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Giuliani's 9/11 Stories Contradicted By His Emergency Management Chief

NY Times | May 22, 2007 
RUSS BUETTNER

As Rudolph W. Giuliani runs for president, his image as a chief executive who steered New York through the disaster of Sept. 11 has become a pillar of his campaign. But one former member of his inner circle keeps surfacing to revisit that history in ways that are unflattering to Mr. Giuliani: Jerome M. Hauer, New York City's first emergency management director.

In recent days, Mr. Hauer has challenged Mr. Giuliani's recollection that he had little role as mayor in placing the city's emergency command center at the ill-fated World Trade Center.

Mr. Hauer has also disputed the claim by the Giuliani campaign that the mayor's wife, Judith Giuliani, had coordinated a help center for families after the attack.

And he has contradicted Mr. Giuliani's assertions that the city's emergency response was well coordinated that day, a point he made most notably to the authors of “Grand Illusion,” a book that depicts Mr. Giuliani's antiterrorism efforts as deeply flawed.

Mr. Hauer does not disparage Mr. Giuliani's overall effort at emergency preparedness or appear to have actively sought out a role as a Giuliani scold. But he has emerged as one in several settings where his frank, often blunt, answers to questions have offered a rare view inside the often-insular Giuliani administration.

Mr. Hauer was once part of the coterie of high school chums, fellow former prosecutors and City Hall aides who remain the nucleus of Mr. Giuliani's tight-knit set of advisers. From that perch, he helped Mr. Giuliani confront some of New York City's most disquieting predicaments, like the West Nile virus and a potential millennium meltdown.

He emerged from four years of service to Mr. Giuliani as one of the country's better known emergency preparedness experts and a frequent guest on television news programs.

But in recent years, Mr. Hauer and Mr. Giuliani have had a falling out, though they disagree on just why.

Now from a distance, Mr. Hauer offers views of Mr. Giuliani's management style, ones that depict him not only as highly competent and exceptionally hands-on, but also as insensitive and retaliatory at times.

Mr. Hauer, for example, recalls a conversation he had with Mr. Giuliani in 2001 when he had decided to endorse a Democrat, Mark Green, for New York City mayor over Mr. Giuliani's own choice for a successor, Michael R. Bloomberg, a Republican. Mr. Hauer said Mr. Giuliani, upset, called up to say his disloyalty was unforgivable.

“He was shouting, ‘If you do this, you're done ... I'm going to end your career,' or something along those lines,” Mr. Hauer said.

Joseph J. Lhota, a former deputy mayor, remembered the endorsement debate differently, suggesting that Mr. Hauer had put politics over principles in a way that “put his whole credibility in question.”

Fred Siegel, the author of “The Prince of the City: Giuliani, New York and the Genius of American Life” (Encounter Books, 2005), said the trust that members of Mr. Giuliani's inner circle invested in each other was the reason no one apart from Mr. Hauer had ever emerged as even an occasional critic.

“The core of the administration was that these guys would always pull together,” said Mr. Siegel, who once served as speechwriter for Mr. Giuliani. “Once a decision was made, that was it. There wouldn't be any second-guessing.”

Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Hauer began their relationship in January 1996 when Mr. Hauer was hired to lead the new Office of Emergency Management, created to coordinate the city's response to crises. Mr. Hauer, who was little known before he became a Giuliani aide, had previously run emergency management programs for the State of Indiana and IBM.

In his book, Mr. Siegel describes Mr. Hauer, who is 6-foot-5, as “a big, plain-spoken and knowledgeable man” who “won wide-spread cooperation.”

One of Mr. Hauer's first tasks was to find a home for an emergency command center to replace the inadequate facilities at police headquarters. Mr. Hauer suggested an office complex in downtown Brooklyn as a “good alternative” in a memorandum.

But Mr. Hauer said the mayor insisted instead on a site within walking distance of City Hall. Given that concern and others, Mr. Hauer said he decided that offices on the 23rd floor of 7 World Trade Center, next to the twin towers and just a few blocks from City Hall, seemed the best choice.

The site was immediately controversial because it was part of the trade center, which had already been the location of a truck bomb attack in 1993. City officials, though, including Mr. Hauer, have long defended their decision, even after the command center had to be evacuated during the 2001 terror attack.

Last week, in an interview with Fox News, Mr. Giuliani again faced questions about the site. He put responsibility for selecting it on Mr. Hauer.

“Jerry Hauer recommended that as the prime site and the site that would make the most sense,” Mr. Giuliani said. “It was largely on his recommendation that that site was selected.”

Mr. Hauer took immediate exception to that account in interviews. “That's Rudy's own reality that he lives in,” he said. “It is not, in fact, the truth.”

Mr. Hauer has also expressed concern about the level of support he felt from Mr. Giuliani, in particular when he tried to bridge the divide between the city's Police and Fire Departments, two disparate emergency response cultures that battled over turf.

Mr. Hauer said he ended up in something of a feud with the police commissioner at the time, Howard Safir, which came to a head in 1998 when, he said, he offered to help both departments prepare for a chemical disaster drill.

Police officials declined help, Mr. Hauer said, but then sent detectives to follow him and photograph his meeting with fire officials. During a subsequent meeting with the mayor, Mr. Safir held up the photographs, Mr. Hauer said, as triumphant evidence that Mr. Hauer favored the Fire Department.

“Any man worth his salt would have been outraged that the Police Department followed one of his closest commissioners,” Mr. Hauer said. “It was disgraceful.”

But Mr. Hauer said that when he complained to Mr. Giuliani, all he got was a blank stare.

Mr. Lhota, speaking for the campaign, said he was unaware of such an incident. Mr. Safir did not return a call for comment.

Mr. Hauer left his city job in 2000. A year later, Mr. Giuliani called him back into service after the terror attacks. He was assigned to help prepare for possible biological or chemical attacks and to help set up an assistance center for victims' families.

Mr. Giuliani's wife, Judith, who was then his companion, also had a role in setting up the center. But last week Mr. Hauer told New York magazine that the campaign's depiction of her role was “simply a lie.”

The campaign's Web site said that Mrs. Giuliani had “coordinated the efforts at the Family Assistance Center on Pier 94.”

Indeed, others were at least equally involved in that effort. Rosemary O'Keefe, who was then director of the Community Assistance Unit, said Mrs. Giuliani had helped during the first two days at the pier.

“Judith was a very important part in the very beginning,” Ms. O'Keefe said in an interview. “I ran it 20 hours a day from that point forward.”

Michael McKeon, a Giuliani campaign spokesman, said the campaign never meant to suggest that Mrs. Giuliani played a singular role in coordinating the center, only that she had helped set it up. He said the language on the Web site had been adjusted.

Mrs. Giuliani, Mr. McKeon said, is “the first one to give credit to other people.”

Mr. Hauer, Mr. McKeon said, is just bitter.

Mr. Siegel said that what is indeed singular is the role Mr. Hauer has now assumed, that of a high-ranking Giuliani insider who is now an outsider with pointed opinions on a central topic of the presidential campaign.

“To me, it's unfortunate,” Mr. Siegel said, “that two people who did so much to prepare the city had a falling out.”

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