OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said Thursday the U.S. and other western nations reacted defensively to terrorism for decades before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and must remain on the offensive to prevent more.
"If you don't get it after Sept. 11, you're never going to get it," Giuliani, a Republican presidential candidate, said during a symposium on terror with former Oklahoma City Mayor Ron Norick held in conjunction with the 12th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing.
Giuliani traced the Sept. 11 attack to a litany of previous terror attacks, including the 1972 massacre of Israeli Olympic athletes in Munich, the 1985 hijacking of the Achille Lauro passenger liner in which an American was killed and the 2000 suicide bombing of the USS Cole guided missile destroyer in which 17 sailors died.
In each case, there was no response to the attacks or the response was ineffective, he said.
Norick said that Timothy McVeigh, convicted of federal murder charges in the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building and executed on June 11, 2001, believed the bombing would inspire militia groups and right-wing extremists to rise up and overthrow the federal government. Just the opposite happened, he said.
"Our country came together," Norick said.
Giuliani and Norick credited the high level of disaster response training received by fire and police agencies with the effective response they gave to the terror attacks in their respective cities.
"Training is critical," Giuliani said.
The initial response to the bombing of the federal building, including extinguishing fires, securing the shattered structure and searching for victims and survivors, was "well organized," Norick said.
"They knew what they were doing," he said. "I basically stayed out of their way."
Giuliani said nine New York City firefighters who participated in search and rescue efforts following the Oklahoma City bombing died while responding to the terror attacks on the World Trade Center six years later.
A total of 343 New York City firefighters and paramedics were killed when the towers collapsed, including First Deputy Commissioner William M. Feehan and Chief of Department Peter Ganci.
"We lost a disproportionate number of our experienced guys," Giuliani said.