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Bloomberg: N.Y.C. "the safest place to be"

Speaking in advance of Sunday's dedication of the 9/11 Memorial at ground zero in Lower Manhattan, Mayor Mike Bloomberg said, "The message of this event is New York is back, and the terrorists didn't win.

"I think what we tried to build here was something where the families could grieve, but something that would educate our kids and grandkids and great-grandkids, that freedom is fragile. We have young men and women overseas fighting and sometimes sadly dying to protect our freedoms. But you and I also have a part in that. We've got to make sure that we protect the rights of everybody in America, because that's what the terrorists want to take away."

The mayor acknowledged reports of a "credible" terrorist threat, whose target may be Washington, D.C., or New York on the anniversary of 9/11.

U.S. tracks "credible" threat to N.Y.C., D.C.
The view from 1 WTC

"We live in a dangerous world, we know that," Bloomberg told "Early Show" anchor Chris Wragge. "We also live in a city that is the symbol of freedom, of a lot of things that the terrorists don't like. So we always have an enormous amount of security here. We have the world's best police department. We work very closely with the FBI, and lots of other intelligence organizations.

"The level of security in this city probably makes New York the safest place to be," he said, noting such security measures as surveillance cameras, radiation detectors, and the city's coordination with overseas police departments, the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force. "We spend $8.5 billion on our police department every year to keep the city safe," he told Wragge.

Does this latest threat carry more weight than others? Wragge asked.

"No. We take every single threat that is credible seriously," Bloomberg replied. "We may react differently, whether or not you talk about it or not. We may feel that it's more likely or less likely. But you never want to say, 'Well, I didn't think that was very likely, so we didn't do anything.'

"Having said that, you can't be every place. My test is always, as I say to the police commissioner, 'Ray, would you let your two sons work in that building?' And if he says yes, I'll let my two daughters work there. And I think that's a good test."

Bloomberg said that, as on other anniversaries of 9/11, there will be more security in place in New York this Sunday. "A lot of what we do, you don't see," he said. Bloomberg also acknowledged the importance of the public who, "When they see something, they say something."

Bloomberg also spoke movingly of the 9/11 Memorial that is to be unveiled Sunday.

"If you remember the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington that Maya Lin designed, a lot of criticism: Minimalist, nobody's gonna love it at all. The first time somebody walked up and touched the name of one of their buddies or family members and people saw that, they understood the power of that kind of memorial.

"You're going to see that here on Sunday the first time a family member touches the name," Bloomberg said.

"You never get closure. But certainly, we've done what we need to get on with it. And that's what the families are doing. That's what you and I have to do, is build a better world, because those we lost can't do to for their families. We have to do it for their families."