Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Giuliani calls for more disaster prep

Yahoo! News
Giuliani calls for more disaster prep
By EMILY WAGSTER PETTUS, Associated Press Writer

Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani on Tuesday called for less federal control and more regional training to prepare U.S. communities for terrorist attacks and other disasters.

Visiting Mississippi, portions of which were devastated in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina, Giuliani pledged to prepare every community in the United States for such a disaster. And for those caused by man, as well.

"When you're preparing for a natural disaster, you're preparing for a terrorist attack," Giuliani said as he stood before a backdrop of firefighters' helmets and coats.

To be ready, states and cities need more regional training and coordination and less federal meddling, Giuliani said.

The former New York mayor proposes to make the federal Department of Homeland Security — created in response to the Sept. 11 attacks — more regional. He also said the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is now part of the Homeland Security department, should have a regional structure instead of a central one.

"We are vulnerable in our smallest community (and) in our largest city," Giuliani said.

He praised Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour for the state's response to Hurricane Katrina. Barbour was Republican National Committee chairman during the 1990s when Giuliani was elected mayor of New York.

After touring the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Pearl, Giuliani attended a $1,000-per-ticket fundraising luncheon at the home of a supporter in Jackson.

He then spoke to about 200, including two dozen trainers from the Mississippi Fire Academy, at the Rankin County branch of Hinds Community College. Giuliani was to attend another fundraiser Tuesday night in Jackson.

Among Giuliani's proposals are:

• Boosting local and state training and creating regional response teams like FEMA's Urban Search and Rescue Teams.

• Giving FEMA updated technology to track relief supplies and aid.

• Cutting off federal money for congressional pet projects, and instead mapping out long-term infrastructure needs such as bridge improvements.

Along with his plan, Giuliani also released a list of his high-profile homeland security advisers.

Some names, such as the group's leader, former FBI director Louis Freeh, and New York Rep. Peter King, have already been announced.

Advisers also include Robert Bonner, former commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and others connected mostly to the Department of Homeland Security and city of New York.

Also on the list is Daniel Johnson, former homeland security director for Minnesota, site of last month's interstate bridge collapse.

Democrats criticized Giuliani's advisers, saying the list includes officials on the job during the bungled response to Hurricane Katrina as well as officials faulted by the Sept. 11 commission for being ill-prepared for the terrorist attacks.

"As mayor, Rudy failed to prepare New York City for 9/11," said Karen Finney, spokeswoman for the Democratic National Committee. "Now as a presidential candidate, he's proposing to create a homeland security team that includes many of the same folks who did a `heckuva job' on the Katrina response?"

In response, Giuliani spokeswoman Katie Levinson said: "More ridiculous comments from the DNC come as no surprise."


Associated Press writer Libby Quaid in Washington contributed to this report.