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De Blasio, in D.C., gets details even without security clearance

Mayor Bill de Blasio on June 12, 2014.

Mayor Bill de Blasio on June 12, 2014. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Stephen Lovekin

WASHINGTON -- New York Mayor Bill de Blasio Tuesday defended his ability to manage and make decisions in a crisis without a federal security clearance by pointing to a day of meetings here with top FBI, counterterrorism and Homeland Security officials.

De Blasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton made the trip to Washington amid growing national concern over threats from hard-core terrorist groups in the Iraq region and the deadly disease Ebola ravaging West Africa.

"I think the fact that we are meeting the FBI director, the secretary of Homeland Security and the chief counterterrorism adviser in the White House -- I think they were speaking very frankly -- suggests clearly to me that I have the information I need and I will have the information I need in a time of crisis," de Blasio said at a news conference when asked about having no security clearance.

"I think the conversations were specific enough to give me the information I need," he said at the city lobbyist's office.

Last month, the New York Post reported that de Blasio had not applied for a security clearance, despite being the leader of the city that's the top terrorist target.

His two predecessors in office, Michael Bloomberg and Rudy Giuliani, had such clearances.

He has since applied for one but it can take time to be granted, said John Miller, the NYPD deputy commissioner for counterterrorism.

De Blasio and Bratton Tuesday shuttled around the capital to meet with FBI Director James Comey; Lisa Monaco, White House adviser on homeland security and counterterrorism; and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.

No new specific threat or incident prompted the trip, de Blasio said, and he did not use the access to seek more money.

Instead, he said, the meetings were about "comparing notes on Ebola" and coordinating local and federal efforts on terrorist threats.

A White House official said Monaco reviewed intelligence associated with al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, the Islamic State group and the Khorasan Group with de Blasio and Bratton. The official added they discussed the screening for Ebola at Kennedy Airport that began Saturday and that later this week will start at Newark and other domestic airports.

Miller, who, like Bratton, has a security clearance, said the difference between the classified information they get and what de Blasio gets "is insignificant on the level of executive decision making."

The only difference, Miller said, is with a security clearance the information includes the "sources and methods they used" to get the intelligence.

De Blasio received "law enforcement sensitive" information in his meetings Tuesday, Miller said. That, he explained, includes "actual threat information" and an "assessment of its credibility."

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