- Wayne Barrett
senior editor at the Village Voice, where he’s been covering politics for over 20 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.
With the Iowa caucuses 50 days away, more questions about Giuliani’s past have emerged in recent days that could threaten his candidacy. On Friday, his personal friend and business partner Bernard Kerik was indicted on 16 counts of federal corruption charges, including bribery and tax fraud. On Tuesday, it was revealed that one of Kerik’s former lovers, Judith Regan, had sued Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. and accused the company of pressuring her to commit perjury in order to protect Giuliani’s presidential ambition. We speak to investigative reporter and Village Voice senior editor Wayne Barrett, author of two books on Giuliani. [includes rush transcript]
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We turn now to former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s run for the White House. With the Iowa caucuses 50 days away, more questions about Giuliani’s past have emerged in recent days that could threaten his candidacy. On Friday, his personal friend and business partner, former Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, was indicted on 16 counts of federal corruption charges, including bribery and tax fraud. The former New York City commissioner faces up to 142 years in prison and almost $5 million in fines.
As mayor of New York, Giuliani helped Kerik rise from being a low-ranking detective to police commissioner after Kerik volunteered to be Giuliani’s driver during his run for re-election. Later, Giuliani made Kerik a partner in his security business and urged President Bush to nominate him to head the Department of Homeland Security.
AMY GOODMAN: On Tuesday, it was revealed one of Kerik’s former lovers, Judith Regan, had sued Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. and accused the company of pressuring her to commit perjury in order to protect Giuliani’s presidential ambitions. Last year, Regan was fired as head of ReganBooks in the controversy over aborted plans to publish a book by O.J. Simpson. In a wrongful termination suit, Regan says an executive at News Corp. pressured her to lie to investigators about her affair with Kerik. She was talking about Roger Ailes.
Meanwhile, a new New York Times/CBS poll from Iowa indicates Giuliani faces an uphill battle in Iowa. Twenty-seven percent of voters polled backed former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, 21 percent supported Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, and only 15 percent backed Giuliani.
Investigative reporter Wayne Barrett joins us here in our firehouse studio to talk more about Giuliani. He’s a senior editor at The Village Voice, where he’s been covering politics for over two decades. He’s the author of many books, and his latest, Grand Illusion: The Untold Story of Rudy Giuliani and 9/11. He also wrote Rudy: An Investigative Biography of Rudolph Giuliani.
Welcome to Democracy Now!
WAYNE BARRETT: Hey. How are you?
AMY GOODMAN: Well, let’s start off with this scandal around Judith Regan. Talk about the significance of this.
WAYNE BARRETT: I don’t think we know yet how significant it will be in terms of how it could impact on Giuliani’s election. The astonishing thing is—let’s keep our ducks in line here, because, really, Rupert Murdoch is the subject of this lawsuit—in its devastating assessment of News Corp. and Fox and the role in which they play. I mean, this was the queen of the Rupert Murdoch empire for many, many years. And the ways in which they trashed her and really dealt with her in the most abusive fashion is laid out in chapter and verse here.
But the Giuliani connection to it is—she starts with this in the complaint. I’d say it’s the most scantily supported part of the complaint, and I think she’s holding back a great deal of what she knows about this in a negotiating position with them, because she doesn’t identify—you just identified Roger Ailes; I’m sure you’re correct, but the papers don’t identify Roger Ailes. In fact, they never mention his name until page 16. They keep referring to a “senior executive.” And, by the way, there are two executives that are clearly—were executives of the company and urged her not to reveal things to investigators and even to misrepresent what she knew.
Now, the fact is that when you couple that and look at the Kerik indictment, I think many of the counts in the Kerik indictment come from information that was originally available to Judith Regan. There’s one count in particular: In addition to publishing his book, Kerik’s book, Lost Son, she also published a book that was a book of photos of 9/11, and Kerik wrote the foreword for that and was paid $75,000 by ReganBooks. He was supposed to contribute that to the children and—to the Widows’ and Children’s Benefit Fund, Fire and Police, and instead he deposited it in an account that no one knew about, a corporation no one knew about. She certainly had to know about it, because that’s where the deposits were made. And that corporation winds up getting not only this $75,000, but a half-million dollars that represents many of the counts in the tax case, because he didn’t pay taxes on any of this half-million dollars in income, this separate corporation, which I think Regan really opened the door to, in terms of where all this money was going. And so—
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: So, what you’re saying is that you suspect that Regan may have already been talking to federal investigators who brought the indictment on Kerik.
WAYNE BARRETT: Well, whether she was talking to them or not, I can’t know. But what clearly, to me, is apparent from the actual counts in the indictment is that it springs from information that she knew about. You know, I don’t know anything about whether or not they talked.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And which had not previously been reported by anyone.
WAYNE BARRETT: That’s right. That’s right. And so, I think—you know, she is a very important player in what happens next, because in terms of the Giuliani campaign, the Kerik case is going to hang over it. Your newspaper has reported that the hearings are going to—hearings in this case are going to begin in January in the middle of all the primaries. Now, what happens with the Regan lawsuit is that also hangs over and haunts the Giuliani campaign. If that case is not settled, then you’ve got two people who are raising—one in a civil lawsuit and one in a criminal case—all kinds of issues that really go to the heart of Giuliani.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And presumably, Regan was dating the police commissioner at the time, Kerik, over a period of several years—
WAYNE BARRETT: Right.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: —and would be in a position to know a lot more about the inner workings of the Giuliani administration during that time.
WAYNE BARRETT: That’s certainly, unbelievably—I mean, when I was doing my book, I tried repeatedly to talk to her. I wasn’t calling her about her affair with Bernie Kerik. I had many conversations with her assistant. She never talked to me while I was reporting this book. And, you know, my assumption was, look, I’m not going to ask you a question about your relationship with Bernie Kerik. I kept telling her assistant I wanted to find out what she might have learned about Giuliani or Kerik, completely independent of the relationship. But at that time, which was a few years ago, she certainly wasn’t willing to talk about it.
AMY GOODMAN: One of the scandals was Kerik was using the—an apartment down at Battery Park that was supposed to be used for wasted, tired, exhausted firefighters and police who were combing the pile trying to find bodies, and he was using it as a love tryst for Judith and another partner.
WAYNE BARRETT: Another woman, who—they happened to see each—one of them happened to see the other’s love notes, and so things kind of exploded in the police commissioner’s face. He couldn’t even handle that very well.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And the overall Kerik indictment, here is a man who basically owes his entire career to Rudy Giuliani and was on the verge of being named the head of Homeland Security of the entire country. The impact of that indictment on his—on his judgment as a leader?
WAYNE BARRETT: Well, you know, you take a guy who was really only in the NYPD for seven years. He had the scantest police background. He never passed an exam in the NYPD. He was 24 credits shy of a college degree, and a college degree is required of lieutenants. He was competing with, for the police commissioner’s job, a 37-year veteran who had gone completely up the ranks to the highest-ranking uniformed officer in the department, and Rudy picks his buddy Bernie.
And I think that says it all, because if you go from selecting Bill Bratton as the first police commissioner at the start of the administration to going to Bernie Kerik, I think that says something about the evolution of Rudy Giuliani’s judgment and character as a public official. When he first comes into office, he hires a total police professional. He winds up firing him, because the guy winds up on the cover of Time magazine before he does. And so, even though Bratton is the one who gives him all the police strategies that prove to be effective during the course of those years, he winds up with a complete crony, as you say, a complete creature, whose professional career is entirely attributable really to Rudolph Giuliani.
When Bernie Kerik goes to Iraq as Bush’s—you know, he’s supposed to stand up the Iraqi police department in 2003. He tells people when he arrives, “I only came because Rudy made me come.” You know, “Rudy said I can’t turn down the president of the United States.” Of course, he stayed three months, left, and I don’t think he stood up the Iraqi police department.
AMY GOODMAN: And when he left, made a stop in Jordan?
WAYNE BARRETT: Yes, made a stop in Jordan, where he does a great deal of business to this day. That’s really the core of his—of the business that he now has, which is separate from Giuliani Partners.
AMY GOODMAN: To sign on the king of Jordan as a client?
WAYNE BARRETT: Yes. Well, that’s what the king of Jordan says, yes.
AMY GOODMAN: Talk about Rudolph Giuliani’s role in elevating—trying to get Bernard Kerik to become the Homeland Security commissioner.
WAYNE BARRETT: Well, I think, you know, if I was—if I was running the negative commercials for a candidate running against him, I’d just take that Washington Post story that came out when Bernie Kerik was nominated, and it said that Bush decided to pick Kerik after an impassioned phone call from Rudolph Giuliani. It was an impassioned phone call. “You’ve got to pick my guy!”
And, you know, it’s one thing to make a mistake, as the mayor likes to put it: “Oh, I made a lot of decisions; this one was a mistake.” But the entire core of his presidential campaign, the rationale for it, is: “I’m the best man to defend America.” Well, he had one opportunity to prove that, unless you consider being down at Ground Zero an opportunity to prove that he’s the man to defend America, but he had one opportunity to prove it, which was he got to select—the president of the United States was all ears to Rudy—he got to select the next homeland security secretary, and he came up with a bum.
You know, it’s not just this federal case. He’s already pled guilty to two state crimes in some of the same fact patterns. So, you know, while he is charged in this case and unconvicted, he has already pled guilty to two counts.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And the allegations in the federal indictment, for those across the country who are not that familiar with the indictment, they allege that while Kerik was a police—while he was the head of corrections in a short period before he became police commissioner, that he was taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in unreported renovations to his apartment from a mob-connected—or a company suspected of mob connections. This is the guy who becomes police commissioner?
WAYNE BARRETT: Yeah, it’s the core allegation. And, you know, I think the key thing, in terms of judging Giuliani on it, is: What did he know? And the question really has to be posed twice. The media is very focused on posing the question around the time of the appointment as police commissioner: What did Giuliani know then? And we knew—we know now that he knew a great deal.
Ed Kuriansky, who was Giuliani’s investigations commissioner and also an old friend, who went way back to the '70s with Giuliani when they were federal prosecutors together, he's dead. But his appointment diaries clearly show that he met with Giuliani many times. This company is named in the appointment diaries, Bernie Kerik is named in the appointment diaries, as the purpose of the meetings with Giuliani and with Denny Young, sometimes jointly. Denny Young was the mayor’s counsel, is still with the mayor; he’s at Giuliani Partners today. And so, clearly there was central information conveyed to Giuliani prior to this appointment.
But I think the more important question is: What did Giuliani know when he nominated him for homeland security secretary? And by then, there had been a half-dozen scandals, widely reported, mostly in your paper, but in many other papers across the city. All he had to do—he says, “I wish I had vetted him more carefully.” All he had to do was read the newspaper about his own partner, and he would know that this man was unsuitable for this position.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted turn to filmmaker Robert Greenwald, who has done a series on Rudolph Giuliani. But before we do that, what do you make of Rudolph Giuliani saying around Kerik, “Listen, you know, I make thousands of decisions. I made one bad one”?
WAYNE BARRETT: Well, I just said that—you know, he does make thousands of decisions. The appointment of your police commissioner is the single most important decision a mayor makes. The appointment of homeland security secretary is one of the top positions, in terms of the defense of the country, that a president makes. So it’s not just a throwaway line about a bad decision. These are core important decisions that go to the heart of the rationale for his candidacy, and he made very bad choices in both of those circumstances. I think it’s central.
AMY GOODMAN: We are talking to Wayne Barrett, a longtime reporter here in New York, has written several books on Rudolph Giuliani. Grand Illusion is now out on paperback, The Untold Story of Rudy Giuliani and 9/11. Talk about the secret transcript you got of Rudolph Giuliani’s testimony before the 9/11 Commission.
WAYNE BARRETT: Well, in addition to questioning Rudy in the lamest sort of way at a public hearing of the 9/11 Commission—and Tom Kean has admitted in his own book that it was the biggest mistake that the 9/11 Commission made, which was they didn’t ask him any serious questions when he appeared before them in May of 2004.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And why was that?
WAYNE BARRETT: Well, I mean, Tom Von Essen, Richie Sheirer and Bernie Kerik, the three—police commissioner, fire commissioner and emergency management commissioner—appeared the day before. And the tabloids, especially the New York Post, ran headlines about how unfair they had—how unfairly the commission had beaten these three guys up, as if it was an attack on firefighters. That’s the way the Post presented it, as if it was an attack on firefighters themselves. And clearly this intimidated the commission, when Giuliani appeared the next day.
And I think also they sort of say, look, they were dealing with this heroic national figure, and they treaded very softly. The families were so dismayed about this that Kean reports in his own book, Kean and Hamilton, that they had—there was only one hearing left for the 9/11 Commission—it was scheduled for July—and the families cancelled all the buses. They didn’t go down to Washington. They were so upset with the way in which Giuliani was treated with such kid gloves at the public hearing.
Well, I got a copy of the private testimony that Giuliani gave on April 20th, 2004. Now, this private testimony is not supposed to be released until, coincidentally, December 2008. And in this private testimony, it’s not just—
AMY GOODMAN: Who decides that?
WAYNE BARRETT: Well, this is a very mysterious thing, because the members of the commission never voted on this. Someone internally on the staff made the decision that not just Giuliani’s testimony, but that all the testimony for chapter nine, which is the testimony that relates to the city’s response, would not be made public until December 2008. It may affect testimony in other chapters, as well. Some testimony that involves classified information is sealed for 25 years. But no one could understand what the rationale was as to why you seal testimony that only relates to how the city responded to an emergency. There’s certainly no classified—in fact, it says on the top of each page: “Commission-sensitive, but unclassified.” That’s what it says on the top of each page.
So, any rate, this testimony clearly reveals that everything that Giuliani is saying about his expertise—he now calls himself an “expert” on terrorism, who’s been studying it for 35 years. And he claims things like when he went to Pat Robertson’s university, Regent University, he said, “Bin Laden declared war on America, but nobody heard him. But I heard him. I understood what he was saying.” Well, in the testimony, Rudy says the opposite. He says that the first time he ever had a briefing on al-Qaeda was after 9/11. He describes the briefing in great detail. It was given by Yossef Bodansky, who wrote a book that came out on bin Laden in 1999, incidentally entitled The Man Who Declared War on America. But he read it after 9/11, and he underlined it with—
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And how did he learn about it?
WAYNE BARRETT: He learned about it through Judy Nathan and Henry Kissinger. And any rate, Bodansky predicted spectacular attacks on New York and Washington in 1999, but Rudy didn’t read it until after 9/11.
And then he says things like—they ask him, “Well, what about the terrorist threat information that you got between ’98 and 2001?” And he says, “Well, when I look back on it now, I realize it was al-Qaeda. But at the time, I didn’t know it was al-Qaeda at all.” And he says, “It was a mistake for me not to have briefings before 9/11.” I don’t think we’re likely to hear that on the campaign trail. But “it was a mistake for me not to.”
And now he’s also going all around the country saying, “I’m going to take my CompStat program,” which was the program that Bill Bratton introduced, which is essentially a statistical assessment of where crime is, and you concentrate your resources there. “I’m going to apply that to terrorism. And this is going to be my program to deal with terrorism. I’m going to apply CompStat to it.” So, strangely enough, they asked him this at the private testimony. They said, “Well, are you going to—do you see any way in which the CompStat program can be applied to terrorism?” And he said, “I don’t know. Ask Bernie about it,” referring to Bernie Kerik. “Ask the current people: Ray Kelly at NYPD, who is doing some CompStat application. Ask them about it. I don’t know much about that.” So, this testimony really rebuts the core of what he’s saying all over the country.
AMY GOODMAN: You’ve also written a piece called “Rudy Giuliani’s Five Big Lies About 9/11.” So, go through each of them; some included what you said.
WAYNE BARRETT: Well, I mean, yes. The first big lie is that he’s some kind of an expert on terrorism. He tries to describe this biography of his in such a way—I mean, for example, he starts with the murder of Leon Klinghoffer, which many people in your audience may remember. It goes back—it’s really the first American killed by Islamic fundamentalists, or these were people connected to, though not part of, the PLO. They killed Klinghoffer, and he was murdered on an Italian vessel off the coast of Egypt, and his body was dumped in the water. He was a wheelchair businessman from Manhattan. And this kind of—this was a major issue in America.
Now, Rudy Giuliani claims, now, as a candidate, and he’s claimed before he was a candidate, that he conducted the federal investigation of this murder, and that’s how he learned so much about terrorism. In fact, I’ve interviewed the actual prosecutor down in Washington that investigated the murder of Leon Klinghoffer, and she said he had absolutely nothing to do with it. Arnold Burns, who was so close to Giuliani that he became the finance chair of his mayoral campaign, was the deputy attorney general at the time, and he oversaw the investigations of the murder of Leon Klinghoffer. You couldn’t be closer to Rudy. And he said to me, “I don’t understand what Rudy is talking about. He had absolutely nothing to do with the investigation of Leon Klinghoffer.”
So I just cite that as one example in the story, but I cite many other examples of—he goes around the country, he lists five or six specific instances of how he became aware of and engaged in the fight against terrorism. And I think I take every single one of them apart as not a legitimate part of any biography.
So then I look at a variety of other things, one of which I think Juan did the premier work on, which is the role at Ground Zero. I mean, this is again—the big lie of the campaign is: You can’t blame this all on Christie Whitman, please. You know, who got all the credit for the cleanup at Ground Zero? We all remember that Rudy — “We’re ahead of budget. We’re ahead of—I mean, we’re ahead of schedule, rather; we’re below the budget, and we’re cleaning it up faster than anyone could predict.” And he was going—everybody thought in the mainstream media, other than Juan, that things were going so swimmingly down there. Rudy took all the credit. But now, when it now looks like a toxic disaster with thousands of victims, now Rudy says, “Well, that’s Christie Whitman’s responsibility.” Well, in fact, it’s both of their responsibilities. And I think I make that case pretty strongly in the “five lies” story.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I’d like to ask you about Giuliani’s reinvention of himself politically, in terms of the many of his stands on a variety of social issues, because obviously when he came into office back in the ’90s, he had a much different, much different image. And many people had admired him for the work he had done previously. What—this whole reinvention of his political views?
WAYNE BARRETT: Well, I think the classic one—you could pick any one of a variety of issues, but the classic one really is gun control. He went—he goes to the NRA just a few weeks ago, completely reverses his position. His position now is, this should be a state’s rights question, whatever a state wants to do. When he was the mayor of the city of New York, and really, if you go back—this is why it’s a big lie, is that when he was the third-highest-ranking person in the Justice Department, he actually testified at a federal hearing against the position of the Reagan administration on gun control, because he felt so deeply about it. And so, then, when he is mayor, every time a police officer was shot, if he went to the hospital, if he went to a funeral, he talked about the guns—you remember this—deluging the city and killing his cops. Well, now, apparently, he doesn’t care if those cops get killed, because he says, well, this should be a matter of state’s rights. He was then a tremendous champion of national legislation, the assault weapons legislation. He was a tremendous ally of Bill Clinton’s on gun control. And now he’s completely—he shot—he shot his former self, and he did it on the stage at the NRA in between calls from Judy. And so, you know, it’s a complete and utter reversal.
And you could pick a host of issues. Let’s just take abortion, for example. You know, Sam Brownback has recently said that when Rudy was appealing for his endorsement, he met with him and basically said, “We’re on the same page on this one.” But, you know, he still says he’s pro-choice, but what does that mean, because he’s perfectly willing to allow Roe v. Wade to be overturned? He used to have celebrations of Roe v. Wade at City Hall. He had press conferences marking the yearly anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Now, he says, “Well, if it’s overturned, it’s overturned. I’m going to appoint Scalia-like and Roberts-like judges,” which clearly sends the signal you’re perfectly willing to overturn Roe v. Wade, which means that choice, to him, means that it will be available in whatever states allow choice, which maybe entire regions of the country where people will not have that choice, that’s perfectly acceptable to him. So, I think these are all reversals.
You know, I found this Pat Robertson thing. You talk about a complete—he’s going from Bernie Kerik to Pat Robertson as his new best friend. Talk about going from one end of the spectrum to the other. Now, Pat Robertson is a guy who said we deserved 9/11. But why did we deserve it? We deserved it because of the abortionists, because of the gays, because of Rudy Giuliani’s constituency. Right? I mean, the night of 9/11, where does Rudy Giuliani go to lay his head? At the home of his two gay friends: Howard Koeppel and Howard Koeppel’s lover. And now he winds up endorsing a guy like Rick Santorum, who called gay people animals, likened them to animals. And he’s now with Pat Robertson, who actually believes that because of the gay lifestyle and because of abortion and so forth, that we deserve 9/11.
He goes around the country on abortion saying, “Well, I reduced—or abortions came down in the city of New York while I was mayor.” Well, they went—they declined everywhere in America. The one place they did not decline was in the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation that he ran. The number of abortions increased during the course of his mayoralty in the hospitals he ran. Now, not only did the number of abortions increase, but late-term abortions, what the mayor and others like to call partial-birth abortions. We became a magnet for late-term abortions. In New York City Health and Hospitals Corporations, we had some of the best doctors in the country performing late-term abortions in New York City facilities under Mayor Giuliani. So it isn’t just a matter of he was pro-choice; he implemented that in concrete policy. The city of New York is one of the very few places—now, this started before Giuliani, but he continued it—that will pay for the abortion of any woman who’s not covered by Medicaid, where it’s not a medically necessary decision. Rudy Giuliani paid for thousands of those abortions with city funds, when Medicaid wouldn’t.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, given all of these enormous contradictions and reversals in his views on social issues, why do you think that this is not getting out to the rest of America? Why—in many polls, he’s still like the leading—the leading candidate among people being polled among Republicans. I mean, is there a sense that the New York-centered media is still presenting a different perspective on Giuliani across the country than what you’ve uncovered about him?
WAYNE BARRETT: Well, you know, the Giuliani story and why the media won’t deal with it is such a complex question. It’s not like I really know all the answers. I mean, it would help if an opponent occasionally—like, you know, John McCain has now started saying a few things to question his 9/11 credentials or his national security credentials, but the media itself has an obligation, even when the candidates aren’t doing their job. The media has an obligation to raise some of these issues, and they’ve just done a pathetic job of it.
You know, we have this Iwo Jima moment of him walking through the canyons of Lower Manhattan. It is embedded in the consciousness of America. You know, it’s him covered in soot, it’s him pointing north, it’s him standing up when the President couldn’t be found. It is a powerful, powerful visual. And it filled a deep need that America still feels a need for, which is: Did somebody defend us that day, the day we were attacked? So, this thing—I mean, this is the cynical assumption of the Giuliani campaign, that that moment transcends every other negative, and that that visual, which is essentially a hoax of a visual, because the only reason he was there was because he was silly enough to put the command center at the World Trade Center complex, maybe the stupidest thing he ever did, that he’d done—
AMY GOODMAN: Explain that.
WAYNE BARRETT: Well, you know, he was not heading to the scene of the attack that morning. This is his own account; read his own book. He was heading to the command center, which was located in the World Trade Center complex. That was his decision. Bernie Kerik was standing in front of 7 World Trade waiting for him at the command center. By the time he got there, the command center had been evacuated. And so, the decision that he made to put the command center there is ironically the reason why Americans and why the media, I think, bow to him in such a way.
And if we had a functioning command center, if it had been located in Brooklyn where Mike Bloomberg has located it, in downtown Brooklyn on almost precisely the same site that Jerry Hauer, the emergency management director under Giuliani, urged Giuliani to put it, in almost precisely the same location, if it had been there, we would have had a functioning command center. We might have had a functioning mayor that day. We might have had a functioning response to that that day. I quote James Farmer in the book, who was the principal author of chapter nine of the 9/11 Commission, who simply says that had we had a functioning command center that day, many first responder lives would have been saved. I quote many other people about that. But Rudy sat there.
Now, Howard Safir, who Juan knows is one of his closest associates, was then the police commissioner. Howard Safir called locating the command center at 7 World Trade “putting it at Ground Zero.” And he said that in 1997, because it had already been bombed. And Rudy rejected Howard Safir’s advice. He rejected Lou Anemone, who was the highest-ranking uniformed officer in the police department at the time, who had prepared a vulnerability study that put, not surprisingly, the World Trade Center complex at the very top. The mayor ignored all of that. He ignored Jerry Hauer, his own emergency management guy, who said, “Let’s put it in Brooklyn.” And he insisted that it had to be within walking distance of City Hall. No one can figure out the rationale, but it’s also within camera distance of Midtown. You know, you don’t understand it.
AMY GOODMAN: And the Motorola radios failing, the significance of that?
WAYNE BARRETT: Well, you know, you’re going to show the Greenwald thing. I thought he did a beautiful job with the radios. And, you know, the core question with the radios is the firefighters are still carrying on 9/11 the same radios that failed at the time of the ’93 bombing. Rudy Giuliani is the mayor for virtually the entire time in between.
Now, this is the issue that John McCain looked like he was beginning to deal with when he announced, because he referred to the fact that we—you know, that the radios were not interoperable, meaning police could not talk to fire; they were not on the same frequencies. And he said that was unacceptable. And The New York Times went up that day on their website saying this was clearly a shot at Giuliani. I was on Keith Olbermann’s show that night. I said it was clearly a shot at Giuliani. By the next day, McCain was saying, “Oh, no, it wasn’t a shot on Giuliani; it was about the failure of a federal regulatory agency.”
Well, in fact, the Federal Communications Commission had given Giuliani a unique—given only to the city and the metropolitan area—a unique waiver in 1995 for additional frequencies so it could make the radios interoperable, and Rudy never did it. Just like they were sitting there with the same radio that had failed in ’93, they also were not made interoperable with the police department. And, you know, the catastrophe was that many, many firefighters never heard the evacuation order. The fact that the police helicopters anticipated at least the partial collapse of the towers was never conveyed to the fire chiefs. So you had all kinds of really deadly decisions that were made prior to 9/11.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And the result of that, obviously, being that the firefighters who had backed, and the policemen, especially, who had backed Giuliani when he ran for mayor, and the firefighters, what are they doing? Their positions on these elections?
WAYNE BARRETT: Yes. I mean, this is the irony, is that when we commemorated the fifth anniversary of 9/11 in 2006, on the eve of Giuliani’s presidential, he was on every network, and he was treated with the same kid gloves that he was treated with in the immediate aftermath of 9/11.
If you turned on NY1, the 24-hour station here in New York, the head of the police union, the head of the firefighters union were on for a half hour, saying, “America’s mayor? Rubbish,” you know, just assailing his record at Ground Zero, in terms of the respirators that you’ve written so much about, assailing his record in terms of preparing the city, the radios and all of the other related issues. And these guys are never going to negotiate a contract with him.
Giuliani’s people like to say, “Oh, they’re Democrats.” Well, in fact, Steve Cassidy, the head of the firefighters’ union, endorsed George Bush in 2004. And no one would call Pat Lynch, the head of PBA, a wild-eyed Democrat. These are people who are embodying their members, who have no contract issues any longer with Rudolph Giuliani. All they have is a fundamental belief that he failed the first responders of this town, even as he goes around the country and pretends that he’s still a hero of first responders.
AMY GOODMAN: Wayne Barrett, back on the national issue of Pat Robertson endorsing Rudolph Giuliani, why then did he do it? I mean, there are many now in the evangelical movement who are saying they won’t endorse anyone. They’ll endorse a third-party candidate if they have to, around the issue of abortion. Pat Robertson is known for his hostility to anyone who is pro-choice.
WAYNE BARRETT: Well, you know, Rudy can be pretty charming. I think the fundamental question is that Pat Robertson probably believes this is a potential winner. You know, maybe he can substitute for the priests that no longer will give communion to Rudolph Giuliani, not because of his abortion position, but because he married outside the church. Maybe he can be the spiritual adviser, the Billy Graham, to the next president of the United States. I don’t know what his perception is. But, to me, it’s—you know, it’s a cynical decision by both of them.
I remember the Saudi prince who came to the town and wanted to give to $10 million.
AMY GOODMAN: You have 15 seconds.
WAYNE BARRETT: Yes—to give a $10 million check to the police and fire victims of 9/11, and Rudy rejected the $10 million check. And what did he say? He says, “Well, the Saudi prince thought we ought to rethink our policies in the Middle East, so I’m not going to consult with the police and fire families who might like the $10 million; I’m just going to turn down the check, because he doesn’t have the right attitude about 9/11.” But apparently Pat Robertson has the right attitude.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to have to leave it there. Wayne Barrett, author of Grand Illusion: The Untold Story of Rudy Giuliani and 9/11.