WASHINGTON — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio expressed confidence in his city’s readiness against terrorism and the emerging threat of Ebola, dismissing criticism that the most populated city in the U.S. could be hampered because he lacked a security clearance.
De Blasio was in Washington for the day with Police Commissioner William Bratton to visit President Barack Obama’s top homeland security adviser, Lisa Monaco, as well as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and FBI Director James Comey.
Afterward, he said the daylong briefings did not reveal fresh information on terror threats, but was candid as to the level of risk to the city of 8.4 million people. He offered reassurance.
“We’re in a high state of readiness every day,” de Blasio told reporters. He said officials in the briefings were detailed and spoke frankly, which “supports clearly I have the information I need and the information I will need in a time of crisis.”
The first-term Democratic Mayor has received some criticism after The New York Post reported last month that he had not applied for a security clearance to receive classified information.
His two predecessors, Michael Bloomberg and Rudy Giuliani, had security clearances when they were mayor. The same week of the newspaper report, de Blasio announced he had applied for clearance.
The Mayor said that he is in the process of receiving the clearance, which could take several months. He noted that both Bratton and John Miller, Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counter-terrorism for NYPD, have clearances.
Miller said the difference in the classified information he received compared to the mayor was “technical” and posed no barrier in an effective counterterrorism response.
The White House meeting focused on ways to strengthen federal, state and local coordination of terrorism issues, potential threats associated with the Islamic State group, the Khorasan Group and overseas militants who have Western passports, as well as measures to protect against threats from homegrown violent extremists.
Federal and New York officials said they discussed the importance of having the New York Police Department as an active partner with federal agencies in addressing threats.
Officials also discussed new screening measures being implemented at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport, as well as efforts to prepare hospitals and health care workers in the city and elsewhere to treat Ebola patients.