NEW YORK – The FBI should be required to share information on efforts to fight terrorism with local law enforcement in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said Monday.
Testifying in New York's City Hall at a field hearing of the House terrorism subcommittee, Giuliani proposed that Congress pass a law requiring the FBI and other federal authorities to share their intelligence with local police and government officials, especially in a crisis.
"We need the information and we need it right away," he said. "We need real-time information about what is happening."
"Do we really need to pass a law?" asked Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif. "Couldn't the director of the FBI just start doing that?"
"You need to legislate permission to do that," replied the mayor, himself a former federal prosecutor.
But Giuliani also acknowledged the risks federal authorities would face if they gave local officials access to sensitive information. "The more people you share it with, the more chance there is that it will get out," he said. "You have to think your way through this."
He added, however, that in his view, FBI officials "have to be willing to give top security clearances to more people. ... The barrier is one that's understandable. The barrier is, if it's classified information, you want to share it with as few people as possible."
He said there are 600,000 local law enforcers in the nation who could be helping the FBI if they received access to information on terrorism.
The FBI referred a call for comment to the Justice Department, which did not immediately return a call.
The mayor also said that the creation of the Office of Emergency Management in 1996 helped prepare the city to cope with emergencies. In 1997, for example, the agency conducted an exercise to prepare for a hypothetical chemical attack on a large public gathering.
"All of those things that they did and all of the gaps they noted back in 1997 ... helped us tremendously in the days after Sept. 11," Giuliani said, although he added that "all of these preparations did not mean we anticipated what happened with the World Trade Center."
The mayor added that officials in New York state have already created a committee on counter-terrorism to share intelligence and investigations, and have set up a multiagency intelligence database for New York and New Jersey.
Governors Frank Keating of Oklahoma, Jeb Bush of Florida and Roy Barnes of Georgia were also to testify Monday at the hearing, which is focusing on domestic preparedness to terrorism attacks.