THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
July 11, 2007, 5:27 PM EDT
Fire union leaders and relatives of firefighters killed at the World Trade Center in 2001 blasted Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani in a video on Wednesday, pairing footage of the falling twin towers with charges that the city’s former mayor was woefully unprepared for Sept. 11, causing needless firefighter deaths.
The parents and siblings of some of the 343 firefighters killed in the terrorist attacks released the video with an international firefighters union opposing Giuliani’s candidacy.
The union officials and family members, repeating claims they had made for months, charged Giuliani pushed for a faster cleanup of ground zero at the expense of finding remains, put an emergency center in a building that collapsed on Sept. 11 and failed to provide working radios for firefighters, making it impossible for them to learn the towers were on the verge of collapse.
“Virtually the whole thing goes back to him with the radios,” said Jim Riches, a deputy fire chief whose son was killed on Sept. 11. “He’s the guy on the top, and he’s the guy you yell at.
“He takes the hit. And my son is dead because of it.”
Giuliani’s campaign denounced the video, saying that the former mayor had a long history of supporting firefighters’ health and safety and that the international union releasing the video only supports Democratic presidential candidates.
Calling the video a “mockumentary,” campaign spokesman Michael McKeon said, “the union leadership makes Michael Moore look like Edward R. Murrow.”
Former New York firefighter Lee Ielpi, whose son died on Sept. 11, and former Office of Emergency Management Commissioner Richard Sheirer appeared with McKeon, calling the video full of “half-truths.”
“I was there. I saw it. I experienced it,” said Ielpi, who worked at ground zero for the nine-month cleanup. “I’m not going to let lies like this go.”
But the general president of the International Association of Fire Fighters, Harold Schaitberger, said that Giuliani is opposed by firefighters on both sides of the aisle.
“Giuliani’s biggest problem is that this video is a bipartisan condemnation of his record on 9/11,” Schaitberger said.
The 13-minute video was being distributed to the union’s 280,000 members, to the media and online.
It includes statements from leaders of the city’s two largest firefighter unions, who say Giuliani became rich and famous on his image as a post-Sept. 11 hero while ignoring firefighters’ needs.
“This image of Rudy Giuliani as America’s mayor, it’s a myth,” said Steve Cassidy, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association.
Said Peter Gorman, president of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association: “He’s making millions, tens of millions of dollars on the backs of my members, as far as I’m concerned.”
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