saw outside many, many doctors and nurses and stretchers. And it registered in my mind that we were looking at a war zone, not a normal emergency. That was probably the first thing that said to me we're into something beyond anything we've handled before.
A little below St. Vincent's Hospital, we could see the fire in the Tower. But we saw a big explosion. And we didn't know what it was. We probably concluded that it was just an after effect of the original attack. But within seconds of seeing it, we received a phone call from the police and were notified that a second plane had hit, and realized at that point that obviously it was a terrorist attack.
We then proceeded another half mile. We were about a half mile to a mile away when that happened, got to about Barclay Street, where we could go no further. I got out of the van and I was approached by Police Commissioner Kerik and my deputy mayor for operations, Joe Lhota. And they had a group of people behind them.
Commissioner Kerik walked up to me, explained to me -- and so did Deputy Mayor Lhota -- how terrible the situation was. The deputy mayor pointed to the sky and said people were jumping from the buildings. And I looked up and I thought he was wrong. I thought I was seeing -- I thought I saw debris.
And then the police commissioner pointed to an emergency truck that was pulling up to in front of 70 Barclay Street and he said, "That will be our command post. We're attaching hard lines into this building and we're taking over this building." And they were literally taking people out of 75 Barclay Street and setting up a command post.
And I said, "Is that going to be our main command post?"
And he said, "Yes, that'll be our command post. We'll operate out of there. We've evacuated Seven World Trade Center."
I said, "OK." I said, "Where is the, where is the fire department set up? Where are they fighting the fire?"
He said, "Over on West Street."
So we began to walk and talk going toward West Street, which a block and a half to two blocks away. As, what we talked about at that point was the commissioner pointing out to me the other things that he was then doing. He went off -- he went over a checklist of we've closed the bridges and tunnels to stop people from coming into the city. We're letting people out; no one is coming in. That came off a protocol that we had and really the intelligence that we had available was that was probably the most likely way in which we would be attacked -- the bridges and tunnels of New York City, because they would be, plans for that would be found very, very often when terrorists were arrested.
He then went through a list of buildings that he was covering. "We're covering the Empire State Building, we're covering the stock exchange, we're covering" -- he went through a whole list of -- and he said, "I have brought back the entire force. They're all reporting back for duty."
We arrived, as we got very, very close to the World Trade Center, one of my police officers said to me, and all of us, "Keep looking up, keep looking up." Because things were falling down around us and I imagine that was for our own safety. But when I looked up at that point, I realized that I saw a man -- it wasn't debris -- that I saw a man hurling himself out of the 102nd, 103rd, 104th floor. And I stopped, probably for two seconds, but it seems like a minute or two. And I was in shock.
I mean I said, I said, I said to the police commissioner that we're in uncharted territory, we've never gone through anything like this before and we're just going to have to do the best that we can to keep everybody together and keep them focused.
And the commissioner said, "That's right, Mayor. That's right."
At that -- that was the last thing I saw when I approached Pete Ganci. His operations center, his command center was set up outdoors on West Street in a position where he could see both towers, where he'd get a view of both towers, which is typically the way a fire is fought in New York City. You set up an outside command post, at least as the advanced command post, where you can get the best view available of the fire. And he was there and he was in charge and he was -- he had the board in front of him. The board is an attempt to try to figure out where resources are located.
He was accompanied by Deputy Commissioner Bill Feehan. Between the two of them, they had 80 years of firefighting experience and they were the two best. And then off to the corner -- I didn't get a chance to talk to him -- was Ray Downey, who was the head of our search and rescue effort. And Ray was the best in the country. He trained most of the search and rescue teams and handled a lot of the search and rescue at Oklahoma City.
So we had the very best people there.
My first question to Chief Ganci, maybe because of what I had just seen, was, "Can we get helicopters up to the roof and help any of those people?" Because I could see people hanging out the windows. And I thought I saw people on the roof. I didn't, I don't think, because I don't think there were any people on the roof. But at least my observation was there were people near the top of the building.
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." And he didn't say the rest of it, which was, do you see the flame? The helicopter would explode. But by pointing, I knew what he was saying. He was saying if I put a helicopter near there, these flames are coming out unpredictably and the helicopter could just blow. And he did say it would be too dangerous and it would not accomplish the result.
I then asked him if he had everything that he needed and he said, "Yes." And he had a conversation with the police commissioner, who went over with him how to do evacuations. His concern was to get people out of the area for two reasons, and then he reiterated that to me. He said to me, "Whatever you do, tell people to go north, get 'em out of here."
And then he pointed to south and you could see, while he was pointing, that things were falling off the building and hitting people. And you could see other bodies that were coming down that also posed a danger to other people that were on the ground. And it seemed to me that his major concern at the time was that it was very, very dangerous to exit the buildings and that it had to be done carefully and it had to be done to the north, because it appeared as if the way the debris was falling, that more of the damage was going to happen to the south and to the west.
And then he wished us well and I told him I was going to communicate this and that I would be back. And I shook his hand and I said, "God bless you," and he said the same.
I then walked up with, at this point, the police commissioner, the deputy police commissioner, the chief of the department. I asked my chief of staff, who was now with me, to get the fire commissioner. He told me the fire commissioner was in the advanced command post inside one of the buildings. I don't remember which one. I said, "It's really important that we all be together at the command post so that we can make decisions. Get him and bring him to us."
And then we proceeded up West Street two and a half blocks again, back to where we had originally been. On the way up, I saw Father Judge and that was the last time I saw him. And I asked him to pray for us, which he assured me that he was doing. And I shook hands with him.
And then I walked to 75 Barclay Street. I was really brought inside 75 Barclay Street and told this would be our command post. It was set up. It was set up with telephones. There were police on the phones. And I was brought into a, like a cubicle inner office and told that we had reached the White House.
I had already been informed by my chief of staff that he had reached the White House and by the police commissioner, who I think had reached the Defense Department. I'm not sure exactly. But both of them had assured me that we had gotten air support, because that's why I wanted to reach the White House. I wanted to make sure that we had air defense for the city.
And my chief of staff told me that he was informed by the White House that there were seven planes that were unaccounted for. And at this point, I knew of two, and I had heard reports that the Pentagon had been attacked, that the Sears Tower had been attacked and several other buildings.
So I got through to the White House. Chris Henick was on the phone, who was the, who was then the deputy political director to President Bush. And I said to him, "Chris, was the Pentagon attacked?"
And he said, "Confirmed."
And then I asked him if we had air support. I said, "Have you -- do we have air support? Do you have jets out, because I think we're going to get hit again?"
He said, "The jets were dispatched 12 minutes ago and they should be there very shortly, and they should be able to defend you against further attack." And then he said, "We've evacuating the White House and the vice president will call you back very, very shortly."
And I put down the phone and within seconds got a call in another room from the vice president. I walked over to that room, picked up the phone. The White House operator was on the phone and said, "Mr. Mayor, the vice president will be on in a moment."
And at that point, I heard a click. The desk started to shake and I heard next Chief Esposito, who was the uniformed head of the police department. I'm sure it was his voice. I heard him say, "The tower is down. The tower has come down."
And my first thought was that one of the radio towers from the top of the World Trade Center had come down. I did not conceive of the entire tower coming down.
But as he was saying that, I could see the desks shaking and I could see people in the outer office going under desks. And then all of a sudden I could see outside a tremendous amount of debris and it looked -- it first felt like an earthquake and then it looked like a nuclear, a nuclear cloud.
So we realized very shortly that we were in danger in the building, that the building could come down. It had been damaged. It was shaking.
So the police commissioner and I and the deputy police commissioner, we jointly decided that we had to try to get everyone out of the building. So we went downstairs into the basement. We tried two or three exits, could not get out. I don't know if they were locked or blocked or -- but we couldn't get out.
We went back up to the main floor to see if we could go out the main entrance, but at that point things were worse. There had been more damage done and it was blocked. And then two gentlemen, I believe janitors, came up to us and said there's a way out through the basement through 100 Church Street. And I knew 100 Church Street, because that's where the law department was located. And we agreed that we would go with him.
So we all went downstairs. We walked through the hallway. We got to the door that he had selected. He opened the door and there was sort of sigh of relief. And when we walked outside, we were in the lobby of 100 Church Street. And then we wondered if we hadn't gone from bad to worse, because when you looked outside at 100 Church Street, what you saw, again, was a tremendous cloud, debris flying through the streets and people being injured.
And one of our, one of our deputy commissioners and one of my former security people were brought in at that point injured, bloodied and injured, and obviously in a state of shock from what had happened to them, having been hit by debris.
So the commissioner and I had to make a quick decision -- do we remain in the building and use that as a place to hold a press conference to give people information -- because there was some press right there? Do we remain here and operate here for a while, until the cloud passes, or do we go outside?
And the choice that we made was to go outside. And the choice that we made to go outside was because we felt we had, you know, a core of New York City government together at this point -- the police commissioner, the head of emergency services, three of the four deputy mayors, the commissioner of public health -- and that if we went outside, we had a better chance of more people surviving than if we stayed in the building, where, if something happened and the building crashed, you could virtually have all of city government gone.
So we -- and we could communicate better from outside, hopefully be able to get through on radio or on television.
So we went outside, grabbed a member of the press. I remember Andrew Kurtzman was the reporter that was there. And I said, you know, "Come with us."
And we began making telephone calls as we were marching up, asking people to remain calm and asking people to go north, which were the instructions that Pete Gancy had given me.
And as I was doing that, I would stop and look at how people were reacting. Here I was asking them to remain calm. I was asking them to go north. I wanted to see how were they evacuating the building. And what I saw was very, very inspiring. I saw people running. I saw people fleeing, which is exactly what we wanted them to do. I wanted to get them out of the area. But I didn't see people knocking each other over. I didn't see people in chaos. I didn't see people in panic. I didn't see people hurting each other, which you also would expect might happen. And I actually saw acts of people helping each other.
Somebody would be running, you'd see somebody fall down, stop and pick somebody up. And the commissioner and I did that for one man who was having trouble and put him in the commissioner's car.
We were able to get through and now the sequence gets very, very foggy in my own recollection. I'm not sure what happened in sequence, but very shortly after, maybe two or three blocks north of that, we heard another tremendous noise, realized that the second building had now come down and saw the cloud from the second building come up the streets.
And we're trying to determine at this point whether to return to city hall or to set up operations of city government at the police academy. And we thought of several other sites. The police commissioner recommended that we use the police academy as our command center, because it had all of the communications equipment and it could be outfitted in minutes to be a command center. And my chief of staff told me that city hall had been abandoned because it had been hit very, very hard by debris.
So we selected the police academy as our command center. We actually, Senator Kerry discussed New School as a place to come because we walked right -- we walked right past here. But because the communications equipment was already there, the police commissioner decided on the police academy.
We walked up to the fire house on Houston Street, which is a few blocks north of here, and decided we'd stop there so we could make telephone calls. The police department broke in, not indicating any rivalry between the police department and the fire department. It was the right thing to do. They were not trying to destroy fire department property. They broke in and I was able to get through on the telephone now, first to Governor Pataki, who expressed his concern for us, because he had heard that we were missing and thought we had been killed; and then said what, you know, "What help do you need?"
I said, "Well, we need all the help we can get. I mean this is beyond anything that we've ever dealt with before, George."
And he said, "I've brought out the National Guard. Do you want me to deploy them? Do you need them?"
And I, as the mayor of New York City, I think I had always resisted having the National Guard, I mean for reasons that the urban environment is so complex, so difficult -- it's difficult enough to police with trained police officers. You really don't want the National Guard, not because they aren't terrific at what they do, but this isn't what they do.
But we were in such need at the time I said, "Absolutely. I need the National Guard and everything else you can send us."
And we agreed that they would deploy on Randall's Island so that the police department could train them and deploy them properly and, in essence, they could relive our police officers in the right places.
And then the governor said, you know, "I'll meet you. Where do you want to -- where are you setting up?"
And I said, "We're going to set up at the police academy. We'll be there in about 15 minutes."
And we agreed on something at that point that was very, very helpful. We agreed that we would put our governments together. We agreed that we would, in essence, sit in the same room, in the same place, my commissioners, his commissioners, everybody had to approve things and we would sit in one room and run the emergency together, and that we would do it at the police academy.
And at that point, I was able to reach the White House and the Defense Department again. I was able to make several other telephone calls to the stock exchange, because we had thought they had been attacked. I reached Dick Grasso to find out if they had been attacked.
We tried to -- we had had a number of false rumors of places that were attacked. And the police commissioner was able to make sure that he had deployed his resources to the other places that we assumed we would have secondary attacks.
From our briefings, intelligence and protocols, we had a group of targets coming out of 10 years of analysis of what the terrorists might do. So it was off that list that the police commissioner was deploying resources, including ultimately the National Guard.
We then arrived at the police academy and set up a command center at the police academy. And the command center at the police academy was complete with everything that we needed -- all of the facilities -- and were able to have a press conference there about 2:30 in the afternoon in which we could explain to people how the whole thing would be managed from there on in.
Our number two backup command center would have been the police department. Seven World Trade Center was the primary one. The backup was the police academy. The number three would have been MetroTech in Brooklyn, which is fully equipped to be a command center.
We made the decision to use the policy academy because we didn't want to leave this island. We didn't want to leave Manhattan. We thought it would be a terrible statement if the city government left the island of Manhattan. But then we realized pretty shortly that the police academy was too small, and we selected Pier 92 as our command center.
And the reason Pier 92 was selected as the command center was because on the next day, on September 12, Pier 92 was going to have a drill. It had hundreds of people here from FEMA, from the federal government, from the state, from the State Emergency Management Office, and they were getting ready for a drill for a biochemical attack. So that was going to be the place they were going to have the drill.
The equipment was already there. So we were able to establish a command center there within three days that was two and a half to three times bigger than the command center that we had lost at 7 World Trade Center. And it was from there that the rest of the search and rescue effort was completed.
One other point, and then I'll turn to questions.
When you evaluate the performance of the firefighters and the police officers, in addition to the bravery and the heroics that they demonstrated at the time of initial attack by standing their ground, and rather than giving us a story of men, uniform men fleeing while civilians were left behind, which would have been devastating to the morale of this country, rather than an Andrea Doria, if you remember that, they gave us an example of very, very brave men and women in uniform who stand their ground to protect civilians. Instead of that, we got a story of heroism and we got a story of pride and we got a story of support that helped get us through.
The second thing that they were able to help carry out, through I believe a superb command structure, going from Chief Gansey (ph) on down, was a recovery effort that was beyond any expectation that anybody could possibly have. If you had asked me the night of September 11, 2001 how many lives we would lose in the recovery effort at ground zero, I probably wouldn't have told you the number, but I would have said to myself, at least a doesen people.
We can't put up a building in this city without losing four or five people. And not because they're careless, but because it's exceedingly dangerous. Well, the site at the World Trade Center for four, five, six months, was the most dangerous recovery site probably in the history of this country.
There were fires of 200 degrees Fahrenheit below the ground. I could be standing here and you could be standing there, and I could be describing to you, Governor, the site, and then a fire would break out in between us, and it was just by luck or the design of god that we weren't killed.
They carried out the motion under great emotion, under great stress, flawlessly. And that's because they have a superb command and structure, and a structure in which they know how to deal with emergencies.
So I would urge you in evaluating their performance to put it in the context of, no one has ever encountered an attack like this. No one ever has ever had to have dealt with a recovery and search effort, or anywhere near this dimension. Not to mention the family center that had to be created, which no one had ever even heard of before, a family center which the Office of Emergency Management had developed with the relief of the people at Flight 800. The family center that they developed and the things that OEM provided for this city.
So I will -- maybe I'll make a comment at the end, but I think I covered most of the things that I want to say. And I thank you very, very much for your attention.
THOMAS KEAN, CHAIRMAN, 9/11 COMMISSION: Mayor, thank you very, very much.
The questioning will be lead this morning by Commissioner Ben- Veniste, followed by Commissioner Thompson.
RICHARD BENVENISTE, 9/11 COMMISSIONER: Good morning, Rudy.
GIULIANI: Good morning.
BEN-VENISTE: On Labor Day, September 2001, I took my wife and younger daughter to see the Statue of Liberty and the twin towers. After September 11, I, like tens of thousands, maybe millions of others, said, "There but for the grace of god go I." And we are the lucky ones, the survivors, who must do better in the future to protect our loved ones and our institutions.
You and I became friends at the U.S. Attorney's Office in the early '70s, prosecuting organized crime, labor racketeering, official corruption cases. The world seemed a much simpler place then.
I have followed your career since then with admiration. And while sometimes disagreeing with your decisions, never questioned your unwavering dedication to New York City.
On September 11, 2001, the city of New York showed what it was made of: the heroism of the firemen and the police officers who risked and in previously unimaginable numbers gave their lives in the quest for saving the lives of others. And your leadership on that day and in the days following gave the rest of the nation and, indeed, the world, in an unvarnished view, of the indomitable spirit and humanity of this great city. And for that I salute you.
BEN-VENISTE: There is no question but that on that day thousands of lives were saved by the heroic actions of the first responders in evacuating the towers and the surrounding areas. Among the most significant of the problems we have seen we're ones that reflect barriers between the effective communications between and among the first responders because of equipment that had not been standardized.
The country had seen a previous analogy to this in connection with its armed forces, which into the '80s did not have standardized communication equipment, ammunition, and other things that made communication between the Army and the Navy, the Air Force and the Marines an option during times of emergency. These were barriers which had grown up in these services which were proud, individual, and important sectors of our armed forces.
It took strong leadership to butt heads together and require standardization, to require that we be able to communicate between and among the services. So my first question to you is, given the fact that you were no shrinking violet, and given the fact that the differences in the equipment that were used and the radios and other communication technology over the years made it obvious that there could not be easy interagency communication, what barrier was there that prevented you from ordering standardization?
GIULIANI: No barrier, the technology. And that's the reason why there isn't standardization today. And the difference in mission between the fire department and the police department.
If I can explain that the way in which -- the way in which the fire department and the police department communicate is different because generally they have different missions. The fire department communicates, opts for a radio that allows for much less range of communication, but much more accurate communication in a small area, where more people can be on the line. Because when they're managing an emergency, they need to have as many people on the line as possible, because they're deploying a number of different companies, they're putting them in different places, they have to be able to communicate with each other.
The police department communicates by essentially simplifying it, basically police officer to headquarters, or police officer to dispatcher, because you're largely dealing with a one-on-one mission, rather than a major emergency mission. So the general way in which a police department communicates is different than the general way in which a fire department communicates. And when they're in the same emergency, they really have to get on the same frequency in order to be able to communicate with each other.
We have purchased for the fire department radios. I believe the radios came in early 2001. I think it was early 2001. I don't remember the exact date, but the radios had come in well before September 11, 2001.
We had purchased for them new radios. They had attempted to use them and found them too complicated to use and had withdrawn them, and were training people in how to use the new radios. That has proven to be so complex and so difficult that, until a few weeks ago, they haven't been able to do it.
So there are significant differences in the way in which the two of them communicate. And the best answer is to create an interoperable system so that the police radio can be switched over and be used the same way, again, simplifying it somewhat.
Generally, a police radio and a fire radio should operate differently because 90 percent of the time, 95 percent of the time they're doing different things. Police officers are chasing criminals; firefighters are dealing in mass emergencies. But they should have radios that are interoperable so that in an emergency both of them can be switched onto the same channel.
BEN-VENISTE: But in the interim...
GIULIANI: Those radios do not exist today.
BEN-VENISTE: In the interim, would you not suggest that there has to be in place some kind of system where communications can be synthesized, that even if the radios are not interoperable, that there has to be a level of communication which was not in place on 9/11?
GIULIANI: Well, it was in place. There are -- there were...
BNE-VENISTE: It didn't operate effectively on 9/11.
GIULIANI: It may not have operated, but they all had -- they all had a radio system that would have allowed them to communicate with each other. But they decided that they couldn't use it, that it wasn't operable, that they weren't able to get through. And part of the problem that you'll face, even when you create an interoperable system, is that if too many people are trying to communicate at the same time in any channel, they will begin to interfere with each other.
BEN-VENISTE: But at the very top there's got to be some coordination. That's my own point.
GIULIANI: Yes, absolutely.
BEN-VENISTE: Let me move to a second area which we think there has got to be some movement in change, and that is in the area of the 9/11 emergency response. In the case of 9/11, individuals who were trapped in the building called 911, searching for answers to their immediate distress. And we found that those operators were not in a position to do anything other than receive information.
It wasn't an interactive loop, which obviously was called for in circumstances of this kind of dire emergency. Had you considered prior to 9/11 the possibility in a disaster of this kind where people could go for information and receive it?
GIULIANI: I would have to say in -- you know, seeing what you've observed, or even going through some of this over the last year or two, 911 was overwhelmed. And should it have been larger, should it have been anticipated? Yes, it probably should have. But it wasn't.
It was not one of those things that was not anticipated. 911 volume -- my numbers may be slightly off, but just for purposes of illustration, 911 on any given day does about 30,000, 35,000 calls. When they get up to 50,000 to 55,000, they are at capacity or beyond capacity. And I think they were well over 55,000 that day.
And I don't think anyone ever anticipated that they would have to deal with an emergency of this kind. So some of the things that have now emerged, that they should have had more information, that there should have been updates, I suspect what was happening was they were so overwhelmed with calls, just getting to the next call and getting to the next call and getting to the next call, even the supervisors didn't have the time to impart information.
Number one, they weren't trained that way. They should have been, but they weren't. And number two, even if that would have been their instinct, they were so overwhelmed that they weren't able to do it.
BEN-VENISTE: Well, this is an area that we feel there can be and there should be a solution.
BEN-VENISTE: Final question, Rudy. When you and I were prosecutors and dealt with both the FBI and the New York PD, we saw that there was a level of, for want of a better word, arrogance at the FBI. It was a one-way street. They did not interact. They were happy to receive information, but didn't give it.
Things have changed somewhat now. In the world that we live in now, facing the potential of other terrorist attacks, it seems a no- brainer that as a force multiplier the FBI needs to trust more, it needs to disseminate more, and it needs to utilize the vast resources of police departments such as the city of New York. I'd like to get your comments on that. GIULIANI: There's no question about that. The FBI would be even more effective. Or, to the extent that the FBI utilizes state and local law enforcement, the FBI takes what is a relatively small law enforcement organization and multiplies it dramatically.
The New York Police Department is larger than FBI. It's a larger police agency than the FBI. So if you want to know about New York City, you have got to work with the New York Police Department.
Now, the FBI learned that lesson after we left the United States Attorney's Office, but some -- a long time ago, long before I was the mayor or United States attorney, when they established a joint terrorism task force, which is by no means, again, perfect, but a lot better than many other cities and States have available to them, and is a concept that should be replicated else where. Other cities that are under threat -- and, you know, we believe the threat is largest in New York or greatest, but the threat is everywhere -- should have a joint terrorism task force. And the FBI should be sharing information with the local police and the state police.
And even -- and the resistance is a fear, because I've heard this expressed, including at times when I was trying to get information from the FBI for myself and for my police commissioner -- and this was after September 11 and during the time of heightened emergency -- I was told that if we give the information to the police then it will be leaked. Well, every once in a while the FBI leaks.
BEN-VENISTE: I'm shocked, shocked.
GIULIANI: You know, I don't want to say anything, but every once in a while, you know -- so my response was, "Either give it to me now or I'll read it in The New York Times in two or three days." But let's share it with state -- we don't -- we've got to trust our state and local police.
The FBI is a great law enforcement organization. The New York Police Department is a great law enforcement organization. The Chicago Police are a great law enforcement organization. They've got to have information to operate.
And the dispute there, which was not so much not being alerted. We would get alerted. But what I wanted was the information.
The question was, give us the words, because I need the words. I need to know what you know because I don't need to know it as the mayor, but my police commissioner needs to know it. And his 50 guys that do terrorist work need to know it, because they may be able to see in a word something that says "bridge" to them or "tunnel" or -- if I may, I'll give you the illustration.
It was several -- and I think I shared this with Bob Kerrey when he visited with me and John Lehman. It was several weeks after the attack, and it was after the anthrax attack, which followed the first attack. And the country was put on a higher -- on a much higher alert. And the police commissioner and I were sitting in my office and we were trying to figure out what to do now that we were on a higher alert. We were on the highest alert we could think of being on. So I called and asked, "Could you give me the words that provoked this higher alert so that my police commissioner and I can make some choices? Because we can't cover everything." But maybe we can make some calculated risks, which we realized was always a risk.
And after about four, five hours of going back and forth and getting a further clearance, they gave the information directly from the CIA to our police commissioner, who was able, with his staff, to make choices about what we should emphasize. Should we put more people at subways? Did it sound like if there was going to be an attack it was going to be a subway attack, a tunnel attack? Did it sound like it was going to be another building attack? Did it sound like it was going to be an attack on a synagogue or a church?
These people are experts at this. And the more the FBI shares this information, and the more we break down this fear that somebody is going to get credit or somebody is going to -- somebody is going to leak something, we really shouldn't worry about the leak part. It comes out anywhere. So might as well give it to law enforcement earlier.
BEN-VENISTE: I agree.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you very much, Rudy.
GIULIANI: Thank you.
KEAN: Governor Thompson.
JAMES THOMPSON, 9/11 COMMISSIONER: Mayor Giuliani, I would like to associate myself, and I think probably every member of the panel does, with Commissioner Ben-Veniste's opening remarks considering your extraordinary leadership not only for the city of New York during crisis, but for the national as well in setting an example for all of us. And I would like to take up on your opening statement and simply express my opinion that we here on this commission are not engaged in a search for blame. We're not engaged in a search for villains.
We're engaged in two things. One, what actually happened as best we can determine it? And two, what lessons can we learn from what happened and the response to it that hopefully will lessen the chance that it will happen again, or in such great numbers?
All of us realize that it will happen again in some fashion somewhere, probably not in the same way. As we observed yesterday, the enemy is versatile, smart, entrepreneurial, and they don't fight the same war twice, as we sometimes do. We can't do that and carry the country with us in support of reform if we're seen as people who judge solely in hindsight, second-guessing decisions of people who stood in the thick of battle with debris and bodies falling from the hundredth floor and had to make split-second decisions on rescuing and helping as many people as possible.
In my view, it would dishonor the memory of those who died on September 11 if we don't learn those lessons and teach them to the country and hope for their support.
THOMPSON: I would rather honor the memory of those who died by moving forward and helping save other Americans.
Now, could you give us a description of the particular kinds of information you either did or did not receive from the FBI during the summer of 1991, with particular reference -- and the commission has devoted many hours to this -- information that was received or not received about Osama bin Laden or al Qaeda during this period of extraordinary high chatter that the FBI and the CIA have previously testified about during that summer that proceeded September 11, 2001?
GIULIANI: The information that I received in the summer, or in the period, you know, leading up to September 11, 2001, would be not terribly different than the information that I received over the maybe two or three years prior -- prior to that, going back to '97, '98, with the terrorist bombing case and the terrorists that were brought to New York to be prosecuted in the southern district of New York. From that point on, we would receive fairly regular briefings that the city was on alert, that there were dangers, that there were risks.
Most of my briefings would come from the police. And most of them would occur during the regular meeting I had each week with the police commissioner, which included a written report and an oral presentation either from the commissioner or from the deputy commissioner or one of the people that was an expert on this.
And then every once in a while -- but I can't remember this increasing particularly in 2001 -- but every once in a while it would include a briefing by John O'Neil (ph) from the FBI, who would come over after having maybe told the police department he wanted to reiterate something of importance that he would tell me. And sometimes it would come from Louis Freeh, who would call me from Washington to say they wanted to brief me on something.
But that was not particularly different in 2001 than it was in '98, '99, 2000. And beginning back then, we would continuously get alerts and advice about things that we should do, like to close down the area around the courthouse because there was a fear that there would be a bombing at the courthouse in retaliation for holding the terrorists in the Metropolitan Correction Center. So we did that. We closed the streets around the courthouse and put up barricades.
And then specific warnings about the stock exchange and about city hall. And we put up barriers around all of those places. And then sometimes there would be an arrest that would be made, and during the arrest things were seized from the terrorists. And the things seized from the terrorists would include plans that sometimes would be the plans of New York City subways, New York City tunnels. Very often it would be the stock exchange, public buildings at city hall, or whatever.
So those were thought of as the primary -- those were thought of as the primary target. And it seemed to me that information, that protocol that the FBI and police developed, came largely from what they were seizing from terrorists or suspected terrorists. And I assume, because I wasn't privy to this part of it -- and I assume from what they were hearing on their interceptions.
But there was no -- we were on high alert from about '97, '98 on. Probably the most briefings I received and the most information came in the build up to the millennium celebration in 2000, where I received four or five separate briefings about possible terrorist plans to attack that celebration. And we went through drills and exercises and deployed thousands of police officers and did background checks because there was a question about whether to cancel it or not.
I think the one in Seattle was canceled. And we decided to go forward with it, but with some real risk attached to it. But there was nothing particular in that summer of 2001 that was any different than the four, five years before.
THOMPSON: You've faced many decisions as the chief executive, and you understand how chief executives function. We've heard in these hearings, and even more in our private interviews, about the difficulty of chief executives, whether President Clinton or President Bush or President Reagan or President Bush, again, getting briefings on every conceivable subject that falls within a president's jurisdiction and having to sort of prioritize the issues of the day and make decisions on those.
We've heard about the August 6 PDB that President Bush received, and we've heard about the PDBs that President Clinton was privy to and decisions that were made on the basis of intelligence. Can you give us just a perspective as a former chief executive on the difficulties or challenges that chief executives face in dealing with everything at once every day?
GIULIANI: Well, I think that -- now, when you go back over a report, and you know the end of the story, which is a horrible one, but you know the end of the story, the reports that are relevant become much more obvious than before you know the end of it. And part of the reason for that is you're given so much information at all different levels.
I mean, the FBI and the CIA and the other intelligence agencies collect enormous amounts of information. Then they distill that information and they pass on a smaller amount, but even still an even enormous amount of information.
As the mayor of New York City, I was probably warned about threats to New York City. I can't give you like an accurate or a scientific number. I'll give you one for rhetorical impact. Once a day, or five times a week, or -- it was not unusual for me to receive a phone call from Police Commissioner Brattin (ph) or Police Commissioner Safer (ph) or Police Commissioner Caric (ph) and say, "I have to talk with you on a secure phone," or "I need to meet with you." And to give me a warning about a threat, something that was going to happen to the city.
So I imagine with the president it would multiply that out many, many times. So now that we hear the word "threat" and it is attached to something that appears to be connected to September 11, it jumps out at us. At the time, it has to have melded together with hundreds of other things that were of equal or more importance. So when I look at these reports, I don't -- they don't seem to me to be the kinds of things that would jump out at you to be so terribly unusual.
THOMPSON: Let's turn our attention to the FBI for a moment. I'm sure you're acquainted somewhat, at least, with the efforts that Director Mueller has made to reform the FBI and to change the focus of its mission from strictly law enforcement and law enforcement and intelligence, and to change the culture of the FBI to reward intelligence successes in the same way that they reward or have rewarded traditionally law enforcement successes in dealing with their agents.
Give us your assessment of how well you think he's done so far. But, also, give us your assessment of what structural changes we may need to recommend concerning the FBI, or the CIA, for that matter, because neither Director Tenet nor Director Mueller will, despite good intentions, always be there. And we need to tell the Congress and the American people how the collection and dissemination of intelligence for the defense of this nation should be handled in the future.
GIULIANI: Well, I think it would be very, very valuable to recommend the creation of joint terrorism task forces in all major cities in the country so that the FBI and the police are working together as partners. When Rick Ben-Veniste asked me that before, and I referred to the joint terrorism task force that was established in the late 1970s, the real benefit of it is that the police officer and police detective and the FBI agent are partners. They sit in the same office. They go out and investigate the same case.
So it doesn't mean you always get all the information that you want, and it doesn't mean that the director doesn't have to break down even barriers there. But at least you're dealing at a level of trust and cooperation that is beyond, you know, a lot of it throughout the United States. That would be an excellent mechanism to kind of assure that the information is flowing.
That also presents to the FBI in a compelling way the need for the two-way street of cooperation. There was a case -- I don't know if Commissioner Kerrey described this yesterday, but there was a case about a year, a year and a half before September 11, 2001, in which the joint terrorism task force foiled an attack on the New York City subways by terrorists when had plans for the subways, the tunnels, the bridges. That case happened because a citizen noticed something suspicious and went into a precinct and described it to a cop, who decided and evaluated what the citizens said that it was suspicious, and then brought in the joint terrorism task force.
But it happened because of good, old-fashioned police work. I don't know, it may have happened anyway, but I'm not sure it would have happened if you didn't have that joint terrorism connection, where the police worked very closely with the FBI. That would help a lot.
I think that the director has made great strides in opening the FBI up. And I think he's moving them in exactly the right direction.
And the only advice from my limited perspective that I can offer with regard to the CIA and intelligence gathering is -- and this a belief more than it is something I can prove. I think if we had more human intelligence and we didn't rely just on interceptions, but we had human intelligence to inform the vast mounds of information that we get, we'd better be able to interpret it and to figure out priorities.
When you asked me before about the amount of information that comes in to intelligence analysts, you can put it on -- it's this big. And it all says threat. And it all says bad people who want to do terrible things.
To figure out which one you should concentrate on, you need an interpreter. And the interpreter is human intelligence, somebody inside these organizations. That's the way we investigated organized crime, and that's the way we investigated drug operations. You infiltrate them and then the interceptions make sense to you.
I think we fell in love with our technology, and I think we felt we had so much technology that that made us secure. And we moved away. And I'm not talking about this president, or the last one, or the last one, but for some time we moved away from the tough, more difficult and dirty work of human infiltrating organizations.
And if you had infiltrated organizations, then maybe the communique -- you wouldn't just rely on a briefing. Somebody would point it out to you and say that's the important one.
THOMPSON: Thank you, Mr. Mayor.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
KEAN: Mr. Mayor, just one thought, one question. New York City on that terrible day, in a sense, was blessed because it had you as a leader. It had somebody who was a great, great leader to take charge of a terrible, terrible event.
You also had, as you told us, some of the best people in the country to call on who worked for you and worked for the city. This commission is judged with making recommendations for the nation, in a sense.
And the cities -- the rest of the cities in this country are not going to have a Mayor Giuliani. They may have a good man or woman, but they're not going to have you. They're not going to have the kind of people that you had to call on that day to help you in this city. And we've got to make recommendations that also affect them and can make their city safer.
Have you got any thoughts about what kind of recommendations we could make based on your experience that would be across the board so that we could tell mayors of other cities, who are good mayors, but not you, have great people, but not very great people?
GIULIANI: The other cities have equally effective mayors and police departments, and maybe more effective than me. And this isn't about particular individuals. It really isn't.
It's about people who seek out this work. And I think New Yorkers -- you know, I was very blessed to have an unbelievably capable fire department and police department. I mean, beyond anything I would ever be able to describe to you. There's no way I can describe to you how effective the New York City Fire Department, the New York City Police Department is.
And I'm not just talking about on September 11. I'm talking about the hundreds of times that I have been in hospitals or emergency rooms with their families, men and women who put their lives at risk to protect other people.
So I was very blessed to have terrifically effective people, and rested on their shoulders. It's not about me. And I think our people are special, and I think New Yorkers are special. So I can't help him that.
KEAN: You're a New Yorker.
GIULIANI: I can't help it. I'm a New Yorker. I think they're special, and I asked them that night when I was standing at the police academy, knowing that I had lost so many of my own friends and loved ones, and there would be more to come, I asked them to give the country and the world a demonstration of how people react to terrorism by emerging stronger.
And they've emerged even stronger. And Mayor Bloomberg has carried on everything I was doing and done even more. And so has Commissioner Kelly. And I think that all these American cities have -- you know, have -- certainly among their fire departments and police departments, they have extraordinary people.
I did worry, and do continue to worry, that maybe because of the resources we have and the size that we have, that it isn't the same way in a lot of other places. I mean, big cities -- and this would also be true of Chicago, it would be true of Los Angeles, it would be true of the big cities -- big cities are better prepared for this than smaller places, because we deal with emergencies all the time. And we're much better prepared for physical disaster because, while we were all sleeping after your hearing last night until this morning, the New York Fire Department probably saved dozens of people and put out 10 fires, and the police department were probably engaged in emergency missions.
They just -- while we talk about it and opine about it, they just do it. And they're terrific at it. And I think other...
KEAN: What I was looking for was systems, a change in systems that we could recommend to other places in the country based on your experience. GIULIANI: I think the most important recommendation I would make and put on the top of the list is to have OEMs. That cities should have offices of emergency management.
The Office of Emergency Management that we established in '95, '96 was invaluable to us. We would not have gotten through -- when I say September 11, I don't just mean the day. I mean the months after that.
And then the anthrax attack that followed it, which people tend to forget about it. Within a month of September 11, we were attacked by anthrax. And then a month later we had a plane crash. That, in and of itself, would have been the worst catastrophe of the year.
Without the Office of Emergency Management, training us and doing drills, doing exercises, we would not -- even with a very good police department and fire department, we would have been able to handle all that. And I know Chicago initiated an Office of Emergency Management within months of September 11, 2001, because Mayor Daly thinks in terms of, how do I prepare my city?
And I would think that would be something, along with a joint terrorism task force. If cities had that, it would help them a lot in bringing together these resources. But even in a city like New York, as you found out, with a very large police department and a very large fire department, not everything can be coordinated.
KEAN: Thank you.
TIMOTHY ROEMER, 9/11 COMMISSIONER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I, too, want to join, Mayor, in thanking you for your time this morning, and particularly your brave and courageous leadership on September 11. When many of us -- I served in government in Washington, D.C., on that day, and we constantly saw the replaying of the planes crashing into the two towers. And that brought a potential sense of devastation and insecurity to many people.
At the same time, the people would see the video of you marching down the streets of New York City, showing calm and showing leadership, that I think had a ripple effect, not just in New York City, but to people, leaders in Washington and around the country. So, for that, we're very grateful, and we're very grateful to the leadership that other people here in this city showed.
Let me ask you a direct question. I hope it's fair, very direct, about something that this commission has spent a great deal of time on, and that's the presidential daily brief of August 6, 2001 to the president.
In this document, it says "Bin Laden determined to strike in U.S." And it's only about a page and a paragraph. And in this document, which we've agreed did not tell the president that something was going to happen in New York City or that there were going to be airplanes coming into the World Trade Center, it does mention New York City or the World Trade Center three times in this document.
ROEMER: It says that -- please. It says that bin Laden and his followers would follow the example of the World Trade Center bombing, or bomber Ramsey Yousef, and bring the fighting to America. It talks about a clandestine source in 1998 that a bin Laden cell in New York was recruiting Muslim American youth for attacks. And it says -- it mentions the recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York City.
Now, again, Mayor, nothing to say that you should have known about something happening on September the 11th. But it mentions New York. And we all know since 1993, or 1997, when you mentioned the incident then, that New York was something that was very precious to us and a target by the terrorists.
I want to know why the CIA and the FBI were not sharing more of this with you. Because you've said to us just this morning that you didn't get an increased warning from the CIA and FBI. It was pretty steady from '97 through the millennium, through the spring and summer of 2001. Pretty steady.
It was always pretty high. But we have people in Washington, the CIA director and others, saying their hair was on fire, that this was a spike in warning.
One, why didn't we get better communication of this spike in warning in the spring and summer with a likely target, New York, to help you a little bit more, if possible? And two, what specifically can we do in these instances in the spring and summer to try to fortify and protect and prepare, not knowing particularly ABC of when, where, and who's going to do it, but how do we try to prepare our people, our sites, and the city for something that happened that day and is probably going to happen again?
GIULIANI: I don't know that I can really answer the whole question. I'll try.
If that information had been given to us, or more warnings had been given in the summer of 2001, I can't honestly tell you we would have done anything differently. I mean, we were doing at the time all that we could think of that was consistent with the city being able to move and to protect the city.
In fact, for some time, we had been heavily criticized for doing too much, including closing down City Hall and closing some of the areas around public buildings. So some of that would have sounded a great deal like the information that we were getting already in '98 and '99 and 2000, that New York City was a target.
I have to say that in the briefings that I got -- and this is all now recollection more than anything else -- but I think the police plan reflects that. Probably, if we were to list the number one thing repeated as a target, it was the subways, tunnels and bridges, largely because when arrests were made, those were the things that would be seized. And then public buildings would be second.
So it may or may not have led to increased security at some of those buildings. But I do think -- and, again, this is hypothetical and it's an interpretation -- I do think that the interpretation would have been more in the direction of suicide bombings than aerial attack. Because in all the briefings that I received, the two areas that were emphasized were bombings, meaning suicide-type bombings, or an area that we haven't talked much about, but we should talk more about if we're looking towards the future, which is biological and chemical attack.
So I don't know that that -- I don't know what it is that we would have done differently if we had been given the information. But we weren't given it.
ROEMER: We heard -- OK. I will not be able to follow up on that. I appreciate your answer, but I think the chairman wants to move on to the next one. I have several follow-ups, but thank you, Mr. Chairman.
KEAN: Senator Kerrey.
BOB KERREY, 9/11 COMMISSIONER: Mayor, let me at the beginning respectfully disagree with two things you said at the start. And it may not be a disagreement, it may just be me seeing the world slightly different than you do.
First of all, I don't believe it's an either/or choice of being angry at those who perpetrated this crime and feeling anger at towards those with responsibility. And, at the same time, I think one of the most remarkable things that you did during this whole period of time was help us channel our own anger, because one of the problems with anger is that it becomes its evil twin in a hurry and becomes hatred.
And the thing that I believe unified us on that day, in addition to your words and your leadership, was that it was no longer us and others. I mean, it wasn't just Americans who died on the 11th of September. Some of the people that you pointed out was New York City strengths. Our immigrant community died on September 11, including, I guess it's fair to guess, undocumented people, as well.
It wasn't just Christians and Jews. It was Christians, Jews and Muslims. And dare I say it, people who probably didn't believe in god, who just came to work and were trying to do what people do when they do their job.
And all of a sudden -- for the rest of my life, I'll never be able to see port authority police, fire, or New York City Police Department, or, for that matter, police department and fire department and port authority people anywhere and see them any differently than I do now, which is they're special people. And strangers became different. All the obituaries that were in the newspapers and all the funerals that you went to, you personalized people that previously had been strangers. And that's, I think, where the unity came from.
We didn't see it as us versus them. We didn't see the other any longer. We saw the humanity.
We reflected and let our anger subside a bit to see the humanity in other people at the moment that we may even be disagreeing with them. And I do praise you highly, especially for going to all those funerals. That had to be a terrible pain to do that.
But you allowed us to grieve. And through grief, understand the full dimension of this loss. And to unify us as a nation.
I mean, the word "damn" got dropped from our Yankees for a short period of time because the country did no longer see New York City as a strange and alien place. They saw it as a part of their country, as a part of their world, indeed, because it was all over the world that people were feeling the humanity and the loss of humanity in New York City.
Yesterday, Mayor, we had three of your former commissioners. And (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Commissioner Caric (ph) said -- in his testimony said, "The city through OEM had conducted coordinated plans for many types of emergencies, including one simulating bio/chem attack, mass transit, actual emergencies like blackouts, building collapses, storms, plane crashes, et cetera."
And when I asked the question, was there a scenario analysis done for the possibility that a plane could hit one of these 1,350-foot towers, I got the answer, "No." And I'm not sure that's correct, but, like now, I had five minute to do it, so I didn't have a chance to follow. To the best of your knowledge, was there a scenario analysis done for the possibility that a plane taking off from one of the airports in this area could hit the World Trade Center accidentally?
GIULIANI: I don't recall one that would be done. I recall a number of field exercises and tabletop exercises.
There was one done involving an actual field exercise involving a plane crash in which state and local and different county organizations had to respond to it to see if we could work together with the Nassau County, the port authority. There was one done involving a sarin gas attack right near the World Trade Center that involved the port authority. And there were many done involving building attacks, building fires, building collapses. But I don't recall one involving an aerial strike on a building.
ROEMER: Among the eureka moments for me, whereby I discovered something on this commission, was listening to flight attendant Betty Hong (ph) on American Airlines Flight 11 when she was talking to the ground. People on the ground, American Airlines and federal officials, were surprised that the plane had been hijacked. In fact, tried -- argued with us, are you sure it isn't air rage?
Don't you think the FAA should have told the port authority at some point during this whole entire period -- I mean, take '98 through 2001, because our staff has concluded that at least the Counterterrorism Center at CIA should have done some scenario analysis about hijacking since it was mentioned in some of things that we picked up. No specific plan was detected, but don't you think that the FAA or somebody at the federal level should have engaged in some scenario analysis about the possibility of a hijacking and begin to think about that as a possible threat against the United States?
GIULIANI: I imagine in hindsight it would have helped, sure. I mean, it would have. But they didn't.
So I don't know how to evaluate how they make decisions on what it is they decide on. Sure, if somebody had said, this is a possibility, then there would have been an exercise done based on it. But no one thought of it, and we didn't think of it.
We thought of a lot of things. We had plans for anthrax, we had plans for smallpox, we had plans for terrorist bombings, we had plans for dirty bombs, airplane crashes. But -- in all that thinking that we did, we had never come up with the thought that there would be planes used as missiles attacking buildings.
Whether others should have done it, I don't know. I don't know if I can really judge that, Senator.
ROEMER: Thank you.
KEAN: Commissioner Lehman.
JOHN LEHMAN, 9/11 COMMISSIONER: Thank you.
Mr. Mayor, there is no question that your leadership and your firm grip and presence in your movable command post made a huge difference on that day. There was no question to the world that the captain was on the bridge. But there is a tradition in the Navy learned over centuries that sometimes the captain's not on the bridge, and that there has to be a clear and unambiguous succession of command authority in the event the captain is ashore when the attack comes, or the captain is killed in the event, and particularly when there are multiple crises around a battle or a ship.
And one of the problems that our staff and we see in the new incident command system that has just been promulgated on Friday, that it's really a formula for negotiation between strong and powerful and heroic agencies as to who's going to be in charge at the time. And I think Gray Kelly (ph) yesterday explained it very well, that this is a system based on a very strong mayoral system. And, in a way, it's based -- it's modeled on you being on the bridge.
We have a very strong mayor now. There have been times in the past, in fact frequent times, when we have not had very strong mayors. And we've had -- many cities around the country do not have a mayoral -- a strong mayoral system, even if the incumbent is strong.
But more importantly than that, below the mayor there does not seem to be in a position -- in a situation like we are trying to plan for, they're coming back. And they may and probably plan to do multiple events to maximize confusion and maximize casualties.
The problem is, even with a strong captain on the bridge, this does not -- this plan does not provide clear unity of command. It's a negotiating document. And I would like your personal view on whether it's not time, given the increased level of the threat from a very sophisticated enemy, that New York break from its long and successful tradition of working together with independent agencies to adopt a more clearly defined and unambiguous control and command system up above.
I'm not saying within, although there are some issues there, but much less strong. But among the agencies, port authority, fire department and police.
GIULIANI: First of all, I believe that Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly and the commissioners you saw here yesterday, have done a lot, learning from the things that happened on September 11, 2001, to improve the readiness of the city. And, in fact, I think they've done exceptionally good work in doing that.
And I think this protocol, matrix, is an attempt to try to improve on the one that we did of the two or three years earlier. I've forgotten exactly when it was put out. But I went through so many drafts of that, that when I see it now, I can't remember which was the last draft and which -- it took us about three years to develop that.
First of all, the line of authority is clear. The mayor is in charge. All of these agencies are mayoral agencies. In the same way the president of the United States is commander in chief, the mayor is in charge. That's why people elect the mayor, so they get the choice of whether they get a strong captain or weak captain or a lieutenant or whatever. The people get the choice of who they select.
And maybe now in the new era that we're in, this will be something people think about when they make the choice. But at least they get the choice of who is in charge.
There is the deputy mayor, who succeeds the mayor immediately if the mayor is sick, injured, hurt or missing. And that deputy mayor is designated. In my case, it was Joe Lhota, who was there right at the scene. He was the second person to come up to me with the police commissioner at the time, and he was ready to take command if anything happened to me.
And then there's a line of succession after that. So there's never any -- and this was not true not only of my administration, but of Mayor Dinkin's administration, Mayor Koch. And I think...
LEHMAN: But suppose there were three other events simultaneously.
GIULIANI: Well, I mean, that -- if there were three other events simultaneously, then you have the best police department in the country, usually with a police commissioner who is among the three or four very best police professionals in the country. Because the New York City Police Department draws the best people.
I never had trouble finding a really great police commissioner. The only problem I had was selecting between the 10 that wanted to be police commissioner.
LEHMAN: But why shouldn't there be an automatic...
KEAN: This is the last.
LEHMAN: This is my final. I'm from New York, too. Why shouldn't there be a formula so that while before that can be arbitrated, there's an automatic system for who is going to be in charge until a decision otherwise on the scene? I'm not talking about at the top, but on the scene of multiple incidents.
GIULIANI: I think that because incidents are complex. That's why you need OEM, and that's why I created OEM.
LEHMAN: But it doesn't have the authority. That's the problem.
GIULIANI: Yes it does. It has...
LEHMAN: It can dictate who's going to be in charge?
GIULIANI: Yes. It has the authority to decide who's in charge until the mayor gets there. And then I guess somebody could argue it. That never happened.
The way the system was arranged -- and I know my system better, but I think this one is very similar -- most emergencies have a department that's in charge. A typical criminal case, the police are in charge. A typical fire, the fire department is in charge.
Where it gets complicated is, let's say -- and I remember where this emerged. It emerged from the sarin gas attack that we simulated near the World Trade Center. And the question was, this was a political rally attacked by Islamic terrorists sarin gas attack, a thousand people down. And the question was, who's in charge? The terrorists were in the crowd still releasing the sarin gas. Or the police department is in charge, while it's still a criminal case, a terrorist case.
Now, the terrorists are arrested; they're now out. And now you've got a thousand victims that have to be saved. The fire department is in charge. and OEM has to determine that decision. So, if there were an attack in this building right now, if something happened in this building, and the terrorists were in this building, or we were being held hostage or whatever, everybody would arrive. It would be clear that the police department was in charge, the chief of the police department would be outside and he would be directing the situation.
Once the terrorists or hostage takers were taken out and this building became a rescue mission, we had all been injured with biological attack or chemical attack, now the fire department would take over. And I've saw several hundred of these and they never proved to be a problem.
One thing, I know you're a New Yorker, I'm a New Yorker, I'll tell you one thing, you know this about New York. And Rick is. They handle big things brilliantly. There is never -- there was not a problem of coordination on September 11, 2001, because it was bigger than everybody involved in it. So, nobody was asserting ego. The fire department should take over, the police department; the mayor should be in charge. Everyone sublimated their ego to how big it was. They're terrific at big emergencies.
Where the problems occur that you reported and found, it's in the smaller situations, where they have time to debate who's better, who's more effective. I come from a family of four uncles who were police officers and one who was a fire firefighter. So, I know this from the time I was two years old. And if it's a big emergency, they will all be in there helping each other and assisting each other. If it's an extraction from a car, they're going to race to get there, because the police department feels they can do it better. and the fire department believes they can do it better. That's why you have an OEM.
You want to maintain this tremendous pride, like the Marine Corps has or the FBI has. At the same time, you want to be able to use it correctly and that's why you need -- I mean the only thing I would recommend, and I think the present mayor is doing this. Mayor Bloomberg is doing this. You have got to have a very strong OEM, so that if Jerry Hower who is going to be here later -- I had two OEM directors, one was Jerry Hower, the second one you saw yesterday was Ritchie Shearer. If they arrived at an emergency and there was any doubt, they had the authority to say fire department in charge, or police department in charge. I would usually arrive there or my deputy mayor if I was sick or wasn't around. And then if they had a problem with that, they could raise it with the deputy mayor. But he would always support the head of OEM. So that -- I mean that's -- I think that is the best way to handle it in New York.
KEAN: Senator Gordon.
GORDON: Mayor Giuliani, your graphic description of your day, you remarked on one incident that leads me to a series of thoughts on which I'd like to have your comment. You said that instantly when you arrived there and spoke to the fire chief in charge, you know, you said you got a helicopter up to the top and rescue anyone? And he said, no, look at the flames. We can rescue people, you know, below the impact area. Now, that reference, I guess, was to tower No. 1, but presumably exactly the same doctrine applied to tower No. 2. Four people did manage to get down. But there obviously wasn't any way for your first responders to get above that area and to save anyone.
That's the part of your narrative that caused me to this thought. Our chart shows that 2,602 people lost their lives in those two towers that day. Ten of them, of course, were hijackers. A hundred and forty-seven were passengers in the two airplanes, a horrendous 403 were either your firefighters, or police officers, or Port Authority police officers. And my arithmetic tells me that that means that 2,042 civilians who were in the towers at the time lost their lives. I'm not sure, but perhaps you can tell me whether or not there was any break down as to how many of those people were above the impact areas and how many were below.
My own estimate, and you can tell me if you think I'm wrong, is probably fewer than 100 of them were below the impact areas. In other words, the overwhelming majority, there was no way for you or your people to get at it all. Now, if I'm right on that, and if I'm right on the estimates that you've made that some 25,000 people were evacuated from those two towers, that tells me that your first responders, at the terrible price of 403 lives of their owns', saved or managed to saving of over 99.5 percent of the people they could conceivably have saved. Which is absolutely remarkable. Overwhelmingly remarkable, you know, no matter what kind of criticisms there are after the fact on the way in which it was merit.
Am I correct in that estimate? Would it be accurate to say that your people saved, at this cost of 403 of their own lives, 99.5 percent or more of the people that they could have conceivably have saved?
GUILIANI: I don't know if that would be the exact percentage, Senator. But the reality is, that they saved more lives than I think anyone had any right to expect that any human beings would able to do. Thou -- done differently with different people, and people maybe unwilling to be as bold as they were, you would have had a much more serious loss of life. And their willingness, the way I describe it, to stand their ground and not retreat. And even their interpretation of an evacuation order.
I know some of them, I know one firefighter whose family has explained this to me. He was in, he was in the north tower, he was evacuating people. He was given an evacuation order and he told his men to go and sent them down, he got out. But he was with a person in a wheelchair and an overweight person who were having a hard time getting down, so he stayed with them.
So how did he interpret that evacuation order? I will get all my men out but I'm going to stay here and help these people out. And the fact that so many of them interpreted it that way, kept a much calmer situation and a much better evacuation ...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Radios!
GUILIANI: And these people...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Talk about the radios!
GUILIANI: ... these people...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Radios!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Radios!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Radios! UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Talk about the radio!
KEAN: Would you please ask...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My son was murdered! Murdered because of incompetence and the radios doesn't work.
KEAN: You are simply wasting time at this point that could be used for question.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're wasting time.
KEAN: Please. Thank you.
GORDON: Thank you Mr. Mayor.
GUILIANI: It's an understandable...
GORDON: I think...
GUILIANI: Senator, it's an understandable.
GORDON: ... that record is absolutely extraordinary.
GUILIANI: And when you undergo the losses, it creates -- it's very understandable.
KEAN: Commissioner Gorelick, if you want to continue to remain...
KEAN: ... I would ask you please to be in order.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's one sided.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ask about Motorola.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Motorola!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ask about it. Ask about who's getting contracts from Motorola.
GORELICK: I have...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have one of us on that panel. Just one of us on that panel.
KEAN: I would ask you all, please...
KEAN: I understand your feelings. I also understand this hearing has to continue in an orderly manner. I would ask you to conduct yourselves that way. Please.
GORELICK: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I actually -- the questions I have, Mr. Mayor -- and again, thank you for your appearance here today -- are to follow up on the questions that Commissioner Lehman was asking. I appreciate your overarching statement that there has been continuity between your administration and your successors. But you made two choices that are, in fact, different from your successor, that I would really like to explore and drill down on.
One is in this command matrix. The fact of the matter is, and however it took you to arrive at your matrix, when you issued it in 1996, it had to use the basketball vernacular, very few jump balls. You basically said in this type of incident "X" is going to be in the lead. Now, that may have changed in the course of an emergency. You note emergencies are dynamic; the role of the incident commander might change. But you have a presumptive leader in each situation. In the procedures that were issued last week, nearly every -- in fact, every significant incident has at least two and in some instances as many as five agencies listed as the primary agency. That's a difference.
Now, you -- in response to Commissioner Lehman you said, well, that's why you have OEM. But in fact, the second difference between your policies and your successors is that in your policies, the Office of Emergency Management is the on-scene interagency coordinator. And does have the capacity or did have the capacity that you described. In a "New York Times" op-ed piece, Jerry Hower who ran, as you noted, your OEM at that beginning says -- is highly critical of Mayor Bloomberg's decision to essentially downgrade and change the role of OEM from a highly operational element that's an extension of the mayor to, in his words, I and think here he's quoting Director Bruno to a think tank.
He says that -- I'm quoting Hower here, "Mayor Bloomberg continues to undermine the city's ability to deal with crises by weakening the role of the coordinator." And I won't quote at length, but you know, I know that you're going to be loathe to criticize your successor, but it's important for us to understand on the ground in a city like this, what the proper model should be because we will be making recommendations about this. And so, I would like to ask you whether -- whether you believe the policies and procedures you set out are better or not, and what your reasons might be.
GUILIANI: Well, I believe that the part of it that Jerry was incorrect about is that OEM still has the authority to make the choice, as to which agency is in charge. And that's critical. That's the critical part of it. Whether more agencies are selected as possible incident commanders because the situation is more complex, or because on analysis after they looked at all of this, they've decided that there are -- if you gave me a copy of it, it would probably help. If I could just see it.
GORELICK: Let me... GUILIANI: Because I'm really not as familiar with that, obviously, as I am my own.
GORELICK: This is yours. I'm sorry. This is Mayor Bloomberg's. And this is yours.
GORELICK: And you can see the difference here.
OK. Well, the one thing that I would clarify in this is, is that OEM has the authority, meaning the new united command matrix, that OEM has the authority to make the decision, if there's any confusion about who's in charge. I mean the citywide public health emergency; it is possible that any one of those five agencies, depending on the kind of citywide emergency can be in charge of it. Whether it's HHC or NYPD, FDNY, the Department of Health, so OEM would have to make that choice. That's the thing I would clarify in this if there's any ambiguity.
GORELICK: Yes. Because I would note that in the -- in the procedures issued by Mayor Bloomberg, and frankly, it is consistent with the impression we were left with in the testimony yesterday. OEM responds to multi-agency incidents, participates in the command, coordinates resources from emergency support functions, relays information and supports logistic needs. It has, shall we say, rather less affirmative, aggressive, operational sense than it does in your more straightforward language. And maybe it is an issue of clarification, or maybe it is a choice.
GUILIANI: But in terms of my opinion of it, I would think that is the thing that would have to be clarified. Because when a power outage, NYPD, FDNY are the possible incident commanders. It really is going to depend if there is any suspicion of terrorism or criminal activity, or whether it is just a straight blackout that we're dealing with. And if there is any confusion between the police and the fire, and the mayor isn't available, then somebody has to decide that. That has to be...
GUILIANI: ... OEM.
GORELICK: So, to...
KEAN: Last question.
GORELICK: Yes, sir. So just to clarify; your concern is not with the listing of multiple agencies, which is different from the plan you put in place. But insuring there is a mechanism that is quite clear for determining who gets the lead if numerous agencies do show up, as listed in the protocol.
GUILIANI: Correct. The agencies that are listed as alternatives all make sense: aviation incident, police department, fire department or Port Authority. Depending on the aviation incident, it has to be one those running it. The real question is if there's any dispute, you want to know immediately who's in charge. And that has to be OEM's responsibility.
GORELICK: Thank you very much.
GUILIANI: Thank you.
KEAN: Commissioner Fielding.
FIELDING: Thank you Mr. Chairman.
Mayor Giuliani, as your friend of yours, I'm very pleased to join with my fellow commissioners and join in their words. And also, my own personal admiration for you over the years, not just for your public service over the years, but for the inspirational performance that you gave on that day after the attack as the symbol of resiliency, of not only New Yorkers, but all Americans. And I'm very pleased and proud to say that to you.
I think the clean up hitter here, so there are a couple of things I want to catch on. But first of all, there's some confusion in my mind and others as to the relationship between OEM and the Port Authority. For instance, if the Port Authority at Newark heard that there was a plane headed for Manhattan, could they communicate to the command center of OEM?
GUILIANI: Yes. Port Authority did have, and I'm sure continues to have direct communication with OEM, and frequent communication with OEM. We did exercises and drills with the Port Authority on a fairly frequent basis, including simulating a plane crash for this very reason, to make sure that the Port Authority, the police department, fire department, the Nassau County people could all respond correctly. So they have direct -- they have direct communication with OEM.
And the building, the World Trade Center, I think you'll have to check with others that know the statistics, I think it was the most responded to building in the city. So they were -- they were in -- the police, the fire and Port Authority were used to working together in that building. They do it like seven or eight times a day.
FIELDING: OK. Now, following up on something Governor Thompson asked you, my question is slightly different. Despite all of Bob Mueller's good efforts and he's really, you know, grasped the situation and is dealing with it in anybody's mind who observes him. From your background in law enforcement and as a mayor, and your various public services, do you think that given the role traditionally, culturally of the FBI and its strong emphasis on law enforcement that that's an organization that can, indeed, not only perform law enforcement, but also counterterrorism. Or would it be, in a perfect world, a better thing for us to consider putting that task and separating those tasks?
GUILIANI: That's a -- that's a very -- that's a debate that has pros and cons. And it's very difficult to decide which is a better way to do it.
FIELDING: But it's our messy debate. And we need your help. GUILIANI: But you have to decide it. And I would say that there's probably more gain than loss by having it in the same agency. By having the criminal investigation and the counterintelligence for domestic purposes in the same agency. And that if we figure out how to have them communicating better, so that we don't have the wall, and we don't have the separation and we have, you know, sharing of information, we're probably going to gain a lot more from that.
If it were just a separate domestic counterintelligence agency, I think it would be kind of isolated, in terms of its ability to realistically pick up what's going on. When I was asked earlier by some of the other panel members about the work by the local police, the FBI, I'm sure the director understands this, has to think of the local police as arms of the FBI. Because very often they're the ones who can pick up the intelligence that's going trigger, you know, the possibility of an attack, like the one I mentioned. And they're probably, you know, half dozen others, where the initial information came about because of good street police work.
So, if you had just an intelligence agency that was separated from a law enforcement agency, I think it would tend to become even more isolated than the situation we've had with the FBI. The idea of having those relationships with police departments is a valuable part of their intelligence gathering.
FIELDING: OK. Thank you. One follow-up question -- one final question, excuse me. We haven't talked about the aftermath of 9/11, but I know that FEMA had a major role in this city. And I guess at one point there must have been some question as to whether there needed to be a federalization of the clean up effort. and we really could use your comments on what happened because we've had no information on that.
GUILIANI: Well, the reason the city of New York is such a remarkable place, and I have such strong feelings about all these people on the fire department and police department and OEM and else where, is they weren't attacked once. They were attack attacked in two months, three times. With attacks that would be considered historic in nature, in terms of proportion. First, the attacks of September 11, 2001, then anthrax in NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox, the governor's office, my office, a number of places. A new component of first-time America ever had to deal with that.
And then just a month later we had an airplane crash, tragic horrible airplane crash in Rockaway. A tragic, horrible airplane crash that in at least in the initial moments appeared to be a terrorist attack. FEMA was remarkably helpful. And played exactly the right role. Joe Alba came here within 24 hours, he took over the Javits Convention Center, they deployed search and rescue operatives from Indianapolis, from Chicago, from Baltimore, from Phoenix Arizona.
We had -- we had -- Governor Thompson will appreciate this. We had Chicago police officers directing traffic in New York City. I don't know where they sent the people, but you know...
(LAUGHTER) GIULIANI: But they were directing traffic in New York City. And we got tremendous help from FEMA. And could not have gotten through it without all of that help. and they made the right decision for New York. It might be a different decision some place else because you have all these resources. At that time, a 40,000 police department, and an 11,000 person fire department; even with the terrible losses, a massive fire department, all these emergency people, the Port Authority. The best role to play in New York is a supportive role. It would have been impossible for FEMA to take over the effort of -- they wouldn't have understood the intricacies of the city well enough to take over the effort. So they played the right role.
If they had moved into another place -- I was in Shanksville, Pennsylvania after the attacks, and went to the high school and the field where the plane came down. And my police commissioner was with me, Bernie Karik, and when we passed a local firehouse, both of us stopped for a moment. And were stun would the idea that it was a fire house with two trucks that had to respond to what maybe could have been another terrorist attack.
So, you know, that might have been a situation where FEMA would come in, and FEMA would have to help and assist, because the resources aren't there. In New York, or Chicago, or Los Angeles, these police organizations are going to be so big, you have got to kind of work with them instead of try to direct them.
FIELDING: OK. Thank you very much. Thank you Mr. Chairman.
KEAN: Vice Chairman Hamilton.
HAMILTON: Mayor, we're running about 25 or 30 minutes late because of the interest the commission has had in your questions, so -- and your answers. You'll be glad to know I will not ask any questions.
I did feel, however, important that I simply express to you my appreciation, not just for your leadership. You've heard that a lot this morning. But also because of the cooperation you've given this commission. And the candor, with which you responded this morning and in the previous interview, we're deeply appreciative of that. And we may very well want to ask you further questions as we finalize our report.
As Midwesterner, I might say to you, I have been impressed time and again with the pride you expressed in New York City. And I admire that greatly and I think...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) 3,000 people are dead! They were not killed because he's a great leader. Three thousand people murdered does not mean leadership! He's a vacuum of leadership.
HAMILTON: So we thank you. Your help, your leadership and your cooperation to this commission.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're not asking real questions of the mayor. I will give you two minutes to rebut him. HAMILTON: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two minutes to ask a couple of real questions! Don't arrest the whistleblower.
KEAN: Mr. Mayor, thank you very...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't arrest the whistleblower!
KEAN: ... very much for your appearance here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's ask a couple of real questions!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My brother was a fireman. I want to know why 300 firemen died? Let's ask some real questions.
KAGAN: The comments of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani ending with frustrated audience member, wanting to ask some questions of his own to the 9/11 Commission, also to the former mayor.
This was about two hours of testimony from the former mayor. It began with some riveting testimony of how he went through the day on 9/11, what he experienced as those events unfolded. The main message of this mayor -- this former Mayor Rudy Giuliani saying to the 9/11 Commission that he believes that their priorities should be on preventing a new attack and not assigning blame on what happened on that day and afterwards.
While that was taking place, another important meeting taking place in Washington, D.C. The top commanders from Iraq meeting and testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee. We're going to hear more about that. Right now we fit in a quick break.
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