The Corner

Re: David Frum on Giuliani

Since 9/11, when the problem of interoperability of first-responder communications systems became starkly apparent, NYC, NY state and the Department of Homeland Security have all spent goo-gobs of money addressing it, thus far with questionable success, mainly due to its technological complexity.  Giuliani was mayor for eight years before 9/11, during which time interoperability, to the extent it was an issue at all, had to compete with various other budgetary demands.  It has now been over six years since 9/11 and countless millions in federal aid, and despite the obvious urgency of interoperability and the work of lots of energetic people to solve it, it remains a problem.  (See e.g., here, here, and here; see also remarks of DHS Sec’y Chertoff on, among other things, the challenges of interoperability five years after 9/11; see also January 2007 DHS Interoperability Nationwide Survey (remarking of NYC:  “As noted by exercise evaluators, FDNY and NYPD command ‘are now using the same radios on the same frequency band, which is a commendable development.’”)  We can hope it is worked out after all these years; we won’t really know until the system is tested under fire.

Ramesh says Giuliani should have solved it before 9/11, when there was no 9/11 to use as an example for why it was so important.  OK, but if it was that easy, why has it proved so difficult to solve since then?  And is there someone else running who was out in front on interoperability before 9/11?  And does the fact that interoperability didn’t get solved before 9/11 really mean that Giuliani did not ride herd on the bureaucracies beneath him to accomplish his objectives?  Is Ramesh saying that lowering taxes, removing people from welfare, and dramatically reducing crime — not exactly priorities for the NYC bureaucracies of the 1980s — should be discounted because, on 9/11, NYPD and NYFD didn’t have radios that communicated with one another?  Fair enough, I guess, but I wonder if any other GOP candidate is being held to that kind of standard.

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