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Giuliani vs the Firefighters

April 5, 2007
by Zen Garcia

Rudy Giuliani’s rise to prominent national and world attention was elevated by his role as Mayor of New York City during a time of heightened challenge that culminated in the fateful events of September 11th, 2001. The leadership qualities he exhibited that day won him broad and wide acclaim from the 9/11 commission, “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, an unvarnished view of the indomitable spirit and the humanity, of this great city, and for that I salute you.”

Having been established as a hero, Giuliani has been emphasizing his 9/11 status ever since and today is enjoying promising numbers in Presidential polls which opine him as the ‘nominee’ to beat in ’08. He has refined himself as ‘America’s Mayor,’ suggesting that if he can handle the events of that day, then surely as President he could handle anything that might come his way. Many Americans hold Giuliani in high regard, considering him a great leader, a political hero; the type of person who can take charge in a moments notice and manage when things seem at their worse. This definition has been so ingrained into American society that even the Christian right seems to be willing to support him and his liberal stances on gun control, abortion, and gay civil unions. Giuliani was awarded the title Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II on October of 2001. He was also named one of People Magazine‘s “25 Most Intriguing People of the Year 2001”, Time Magazine‘s “Person of the Year 2001”, and A&E‘s “Biography of the Year in 2001.”

Rudolph Giuliani on September 11, 2001Giuliani’s cult hero status went untarnished and unchallenged until he decided to decline an invitation to the International Association for Firefighters Forum, open to all Presidential candidates for Q & A. Mainstream news then picked up on the story and exposed the contention between the former Mayor and the real heroes, the New York Firefighters who lost so many of their friends and compatriots in the attacks of that day. All was not well in Oz and finally someone had alluded to the mask shadowing the truth – a great rift exists between Giuliani and the one group America assumes to be his staunchest allies.

When Giuliani declined their invitation, a letter was e-mailed to all 280,000 members of IAFF– representing 85% of the nation’s firefighters — indicating that most of the association had not wanted to invite him anyways and then listed why. ” The IAFF recognizes that Mayor Giuliani generally enjoys a favorable reputation as a result of his actions immediately after the tragedy of 9/11. Many people consider Rudy Giuliani “America’s Mayor,” and many of our members who don’t yet know the real story, may also have a positive view of him. This letter is intended to make all of our members aware of the egregious acts Mayor Giuliani committed against our members, our fallen on 9/11, and our New York City union officers following that horrific day. Rest assured, our exclusion of Mayor Giuliani is not about any particular contractual or policy issue or disagreement. His actions post 9/11 rise to such an offensive and personal attack on our brother and sisterhood – and directly on our union – that the IAFF does not feel Rudy Giuliani deserves an audience of IAFF leaders and members at our own Presidential Forum. The disrespect that he exhibited to our 343 fallen FDNY brothers, their families and our New York City IAFF leadership in the wake of that tragic day has not been forgiven or forgotten.”

What did Giuliani do that so outraged the firefighter’s and their families, that they would still hold such a grudge against him 5 years later? One cannot understand the source of this contention unless one has done some real and difficult research into the events of that day. “In November 2001, our members were continuing the painful, but necessary, task of searching Ground Zero for the remains of our fallen brothers and the thousands of innocent citizens that were killed, because precious few of those who died in the terrorist attacks had been recovered at that point. Prior to November 2001, 101 bodies or remains of fire fighters had been recovered. And those on the horrible pile at Ground Zero believed they had just found a spot in the rubble where they would find countless more that could be given proper burial. Nevertheless, Giuliani, with the full support of his Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Essen, decided on November 2, 2001, to sharply reduce the number of those who could search for remains at any one time. There had been as many as 300 fire fighters at a time involved in search and recovery, but Giuliani cut that number to no more than 25 who could be there at once.

In conjunction with the cut in fire fighters allowed to search, Giuliani also made a conscious decision to institute a “scoop-and-dump” operation to expedite the clean-up of Ground Zero in lieu of the more time-consuming, but respectful, process of removing debris piece by piece in hope of uncovering more remains. Mayor Giuliani’s actions meant that fire fighters and citizens who perished would either remain buried at Ground Zero forever, with no closure for families, or be removed like garbage and deposited at the Fresh Kills Landfill. .when hundreds of family members of the fallen joined with our affiliate leadership and members to protest Giuliani’s decision, he ordered senior officers of the New York Police Department to arrest 15 of our FDNY brothers, including a number of local elected IAFF leaders.”

Here is where the mainstream falls short in their reporting: Why would Giuliani all of a sudden forcefully remove Firefighter’s from ‘the pile’ and in such a way that resulted in a brawl between the NYPD and the NYFD? What the mainstream press will never dig into or question is: why did Giuliani place more importance on cleaning up “the pile” than in taking a slow-retrieval approach to accessing the bodies of firefighters, police, and emergency workers still trapped in the wreckage of those buildings? Though 2 months later, chances were that no one was still alive, many still clung to the hope, that loved ones would be dug out of the devastation of those destroyed buildings. Families wanted a chance for closure, bodies of their loved ones returned so that they could honor them with a proper memorial and burial. The friends families of the fallen wanted to take their time in dismantling ‘the pile’, so that the dead would be respected and given opportunity to be reached and yet Giuliani thought it better to begin a rushed quick dismantling of ‘ground zero,’ completely disregarding his most important constituency when it comes to reinforcing him as the 9/11 hero he has now determined to take his Presidential stance on.

The firefighters believe that the city went to a ‘scoop and dump’ policy because they were in a rush to retrieve gold. “The fact is that the Mayor’s switch to a scoop-and-dump coincided with the final removal of tens of millions of dollars of gold, silver and other assets of the Bank of Nova Scotia that were buried beneath what was once the towers. Once the money was out, Giuliani sided with the developers that opposed a lengthy recovery effort, and ordered the scoop-and-dump operation so they could proceed with redevelopment.” With his training as District Attorney for New York, Giuliani knows from his prosecutor days that the first rule of a criminal investigation is in cordoning off a crime scene and preventing the tampering or removal of any piece of evidence within that area. Usually officers are put in place to prevent the eradication, removal of, or disruption of anything within that scene. Surely the events of September 11, 2001, constitute the most egregious, barbaric, terroristic, and criminal act ever perpetuated on American soil.

Bill Manning, editor of Fire Engineering, a 125-year-old-monthly firefighting trade magazine with ties to the New York City Fire Department, wrote in an editor’s opinion piece in the January 2002 issue called “$elling Out the Investigation“, “Fire Engineering has good reason to believe that the ‘official investigation’ blessed by FEMA and run by the American Society of Civil Engineers is a half-baked farce that may already have been commandeered by political forces whose primary interests, to put it mildly, lie far afield of full disclosure.” He also called for an immediate stop to the removal of steel from the site of ground zero saying the steel from the site should be preserved as a crime scene so that investigators can examine what caused the collapse and pass that knowledge on to future generations of engineers. The editorial continues, “A growing number of fire protection engineers have theorized that ‘the structural damage from the planes and the explosive ignition of jet fuel in themselves were not enough to bring down the towers,” the editorial stated.

And yet rather than preserve that scene or allow the emergency workers to search for their fallen comrades, Giuliani instead brought in the NYPD to seal off the area and minimize any search and rescue work. He was in a rush to start dismantling ‘the pile’ siding with developers and agreed to a plan to sell off the scrap metal to foreign nations for even cheaper than what they could have sold it for here in the States. Why go through the trouble of shipping scrap metal out of country if you do not have something to hide? “New York authorities’ decision to ship the twin towers’ scrap to recyclers has raised the anger of victims’ families and some engineers who believe the massive girders should be further examined to help determine how the towers collapsed.”

When police officers began forcefully removing firefighters from the scene, a brawl ensued between the two departments. “Five police officers were injured during the protest, Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik said, adding that there could be more arrests. The 10 firefighters arraigned Saturday _ including three union officials _ were charged with criminal trespassing. Some were also charged with obstructing governmental administration and harassment. Earlier charges of inciting to riot, a felony, were dropped.” Giuliani then claimed that the process of cleanup needed to be expedited for the sake of the firefighters, and when that didn’t work, the excuse was the need for the quick construction of a memorial of some sort or another building, and yet neither of those things happened. Ground Zero still remains an empty space for the shortened lives of restless ghosts, and broken families.

“We were given very, very strong advice that this site was a disaster waiting to happen,” Giuliani said. “Our concern has to be for the lives of the people who are working there now.”‘ Firefighters claimed that more than 200 of their comrades were still buried in that rubble and that they wanted to recover the remains of their fallen with dignity. “Giuliani modified his policy after the protest because public opinion was so strongly with our members. Ultimately, he was forced to put the fire fighters back on the pile. Our protests were later proven justified as more bodies were ultimately recovered and those families given a chance for closure and a decent burial. 2007 and bones are still discovered all the time at site.

“Giuliani argued that the change was for our own safety, but his argument was empty and without substance. Fire fighters had been on that pile since minutes after the twin towers fell – why all of a sudden, after nearly two months working on the pile, was Giuliani concerned about fire fighter safety? ” Firefighters’ have an honor code much like that of the military in that they leave no one behind. “Recovering even a piece of a turnout coat or helmet gave our FDNY brothers and sisters and the families of the fallen some small semblance of peace, something to honor. But hundreds remained entombed in Ground Zero when Giuliani gave up on them. The fundamental lack of respect that Giuliani showed our FDNY members is unforgivable – and that’s why he was not invited. Our disdain for him is not about issues or a disputed contract, it is about a visceral, personal affront to the fallen, to our union and, indeed, to every one of us who has ever risked our lives by going into a burning building to save lives and property.”

The mainstream press also assumes gold as the reason for the ‘scoop and dump’ policy, yet my investigation hints to another cover-up. Giuliani and the city of New York spent $1000 on individual GPS navigation systems, to tag wreckage and insure its traceable delivery to barges which would expedite the disappearance of meaningful evidence. Never in the history of fire has any steel structured building lost structural integrity due to flames and yet on 9/11/2001 we had 3 buildings ”collapse’ in perfect synchronous style, only WTC 1 and 2 were hit by airliners, WTC 7 also ‘collapsed’ and still no ‘official’ answers as to why? One must ask why Giuliani and the city would spend all that money just to tag and trace every piece of wreckage leaving the site and then go through the what seems unnecessary trouble to ship it abroad . The drivers who drove this wreckage out were told not to detour from their destination, and not to stop, not even to use the bathroom. “Ninety-nine percent of the drivers were extremely driven to do their jobs. But there were big concerns, because the loads consisted of highly sensitive material. One driver, for example, took an extended lunch break of an hour and a half. There was nothing criminal about that, but he was dismissed.”

The Family Steering Committee of Families of 9/11 Victims and the American public drafted a list of questions for the 9/11 Commission when they found out that Giuliani was to testify before a panel on May 19th, 2004. The very first question on their list of real questions to be asked was this:

“1. A few short weeks after 9/11, tons of metal from the collapsed twin towers was sold to scrap yards in New Jersey. Thereafter, the steel was re-sold to other recyclers in the United States and overseas. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the “scrap” has ended up in India, Japan, South Korea, China and Malaysia. It is the FSC’s position that the thousands of pounds of debris was crime-scene evidence. It should have been examined, cataloged, and stored in a secure location. Why were the steel beams sold and shipped overseas and not retained as evidence? Was the material examined before it was sent overseas? If examined, then by whom? Were any diagnostic studies/tests performed? If not, then why? Whose responsibility was this? Former FBI Acting Director Thomas Pickard said that the FBI wanted to take over Ground Zero and make it a crime scene as was done at the Pentagon. If that had occurred all materials from the scene would have been protected until an investigation was complete. Pickard also stated that you, Mayor Giuliani, would not allow the FBI access to the pit area. Is this accurate? If so, then what was your reason for keeping the nation’s chief investigatory team?the FBI, out of Ground Zero?”

The question was never asked of the former Mayor by his friends on the 9/11 Commission. Answers were never really sought out fully. Audience members accused the Commission of whitewashing the truth and heckled it to ask real questions, some were forcefully removed. It is my opinion that Giuliani’s team assessed the risk and decided it best for him to skip out on attending the IAFF’s Presidential forum, concluding it best to avoid the IAFF’s questions altogether. Why should he give someone a real opportunity to ask him a real question like how FEMA knew to be in New York on September 10th or who at the Office of Emergency Management had warned he and others that the South Tower and World Trade Center 7 were ‘about to collapse’ when no building ever in the history of fire had ever before collapsed as a result of the loss of structural integrity?

Giuliani stated in an ABC News interview that he was given warning of a collapse well in advance of the actual event. I was “told that the World Trade Center was gonna’ collapse,” referring to the 9:59 destruction of the South Tower. “I went down to the scene and we set up a headquarters at 75 Barkley Street, which was right there with the Police Commissioner, the Fire Commissioner, the Head of Emergency Management, and we were operating out of there when we were told that the World Trade Center was gonna’ to collapse. And it did collapse before we could actually get out of the building, so we were trapped in the building for 10, 15 minutes, and finally found an exit, got out, walked north, and took a lot of people with us.”

His account is corroborated by 2 different eye witness accounts from the passages of the Oral Histories of emergency responders. The account of EMT Richard Zarillo goes as follows: As I was walking towards the Fire command post, I found Steve Mosiello. I said, Steve, where’s the boss? I have to give him a message. He said, well, what’s the message? I said the buildings are going to collapse; we need to evac everybody out. With a very confused look he said who told you that? I said I was just with John at OEM. OEM says the buildings are going to collapse; we need to get out. He escorted me over to Chief Ganci. He said, hey, Pete, we got a message that the buildings are going to collapse. His reply was who the f___ told you that? Then Steve brought me in and with Chief Ganci, Commissioner Feehan, Steve, I believe Chief Turi was initially there, I said, listen, I was just at OEM. The message I was given was that the buildings are going to collapse; we need to get our people out. At that moment, this thunderous, rolling roar came down and that’s when the building came down, the first tower came down.”

Zarillo’s recollection is verified by Fire Marshall Steven Mosiello’s account: “At that point I don’t know exactly when the Commissioner and Mayor had left. It was pretty soon after they had left that Richie Zarillo, who works with EMS — I believe he’s an OEM liaison — came running up to me. I was not on the ramp at this time. I was like almost at the sidewalk location. He said Steve, where’s the Chief? I have to tell him, you know — I said tell him what, Richie? These buildings are in imminent danger of collapse. I said how do you know that, you know? So he ran with me. I ran over and grabbed Chief Ganci and said Chief, these buildings are in imminent danger of collapse.”

If Giuliani knew the towers were ‘to collapse’ as he said he did, why not order emergency and rescue workers out of the buildings and save some of the 403 first responders that were killed on that day? The real question is: who in the OEM told Guiliani and Zarillo that the towers were pending collapse? If someone had prior knowledge of the towers destruction, perhaps that person can explain how they knew those towers were coming down. Something is amiss. How can we as a nation allow our government to wage a ‘war on terror’ that they promised us ‘will not end in our lifetimes’ based on events that were never fully investigated? Did Guiliani decline the IAFF’s invitation because he was afraid that somebody would expose his legacy and that would warrant further investigation? If he can keep up the mirage of himself as the great leader then he may just successfully hi-jack the reigns of Executive power. After all, many still consider him a ‘hero of that day’ and regard him with the highest esteem.

What I want to know is: Will America really allow Giuliani to succeed the Decider as Fuhrer? Do you really want to give this man, above the law executive privileges when he still holds the answers to so many questions which still need to be answered? Too many questions still need to be asked of the events of 9/11. The real questions have yet to be explored, and the real investigation still awaits to be done. I leave you with the words of a protester escorted away from the 9/11 Commission proceedings when he demanded the right to ask Giuliani some real questions before he extracted from the proceedings, “Remember this, your government funded and trained al Qaeda. Your government funded and trained al Qaeda. I’ll say it one more time. Your government funded and trained al Qaeda.”

Zen Garcia [send him email] is Executive Director for Endeavor Freedom Inc., Executive Producer for EndeavorFreedom.TV,and Chairman of the board for Multiple Choices -an Athens, GA area Center for
Independent Living. He is the author of three books; Look Somewhere Different, When the Evening Dies , and A Different Way of Being. A one time columnist with Disabled Dealer Magazine, Zen is now a regular contributor to the Populist Partyof America.

Source URL: http://www.populistamerica.com/giuliani_vs_the_firefighters