Rudy Giuliani–The Wrong Man to Deal with Terrorism

Rudy Giuliani is attempting to repeat Bush’s 2004 election strategy of running for president claiming to be the candidate who can best keep us safe from terrorism. We learned that in reality George Bush’s many mistakes have greatly exacerbated the problems of terrorism, and it appears we face the same dangers should Rudy Giuliani be elected. Time Magazine has reviewed Giuliani’s personal characteristics and knowledge of terrorism, providing further warnings about the dangers of electing him:

The evidence also shows great, gaping weaknesses. Giuliani’s penchant for secrecy, his tendency to value loyalty over merit and his hyperbolic rhetoric are exactly the kinds of instincts that counterterrorism experts say the U.S. can least afford right now.

Giuliani’s limitations are in fact remarkably similar to those of another man who has led the nation into a war without end. Some of the Bush Administration’s policies, like improved intelligence sharing between countries and our own agencies, have made the U.S. better at fighting terrorism. But others, from the war in Iraq to the treatment of detainees at Guantánamo Bay, have actually made the task much more difficult. The challenge for the next President will be focusing on and adapting the good tools and jettisoning the bad. Whether you conclude Giuliani can win this war depends ultimately on whether you think we are winning now.

Giuliani’s ignorance of terrorism was made clear when he repeated Bush’s ridiculous argument that the reason for terrorist attacks is simply that the terrorists hate us for our freedom to counter Ron Paul’s attempt to bring reality into an early Republican debate. Giuliani has claimed expertise on terrorism which he has shown no evidence of actually possessing:

Giuliani and his aides have said he has been “studying Islamic terrorism” for 30 years. This is an exaggeration. As a prosecutor and Justice Department official in the 1970s and ’80s, Giuliani had many successes—against white collar criminals and the Mafia. He did not direct major terrorism prosecutions that led to convictions…
Giuliani has also claimed he knows more about foreign policy than other candidates, but that’s exceedingly unlikely. John McCain spent 22 years as a Navy pilot and five as a prisoner of war and is now the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee in the Senate, where he has served for 20 years. He has been to Iraq six times; Giuliani has never been there. (Of the major candidates, only Giuliani, Fred Thompson and John Edwards have never visited Iraq.)

While having been to Iraq is not the only criteria for running for president, I wasn’t too surprised to find that the three candidates who I have expressed doubt over their competence to be president, Giuliani, Thompson, and Edwards, are also the three who have never been to Iraq.

There are many more examples provided of Giuliani’s ignorance on foreign policy:

On the campaign trail, Giuliani’s foreign policy comments have sometimes come off more confident than competent. In New Hampshire this spring, according to the New York Times, Giuliani said it was unclear whether Iran or North Korea was further along on building a nuclear bomb. (North Korea tested a nuclear device in October 2006. Iran has not done so.) Then, in his speech at the Maryland synagogue in July, Giuliani mocked Democratic candidate Barack Obama for claiming that North Korea was the nation’s No. 1 enemy. “North Korea is an enemy. North Korea is dangerous. I mean, I grant that. And boy, we have to be really careful about North Korea,” Giuliani said, his voice iced with sarcasm. “But I don’t remember North Koreans coming to America and killing us.”

North Korea is known to sell advanced weaponry to other states that sponsor terrorists. The State Department has listed North Korea as a sponsor of terrorism. The reason North Korea keeps U.S. terrorism experts up at night is not that North Korean operatives will come here and attack us; it’s that they might sell a nuclear bomb to people who will.

Earlier this summer, the National Intelligence Estimate stated that al-Qaeda has regenerated, directly challenging Giuliani’s claims that the war in Iraq has made the U.S. safer.

Giuliani has often been criticized for placing the emergency command center in the World Trade Center after it has already been the target of one terrorist attack:

Giuliani dealt with major emergencies on a regular basis. He had time to prepare his city for a major calamity. But did he do all that he could? Much has been made of the fact that Giuliani’s state-of-the-art emergency command center was rendered useless on the day of the attacks. The $13 million center was in the World Trade Center complex, on the 23rd floor of Building 7, which collapsed that day. When I asked Giuliani three years after 9/11 if it had been a mistake to place the command center in a known terrorist target, he said no. “You had to put it somewhere,” he said. And he noted that the Secret Service and the CIA also had offices in that building. The center was above ground level, leaving it less prone to flood damage (a serious concern in lower Manhattan), and it was within walking distance of City Hall—one of Giuliani’s priorities. “In hindsight, it’s pretty bad,” says John Farmer Jr., senior counsel to the 9/11 commission and the person in charge of reconstructing the response to the attacks for the investigation. “But that’s a tough call.”

The most alarming characteristic displayed by Giuliani has been his demagogic approach to terrorism and the manner in which he uses the problem to increase the sense of fear in Americans–precisely what the terrorists hope for:

More than anything else, counterterrorism experts interviewed by Time cited Giuliani’s campaign rhetoric as a cause for concern. He frequently conflates different threats, from Iraqi insurgents to al-Qaeda to Iran, into one monolithic dark force. He routinely compares the terrorism threat to the Holocaust and the cold war. In one 15-min. phone interview in August, Giuliani compared the terrorism threat with Nazism or communism six times. When I asked him if he risked exaggerating the threat, since most terrorist plots against the West are not the kind of attacks that will bring down a nation, he replied, “I’m not saying it would take down a country. What terrorism can do and has done is kill thousands and thousands of people. It’s real, it’s existential, it’s independent of us.”

Retired Lieut. General William Odom was director of the National Security Agency under Ronald Reagan from 1985 to 1988. He calls Giuliani’s terrorism rhetoric “the most delightful thing that al-Qaeda could want.” And he laments that Giuliani isn’t showing the stoicism he displayed on 9/11. “We need a President who cools it,” says Odom, a senior fellow with the conservative Hudson Institute. As for Giuliani’s analogy to the cold war, a period Odom knows rather well, he is unimpressed. “Jihadism is a mosquito bite compared to communism,” he says. “Anybody who talks about terrorism this way is like a witch doctor.”

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