Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Ex-NYC Mayor Rudolph Giuliani Blames 'Incompetence' for Cuts in City's Anti-Terror Funding

ABC News
Giuliani Blasts NYC Anti-Terror Fund Cuts
Ex-NYC Mayor Rudolph Giuliani Blames 'Incompetence' for Cuts in City's Anti-Terror Funding
The Associated Press

NEW YORK - Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani on Monday blamed poor decision-making and "a certain level of incompetence" for the Department of Homeland Security's decision to slash the city's anti-terrorism funding.

But Giuliani, a Republican, said Monday he didn't believe political considerations had led to the 40 percent cut, announced last week, and said he was encouraged by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff's willingness to review the agency's decision.

"I think the decision was wrong from everything I know about it," Giuliani told The Associated Press. "You have to assume we are a big target, because terrorists want to hit a big target and kill a lot of people with spectacular effect."

Giuliani's performance as mayor after the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center catapulted him to national prominence.

Giuliani said he would join Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other leaders to push for the money to be restored if they thought it helpful.

"I don't want to interfere," he said. "I just know from my days as mayor that what you don't need is to have people interfere."

The Department of Homeland Security said last week it planned to reduce New York's anti-terrorism allotment by $83 million from last year's $207 million, while boosting funding for smaller cities and rural areas.

Chertoff and Bloomberg spoke on the phone Monday, but the conversation appeared to leave little room for change on this year's round of funding, mayoral aides said.

Still, the mayor was encouraged to hear future grants to New York could increase after some of the smaller cities had their needs addressed, Bloomberg spokesman Stu Loeser said.

On Monday, Giuliani called Chertoff a "a good friend," noting that he had hired him as a federal prosecutor in the mid-1980s, when Giuliani was the U.S. attorney in Manhattan.

"If I were the mayor, I'd want a meeting with him," Giuliani said. "They've made a significant mistake, and they should restore the money."

A worksheet that helped determine funding levels said New York has no national monuments or icons to protect, an assessment that has led to bipartisan scorn.

But Chertoff has said that it's unfair to think New York icons such as the Statue of Liberty aren't high on the government's priorities. New York was in line for lower funding levels because it received such huge allotments from the government in the years immediately after Sept. 11, he said.

Giuliani on Monday called the agency's conclusion about monuments "odd" but said it was defensible to base a city's terror risk at least in part on its monuments.

"We've got the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty and the (New York) Stock Exchange," Giuliani argued. "They just incompetently evaluated their own criteria."

Giuliani dismissed concerns that New York had been penalized for being in a large, heavily Democratic state.

"I would have thought that, but the fact is, they cut funding from a lot of other places," Giuliani said. "Unless there's a master political strategy, they were not evaluating the ultimate result of the formulas they were using."

New Orleans, San Diego and Phoenix are among the cities slated for cuts.

Associated Press Writer Sara Kugler contributed to this report.