Members of the U.S. House of Representatives' subcommittee on terrorism visited New York's City Hall Monday to hear firsthand about the city's response to the September 11 terrorist attack. The House committee is focusing on domestic preparedness, in the face of potential bio-terrorism and chemical attacks.
New York officials testified that the city and state are well prepared to respond to and handle terrorist incidents. New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said test runs conducted by the city's Office of Emergency Management were an enormous help in the days after September 11.
But Mr. Giuliani told the congressional committee the federal government must do a better job of sharing information with local authorities in order to stop terrorism. Mr. Giuliani said, "A lot of the information about what terrorists are doing, what they are planning, what they might do, is going to emerge from proper policing and detective work right here in America. A very close working relationship between the FBI, other federal agencies and state and local law enforcement is absolutely necessary.
Mr. Giuliani, a former federal prosecutor, said it is understandable that the FBI wants to limit the number of people who have access to top secret information. But he said 600,000 law enforcement officers across the United States could be a great help to the nation's 11,000 FBI agents if they were better informed.
Officials also testified about the importance of timely information. New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik says red tape can cost lives. "Anything that would effect the safety and security of the people of the city, I need to know and I need to know it now," he said. "I cannot wait until it goes through a committee."
Mr. Giuliani suggested the FBI appoint a senior person to insure a smooth flow of information between federal and local authorities.