WASHINGTON – Cities need less federal control and more regional training to prepare for terrorist attacks and other disasters, Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani said Tuesday.
Visiting Mississippi, portions of which were devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Giuliani pledged to prepare every community in the United States for such a disaster.
"America faces very real threats in the 21st century," Giuliani said in a statement. "We can face the future with confidence by becoming a more resilient society."
To be ready, states and cities need more regional training and coordination and less federal meddling, Giuliani said.
The former New York mayor proposes to make the federal Department of Homeland Security — created in response to the Sept. 11 attacks — more regional like the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA is now part of the Homeland Security department.
"We need less focus on centralized control and waiting for a response to be handed down from Washington," Giuliani said.
After touring the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, Giuliani planned to talk about preparedness at an afternoon appearance in Pearl, Miss.
Among Giuliani's proposals are:
—Boosting local and state training and creating regional response teams like FEMA's Urban Search and Rescue Teams.
—Giving FEMA updated technology to track relief supplies and aid.
—Cutting off federal money for congressional pet projects, instead mapping out long-term infrastructure needs such as bridge improvements.
Along with his plan, Giuliani also released a list of his high-profile homeland security advisers.
Some names, such as the group's leader, former FBI director Louis Freeh, and New York Rep. Peter King, have already been announced.
Advisers also include Robert Bonner, former commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and others connected mostly to the Department of Homeland Security and city of New York. Also on the list is Daniel Johnson, former homeland security director for Minnesota, site of last month's interstate bridge collapse.
Democrats criticized Giuliani's advisers, saying the list includes officials on the job during the bungled response to Hurricane Katrina as well as officials faulted by the Sept. 11 commission for being ill-prepared for the terrorist attacks.
"As mayor, Rudy failed to prepare New York City for 9/11," said Karen Finney, spokeswoman for the Democratic National Committee. "Now as a presidential candidate, he's proposing to create a homeland security team that includes many of the same folks who did a `heckuva job' on the Katrina response?"