By: David A. Patten
Former New York City Mayor and GOP presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani declared Friday morning that the Fort Hood shootings and the Christmas Day bombing incident show President Obama and his advisers have been “fundamentally wrong” in their approach to the war on terror.
The president has tried to let “political correctness trump reality,” Giuliani said.
“The reality is he’s been trying to distinguish himself from [former President George W.] Bush,” Giuliani told MSNBC’s Morning Joe viewers. “That’s why he never uses the word war on terror.
“Well, the reality is there are some things Bush did right and some things he did wrong. He was right to call it a war on terror. He actually was more successful in preventing terrorist attacks than Obama has been in his short time. Bush was wrong to send [Guantanamo detainees] back to Yemen.”
The Obama administration came into power largely on its belief that Bush’s response to the 9/11 attacks was unnecessarily severe, and had alienated America’s potential allies abroad, Giuliani said.
“They’d gone too far, Bush had overreacted, we make the war on terror worse if we emphasize it too much — this is what they truly believed. But they were fundamentally wrong,” Giuliani said.
“And the facts have proven them to be fundamentally wrong,” he said.
The challenge now facing the Obama administration, Giuliani said, is whether they can correct seriously flawed policies.
“They have to change their approach,” he said. “Let’s see if President Obama is a President Clinton. Let’s see if he can make a mid-course correction. He’s now said it is a war on terror. If it is a war on terror, no more putting these people in civilian courts.”
Giuliani conceded that one of Bush’s mistakes in the war on terror was conducting criminal trials of some terrorist suspects.
Approaching terror as a legal problem rather than a threat to national security was characteristic of the U.S. policy preceding the 9/11 attacks. Obama’s critics say he has returned the U.S. counterterrorism apparatus to that pre-9/11 mindset.
The administration, for example, has filed criminal charges against Umar Farouk Abdulmuttalab, the 23-year-old Nigerian accused of hiding explosives in his underwear. Abdulmuttalab was arrested after witnesses said he tried to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight to Detroit. He was initially interrogated by the FBI, but was held on criminal charges and provided with legal representation.
“You catch Abdulmuttalab. He’s talking. Why do you cut it off?” Giuliani said. “For what possible reason do you stop him from talking in order to get him a lawyer? It makes no sense.”
Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski questioned whether Bush had really kept the nation safe from terrorism during his presidency, pointing to the 9/11 attacks in the first eight months of the Bush presidency.
“I have to remind you, Mika,” Giuliani responded, “that was totally unexpected. I was here on September 11 and I was getting briefed every day.
“Every day I was being told we’re going to get attacked again, we’re going to get attacked again, we’re going to get attacked again.
“I am absolutely certain that the quick reaction of the Bush administration in Afghanistan, the damaging blows that they gave to al-Qaida right away, stopped a lot of attacks on this country. I can cite 20 attacks that they prevented,” Giuliani said.
On Thursday, the president conceded that the nation is engaged in a war against al Qaida, and issued a series of directives designed to tighten U.S. security.
Several former CIA officials, however, have said the new rules will only make it more difficult for the intelligence community to obtain and properly analyze the information needed to keep America safe.
“You can’t ask analysts to think faster,” former CIA assistant director Mark Lowenthal told the New York Times. “And the president’s solution to have analysts share more information sooner is only going to exacerbate the problem that got us into this flap in the first place.”