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America’s Mayor, Rudy Giuliani

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

HH: I’m joined now on the phone by Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Mayor, welcome to the Hugh Hewitt Show. Good to have you on.

RG: It’s nice to be with you.

HH: Mayor, you’re better positioned than most to react to a lot of the nutter stuff that’s out there about 9/11 – the books, the theories, the films that say we don’t know there was a conspiracy. What do you say to people that produce such stuff?

RG: (laughing) I think that unfortunately, it’s quite clear…I’ve never had from just a short while after September 11 happened, it was pretty clear who attacked us, why they did it, and I kind of look at September 11 as not being something we can…I think the attack is still going on. And the same essential movement of people wants to attack us again.

HH: Is there any merit to any of this in terms of free speech? Or should just people throw it away and turn it off when it comes to the conspiracy minded?

RG: Well, I guess in a sense, that it shows that we’re a country that tolerates almost any opinion, even the wildest and craziest. I guess it’s okay. But some of it, some of it…I’ve been subjected to some of it. I had one person at an event I was at. I think it was the University of Oklahoma yelling at me, did I know and why was I surpressing the fact that WalMart organized the September 11 attack. And of course, I’ve also been often asked about the whole issue that Israel did it, or that the Bush administration did it. I mean, it’s all…I guess after you’re the mayor of New York City for eight years, you’re kind of used to hearing almost anything.

HH: Mayor, have you seen Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center, or ABC’s…

RG: I did. Yeah, I saw World Trade Center and United 93. I haven’t seen the ABC mini-series yet. And I thought both United 93 and World Trade Center were very good.

HH: I think you will find Path To 9/11 riveting. Are you satisfied that after the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993, and you were the U.S. attorney in the southern district in New York through a lot of this period, even before you were mayor, that the effort to capture and find the cells responsible for that was as good as the United States could have made it?

RG: I don’t know. I don’t have…I wasn’t U.S. attorney then. That’s actually at the time that I was running for mayor of New York, and then I became mayor of New York. So I don’t know about the investigatory effort. But I believe our failure was not in law enforcement. So I don’t know…I think what our failure was, that we failed to recognize that terrorism was at war with us, and we kind of treated it as a criminal conspiracy.

HH: Has that shifted sufficiently in your eyes now?

RG: Yeah. I think President Bush made a very, very important historic decision on September 20th, 2001. I think that was the turning point. I think President Bush recognized it as a war, that these people had declared war on us. They had actually declared war on us a long time before we recognized it on September 11. And President Bush decided we’d go on offense against them, that we would respond accordingly, where as in the past, we had responded sporatically. We’d get attacked, and sometimes, we’d respond. And then in the case of the Cole, for example, we didn’t respond. And I think we were giving them an inconsistent picture. And probably because we didn’t understand the full nature of just how dangerous they were.

HH: Rudy Giuliani, looking back now five years after the original attack, or the attack on 9/11, and three years after the invasion of Iraq, knowing what you know now, was the invasion of Iraq a good idea/

RG: Yes.

HH: Why?

RG: Yes, I believe that both the war in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq were necessary. Maybe they could have been explained differently, or particularly Iraq, maybe we could have handled it somewhat differently. But the reality is, the terrorist enemy that we face is multi-faceted, and loosely organized. We’re not facing just one organization. Their organizational structure is Islamic fanaticism, or however you want to describe it. There are a lot of ways you can describe it. But it’s not as if we’re facing just one organization, or one country. And it reminds me…when I sort of analogize it to my prosecutorial days, it reminds me of dealing with the mafia. In New York, we were dealing with five different families. If all you did was eliminate one of those families, all you were accomplishing is making the other four families stronger. So the way you have to deal with terrorism is, you’ve got to eliminate all the pillars of support as best you can, which means Saddam Hussein, al Qaeda in Afghanistan. You’ve got…you had to deal with Qadafi. Luckily, he stepped down. We have to deal eventually with Iran and Syria, and places that like that support terrorism.

HH: You also have to act as a people. I was talking with Cyrus before you came on, Mr. Mayor. He actually had a question for you about the film in which one of your decisions plays a role. Cyrus, meet Mayor Giuliani.

RG: How are you, Cyrus?

CN: Good, very good, thank you. I was curious about the millennium celebration. Wasn’t there a lot of pressure and concerns about terrorist activity in Times Square?

RG: That’s correct, and people forget about that now, but yes. There was a great deal of concern about terorrist activity during the millennium celebration. And not just New York, in other places. I think, if I recall correctly, Seattle cancelled their millennium celebration. And there was…I received a lot of briefings from the FBI and the police, and different organizations about the different possibilities. And we decided we would go forward with it. We made extraordinary preperations for it, though. I mean, we had had other situations where we thought we’d be the subject of terrorist attack. We had had a U.N. 50 celebration, where we brought something like 80 or 90 world leaders. They were in New York at the same time, and we had a dinner, believe it or not, at the World Financial Center, in that atrium that eventually got blown up on September 11th. And we were very concerned then about a terrorist attack, and made a lot of preperations for it. But the millennium celebration was…I’d almost say that was the one time that I almost expected that we were going to get some kind of an attempt by terrorists.

HH: But not blinking, is that the rule of thumb, Mayor Giuliani?

RG: Yeah, you can’t. You can’t. I mean, I just gave a talk about leadership, and I said that the way…we’re fighting a political and a psychological war as well as a physical war. And the difference with this war on terrorism is, it’s in much larger part, a psychological…all wars are partially physical, political and psychological. In this case, the psychological part of it is the really big part, because that’s where they think they can defeat us. They can’t capture us. This isn’t like the Second World War. They can’t capture England the way the Nazis could have done, so they try to disrupt us, and they try to demonstrate that we’re weak, and that we can be put into chaos.

HH: Part of that effort, Mayor Giuliani, involves propaganda victories. And I note…

RG: Absolutely right.

HH: There’s considerable controversy over the decision to issue a visa to the Ayatollah Khatami, the former president of Iran. He’ll be speaking at Columbia University. He’s speaking at my alma mater, Harvard. He’s speaking at the National Cathedral on this, the week of remembrance of 9/11. Does that decision upset you? Was it appropriate? Did we not hand our enemies in the Middle East a massive propaganda victory?

RG: Yeah, I think that we have such a committment to free speech, and we preach it in so many different parts of the world, that maybe what we’re afraid of is being attacked for being hypocritical. It is annoying. I mean, it really is upsetting, given their support for terrorism, most recently in Southern Lebanon. But I mean, we’re…I don’t know that I can criticize the State Department for not standing in the way of that, given some of the other things that they have to accomplish in other parts of the world.

HH: A couple of quick questions before we’re out of time, Mayor. What would the consequences of a loss of the House or the Senate to the Democrats be, in your view?

RG: I think it would be exceedingly damaging. You know, there’s a big difference between us on how to deal with this war on terror, meaning between Republicans and Democrats. President Bush, as I said before, believes that we have to be on offense against terrorism. He’s absolutely right. We can’t back off that. I believe the Democrats, at least a large number of them, don’t believe that. They believe that we have to step back in Iraq. I think that recent calls for setting dates for withdrawals is really, really dangerous. I mean, it’s hard for me to understand what the logic of that is, that you would tell your enemy, you know, we’re going to withdraw on March 7th, or we’re going to withdraw on February 3rd, or…all you do is empower them even more, and give them a sense that they can intimidate you. It’s kind of like what happened in Spain…

HH: Yup.

RG: The difference…we had a terrorist attack in Spain and we had a terrorist attack in the United Kingdom, and the United Kingdom reacted to it the right way. I was there that day on July 7th. They kind of stood up to it, they found the people who did it, brought them to justice, and then changed their protocols so they discovered the next one.

HH: And 20 seconds, Mayor…

RG: The Spanish government backed out of Iraq. I mean, that’s exactly the wrong way to deal with terrorism.

HH: And have you ruled out running for president, Mayor Giuliani?

RG: Oh, no, no, no, no. I’m traveling the country, as I had four or five meetings today, talking to people and getting their advice. I want to put the focus right now on winning the House and Senate in 2006. But it’s something that I very much have on my mind.

HH: Well, I look forward to having you back to talk about that, and is Rudy’s PAC. And thanks very much, Mayor.

End of interview.

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