New Video Critical of Giuliani's 9/11 Leadership
The International Association of Firefighters is releasing a 13-minute video this afternoon on its Web site and YouTube, criticizing Rudy Giuliani's leadership following the 9/11 attacks. Channel '08 got a sneek peek ahead of its 5 p.m. ET release. The Giuliani campaign is writing off the video as a partisan smear.
"The Fire Fighters are going viral, baby," says a union source, who adds the video focuses on "the two R's: Radios and Resources." It presents the union's frustration with the Giuliani Administration's failure to provide new radios to FDNY, and the mayor's decision to speed up the recovery efforts at Ground Zero in November 2001, before removal of all remains.
The union will distribute the video to its 280,000 members as part of "our ongoing political education process," states IAFF president Harold A. Schaitberger at the start of the film. But it's obvious the video's designed to reach a larger audience, and to raise questions about Giuliani's leadership among all voters.
Schaitberger also states in the video that, "Rudy Giuilani has used the horrible events of September 11, 2001 to create a carefully crafted persona. The fact is, what Rudy portrays is not a full picture of the decisions made that led, in our view, to the unnecessary deaths of our FDNY members, and the attempt to stop the dignified recovery of those lost. ... These are the unvarnished stories of firefighters, fire officers, active and retired, and the families of our FDNY members who served in sacrifice that horrible day. They paint a picture of Rudy that is remarkably different than the one he's painted for himself."
Following Schaitberger's introduction, the video cuts to comments by union members, including Deputy FDNY chief Jim Riches, who states, "We have the remains of dead heroes out at the garbage dump, because of Giuliani and his Administration."
Then the video faults Giuilani for not replacing faulty FDNY radios; suggests the mayor reduced the number of rescue and recovery workers at Ground Zero after hundreds of millions of dollars in gold were removed from vaults underneath the rubble; and codemns Giuliani's decision to put the city's Emergency Command Center at 7 World Trade Center, a building that collapsed on 9/11.
In a statement, Giuliani spokeswoman Maria Comella says that, "Mayor Giuliani entered office following the 1993 terrorist attacks and took steps to ensure the City would be better prepared in the future. From the creation of the first Office of Emergency Management to the implementation of anti-terrorism drills, Rudy Giuliani and his team put in place a system that helped save lives on September 11th."
A similar release quotes former FDNY chief Howard Safir. "Firefighters across the country have no greater friend than Rudy Giuliani," Safir states. "Those of us who have worked with Rudy Giuliani know he has always been a strong and consistent supporter of firefighters and first responders." The release then lists Giuliani's efforts to improve firefighters' health and safety, the department's infrastructure, and operational capacity. And when we spoke with former NYPD chief William J. Bratton last month, he said he was "impressed" with Giuliani's leadership style.
The Giuliani campaign is also targeting Schaitberger. It calls him a partisan Democrat, notes he was a John Kerry co-chair in 2004, and that he only donates to Democrats.
There's no love lost between Giuliani and the union. As Dan Balz and Zachary Goldfarb reported back in March, "Giuliani and the union have been in a long dispute over a decision scaling back efforts to recover the remains of firefighters who died at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11." The mayor was initially not invited to speak at its March convention, and then was extended an invitation, but he didn't attend, citing scheduling conflicts.
We'll see if this video has any impact, but it suggests other groups may start to release similar videos, and may choose to bypass other modes of communication to get the word out.
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