New York Governor George Pataki talks to Hardball host Chris Mathews about the London attacks and urges New Yorkers to stay on alert. Reflecting upon the recent attacks in London and the attacks of September 11, Pataki explains precautions New York officials are taking to protect the citizens of the city.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, 'HARDBALL' HOST: Governor, I remember you in the days of 9/11, immediately thereafter. What were your feelings tonight on hearing it happened to London?
GOV. GEORGE PATAKI, NEW YORK: Well, of course, the minute you hear it, you think of September 11. The first thing I think of are the individuals.
You know, you don't worry about numbers. You worry about individuals and you think of the friends that I lost on September 11 and that Londoners are now going through that same experience. You also immediately start thinking about New York and what we have to do to make sure we are as safe as we can possibly be.
But right now, our thoughts, our prayers are with the people of London. I talked to the consul general here in New York a few hours ago. And I believe the British people know that New Yorkers, Americans, civilized people around the world stand with them in this very, very difficult hour.
MATTHEWS: What about our own self-protection? I was telling you before we went on the air of that 7th Avenue entrance at Penn Station in New York, where everybody get on the escalator, thousands and thousands of people getting on the subway ultimately every evening and every morning in New York. How do you screen them for bombs?
PATAKI: Well, Chris, as you know, since September 11, New York has never stepped down from level orange alert. We've had heightened alert throughout the city and throughout the mass transit system since that date.
That means more police, more canine units, more vigilance, more security. We've invested over a half-billion dollars in hardening security in the mass transit system since September 11. But, when you do get a warning, when you do see an event like this, we take even further steps. We have—today, we'll have state police riding on the commuter trains. We have National Guard units out in greater force than they are usually at stations and on the trains.
Of course, the NYPD is the finest police department anywhere in the world. And they have additional NYPD members out on the streets patrolling. We've been at level orange. We're now at orange-plus. And we're confident that whatever we can do to secure the lives and the transit system of the people of New York is being done.
MATTHEWS: We're watching a picture right now, stock footage of a New York subway and a police officer checking it today, actually. Is there any way we can check the packages of people that get on the subway?
PATAKI: We're doing random checks. But you can't check the hundreds of thousands, literally hundreds of thousand of people who ride the subways, ride the trains. You just have to have roving high-level patrols, do spot checks when it is possible. And probably the most important thing right now is for the public to be the eyes and ears, in addition to the law enforcement authorities.
And when I spoke with Secretary Chertoff this morning, early this morning, one of the things that we stressed was, if you see an unattended backpack or baggage or a parcel that is just sitting there, contact the authorities right away, because, for all the security we have, ultimately, it is the public, the riding public, that just has to be, first of all, unafraid, go about their ordinary lives with the confidence we're entitled to have as residents and citizens of the greatest country that has ever been, and, yet, at the same time, have this heightened level awareness of your surroundings of things that might not be normal.
MATTHEWS: Are you worried about the ports of New York?
PATAKI: We're always concerned about everything from the Canadian borders to the airports to the ports. But the Port Authority has added personnel. They've put in place some of the most sophisticated detection devices anywhere in the world.
We know we're vulnerable. We know we're a free and open society, with close to 300 million people and borders that are more porous than they should be. But we have taken very dramatic steps since September 11 to raise our security levels and raise the efforts we're making to protect the people of New York.
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