Monday, March 12, 2007


Firefighters Union Blasts Giuliani on Post-Sept. 11 Cleanup
While he touts his leadership in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks as a key component of his 2008 presidential bid, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani is facing bitter opposition from the union representing the 343 firefighters who died that day.
FOX News has obtained a scathing letter prepared by the influential and politically active International Association of Fire Fighters union, written late last month but never released. The letter informs the more than 270,000 members that it would not be inviting Giuliani to a forum for presidential candidates on March 14, citing what the union called Giuliani's "egregious acts" after Sept. 11.
In the letter, the IAFF, whose president Harold Schaitberger is a longtime supporter of Democratic Sen. John Kerry, blames the former Big Apple mayor for "unforgivable" post-terror attacks decisions, including reducing the number of firefighters involved in the recovery operation and instituting a "scoop and dump" operation to expedite cleanup, which the union says shows a "disgraceful lack of respect" for the victims.
It also attacks Giuliani's devotion to fallen firefighters, arguing that the changes in the cleanup operation followed the recovery of millions in gold and silver from Ground Zero. The reversed course shows Giuliani "valued money and gold … more than the lives and memories of those lost."
The union says the mayor's actions "rise to such an offensive and personal attack … that the IAFF does not feel Rudy Giuliani deserves an audience." It also recommends that if the Giuliani campaign approaches members asking for support in 2008, union members should tell Giuliani "not just 'no' but 'hell no.'"
That letter was never sent. Ultimately, IAFF officials decided that every candidate should be present at the forum. Sources apparently told New York Newsday that Giuliani's campaign learned of the union's plan and worked behind the scenes to secure an invitation to the event.
But now that the fire has been put out, so to speak, the candidate's campaign has revealed that Giuliani won't attend the event due to a scheduling conflict.
Last month, Giuliani met with firefighters in South Carolina, and touted his Sept. 11 credentials to appeal to them as a candidate. He stressed that one of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's duties is to make sure first responders "have the training and protection you need to defend your country."
"The first people that arrive on the scene of the bombing or the anthrax attack ... it's going to be one of your brothers or your sisters or you that gets to do it," Giuliani told about 200 emergency workers. "Your ability to do it well will once again determine if we save lives, save America."
The IAFF was the first labor union to endorse Kerry in 2004, and dedicated resources to a Kerry presidential victory. Its political action committee, FIREPAC, also doles out millions of dollars in political contributions, mostly to Democratic candidates and causes.
But an IAFF spokesman noted for FOX News that 30 percent of its PAC money went to Republican candidates in 2006, and while IAFF endorsed Kerry in 2004, the group's New York local chapter supported President Bush in his re-election.
Firefighters Blast Giuliani Over 9/11Deseret News March 9, 2007
New York - The International Association of Fire Fighters union accused Republican presidential contender Rudolph Giuliani of committing egregious acts against New York City firefighters after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. The union, which says it wants its 260,000 U.S. members to know the "real story" of the former New York mayor, said Giuliani sought to curtail search-and-recovery efforts at the World Trade Center site less than a month after the attacks that claimed the lives of 2,752 people, including 343 union firefighters.
"Mayor Giuliani's actions meant that firefighters and citizens who perished would either remain buried at ground zero forever, with no closure for families, or be removed like garbage and deposited at the Fresh Kills Landfill," said union President Harold Schaitberger in a draft letter to affiliates.
Giuliani, 62, leads the Republican presidential candidates in many polls and is favored in a matchup against Democratic frontrunner Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York, a new poll of three swing states said.
"Many people consider Rudy Giuliani 'America's Mayor,' and many of our members who don't yet know the real story, may also have a positive view of him," Schaitberger said. We want "to make all of our members aware of the egregious acts Mayor Giuliani committed against our members, our fallen on 9/11, and our New York City union officers following that horrific day."
The head of two New York union chapters, Stephen Cassidy and Peter Gorman, also signed the letter.
In response, a Giuliani spokeswoman released a statement from Tim Brown, a former firefighter working with the campaign and head of "Firefighters for Rudy."
"We are honored by the support of so many first responders from across the country and are appreciative of their continued enthusiasm for Mayor Giuliani's candidacy," Brown said. "We look forward to future events and an ongoing conversation with America's firefighters."
The union said Giuliani decided on Nov. 2, 2001, to cut the number of firefighters who could search for the remains of their fallen brethren and other victims to no more 25 at one time, down from more than 300 involved in the search and recovery effort.
Before Giuliani's decision, 101 bodies or remains of firefighters had been recovered, according to the union.
Giuliani also began a "scoop-and-dump" operation to speed cleanup of the site as opposed to removing debris piece by piece "in hope of uncovering more remains," the union said.
The Washington-based union said that local union presidents tried to meet with Giuliani to stop the action, and the mayor refused to see them. It also said 15 protesting firefighters were arrested on Giuliani's orders. The union said public outrage ultimately compelled Giuliani to reverse his position.
"Our protests were later proven justified as more bodies were ultimately recovered and those families given a chance for some closure and a decent burial," the letter says.
The union says Giuliani was more concerned about the removal of gold, silver and other assets of the Bank of Nova Scotia that was buried beneath the rubble than he was of human remains.
"He valued the money and gold and wanted the site cleared before he left office at the end of 2001 more than he valued the lives and memories of those lost," the letter says.