Los Angeles mayor says he wasn’t told of plot details, White House disagrees | VailDaily.com

Los Angeles mayor says he wasn’t told of plot details, White House disagrees

Daily Staff Report

LOS ANGELES – Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said Thursday he was blindsided by President Bush’s announcement of new details about a purported 2002 plot to crash a plane into a downtown skyscraper.But the White House and state officials said the mayor’s office had been contacted beforehand.”I’m amazed that the president would make this (announcement) on national TV and not inform us of these details through the appropriate channels,” the Democratic mayor told The Associated Press. “I don’t expect a call from the president – but somebody.”White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Los Angeles officials were told Wednesday about the president’s planned remarks.”And the word I heard was that there was great appreciation for the notification that we provided,” he said.Bush has referred to the 2002 plot before, but he publicly filled in the details Thursday.Bush said terrorists had begun planning to fly a commercial airplane into the tallest skyscraper on the West Coast, the US Bank Tower in Los Angeles. He said the plot was derailed when a Southeast Asian nation arrested a key al-Qaida operative.The mayor said he was watching Bush’s speech on television Thursday when he first learned of the new details about the hijacking plot.”I would have expected a direct call from the White House,” Villaraigosa said at a City Hall news conference.Michelle Petrovich, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, said the agency notified Los Angeles police, along with state officials, that the plot would be mentioned during the president’s remarks.A spokesman for the state Office of Homeland Security said the agency’s chief personally contacted a deputy mayor Wednesday about the speech.”We were assured that that information would go to the mayor,” spokesman Chris Bertelli said.Villaraigosa later confirmed that City Hall was called Wednesday by state officials in Sacramento. But that information was only general, city officials said, giving no hint that the announcement would contain extensive new details about the plot against the nation’s second-largest city. And that message never reached the mayor.The 73-story skyscraper has about 3,000 occupants. Financial consultant Monica Ding, 27, who works on the 26th floor, said the revelations did not worry her.”I guess they do all they can to prevent it,” she said. “If it fails and an airplane flies into our building, there’s nothing we can do to stop it.”—Associated Press Writers Robert Jablon and Jacob Adelman in Los Angeles, and Erica Werner in Washington, contributed to this report.Vail, Colorado

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