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Rudy Giuliani on immigration, Scooter Libby, terrorism, and the media.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007
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HH: Mayor Giuliani?

RG: Yes, how are you?

HH: Good, welcome back to the program. Good to have you on, Mayor.

RG: You’re welcome. Thank you very much.

HH: In your speech today, when you made the 12 Commitments to America, number one was I will keep America on offense in the terrorist war on the U.S. Do Americans fully grasp the extent of the problem with Islamist radicalism, Mayor?

RG: Some do, some don’t. Quite clearly, the Democrats don’t. If you listen to their three debates, or two debates, I guess, they haven’t mentioned the threat, they haven’t talked about it in those terms. They haven’t talked about Islamic terrorism or Islamic extremism, or however you’re going to describe it. It almost seems as if they either think it’s politically incorrect to say it, or they’re in denial of it, like they were in the 1990’s.

HH: When you were the mayor of New York, I know you were regularly briefed after ’93 on Islamic radicalism around the city. Do you think the Fort Dix six and the Kennedy Airport four are aberrations, or are they the tip of the iceberg?

RG: Oh, no, they’re not aberrations at all. They fit very well into a pattern that I…I mean, I started investigating Islamic terrorism in the 1970’s, when I was in the Justice Department in the Ford administration. So for me, this is something that I’ve been briefed on, and knowledgeable about, investigated it, involved in it. The situations that were uncovered at Fort Dix and at Kennedy Airport, or related to Kennedy Airport, that’s the kind of thing that American law enforcement internationally is dealing with every day.

HH: What kind of a scale are we talking about, because I think that’s what’s missing in the puzzle. We see these arrests, we see the fellow released by the 4th Circuit yesterday, ordered released, and Americans wonder is it three, is it ten, is it three hundred? How many plots, do you think?

RG: Yeah, I think that’s real hard…first of all, I don’t have the intelligence at my command nowadays. I had it much more back when I was mayor, to give you a real number on that. And I’m not sure they do. I think the best way to put it is, it is significant, it’s pretty close to worldwide, meaning in many, in just about every continent you’re dealing with it. And unfortunately, I think this home grown part, because I talked to the U.S. attorney in New Jersey about this the day after the case came down, the Fort Dix case, I think the home grown part is something we’re just getting a fix on. And I think it’s really concerning us, that the way Chris Christie described it was this was not directed by al Qaeda, but it was inspired by al Qaeda. Sometimes, those connections are harder to find, because they’re not taking place over a telephone call, or some kind of communication.

HH: They were, three of the Fort Dix six were in the country illegally. I’m not sure about the travel of the Kennedy Airport four. But did you think the recent draft immigration bill dealt seriously with this particular aspect of the problem of people in this country illegally who might be jihadists?

RG: Hugh, I came to the conclusion that it made it worse.

HH: How?

RG: I would have voted against it just on the grounds that we’re better off the way we are now than the change that we’re going to make, and we’re not in good shape right now. But if you look at what Congress passed, you know, last year, with the fence, technological fence, increase in Border Patrol, if anything, this bill would cut back on that. And the President is better off with the situation the way it is right now. I believe, and that was my second commitment, that you can end illegal immigration without anymore legislation. You have the authorization to build a big part of the fence. You can supplement that with a technological fence that would spot people and alert the Border Patrol to people coming over the border. You could use a border stat program like my compstat program to reduce crime, to strategically place the Border Patrol like we used to do with the police. And you could have a tamper-proof ID card for everyone, and a requirement that everybody that comes into the country has to be identified and in a database. And if you did that, and you did it consistently over a 12 to 18 month period, you’d come pretty close to ending illegal immigration at the border. And if we could show the American people that we could stop it at the border, then the rest of this stuff that’s being debated, I think you could come to a more reasonable accommodation about it. But right now, people look at the things that Ted Kennedy wants to do, and people who are compromising with him, and they say my goodness, I mean, this is just going to…if we don’t get control over our borders, this 12 million’s going to become 20 million.

HH: Among those 12 million are tens of thousands, according to the San Antonio Express News, of illegal immigrants from countries of interest, as the State Department calls them, countries with known jihadist networks. Should we have a separate category for illegals from those countries? Not because they’re all jihadist, but because there will be jihadist among them.

RG: You have to do, you have to have priorities in law enforcement, or in this kind of enforcement. And if there are areas of the world where there’s more of a tendency to produce people that are going to come here and kill us, and hurt us and destroy us, that’s a realistic piece of intelligence, you’ve got to apply that in the way that you’re handling it. And the reality is, I mean, the Senate voted down a provision that would create priorities for illegals who commit a crime. I mean, I can’t imagine anybody doesn’t agree with this. Somebody comes here illegally, and then they commit a crime, shouldn’t they be thrown out of the country immediately?

HH: Well, I agree with that. I’m just wondering if we have to get serious, and that political correctness prevents us from being serious about people from countries with jihadist networks.

RG: I don’t think we’re even close to that point, meaning the situation is so confused with the immigration service, that they’re not able to set priorities like that. Should they be able to do it? Yes, you’re absolutely right. They should be able to do it. They should be able to take intelligence that suggests that from one part of the world, there’s substantially more danger than from another, and apply it. That’s good law enforcement. That’s like a police officer saying when somebody describes the criminal as being six foot tall, you don’t go looking for somebody who’s five foot five.

HH: Agreed. Now I want to go back, Mayor, to a couple of the topics of the last Republican debate. You got asked out of nowhere whether or not you’d use tactical nukes on Iran, and then you moved on like it was, you know, asking if you were going to subscribe to a magazine or something. Yesterday, or on Sunday, Joe Lieberman said we know the Iranians are running people into Iraq to kill our soldiers, we know where they have a base. If you’re the president, will that continue? And if you’re the president, and you think they’re going to get nukes, will you stop them, whatever is necessary to stop them?

RG: Nice way to put it. Whatever is necessary. I think you say, you don’t take any option off the table. They have to know, they have to know that the American president will not allow them to become a nuclear power, in part because of the danger of the use of missiles, and attacking Israel, and attacking the United States, but maybe even more importantly because they can had nuclear materials off to people. And that may be even a greater danger with a country that’s a state sponsor of terrorism. The more immediate and greater danger is that in their sponsorship of terrorism, and in their ongoing activity of handing armaments and money to terrorists, they would start handing off nuclear material.

HH: In light of that, if the President comes out between now and the next election, and says based on intelligence that we have, and we know the problems with our intel, but based upon what I saw, I have to strike Iran, will you be out there the next day supporting him in that effort?

RG: If I believe that it was the last measure, and it was absolutely necessary to keep America safe, sure. The American president has to have that option on the table, and the American people have to support that, if in fact it comes to that. We all hope it doesn’t, we all wish it doesn’t, we all realize that it would be real dangerous if it did, but I think most of us realize it would be even more dangerous if a country like Iran that is so irresponsible was sitting there with nuclear weapons.

HH: Second topic from the debate, Scooter Libby. I believe you said he should be pardoned, and then you got cut off again. And I…you’re a prosecutor…

RG: No, I didn’t say that.

HH: Okay.

RG: I said that the sentence that the judge imposed made the case for a pardon a much, much stronger case.

HH: Why?

RG: Well, because one of the things that you look at when…I did, I think it was almost a thousand pardons for President Reagan. My office was in charge of getting those to the Attorney General and the President, and then making recommendations about it. And the severity of the sentence being out of line with the crime is one of the things that’s often considered. And in this particular case, it seemed to me that the sentence was way out of line with the situation in which you knew going in, or just about going in, who the leak was, and it wasn’t him. And you should have known by analyzing the statute that it wasn’t a crime.

HH: Do you think there was prosecutorial abuse here, Mayor Giuliani?

RG: I don’t know if I want to say that. The prosecution doesn’t make sense to me. And then, when you look at the prosecution being prosecution of a crime, where the underlying crime didn’t exist, and the person that was leaker was known, then you see a sentence like that, which was way out of line with the severity of the situation, you say to yourself that’s the kind of thing that cries out for some kind of presidential intervention. And what the right stage for that, or how that should be done, should it go through a Justice Department process, I think that’s all the case. But I think it’s going to argue much more strongly at some point down the road toward a pardon.

HH: What do you say to the Democrats who say yeah, but you guys pursued Bill Clinton over an affair to the ends of the world? That doesn’t make sense for the Republicans now to claim leniency.

RG: Well, first of all, I wasn’t in favor of that. I was not a big, enthusiastic supporter, or supporter of that at all. And secondly, this is putting a man in jail. This is taking his liberty away. This is putting him in jail for a couple of years of his life.

HH: Okay, Mayor, last series of questions here. Tony Blair gave a speech today in London, in which he blasted the media. I want to play you a little clip on that, and then get your sense after eight years of the New York media, and now the national media, whether he’s on target.

RG: (laughing)

HH: Here’s Tony Blair from earlier today.

TB: The fear of missing out means that today’s media, more than ever before, hunts in a pack. In these modes, it’s a like a feral beast, just tearing people and reputations to bits. But no one dares miss out.

HH: What do you think, Mayor? A feral beast hunting in packs?

RG: (laughing) You know, when you say it with an English accent, it sounds better.

HH: Yeah, it does.

RG: Doesn’t it? It sounds like it’s weightier, and I was kind of trying to get, well, at least my point of view about this out during the debate, when I said to Wolf Blitzer, if General Petraeus comes back in September, and says things are going pretty well, are you going to report that?

HH: And if he doesn’t, they will be…you know, we’re getting set up to call defeat in September, aren’t we, Mayor?

RG: It sounds that way, and I think it’s self…it’s sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy. I’ve never heard of a situation where you deal with a war, and you keep saying well, suppose things go wrong in three months, what are we going to do.

HH: Yeah.

RG: Or suppose they go wrong in six months, what are we going to do? It just doesn’t seem to me that you put yourself in a position that you can win a war like that, at least in the area of public perception, and that a fairer analysis of it would give us a much better chance.

HH: So last question, is the media doing a good job on this campaign, and on the war generally?

RG: On the war, I think I’ve expressed some of my frustrations. On the campaign, I think they are doing a pretty good job. I mean, the reality is this campaign has started much earlier than any of us thought, we’ve all had to, I think, accommodate ourselves to it. That’s why we put out our 12 Commitments today. I probably would have told you six months ago we weren’t going to do that until November or something. It’s become a far more substantive campaign early. We’ve already had three major debates. The Democrats have only had two, because they wouldn’t debate on Fox, which I thought was extraordinary. And I think the media, as far as I can tell, the media’s doing a good job of covering the campaign. In covering the war, I think a little more even-handed presentation might help. At least that’s what I hear from the troops. They constantly tell me that. They feel it isn’t being reported correctly.

HH: Well, Mayor Rudy Giuliani, thanks. The 12 Commitments are at www.joinrudy2008.com. I look forward to talking to you again soon, Mayor.

RG: Thank you, Hugh.

HH: Thank you.

RG: Thank you very much.

End of interview.

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