NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF “YOUR WORLD”: Where were you 10 years ago today? It was a Sunday, the final day of a final weekend for 3,000 families. That was then. This is now, a heightened terror alert around the nation right now, a heightened scare right now, and, to add financial insult to scary injury, a market sell-off right now.
Stocks swooning close to 300 points, though they had been down a lot more, all on concerns of global jitters, mainly having to do with Europe, and heightened concern over our own financial stability at the corner of Wall and Broad, but 2,000 feet from where I stand.
That was then. This is now. The security alert, a very, very big concern now, is it necessary? Is it just perfunctory.
Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of this fine city, chatting with me earlier? It might heighten some nerves, but it had its place.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CAVUTO: This new heightened terror threat going into this weekend, how real is it? You’ve been very cautious in your public statements.
MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), MAYOR OF NEW YORK: Because we only have one source, which leaves you questioning. The number of terror threats that only have one source that real are a lot less than if you have two or more sources.
It is conceivable they could do what they want to do, not big-scale. So you say, well, it’s credible, but it’s not corroborated. But keep in mind -- and I don’t mean to make light of it, because we have certainly ramped up our security, although it was pretty high-level before.
BLOOMBERG: And I feel very safe. But we take everything seriously, even if it’s something that’s not that likely.
If you ask my best guest, we will go through this weekend and on Monday start a new era, keep looking forward, but we’re going to have to worry about terrorism for the foreseeable future.
CAVUTO: It comes at a time when you go through these journals of Usama Bin Laden that he was and wanted to have a 10-year attack or 10-year plan.
BLOOMBERG: Well, but we want to have a 10-year anniversary. Everybody wants to do it at these magical dates. People say your 20th, 30th, 40th, 50th, 60th, 70th birthdays are unique. I think every day is unique.
I don’t think there’s anything special about one birthday or one day. I just think we’re so lucky to wake up on the next day and live in the greatest country in the world.
CAVUTO: But the heightened alert when it was supposedly looking at the possibility of car bombs...
BLOOMBERG: There’s always that. You saw – remember we had somebody that tried to set off a car bomb in Times Square a year-and-a-half ago.
(CROSSTALK) CAVUTO: Right. But beyond the chatter, you have heard nothing to make it of a primary concern right now?
BLOOMBERG: No. I think that one of the ways to look at it is the Department of Homeland Security didn’t raise their threat level. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a threat, but they didn’t think it was worth raising the level. Now, if something were to happen, you can criticize them.
CAVUTO: But it scared a lot of people when you make an announcement, right?
BLOOMBERG: Well, we live in a democracy.
BLOOMBERG: Do you want information or don’t you?
And I think Americans and particularly New Yorkers are sophisticated enough to put things in perspective, to know that we have -- there are threats around the world, to know that we can’t let those threats have us lock ourselves in our houses or apartments and let the terrorists win without even firing a shot.
I think that everybody understands we have to go ahead and build for the future. I took the subway to work, and I didn’t see anybody on the subway doing anything but smiling or saying, oh, my God, I have got another day of work.
CAVUTO: Right. Right. Right.
BLOOMBERG: You know, it’s the normal stuff on the subway. And...
CAVUTO: Maybe they were smiling because you were in their car.
BLOOMBERG: Well, and we also more cameras than we normally do when I take the subway.
CAVUTO: No, the reason why I mentioned it, though, finally, on this whole issue, I had Republican Senator Inhofe, who is the ranking Republican on the Armed Services Committee.
CAVUTO: And he said, Neil, it might just be a case of covering your butt for, God forbid, something that happens after the fact.
BLOOMBERG: Sure, but that -- but an intelligence agency, or Homeland Security, has the obligation of deciding when to put it out, when not.
And there’s no right answer. Everybody says, oh, you’re going to scare people. OK. But the alternative is not telling them.
BLOOMBERG: Well, how much do you tell them? If you told them about every threat on the Internet every day, everybody pull their hair out. You can’t do that.
BLOOMBERG: And 99.999999 percent of those never materialize even to the planning stage. They’re just somebody saying something.
So, you know, there’s no right answer. But I think the balance we have in this country is pretty good. And I don’t think you will see fewer people on the streets, fewer people shopping, fewer people going to school, fewer people trying to get a job.
The big problems we have in our country, our education system is failing us, and there’s not going to be jobs for our citizens. And that will -- in some senses, that’s -- the terrorists will win, because if you can’t have an economy and have a future, that’s what they want to take away. Now, they don’t start by saying, well, let’s deny somebody education, although in some parts of the world, people don’t get a good education.
And women, for example, can’t get an education at all in some parts of the world or people of a certain economic group or caste or whatever. We take for granted some of our things. But we have to improve our schools. We have to improve the economy of this country. I was glad the president talked about that last night.
CAVUTO: Were you impressed with the speech?
BLOOMBERG: I didn’t see it. I have read about this morning. I had four events during his speech...
CAVUTO: Yes, you’ve been a little busy.
BLOOMBERG: ... three of them in exactly the length of time covering the speech, from one to another.
BLOOMBERG: But at least he’s got a plan. And now some of those things...
CAVUTO: So, the critics say it’s not paid for. That’s the problem.
BLOOMBERG: Well, the Republicans said they want to cut taxes. OK. Here – he’s said I’m willing to cut some taxes.
And then people say you got to pay for it. He’s willing to pay for it with some things. They might not like those things. But it is a democracy, and you can’t -- democracies don’t function, Neil, if everybody goes to the extreme and doesn’t come together. Democracy is where you come together, you get half of what you want and the other guy gets half.
CAVUTO: It is really much more polarized than right after 9/11. Would you argue that?
BLOOMBERG: My late mother used to say the good old days were never the good old days.
(LAUGHTER) BLOOMBERG: I’m not so sure of that.
BLOOMBERG: The government is more open today. That’s good and that’s bad. Maybe people will get scared when they see how government works, but it’s their government. They have a right to. And they have a right to go to the polling booth and change that.
I think that the president -- and Bernanke also said, look, it’s very important. Here’s some concrete ideas. Now it is up to Congress. And, remember, the president’s problem is not Republicans in Congress. He’s got as many problems with the Democrats in Congress.
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