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Context of 'November 2, 2001: Giuliani Reduces Number of Firefighters at Ground Zero, Following Recovery of Gold'

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Giuliani’s emergency command center.Giuliani’s emergency command center. [Source: CNN]New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani opens a $13 million emergency command center on the 23rd floor of World Trade Center Building 7. [Newsday, 9/12/2001] The center is intended to coordinate responses to various emergencies, including natural disasters like hurricanes or floods, and terrorist attacks. The 50,000 square foot center has reinforced, bulletproof, and bomb-resistant walls, its own air supply and water tank, beds, showers to accommodate 30 people, and three backup generators. It also has rooms full of video monitors from where the mayor can oversee police and fire department responses. It is to be staffed around the clock and is intended as a meeting place for city leaders in the event of an act of terrorism. [CNN, 6/7/1999; London Times, 9/12/2001; Glanz and Lipton, 2004, pp. 233] The center is ridiculed as “Rudy’s bunker.” [Time, 12/22/2001] Author Philip Shenon will later comment that it “seemed the supreme example of how Giuliani’s ego and arrogance knew no bounds after four years in office,” and: “WABC Radio mocked Giuliani with a name-that-bunker contest for its listeners. Among the most popular entries: ‘Rudy’s Nuclear Winter Palace’ and ‘The Nut Shell.’” It is criticized because of the cost and because of the location, next to the WTC towers, one of the city’s top terrorist targets. In addition, the high floor it is on means it is vulnerable to power, water, and elevator outages. [Shenon, 2008, pp. 346-347] Most controversial is the 6,000-gallon fuel tank. In 1998 and 1999, Fire Department officials warn that the fuel tank violates city fire codes and poses a hazard. According to one Fire Department memorandum, if the tank were to catch fire it could produce “disaster.” Building 7 will be destroyed late in the day on 9/11; some suspect this tank helps explains why. [New York Times, 12/20/2001]

Entity Tags: Rudolph (“Rudy”) Giuliani, Office of Emergency Management, World Trade Center

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Mayor Rudy Giuliani updates a directive that is intended to eliminate conflict between agencies when they respond to an emergency, such as a terrorist attack, in New York. [City of New York, 7/2001; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 284-285] Since at least the late 1970s, New York’s mayors have recognized that the tense relations between the New York Police Department (NYPD) and the New York Fire Department (FDNY) are a potentially serious problem, and have tried, unsuccessfully, to rectify the situation. [Governing, 9/2005] In a new attempt to resolve the problem, Giuliani updates a directive titled “Direction and Control of Emergencies in the City of New York.” This document states that its purpose is to eliminate “potential conflict among responding agencies which may have areas of overlapping expertise and responsibility.”
Specified Agency Would Be the 'Incident Commander' for an Emergency - To achieve this, the directive designates which agency would serve as the “incident commander” for different types of emergencies. The incident commander would be “responsible for the management of the city’s response to the emergency.” Meanwhile, the Office of Emergency Management (OEM), which Giuliani created in 1996 (see 1996), would “coordinate the participation of all city agencies in resolving the event,” and “assist the incident commander in his/her efforts in the development and implementation of the strategy for resolving the event.”
Fire or Police Department Would Be in Command for a Terrorist Attack - The document states that in the event of an “air crash” or a “structural collapse,” the FDNY would be the incident commander. In the event of a terrorist attack, the incident commander would be either the NYPD or the FDNY, depending on the type of terrorist attack that occurs (for example, whether it is an attack involving weapons of mass destruction or one in which just conventional weapons are used). However, the directive notes, the nature of terrorist attacks “is such that the incident command will shift as the event evolves.” Therefore, it continues, “Any conflicts regarding the issue of command at these incidents will be resolved by OEM.” [City of New York, 7/2001; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 284-285]
Directive Is Followed 'to Some Degree' on September 11 - The directive will be followed with limited success when the terrorist attacks occur on September 11. “To some degree, the mayor’s directive for incident command was followed on 9/11,” the 9/11 Commission Report will state. The report will continue, “It was clear that the lead response agency was the FDNY and that the other responding local, federal, bistate, and state agencies acted in a supporting role.” The report will note, however, that “the response operations lacked the kind of integrated communications and unified command contemplated in the directive.” “These problems existed both within and among individual responding agencies,” it will add. [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 319]

Entity Tags: New York City Fire Department, Office of Emergency Management, New York City Police Department, Rudolph (“Rudy”) Giuliani

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Large amounts of gold are stored in vaults in the massive basement below the WTC, and some of this is being transported through the basement this morning. Several weeks later, recovery workers will discover hundreds of ingots in a service tunnel below WTC 5, along with a ten-wheel lorry and some cars (which were, presumably, transporting the gold) (see (Mid-October-mid November 2001)). The lorry and cars had been crushed by falling steel, but no bodies will be reported found with them, so presumably they were abandoned before the first WTC collapse, at 9:59 a.m. [New York Daily News, 10/31/2001; London Times, 11/1/2001]

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

The Bank of Nova Scotia gold vault, located under WTC Building 4, is examined in late October 2001.
The Bank of Nova Scotia gold vault, located under WTC Building 4, is examined in late October 2001. [Source: Leslie E. Robertson and Associates]Workers at Ground Zero discover large amounts of gold and other precious metals stored below the ruins of the WTC. As debris is removed they are able to access parts of the 16-acre WTC basement, which drops 70 feet below ground level. Precious metals are stored in numerous vaults within this area. The London Times says the quantity of these “has been a carefully guarded secret,” but estimates $750 million of gold and silver in vaults belonging to the Comex metals trading division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. There appears to have been an attempt, since 9/11, to break into a Comex vault containing $200 million of precious metals belonging to the Bank of Nova Scotia. A government official involved in the recovery work says, “It looked like they used a blowtorch, a crowbar,” but a bank spokeswoman denies there has been any attempted break-in. The banks later states that “All of the silver, gold, platinum, and palladium stored in its vaults at 4 World Trade Center” has been relocated to a depository in Brooklyn. Other gold is discovered in a service tunnel below WTC 5. According to the London Times, this was being transported through the tunnel on the morning of 9/11 (see (Before 9:59 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [New York Daily News, 10/31/2001; London Times, 11/1/2001; New York Times, 11/1/2001; Reuters, 11/17/2001]

Entity Tags: Comex

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani angers firefighters when he decides to severely reduce the number of them that can search for remains at Ground Zero. Until now, up to 300 firefighters at a time have been involved in the search and recovery effort. Giuliani’s decision will mean no more than 25 at a time can do so in future. The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) later alleges that, also at this time, Giuliani makes “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.” So far, the bodies or remains of 101 firefighters have been recovered, out of the 343 who died at the World Trade Center on 9/11. According to the IAFF, the mayor refuses to even meet with local union presidents about the decision. Due to the ensuing public outcry, Giuliani will modify his policy and allow firefighters back on the pile at Ground Zero. The remains of another 113 firefighters will subsequently be found. The IAFF later alleges 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” (see (Mid-October-mid November 2001)). “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.” [Firefighting News (.com), 3/8/2007; Bloomberg, 3/9/2007; Associated Press, 3/10/2007] IAFF President Harold Schaitberger later says, “in my opinion, it was more important for him [to] find the gold than it was to continue to find and recover remains.” [MSNBC, 7/12/2007]

Entity Tags: Rudolph (“Rudy”) Giuliani, International Association of Fire Fighters, New York City Fire Department

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Grand Illusion, by Wayne Barrett and Dan Collins.Grand Illusion, by Wayne Barrett and Dan Collins. [Source: HarperCollins]A book is released that questions the conventional heroic image of then New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani on 9/11. Grand Illusion: The Untold Story of Rudy Giuliani and 9/11 is by investigative reporters Wayne Barrett and Dan Collins. Barrett is a senior writer at the Village Voice, and Collins is a senior producer at CBSNews.com. [Los Angeles Times, 8/22/2006] For their book, they had exclusive access to never before seen 9/11 Commission interviews, and managed to get frank statements from some central figures, though Giuliani himself refused to be interviewed. [Barrett and Collins, 2006, pp. 363; Newsday, 8/23/2006] The New York Daily News calls the book an “exhaustively researched and unsentimental peek behind the mythology [that] strongly suggests that Giuliani and his top deputies committed many errors that did grave, even fatal, harm to citizens, emergency responders and recovery teams before, on and after that terrible day.” [New York Daily News, 8/22/2006] The book criticizes Giuliani’s claim that, after becoming mayor in 1994, he made preparing New York’s response to a future terrorist attack a priority. According to Barrett and Collins’ research, in the aftermath of the 1993 WTC bombing, he in fact failed to understand the importance of preparing the city for another attack. They write, “The facts—depressing but unavoidable—were that Giuliani had allowed the city to meet the disaster of September 11 unprepared in a myriad of ways.” [Los Angeles Times, 8/22/2006; Newsday, 8/23/2006] The book criticizes Giuliani’s decision to locate New York’s emergency command center on the 23rd floor of World Trade Center Building 7—across the street from an obvious terrorist target—despite the objections of senior fire and police officials. [New York Daily News, 8/22/2006; Newsweek, 9/11/2006; New York Times, 11/12/2006] The inadequacy of fire department radios on 9/11 is examined in detail. These same radios had failed when used at the 1993 WTC bombing. New radios were only provided in March 2001, but these failed in their first week of use and were withdrawn. Also, the fact that the police and fire departments were equipped with incompatible radios meant that many firefighters did not get the mayday call to evacuate the North Tower before it collapsed on 9/11. [Los Angeles Times, 8/22/2006; Newsweek, 9/11/2006; Democracy Now!, 1/3/2007] The book also criticizes the fact that, after 9/11, construction workers and firefighters were permitted to work at Ground Zero without protective respiratory gear. Subsequently, thousands of them became afflicted with upper respiratory illnesses. [New York Daily News, 8/22/2006] Grand Illusion receives much praise, though the New York Times criticizes its “relentlessly hostile tone,” which, it claims, “undermines the authors’ case.” [New York Times, 11/12/2006]

Entity Tags: Dan Collins, Rudolph (“Rudy”) Giuliani, Wayne Barrett

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

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