NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – New York City is at the top of the terror target list, but for the first time in 20 years, the city's mayor does not have security clearance to review classified documents.
As CBS 2's Tony Aiello reported, Rudy Giuliani had security clearance, as did Michael Bloomberg, but Mayor Bill de Blasio is not cleared to review the documents detailing possible threats to the city.
"This is not something that's nice to have, or I'll get to it down the road somewhere. It's essential," Edmund Hartnett with Brosnan Risk Consultants said.
Hartnett, a security expert, held a security clearance as commissioner of Yonkers police. He says while de Blasio is briefed by police officials with clearance, it's not the ideal.
"It puts the people with clearance in somewhat of a difficult situation," Hartnett said. "They are mandated by law, by statute; they cannot divulge this information. Now, they have something critical they have to pass on to their boss and they have to kind of dance a dance that's made unnecessary if the mayor has clearance."
As Aiello reported, five million Americans have some level of security clearance, including many thousands working in local law enforcement. But when it comes to local elected officials—not so much.
The FBI recently denied security clearance to the mayor of Portland, Oregon, saying "access to classified material is necessarily controlled…it is not common practice to provide security clearance for local elected officials."
"It's OK. He's not the professional police officer; not the professional law enforcement officers. He's the mayor," John Eterno, a professor at Molloy College, said. "Unless he's going to micromanage the police department, which I don't think is a good idea, let the professionals do their job."
In the 1980s, de Blasio supported the Marxist Sandinista regime in Nicaragua and violated the travel ban by honeymooning in Cuba—which are topics sure to come up during the security clearance process, Aiello reported.
"Those questions will be asked. I don't know if in and of themselves they'd be disqualifying in nature though," Hartnett said.
City Hall has said there are "no meaningful barriers" to the mayor getting the information he needs to keep the city safe and in a crisis, the FBI would give him access to everything necessary.
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