Rudolph W. Giuliani, in his first detailed account of his administration's actions on 9/11, said mistakes were made at the World Trade Center, but the city was as well-prepared as could reasonably be expected. He also said he believed that some firefighters, aware of the peril, died after choosing to stay in the doomed buildings to save others.
"They weren't going to abandon the ship," the former mayor said in an interview on Friday. "You have to understand the nature of a firefighter. It's like the nature of a Navy captain."
Mr. Giuliani's remarks came in an interview timed to coincide with the release this week of his book, "Leadership," in which the Sept. 11 attack, and the aftermath, are a major topic. The book is part autobiography, part management advice and part overview of his eight years as mayor. It also covers his earlier work as a federal prosecutor and as a Justice Department official in the Reagan administration.
But his discussion of Sept. 11 - of how he as a human and as the leader of a city responded and how the events affected him personally - surface repeatedly in the book, the first of two he has contracted to write for Miramax Books, a division of the Walt Disney Company.
In the months after the attack, two separate inquires by an independent consultant retained by the Bloomberg administration concluded that the police and fire responses that day were plagued by a lack of training, limited coordination and a perceived lack of leadership at the scene. The reports found that Fire Department commanders lost touch with many of their companies once those companies ascended into the towers, while many police officers did not know who was in charge or where to report.
On Sept. 11, firefighters also carried with them the same kind of radios that failed to work properly in the complex during the bombing of the trade center in 1993. Once inside, firefighters in the north tower on 9/11 either did not hear or did not follow an order to evacuate, issued before either tower fell. And then, once the south tower collapsed and a police helicopter crew hovering overhead concluded that the north tower would soon crumble, a final warning transmitted to police officers did not reach most firefighters, according to scores of interviews with firefighters and commanders.
Mr. Giuliani, in the interview, attacked the reports by the consultants, saying they lacked credibility because the investigators had failed to talk to him or to his director of emergency management. He said he continued to believe many firefighters had heard evacuation orders, but had heroically chosen to ignore them. He also asserted that the fire and police chiefs at the scene were following an agreed-upon system of coordinated command, and that he himself had played a role in making sure that possible secondary targets across the city were covered after the towers were struck. After the 1993 bombing, the city, under Mr. Giuliani's command, frequently boasted about how much effort it was putting into preparing for any future attack or other disaster. The centerpiece of those preparations was a high-tech, super secure emergency command center at 7 World Trade Center, where the C.I.A. and the Secret Service also had offices.
"They don't know most of the things that happened," Mr. Giuliani said, of McKinsey & Company, the consultants hired by the city to examine the police and firefighter response. "Maybe if they read the book, they will get a sense of the facts they missed in doing the report."
But Mr. Giuliani's version of events is at odds not only with the findings of the consultants, but also with many firefighters interviewed by their own department. And a Police Department spokesman said last week that Mr. Giuliani was simply wrong about the success in covering secondary targets. The spokesman, Deputy Commissioner Michael P. O'Looney, said too many chiefs, commanders and officers simply reported to the trade center - a strategic mistake the department is now trying to avoid with the development of multiple command centers across the city. Furthermore, the emergency command center that Mr. Giuliani had built was destroyed in the attack, leading even the former mayor to admit, in retrospect, he had made a mistake putting it at the World Trade Center.
Mr. Giuliani, in his book as well as in the interview, recounted how he visited both the Police and Fire Departments' on-the-scene command posts in the minutes after the towers were struck, but before either fell. At the Fire Department's command site, which was just across the street from the burning towers, he spoke with the two most senior fire officials: First Deputy Commissioner William Feehan and Chief of Department Peter J. Ganci.
"I told Pete, `I think you should move this command post,' " Mr. Giuliani writes in his book. "They were going to, he said - they planned to relocate further north." But before they moved far enough away, Mr. Feehan and Chief Ganci were killed when the second tower fell.
Both men might have benefited from the warning from the police helicopter, which came 21 minutes before the second tower fell. Mr. Giuliani maintained that "there's never a firefighter" in the police helicopters. In fact, the agencies have had a written protocol since 1993 that details when joint flights are appropriate. He did say that the two agencies, which for years have acted like rivals, could have communicated better with each other on that day.
Watching the events unfold, and then leading the city through the aftermath, demanded that Mr. Giuliani maintain a strong public face. But he writes in the book about the moments when he lost control of his own emotions, like when he heard that his friend Barbara K. Olson, the television commentator, had died on American Airlines Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon.
"I felt like crying right there at the press conference, but couldn't," he wrote. He did so only when he found a room where he could be by himself.
Mr. Giuliani describes the sleepless nights and fear in the first days after the attack, as he and others worried that perhaps a chemical, biological or other kind of assault might be next. Later in September, while in a helicopter returning from a firefighter funeral in Brooklyn, Mr. Giuliani wrote about how he saw a man fishing along a channel in the Rockaways.
"Suddenly, I had a desire to go fishing," Mr. Giuliani writes. "Just to sit out there with a pole. But I know myself, and I know I don't have the patience. After 10 minutes, I'd be wondering, `Where are those fish?' I realized I was crying a little. A minute later, I was fast asleep, right there in the ear-splitting helicopter." He woke up when he hit his head on the window as he landed on the West Side of Manhattan.
The book - intended mainly as a guide on how to lead a large organization like New York City's government - details many of the former mayor's most stubborn habits, be it in times of an emergency, or routine, like calling together his top staff every morning at 8 a.m. for a meeting.
Such a gathering - typically held in an ornate second-floor conference room at City Hall, dominated by a giant oil painting of James Monroe - allowed Mr. Giuliani to maintain tight control over the sprawling city government and to prevent any public dissent among his commissioners, as they would leave each day with an agreed-upon response to any controversy or crisis. Mr. Giuliani also surveyed topics that are the favorite elements of his speeches, including the drop in crime during his tenure, the resurgence of Times Square and cutting the number of people on welfare by more than half.
"Surround yourself with great people," he wrote in his book, before going on to summarize his approach to leadership. "Have beliefs and communicate them. See things for yourself. Set an example. Stand up to bullies. Deal with first things first. Loyalty is the vital virtue. Prepare relentlessly. Underpromise and overdeliver. Don't assume a damn thing. And, of course, the importance of funerals."
The book includes stories from his youth, like how his father taught him to box, lessons he later tried out on a "big fat kid, two years older than me," who, the man who decades later would become a mob prosecutor and hard-driving mayor said, acted like a bully. "I have a visceral reaction to bullies," Mr. Giuliani said. "I can't tolerate when a predator takes unfair advantage."
Other than the story of the fight - he left the boy with a bloody nose, he said - Mr. Giuliani comes off in his book as surprisingly nice. There is none of the lambasting of his political opponents, like Al Sharpton or his predecessor as mayor, David N. Dinkins. No sections of the book recall that a central part of his leadership style while in office was ridiculing agencies he did not like, like the Board of Education or the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Mr. Giuliani said in the interview that he has changed since the terrorist attacks. "Any hard feelings I had ended probably on Sept. 11," he said, "because life is too short." But then he added, that perhaps his more acerbic style while in office was effective, even if he left it out of his book.
"There are different styles necessary for different times," he said in the interview, a point he did not make in his book. "Sometimes I would do it for the shock value to get people just to think differently."