Rudy Giuliani: Urban Legend


Firefighter Web video blasts Rudy Giuliani

Rudy Giuliani’s reputation as the man who led the city out of the darkness of 9/11 came under sharp assault yesterday in a video that accused him of mishandling the attack and then turning a financial and political profit from it.

The ex-mayor’s presidential campaign moved quickly to discredit the film, entitled “Rudy Giuliani: Urban Legend,” which the 280,000-member International Association of Fire Fighters released on the Web yesterday.

Interspersing attack footage and interviews with victims’ relatives and union officials, the film charges Giuliani gave the FDNY inadequate radios and interfered with efforts to recover the dead.

“Whenever I hear [Giuliani] talk, I want to scream out to the world and say, ‘God, he’s so full of it,'” says Rosaleen Tallon, whose firefighter brother was killed.

City Uniformed Firefighters Association President Steve Cassidy, who appears in the video, says he hopes it will debunk Giuliani’s 9/11 mystique.

Team Giuliani moved quickly to rebut the video as a distortion from union leaders who back Democrats and don’t represent rank-and-file views.

Defending Giuliani at an afternoon news conference were former Office of Emergency Management Commissioner Richard Sheirer and Lee Ielpi, a former city firefighter whose son died on Sept. 11.

The men praised Giuliani as a competent and compassionate leader who did much for the FDNY before and after 9/11. Giuliani spokesman Mike McKeon bashed the union leadership as making “Michael Moore look like Edward R. Murrow.”

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Editor’s Note: When it was convenient, Giuliani, like other politicians, used the sympathy for the fallen heroes for his own political benefit. “Rudy has used the horrible events of September 11 to create a persona that is an elaborate fabrication,” says IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger. “He is nothing more than a shameless self-promoter.” But when the International Association of Firefighters challenged Giuliani’s reputation as a competent leader on 9/11, the media and the Giuliani campaign were quick to spin the attacks as partisan. The Giuliani campaign immediately tried to minimize the fallout from the IAFF video just released by stating that the IAFF supports democratic candidates. But the firefighters and families raise three crucial issues that challenge Giuliani’s Urban Legend (Video link). Giuliani placed New York City’s emergency response bunker, the Office of Emergency Management, in WTC 7, across the street from the World Trade Center towers that were attacked in 1993, against public protest. They evacuated their command center early on 9/11, before the building collapsed. Giuliani was responsible for the decision to scoop and dump the remains of the fallen in the Fresh Kills Landfill, preventing their dignified recovery, burial and closure for their families. Giuliani and his administration illegally purchased Motorola radios for the FDNY, for an undisclosed sum. The new radios did not function properly and were taken out of service after less than a week. Thus, on 9/11, the NYFD was using 20+ year old radios when they went into the towers.

Firefighters undercut Giuliani’s ‘urban legend’

Nearly everyone has seen the footage of Rudy Giuliani on 9/11 and in the days immediately afterwards, acting decisive, examining the wreckage, calming a city and a nation. Giuliani has done everything in his power to brandish his reputation as “America’s Mayor,” and he’s cashed in on the persona, politically and financially.

New York firefighters who were at the World Trade Center when it collapsed and family members of those who didn’t make it out released a video aimed at shattering what they’re calling Giuliani’s “urban legend.”

“He’s running on his 9/11 leadership, and it was lacking and there was none,” FDNY Deputy Chief Jim Riches says in the video, which was released Wednesday by the International Association of Firefighters’ political action committee.

The firefighters blame Giuliani for buying the department radios that were known to malfunction. When department commanders gave an order to evacuate the north tower of the World Trade Center, but firefighters were unable to hear the order because of the faulty radios and died in the building, the video alleges.

Firefighters had nearly an hour to get out of the building after the first call came through at 9:32 a.m., at the same time New York police officers were evacuating the building.

“Not a single cop was lost in that building. Why was that?” asked retired Chief of Safety Alexander Santora. “Because they had gotten the word to get out. Our radios weren’t working.”

The firefighters say Giuliani was disgraceful in telling the 9/11 Commission that firefighters died in the building because they ignored the evacuation order.

The video also attacks the former mayor for putting his emergency command center at Building 7 of the World Trade Center, which was known to be a terrorist target since it was first attacked in 1993.

In the aftermath of the terror attacks, firefighters set to recovering those who had been lost, but the video implies that Giuliani was concerned only with recovering $200 million worth of gold. He ordered recovery efforts to stop as soon as the gold was recovered, while 242 firefighters and countless other civilians remained buried in the rubble, according to the video.

Giuliani’s campaign issued a response to the firefighters’ video before it even was posted online, releasing a statement from retired New York firefighter Lee Ielpi, who said the firefighters “have once again taken the low road in a move clearly out of step with their membership.”

The campaign accuses the firefighters’ union of engaging in purely partisan attacks. But one of the unions whose members appear in the video, Local 94, endorsed President Bush in 2004.

Since rocketing to international prominence after 9/11, Giuliani has raked in more than $11 million through book and speaking fees related to the terror attacks. The firefighters say his portrait of leadership is ill founded.

“We did need radios that worked; we didn’t have them. We did need proper respiratory protection; he didn’t give it to us,” said Steve Cassidy, president of a New York firefighters union Local 94. “The things that we needed to do our job even better, we didn’t have, because of his administration.”

This video was posted Wednesday at

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