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Gov Arming Guards To Protect City
By JOE MAHONEY and CORKY SIEMASZKO Daily News Staff Writers
ov. Pataki ordered the arming of all National Guard troops at Ground Zero and city transportation hubs last night after the FBI issued a new terrorism warning about possible attacks at home and abroad this week.
"We will do everything possible to protect the people of New York," he said. "At the same time, it's important for all of us to continue to live our lives as normally as possible. We must not and will not give in to fear."
The National Guard will soon carry guns in NYC hotspots. Pataki spokesman Mike McKeon said 470 troops guarding Ground Zero, area airports, Penn Station, Grand Central Terminal and other spots will be carrying loaded weapons by the end of the week.
"It is appropriate to augment their mission by having them armed," he said. "But they will not all be armed tomorrow. It takes a couple of days" to replace Guards who have not completed firearms training.
Police brass did not immediately comment on the new terror alert, which came hours after Mayor Giuliani said the FBI should be compelled to share terrorism information with city officials.
Giuliani made his case before a congressional subcommittee on terrorism that convened at City Hall yesterday morning.
"Given what happened, we're in a different world, and we have to cooperate with each other," the mayor said. "We've got to go into an absolutely new revolutionary era in the sharing of information."
He asked Congress to pass a law requiring the FBI and other federal authorities to share intelligence with local officials — especially during a crisis.
"Anything that would affect the safety and security of the people of this city, I need to know and I need to know it now," Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik told the panel. "I can't wait until it goes through a committee and it goes through a number of jurisdictions."
FBI Director Robert Mueller, addressing a police chiefs convention in Toronto yesterday, pledged better cooperation. But rival law enforcement agencies historically have been reluctant to share intelligence.
"That culture needs to be addressed," said Gov. Frank Keating of Oklahoma, who told the lawmakers at City Hall that when he was an FBI agent, he was taught "local law enforcement is undereducated and frequently corrupt."
Meanwhile, new figures showed the toll of the dead and missing from the hijacked jets and the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon had slipped below 5,000 for the first time, to 4,947.
The number changed as the death toll at the Trade Center rose by 10, to 529, and the total of missing fell by 90, to 4,046.
Rising Price Tag
At another City Hall hearing yesterday, an official of the Federal Emergency Management Agency told a City Council committee it cost about $40 million a week to clear the remains of the fallen Trade Center complex.
FEMA Administrator Richard Buck warned that the price tag could rise "when you get further to the ground level and you start digging into the basements."
Engineers are especially concerned about the condition of the wall that surrounds the collapsed complex and holds back the waters of the Hudson River.
Cynthia Steed, a spokeswoman for the federal Small Business Administration, testified that her agency has approved $75.4 million in low-interest loans to businesses and people who sustained property damage or economic losses in the catastrophe.
Work at Ground Zero stopped Sunday for a moving memorial service attended by the relatives of the thousands killed and missing in the Trade Center rubble. Rescue crews, rejuvenated by their first break since the attacks, tackled the ruins with fresh vigor yesterday.
"After all the big body finds last week, it was nice and different to have time off," said William Harris, a subcontractor for Tully Construction of Flushing, Queens.
With Lisa L. Colangelo, Greg Gittrich and Frank Lombardi
-- Martin Thompson (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 30, 2001
"augment their mission by having them armed"
It's always amazingly stupid and pathetic that these "soldiers" in uniforms are usually deployed without firearms, and often, even if they have firearms, they aren't issued ammo. Wearing cammies but being unarmed is like having a big target painted on your chest -- any nut who wants to start shooting people is probably going to knock off the apparent "threat" first, right? (not knowing the Guardsman is unarmed!)
As a rule, someone like me (CCW holder in my state of residence) walking past a uniformed Guardsman is better armed (and probably a better shot, too...I am *quite* sure I practice more often than a National Guardsman!).
As the old saying goes, "Forget the dog, beware of owner." Probably should be updated, "Forget the guy in uniform, beware of plainclothes civilian."
-- Andre Weltman (email@example.com), October 31, 2001.