Rudy Giuliani has come under some criticism for remarks he made to George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America today regarding the Obama administration’s response to terrorism and approach to terrorists. Some of what Rudy says in this interview is entirely supportable, but can he really claim that there were no domestic terrorist attacks in the Bush administration? Er …
It isn’t that President Bush did everything right. This whole thing is like, well, they say, you know, “President Bush sent people to Yemen.” Well, he shouldn’t have! [Laughs] He shouldn’t have sent people to Yemen! Obviously, now, if he could do it again — one in five people that have been released from Guantanamo have gotten involved in terrorist activities. At least! That’s what we can measure. Obviously, it was a mistake.
What he should be doing is following the right things that Bush did. One of the right things he did was treat this as a war on terror. We had no domestic attacks under Bush — we’ve had one under Obama. Number two, he should correct the things that Bush didn’t do right. Sending people to Yemen was wrong. Not connecting — not getting this whole intelligence thing correct was both Bush’s responsibility and Obama [crosstalk].
Well, the obvious miss here is 9/11, which Giuliani should have understood still reflected on Bush the way the EunuchBomber reflected on Obama. One has to assume Rudy meant after 9/11, when everyone finally began to take AQ seriously. Even that leaves eight months of the Bush term, compared to eleven months of the Obama term before the EunuchBomber, in which to come to speed on an organization that had already conducted a string of terrorist attacks on American assets abroad. That’s a losing argument no matter how one slices it.
That’s also not the only terrorist plot that came to fruition in the Bush administration. Richard Reid attempted to blow up an airplane headed to the US from Paris in almost the exact same manner that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab did coming from Amsterdam. In both cases, the plane was only saved by the quick action of the passengers and a certain amount of incompetence by the terrorist.
Jake Tapper points out on Twitter that the DC sniper John Muhammad was convicted by a jury of terrorism in the ten murders he committed. We never did get a clear declaration of jihad from Muhammad before his arrest, but he did offer strong hints as to his jihadist motivations while in prison — along with a number of other psychotic ramblings. And for that matter, we still have yet to determine whether the anthrax attacks in 2002 were terrorist attacks of a domestic or foreign nature.
Rudy has some important points to offer here, but they get obscured by the poor attempt at point-scoring. We had our intel failures in the Bush administration, too, and Bush eventually signed off on the creation of DHS and DNI, which has been a big part of the problems we have seen in the last couple of months. We should drop the notion that everything ran perfectly before January 2009 (a point Rudy started to make as well), and focus on pushing for more rational reforms and better performance instead.
Update: Jake Tapper recalls another 2002 attack that has largely been forgotten:
Some might argue, however, that even with this quite significant clarification, Giuliani is ignoring some other acts of terrorism:
• Hesham Mohamed Hadayet, an Egyptian national who on July 4, 2002 shot and killed two Israelis and wounded four others at the El Al ticket counter at Los Angeles International Airport. The FBI would later say Hadayet was motivated by opposition to Israel and US policy in the Middle East and the shootings fit the definition of terrorism.