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Q&A with former N.Y. Mayor Rudy Giuliani

9/11 hero was in London, a block away from first blast
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Former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who was in London on Thursday morning when the attacks on that city's mass transit system occurred, joined MSNBC's Lester Holt on Thursday afternoon to discuss his eyewitness accounts.

To read the conversation between Holt and Giuliani, continue to the text below. To watch the video, click on the "Launch" button to the right.

Lester Holt:  Rudolph Giuliani, former mayor of New York, and of course the mayor during the attacks of 2001 joins us.

Can you tell us where you were this morning?

Rudolph Giuliani:  Yes, I was having breakfast one block from the Liverpool station where the first bomb went off and was informed that there had been either an accident or a device that went off.  You could hear the sirens and some of the response to it and while we were trying to figure out what it was, we found out about the second attack and then I went out, drove around the streets of London, walked around.  You could see the emergency services responding.  You could see the people leaving the scene and it was a very eerie reminder of September 11, 2001 for me.

Holt: Hearing you describe this sounds very much like the description you gave that morning.  ... As you know London has had experience with terror even before New York City. Can you tell us how these two cities have learned from each other, during that period, through this period?

Giuliani:  That's a very interesting question, Lester.  On September 11, 2001, the people of London were an inspiration for me.  I remembered how they reacted to the Battle of Britain because I was trying to think of who went through something like this before.  And it occurred to me that the people of London did -- even worse that what we were going to go through -- during the Battle of Britain, when they were attacked every night and how Winston Churchill bought them through that.

And when I was watching them today, there was that same resolute response and I said the 'Apple hasn't fallen very far from the tree.'  Their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents went through this resolution.  They're doing the same thing and I feel like the people of New York are kind of linked with them, because people in New York were very resolute, very determined in having to deal with a horrible attack and people of London seem to be setting a very similar standard.

Holt:  Mr. Giuliani, there is such great distance between terror attacks because the patience the groups have to plot and to plan.  All of us who heard what happened in London today, there's a very sharp and visceral reaction - sadness, anger, frustration -- all those things that we in New York felt.  What come next in the years away from these things?  Do we tend to move on?  Is that a dangerous thing in dealing with this threat?

Giuliani:  We have to move on.  We have to be able to lead our lives.  We have to be able to demonstrate that people who live in freedom have more strength then people who live in oppression.  But at the same time, we can't forget.

It's just a natural human response that as you move further and further away from an event, certain people are going to forget, maybe become complacent, and then something like this happens.  It reminds you that you're still at war, that these terrorists are still out there, that we've got to be vigilant. 

We've got to do everything we can to foil these threats in advance.  We got to keep them on the defensive and, I have to say, the emergency response here seems to be excellent.  It seems to me that the emergency services here in London were prepared for this.

I don't mean prepared for the exact day, but prepared for something like this happening.  I think they expected this to happen.  Unfortunately, they didn't know the day or the hour but they expected this to happen. 

Holt: You learned a lot from the experience of the British people and Winston Churchill in the war.  Give what you went through and your leadership in New York during the attack, is there advice you would give the authorities and leaders in London?

Giuliani:  Well, I called Prime Minister Blair a little while ago, watching him as I could on television and I think he's doing it just right.  It's the right combination of expressing support and your heart going out to the people that have to unfairly pay the price here, and those are the families of the people who lost their lives or were seriously injured.

At the same time, he's got that same resolute determined spirit that Winston Churchill had.  I think that Prime Minister Blair is an intuitive leader and you're seeing that right now so I don't think he needs any advice from me.  It seems as though he's doing it correctly.  He's doing it from his heart. 

Holt:  During our horrible day here, we all went through those moments of reflection.  'Would I ever get on an airplane again?', but we had a few days, sometimes a few weeks, months to make that decision. Mass transit is a different animal, it's a lifeblood for big cities like London, New York and Chicago.

Because there is such an inherent vulnerability of getting on a bus or train, what do you think the future will be, not only in London, of people's ability to get back to work, after Madrid, Moscow, after this. How will people approach this?

Giuliani: They'll be able to do it.  I remember a few years ago, when I was Mayor of New York, there was a bus bombing in Jerusalem and Mayor Olmert of Jerusalem invited me to come there and ride the bus with him, to show the world you have to move on with life and you can't let these terrorists psychologically affect us.

We rode the bus together and it didn't deter the people of Jerusalem.  Tomorrow morning is a workday in London and I'm sure the people of London are going to get on the trains; they're going to get on the buses.  They're going to come to work, they're going to do what exactly their fore bearers did when they had to deal with a lot more bombings every single night and that is part of the way in which you fight back against terrorism because this is a psychological war as much as it is a actual war and part of the psychology is to create chaos.  The people of London have resisted that today and I think they're going to resist that tomorrow and the next day as well.

Holt:  I do have to ask you, given your own psyche ... how are you feeling?

Giuliani:  I'm not sure Lester.  I don't know.  There is a certain question I have in my mind:  Why was I so close both times?  ... Obviously there was no connection, but only God can answer questions like that, I guess.