TODAY   |  September 09, 2011

Giuliani: ‘I wish I had anticipated’ 9/11

Reflecting on the 9/11 terrorist attacks, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani tells TODAY’s Matt Lauer his one regret is not anticipating an attack of that magnitude on his city.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> tenth anniversary are 9/11 and the attack on this country. former new york city mayor rudy giuliani was hailed as america's mayor for leading this city's response to the attacks. nice to see you.

>> you, too.

>> i was going to start by saying how is the country and the world different in the ten years after 9/11, and i think maybe the answer is in the question or in the fact that we're sitting here this morning under an increased terror alert . still a target.

>> in many ways it's a very significant reminder that september 11 is not a matter of history. one of the things that could happen with a tenth anniversary is you could start to believe we could put this behind us, but the reality is the same causes, the same threats, the same desire to kill us being fermented in that part of the world is just as great or greater. we have to use splechbth eptember 11th t o remind ourselves.

>> do we need to deal with an attack or prevent attack?

>> no question about that. that credit goes to president bush , president obama , our intelligence service , military, actions in iraq, africa yield us a lot more intelligence than we ever got before. intelligence services are better organized. foreign countries cooperate with us more. i'm not sure before september 11th we would have gotten information like this. this would have been something that maybe we would have gotten, maybe we wouldn't have gotten.

>> going back now to september 11th , 2011 , you got out on the streets very quickly. you got on television to reassure the people of this city that the government was functioning and operational. you were walking through the streets telling people put their masks on. you did an awful lot right and you got a lot of credit for it. i'm curious over these ten years, has there been one thing that's haunted you?

>> sure, anticipated it. that specific type of attack, the scope of it. our services were, i think, terrific. they were the biggest in the country. probably were half as big as they had to be, particularly in the first day or two. we had to play catch up.

>> placed thereafter the 93 bombings, do you wish you had put that anywhere else?

>> anywhere it was, the command center was going to be in the middle of street. we had a virtual command center in 2,000 for the y2k situation. the 911 call center was half as big as it should be. we lost half of the 911 calls because we had a 911 center that was configured for a model that was not nearly as great as what happened.

>> so all lessons that have now been learned?

>> i think mayor bloomberg and commissioner kelly has learned all the lessons and new york city is safer now. god forbid something happens, probably something will go wrong. something like this, you can never be perfectly prepared for.

>> look over your shoulder you see what used to be referred to as freedom tower . now one world trade center . rising about 80 floors. it's going to become another 20 to become the tallest building in this country. if the world trade center buildings were symbolic as a target, do you worry that that's even more symbolic as a target?

>> no. i don't think you can live your life worrying. my option would have been to keep this all memorial.

>> that's what you wanted.

>> and put that building somewhere else , ten blocks away, not because i'm afraid to put it there but because i'm very emotionally attached to this. when i look down there i look at where i last saw chief gantsy or father judge. i know where spot. i wonder how they died. i saw them 20, 30 minutes before they died. my emotional attachment to this probably doesn't make me a great observer of this. i watched them going up from that building. i had undercover police officer in that building and watched them build the twin towers . this is something that probably affects me more than i even realized.

>> rudy giuliani , thanks for spending time with us this morning.

>> thank you for covering it.

>> our pleasure.