Department of Justice Seal

Remarks from Press Conference at WTC

Attorney General Ashcroft, FBI Director Mueller,
Mayor Giuliani, Governor Pataki
New York City, New York
September 21, 2001

MAYOR GIULIANI: We just completed a very intense experience, which is taking the attorney general and the director of the FBI -- the governor and I did -- and a number of officials from the FBI and the Department of Justice to all different parts of the site of the terrible attack on New York and America.

And I want to thank the attorney general not only for coming -- and the director -- but also for their 24-hour vigilance and intense work that they've been doing to try to find out who's responsible for this and make certain that it doesn't happen again. And I want them to know that they have the cooperation of New York City, all of our agencies, all of our resources. We need their help. They have been enormously helpful. The FBI has been with us from the very beginning, as has the United States attorney's office and the Justice Department. And I want to thank Attorney General Ashcroft and Director Mueller for coming here personally.


ATTY GEN. ASHCROFT: Thank you. Thank you.

(Off-mike comments among participants.)

MR. MUELLER: Mr. Mayor, Governor Pataki, I want to thank you for having us here today. And I, along with so many others, want to thank you for the extraordinary response to this extraordinary act of terror.

We see out there, in walking amongst the buildings, the organization that has moved quickly into place to restore New York to what it was before September 11th of this year, and all of us at the FBI -- indeed, all of us in law enforcement -- have unbelievable respect and admiration for the unbelievable acts of heroism and selflessness that we have seen enacted on the streets of New York over the past 10 days.

For us, there is no real way to fairly thank everyone who has participated in this effort, but from the FBI we want to thank in particular the joint terrorism task force that has operated in New York for the last 21 years seamlessly, cooperatively. You cannot know the number of attacks that have been put off by the joint terrorism task force, and they have moved to the fore in the wake of this crisis and worked tremendously effectively together.

(We) also want to give our deepest thanks to the New York Police Department, the United States attorney's offices, both in the Southern District and the Eastern District; to the Immigration and Naturalization Service, who has participated in our ongoing investigation; and the Port Authority of New York.

Special thanks for all of us to FEMA and also a particular word of thanks to the FBI office here and all aspects of the FBI office here, who in the wake of this tragedy, unable to use their own offices, set up a command post within 24 hours that was effective, worked cooperatively with the state and local authorities, and is operating today seamlessly with all who can help us, help us bring to justice those persons who were responsible for this unspeakable terrorism.

We look forward to working with the governor, we look forward to working with the mayor, we look forward to working with the police department and all other elements of New York City to prevent this happening again and to bring those responsible for it to justice.

And now let me introduce the attorney general of the United States, John Ashcroft.

Again, thank you, Mr. Mayor. Thank you, Governor Pataki.

ATTY GEN. ASHCROFT: Only standing in the midst of the twisted, torn, shattered rubble can one appreciate in any respect the scale, scope, the difficulty of this act of war perpetrated on the United States of America here in New York. New York, the first capital of the United States of America, became the capital of the world for industry and for commerce. It is a capital of the world for spirit.

If the assault by terrorists tore a hole in the American soul, looking into that hole, we see a spirit that says what the president of the United States said last night to the assembled members of Congress, to the people of American and to freedom-loving citizens around the world: We will rebuild New York. It's our nature. It's our spirit. It's our dedication. It's our commitment.

And the inspiration for it doesn't come from some remote set of ideas or documents, it comes out of the spirit that's being evidenced in New York City today. Among the high honors of my life was the honor that I had today of commending the work of thousands of individuals who have worked beyond fatigue, have set aside their own personal agendas and their own safety, who memorialize and commemorate the sacrifice of thousands with their own work.

Your mayor and your governor represent that spirit, and I thank them for giving me the opportunity to witness that spirit first-hand today. I thank the police of this great city for their dedication to law enforcement, by public safety at its highest pinnacle. I thank the firefighters, whose story and heroics have inspired America. I thank the members of the Port Authority, whose sacrificial effort saved the lives of many others. To the rescue workers and volunteers.

And while in New York, I'd like to thank the people from all over America that I met at the disaster scene, the scene of the tragedy, the scene of this act of terror and war. I talked to people from across this nation whose heart carried them to New York to respond. I'm grateful for the volunteers.

Real leadership is evidenced by people who exhibit great spirit and noble purpose, and all of these people did so, and they are the leaders in America today. The greatest acts of leadership in this country today may well be the acts of selfless individuals here in New York.

And following that leadership, I want to take this opportunity to announce today that out of the Community Policing program in the Justice Department, where we have a few funds left at the end of the year, we were able to assemble another $10 million in order to assist in the extraordinary police costs that are being incurred here. This money is in addition to the money voted by the legislature recently as part of the relief. And, obviously, there will be much more needed.

But ordinarily, police organizations match grants from the federal government, and the city of New York would receive $92 million in Community Policing grants, and its match requirement would be $62 million. And today, we are taking from the Community Policing funds $10 million to provide that match for the city of New York.

It's pretty clear, it's unmistakably clear that the president of the United States and the Congress of the United States understand that the assault on New York was an assault on America, it was an assault on civilization.

And the bright line of demarcation between the civil and the savage has been drawn. And we have asked that the nations of the world understand that bright line and that they assist us. And at the Justice Department, we will do everything we can to develop a complete understanding of the networks and individuals responsible. And in the words of the president of the United States: We will bring them to justice, or if that's impossible, we will take justice to them.

I am pleased to be associated today with these heroes in the state of New York and the city of New York, the first capital of the United States of America, whose leadership is inspiring for the entirety of our country. And I'm grateful to these leaders here who have welcomed us, to share with us, in the midst of this great tragedy, the great spirit of this wonderful city.

Thank you.

Q Why did you call the mayor of Boston yesterday, Mr. Attorney General? Mr. Ashcroft?

Q Mr. Ashcroft?

Q Why did you call the mayor of Boston yesterday?

Q Could you take a couple of questions?

STAFF: I believe these questions might have been asked during the downtown tour, and the answers are available in the pool.