senior editor at The Village Voice, where he’s been covering politics for 22 years. He is the author of many books, including Rudy!: An Investigative Biography of Rudolph Guiliani. His latest book is Grand Illusion: The Untold Story of Rudy Giuliani and 9/11.
the producer and director of the documentary, Giuliani Time.
Journalist Wayne Barrett, author of "Grand Illusion: The Untold Story of Rudy Giuliani and 9/11," and filmmaker Kevin Keating ("Giuliani Time") discuss Giuliani’s run for president and his handling of the 9/11 attacks. [includes rush transcript]
AMY GOODMAN: We turn now back to this country. The first presidential primary is still more than 12 months away, but the 2008 race for the White House is already heating up. Last week, former Democratic Senator John Edwards announced his candidacy. Today, outgoing Republican Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney will be filing paperwork to form a presidential exploratory committee.
One of the most talked about Republican candidates for 2008 has been New York mayor—well, the former New York mayor, Rudolph Giuliani. Well, on Tuesday, Giuliani’s campaign suffered a possible setback when a New York newspaper revealed what it described as his secret campaign strategy. The New York Daily News obtained a 140-page campaign plan outlining Giuliani’s budgets, schedules, fundraising plans. The paper printed excerpts of the dossier yesterday, stating an anonymous source obtained it after it was left behind on a campaign trip. Advisers to Giuliani said the document was stolen by someone who had infiltrated his campaign. Advisers also downplayed the significance of the document. The main revelations are details about Giuliani’s goal to raise $100 million and a listing of his political and personal liabilities.
The document reportedly says Giuliani might "drop out" of the race as a result of insurmountable personal and political concerns. These concerns include his private-sector business dealings; his association with disgraced former Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik; his two ex-wives; and his position on "social issues," including his pro-choice stance on abortion.
The leaked document has emerged only days after some 9/11 families reported to the New York Post that Giuliani’s presidential exploratory committee had begun discussions with them about backing him if he runs for president. Giuliani gained national attention for his handling of the recovery effort after the September 11th attacks. But other 9/11 family members have since vowed to reveal the truth of what they say are the failures of his performance during the aftermath of the World Trade Center attacks.
We’re joined now by two journalists. Wayne Barrett is a senior editor at The Village Voice, where he’s been covering politics for 22 years, the author of many books, including Rudy!: An Investigative Biography of Rudolph Giuliani. Wayne’s latest book is Grand Illusion: The Untold Story of Rudy Giuliani and 9/11. We’re also joined by Kevin Keating, the producer and director of a documentary called Giuliani Time.. In a minute, we’ll play excerpts, but first, well, welcome, both. And, Wayne, start off by talking about the significance of this leaked report, this leaked battle plan, if you will.
WAYNE BARRETT: Well, not only is it an embarrassment that the president of a security company, who basically his claim to fame and his claim to the presidency is rooted in his supposed security consciousness around his icon status from 9/11, not only is that very embarrassing, but the substance of the document is really an indictment of the status of his campaign, because the document was written several months ago, a 140-page game plan about who to focus on, and person after person that’s named in the document as people that should be focused on by the campaign to pull them into the campaign as prime supporters, many of those people have already signed up with McCain in the interim.
And, you know, you take a look at Henry Kravis, for example, who’s named in the document, a major Wall Street figure. They say we need to get to Henry Kravis and identify him and pull him into our camp. Kravis was a big Giuliani supporter while Giuliani was mayor. You would think that they could at least, if they reached out to Henry Kravis, hold him from entering the fray so early. But, in fact, he’s already become a McCain supporter. So it looks like they laid out a game plan and then failed to even execute it.
So, I think the far more serious damage to the Giuliani campaign is not just that they blew this and that obviously they can’t run a secure campaign, but that the evidence that the Daily News has published is evidence that suggests that they’re far behind schedule and that they’ve blown many opportunities to bring some of the major sugar daddies of the Republican Party into line with this campaign. These are now McCain people.
I think — keep in mind, everybody in the national news media keeps saying that John McCain is the frontrunner. That is a total inaccurate report, because Rudy Giuliani has led in nine out of 10 polls. He’s the frontrunner. McCain’s people, I think, have systematically now — I think they’re very concerned about how Giuliani is showing up in their own private polling. And I think they threw a grenade at this campaign very early, and I think it’s having dire consequences for the Giuliani effort.
AMY GOODMAN: Talk about the significance of Mr. Singer, "P.S." as named in the plans.
WAYNE BARRETT: Well, Paul Singer is this hedge fund guy who is a big Bush backer and is apparently a very heavy player inside of the Giuliani campaign. What’s interesting is that they — there was memos inside of this playbook that indicate that Paul Singer, this hedge fund guy, was supposed to be in charge of rounding up the 9/11 families to support the Giuliani effort.
I can tell you, having just written the book, about Giuliani’s performance on 9/11, that there’s a lot of 9/11 families who are outraged by his performance. You don’t have to rely on me. Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton, in their own book, which came out simultaneous with mine, reported that the biggest failing of the 9/11 Commission was how they treated Giuliani at that May 2004 hearing, where they gave him a pass on every question, let him tell the same anecdotal speech he usually gets paid $100,000 to tell. And so, they said that because the families were so outraged at the pass that he was given — and they wrote this in their own book — they cancelled the buses to the final hearing in July or June in 2004 down in Washington. Hundreds of families that were expected to go cancelled, because they were so offended by the way in which the 9/11 Commission treated the families.
Rudy has, I’m sure, some families he can turn to that will support him for president. But there are many families who I’ve talked to in the course of reporting this book who were outraged by his performance. I mean, the city was about as prepared for that attack, despite the 1993 bombing, as apparently the Giuliani campaign was prepared for some sort of a security leak from their campaign.
AMY GOODMAN: Just on these backers who he may or may not have gotten to support him, Rudolph Giuliani, another Giuliani target, FedEx CEO Fred Smith; the uncommitted Paramount CEO Brad Grey, Giuliani’s talent agent after 9/11 is envisioned as leading a celebrities’ fundraising arm; former Vikings quarterback Fran Tarkenton would raise money from professional athletes; News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch; Pepsico chief Dawn Hudson; Goldman Sachs president Lloyd Blankfein are also listed as industry leaders.
WAYNE BARRETT: I mean, you know, Brad Grey, for example, has worked with Giuliani for years. The fact that he’s uncommitted and that they can’t nail him down is another example of weakness. So, Brad Grey produced that HBO special after 9/11 that was practically handed over to Giuliani as a production. Everybody that worked for Giuliani exclusively was interviewed for the Brad Grey special on HBO. So the fact that he’s uncommitted and the fact that Henry Kravis has been lost to McCain and so many other people who are listed in this playbook —
I did a—as you pointed out, I did a biography of Giuliani in 2000 called Rudy!: An Investigative Biography, and they did exactly the same thing when he ran for mayor. I got a copy of a playbook that was a vulnerability study that was 500 or 600 pages long, that was like a recitation of every weakness in his life that he ever had. And I published that in the earlier book. And it seems like they haven’t learned anything from that experience.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to go to break. When we come back, Wayne Barrett, also Kevin Keating, the filmmaker who did Giuliani Time, and we’ll play excerpts. Stay with us.
AMY GOODMAN: Our guests are Wayne Barrett and Kevin Keating. Wayne Barrett has written his second book on Giuliani, Grand Illusion: The Untold Story of Rudy Giuliani and 9/11. Kevin Keating has done a film called Giuliani Time, which we’re going to play an excerpt of. Kevin Keating, can you link this to the investigation you did in this film, the now explosive new battle plans memo that the New York Daily News got a copy of?
KEVIN KEATING: Well, we started making this film just shortly before Wayne wrote Rudy!, the wonderful description of Giuliani’s background, in which we described this earlier episode where he got a vulnerability report. That’s a very graphic scene. He’s standing by the Thruway at midnight in Albany. He gets the 500-page report, and in it are listed dozens of vulnerabilities that they had made of their own exposure, possible. They actually recommended, as I remember, Wayne, that Rudy not run, his own people. I don’t know what this latest vulnerability report — if it’s that — brings forth.
But I would think that Wayne’s most recent book, Grand Illusion, with the incredibly important descriptions, revelations about Giuliani’s actual performance, moment by moment on September 11 and what led up to it — everything from the Motorola radios, the lack of communication, no command and control center on 9/11, the absolute fallacy of his commanding and being a force for the evacuation on 9/11. It’s a scandal. Wayne’s newest book, I think, would be listed high on the list of vulnerabilities for Giuliani. I would hope that our film is there, too, because there are some elements, some things that we bring forward in the film about Giuliani’s vulnerabilities. For instance, his FBI background check back in the ’70s.
AMY GOODMAN: Which said?
KEVIN KEATING: Which said that he may well have deceived the FBI when he was first going to the criminal division about the Mafia connections of his family, not his father, but that his first cousin, Lewis D’Avanzo, for instance, had been killed by the FBI in a shootout. He was a leader of a stolen car ring here in Long Island. That never came up, and he denies in the film — we found some footage of Giuliani denying that he ever — he said he had been vetted by the FBI. It may well have been that he had deceived or lied about his family ties to crime back then. That’s in the film.
I think there — I’d be very interested to see in this 140-page report what they see as vulnerabilities, because I think Wayne’s book certainly is a major area, because he brings forward a lot of new information about 9/11. And nationally, that’s what people think, that he actually performed well and gave leadership on 9/11. I think Wayne’s book is great evidence that that’s not true.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, let’s go to an excerpt of the documentary, Giuliani Time. In this part of the film, Giuliani is speaking at the 2004 Republican National Convention.
INDRODUCER: Ladies and gentlemen, a man who embodies the courage, strength and heart of New York City, the Honorable Rudolph Giuliani.
RUDOLPH GIULIANI: Welcome to the capital of the world. These are times when leadership is the most important. On September 11, I looked up, and seeing the flames of hell emanating from those buildings and realizing that what I was actually seeing was a human being that was jumping out of the building, and I was stunned. Without really thinking, I grabbed the arm of then-Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, and I said to him, "Bernie, thank God George Bush is our president." Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: Rudolph Giuliani speaking at the Republican convention 2004, here in New York City, captured in Giuliani Time, new film by Kevin Keating, which also features the author-journalist Wayne Barrett, who, together with Dan Collins, wrote Grand Illusion: The Untold Story of Rudy Giuliani and 9/11. Talk about Rudolph Giuliani’s performance. I mean, he is seen as, what did they say, "America’s mayor." This is what he would run on if he does run for president in 2008. And also I’d like you to talk about his positioning in relation to another New Yorker, Hillary Rodham Clinton. Wayne Barrett?
WAYNE BARRETT: Well, you know, Kevin’s film shows this speech. I think the speech — and I’ve known Rudy since the ’70s. I met him when he was a private attorney.
AMY GOODMAN: You were friends, weren’t you?
WAYNE BARRETT: Yes, and I wrote positively about him and still feel positively about many of the things that he did as a Unites States attorney here in New York. I’d say that this speech was the lowest point in his public life. It was maybe one of the most acclaimed points, but what disturbed me the most about this speech — and it goes to your question about 9/11 — is that he is the person who cemented this falsehood in the American mindset about the connection between Iraq and 9/11, because at the start, the very start of this speech before a national audience, he reminds people about the bullhorn speech that Bush delivered immediately after the attack down there at ground zero and says — he quotes Bush again as saying, "The people who brought down these towers are going to hear from us." Well, we all know that the people who brought down these towers have yet to hear from us. But then he says, "They heard from us in Afghanistan." You could make an argument that people who brought down the towers were based in Afghanistan.
But then he says, "They heard from us in Iraq," when even Dick Cheney has admitted that the people who brought down the towers had absolutely nothing to do with Iraq. And he, I think, in that moment, he crystallized for the American public, because he can speak about 9/11 with greater authority than any other American figure. It’s a myth that he should be able to speak with such authority about that, and that’s the myth that the book deals with.
Now, Rudy had many dear personal friends who died that day. And yet, he would, in a national convention, completely misrepresent who killed them. And I don’t think you can get any lower than that in public life. So my feeling about him, what we try to lay out, Dan Collins and I, in this book, is we take a look at the many good things he did say on that day and in the immediate aftermath of that. He hit all the right chords with the American public, he said all the right things, but we examine how he did all the wrong things between the 1993 bombing —- he was running for mayor in 1993 when that bombing occurred. He took office just months after the 1993 -—
AMY GOODMAN: This was the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.
WAYNE BARRETT: On the World Trade Center complex. All the mistakes that he made, whether it be locating the bunker in the World Trade Center complex —- and let’s look at that one as an example. I mean, we have chapters on the radios. We have chapters on command and control. We have chapters on all -—
AMY GOODMAN: The radios not being able to communicate.
WAYNE BARRETT: Right. The firefighters were using the same radios that they used at the ’93 bombing, even though we found a report that was written in 1990 that said that they were already obsolete and that they were a danger to the life of firefighters. And the firefighters are still carrying those same radios eight years after the 1993 bombing.
But what we focus on — I mean, just take the bunker, for example. It turns out we discovered memos where his top security advisers say you can’t put it in the World Trade Center complex. We discovered a five-page memo from Jerry Hauer, who was the head of emergency management under Giuliani, that wanted it to be located in Brooklyn in the Metrotech complex. That happens to be roughly where Mike Bloomberg has since put it. It’s a block away from Metrotech in downtown Brooklyn. Giuliani said, "No, I want it within walking distance of City Hall." No one could figure out the security rationale for that. But once he said it had to be within walking distance, Jerry Hauer then said, "You can’t go underground, because it’s all below the flood plane within walking distance, so you’ve got to go to a tower." The nearest tower was the World Trade Center complex.
The 23rd floor of 7 World Trade had never been rented. It was built for an investment banking firm as a trade floor. It had extremely high ceilings. It had been laying vacant for more than 10 years. The private landlord who owned that became a gigantic donor to Rudy Giuliani, threw two big fundraising events on his yacht for it. They move into that floor, and it is a disaster on that day. We quote people from John Farmer, who was the staff attorney who wrote the chapter that deals with the city’s response for the 9/11 Commission, as saying that if they had had a functioning command center that day, it would have saved the lives of many firefighters and police officers and rescuers. They had no functioning command center. They had no functioning command center because of terrible decisions that were made.
Even Howard Safer, who was the police commissioner appointed by Giuliani, who goes way back with Giuliani to his federal days as a prosecutor, even Howard Safer warned him. We quote from a meeting of the Cabinet, in which he called it in 1997. He said, "You can’t put it in ground zero." He called it "ground zero" then because it had already been bombed. Rudy just brushed aside all of this advice, was determined to put it there, put it there, and it had dire, even deadly, consequences that day. So that’s just one example of many that we raise in the book.
AMY GOODMAN: What about the police and firefighters who came to try to find loved ones, partners, colleagues? What about the environmental hazards of 9/11?
KEVIN KEATING: Well, Amy, you know, the terrible thing that happened on the fifth anniversary that we all just commemorated was that all the national news media had Giuliani on. I watched every channel the night of the fifth anniversary. Every network had Giuliani on, the same self-serving statements, the same hero worship.
Here, our own local channel in New York, NY1, had the head of the police union, the head of the firefighters union. Both of them were condemning Giuliani. They don’t have to negotiate any more contracts with him. This is not union leaders blustering about a contract. They had to be embodying and representing the vast majority of their membership. They pointed to our book and said our book told the truth about how Giuliani responded. And they denounced him, not just for the lead-up to 9/11, but for what you raise, which is, we have two chapters in the book that point out Giuliani’s terrible responsibility for —- look, in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 you can understand the chaos. You can understand why firefighters and police officers are out there without respirators. They’re still trying to do rescues. But once it was clear that nobody could be rescued, why there were thousands of construction workers, as well as these first responders, working there without respirators and with no plan to get them respirators, and why they were exposed to these toxins and why we now have thousands of them who have respiratory and even cancer signs right now, severe respiratory difficulties, why that was allowed -—
You know, Giuliani, we quote the head of — his own commissioner from the Department of Design and Construction, who ran the ground zero cleanup. He said he dealt with Giuliani every day, that Giuliani only asked him one question: How much debris did you remove yesterday? Are we on schedule? Are we ahead of schedule? All he cared about, even though the fires were still burning and spewing toxins in the air, all he cared about was the public relations. I mean, obviously, it’s five years later. Nothing’s been built there. What was the rush? The public relations question of making it look like they were efficiently cleaning up the site. And the consequences have been dire.
AMY GOODMAN: Yet, Kevin Keating, this is a very different picture than we get in the rest of the media. Certainly, you’re presenting a very different picture in Giuliani Time than we get anywhere else.
KEVIN KEATING: Well, I think the media hasn’t shifted all that much from what they were doing during his time in office, which is essentially genuflecting. And, you know, when Giuliani appears to this day on Tim Russert or Matthews or any of the national news media, they, as I say, genuflect. They radiate in his glow. They, too, feel that he’s a rock star when he walks in the room. There’s almost no critical analysis. I don’t think any of the major journalists have read your books, Wayne, or seen our film, for instance. I mean, when it comes to Giuliani, there’s a kind of a sycophancy and an adoration that kicks in that I still don’t understand, because even the most cursory investigation of Giuliani will quickly bring to the surface how his mayoralty wasn’t nearly what it’s touted to be.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, we have to end the show right now, but I do want to invite you both back, because there is a lot more to talk about, and certainly in the film, to bring us part two. And it’s not just about 9/11, especially when we’re looking at the shooting of Sean Bell today. It goes back to issues of police brutality under Giuliani and how he responded, for example, in the case of Amadou Diallo. I want to thank you both for being with us: Wayne Barrett, author of Grand Illusion; Kevin Keating, filmmaker who did Giuliani Time.