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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

Rudy, On Reforming The Intelligence Community, and “American Gangster”

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Rudy Giuliani was the guest on today’s program, and we covered a lot of ground, including the knockdown underway between him and Mitt, Bernie Kerick, Frank Lucas and boxing.  The transcript is here.  Some key graphs:

HH: Mayor, have you had a chance to read The Looming Tower and Legacy Of Ashes yet, the books about… 

RG: I have read The Looming Tower, and I have just begun Legacy Of Ashes. I’m actually just on the first chapter.  It’s very interesting that you asked about that.

HH: It’s clear from these books…oh, it’s amazing, but it’s clear that our counterintelligence and counterterrorism and intelligence are pretty badly broken, and in some cases, acting very strangely. Can you get control of them as president? 

RG: Yes, and I think that my background and experience, and this is the point that I try to make to people, it’s my background and experience in law enforcement, in the Justice Department, which I think is much more extensive than people realize. You can only tell a certain amount of your history and biography in a campaign like this. It puts me in a much better position to be able to reorganize these things than somebody who hasn’t had this experience. And the only thing I can do in a brief period of time to get people’s attention is to look at the results that I got when I was the United States attorney. I prosecuted organized crime in a way that nobody had ever done before, violent crime, political corruption, white collar crime. As Mayor of New York, I got these massive reductions in crime, and I was able to change welfare. What I’m good at is reorganizing these systems, and really turning them around, and getting startling results. And that’s what we’ll do.

HH: Do you perceive that there are elements within the CIA that are openly, or covertly at war with administration policy and undermining it? 

RG: I read a book about that about three or four weeks ago, also, about the fact that there were elements in the CIA that were anti-Bush and anti-administration. And you know, you read these, and from the outside, you just have to evaluate all them. And once you get there, you find out if they’re true or not. But Legacy Of Ashes is a much more, a book much more critical of the CIA and how it’s operated over the years than actually has been my experience. I’ve worked with the CIA, not at the level you would as president, but as a United States attorney, associate attorney general, even as Mayor, occasionally. You would get briefings at least through the FBI. And my impression of the CIA is not that completely negative perception that would come across, I think, in Legacy Of Ashes. Instead, what I see is an agency made up of very, very brave people doing very difficult work, and probably with some problems in it. But hey, gosh, that was true of every, that’s true of the FBI, that’s true of the New York City Police Department, it was true of my administration, and it’s true of every large organization. There are always some problems in it, and you’re always working to try and fix those.

HH: John Bolton makes a pretty convincing case in his new book that the State Department’s pretty badly broken as well. Do you agree, and can you get control of that? 

RG: Yeah, the State Department needs a total reorientation, I think, like a big one, the way I reoriented the Police Department, the Welfare office in New York, got them to think about how you’ve got to find jobs for people rather than just putting them on welfare. The State Department has to first think about itself as…the main purpose of the State Department, as I see it, when really, it was established by Washington with Thomas Jefferson, is to sell America. I mean, what it’s there for, the foreign policy of the United States exists to advance the interest of the United States. So when people tell me about the reputation of the United States being hurt, the first thing that I ask, having been in most of these countries, is what’s the ambassador doing about repairing our reputation? 

HH: Interesting.

RG: When America gets attacked, and I’ve been on ninety-plus foreign trips in the last five years, and I’ve heard it a lot, well, half the time, three-quarters of the time, the attack is erroneous. Are we correcting it? Are we out there realizing that the State Department exists to advance the reputation of the United States, the standing of the United States? And then the second purpose of it is to explain that country to us, or to the president and the administration. And I think sometimes, it’s that second purpose that dominates. They call it going native.

HH: Yup. That’s what Bolton says. 

RG: And to some extent, you have to go native, but there’s got to be a priority. You’re going native for the purpose of explaining the United States. You know, we sent Franklin to France as our first ambassador to explain America to France, to get them on our side, not to explain the French to us. That was the secondary purpose.



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