Firefighters Challenge Giuliani’s Self-Proclaimed ‘Leadership Experience’

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani portrays himself as the hero of Sept. 11, and the media takes this claim for granted. But New York City firefighters, who know best, say it’s a different story.

The Fire Fighters (IAFF) union is releasing a new video today, featuring New York firefighters and their families, that challenges Giuliani’s claims of leadership. His performance before, during and after the Sept. 11 attacks, they contend, is marked by serious failures—failures that cost lives.

The video will be distributed on DVD and also will be available online at

The Boston Globe reports:

“He’s not a leader. He is running on 9/11, and it’s all a fallacy,” says Jim Riches, the father of a Sept. 11 victim and a deputy New York fire chief, in the video.

The IAFF points out that the Giuliani administration didn’t provide police and firefighters with inter-operable radios, leaving many firefighters inside the World Trade Center unable to communicate, even as the towers’ collapse was imminent. The radios are a very real symbol of what IAFF describes as Giuliani’s failure to understand the threat of a terrorist attack and his inability to coordinate an effective response.

In the weeks after the attack, firefighters attempted to search for the remains of their comrades who died during the rescue attempt, but Giuliani made the decision to remove them from the site and haul the wreckage to a landfill.

The IAFF also notes that, even after a 1993 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center site, Giuliani chose to house the city’s emergency response operation in the World Trade Center.

Other flaws in Giuliani’s handling of the deadly attacks have been documented in The New York Times, where Giuliani was said to have “seized control” of the cleanup attempts and “ran a generally slipshod, haphazard, uncoordinated, unfocused response” that led to serious illness among workers at Ground Zero. Giuliani’s leadership also was challenged in the book Grand Illusion, released last year and excerpted in the Village Voice.

Giuliani’s run for president is tightly bound with his national image in the wake of Sept. 11, and this video by New York firefighters provides a special perspective on Giuliani’s claims. The IAFF will release copies of the 13-minute video to its 280,000 members in coming days.

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