by David Edwards and John Byrne
UPDATE: ABC’s George Stephanopoulos has taken responsibility for not challenging former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani on the mayor’s assertion on Good Morning America Friday that “we had no domestic attacks under Bush.”
As noted below, a Giuliani spokesman “clarified” the mayor’s statement later in the day, arguing that the mayor meant no attacks after 9/11.
“Whatever the mayor meant, it’s not what he said,” Stephanopoulos wrote on his ABC blog. “All of you who have pointed out that I should have pressed him on that misstatement in the moment are right. My mistake, my responsibility.”
Original story follows below
The former New York City mayor who has sometimes been mocked for using “a noun, a verb and 9/11” in stump speeches appears to have forgotten — or has mentally reclassified — the worst terrorist attack on American soil. “We had no domestic attacks under Bush,” Rudy Giuliani told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos Friday.
Even if Giuliani doesn’t consider the attacks on 9/11 a “domestic” attack then surely he forgot about the anthrax attacks of 2001 or an Egyptian national who attacked the El Al ticket counter at Los Angeles International Airport in 2002.
While ABC’s George Stephanopolous let Giuliani get away with his misstatement both during the interview and on his blog, ABC’s Jake Tapper called the former mayor out. “Giuliani’s comments that there were zero terrorist attacks under Bush, 1 under Obama, is false no matter how you slice it,” tweeted Tapper.
A spokesman for Giuliani attempted to clarify his remarks.
A spokesman for the former Mayor clarifies, saying that the remark “didn’t come across as it was intended” and that he was “clearly talking post-9/11 with regards to Islamic terrorist attacks on our soil.”
By “on our soil,” the former mayor is not including either Umar Farouq Abdulmutallab’s failed Christmas Day attack or Richard Reid’s December 22, 2001 attempt to blow up American Airlines Flight 63 from Paris to Miami.
So the spokesman says that the “one” attack that Giuliani says took place during the Obama administration was a reference to the alleged Fort Hood shooter, Major Nidal Hasan.
Giuliani’s remark came amidst a jeremiad against President Barack Obama’s handling of the Christmas day Detroit airliner bombing suspect and appears at about 3:21 in the below clip.
“What he should be doing is following the right things that Bush did,” Giuliani said. “One of the right things he did was treat this as a war on terror — we had no domestic attacks under Bush; we had one under Obama.”
The former mayor criticized Obama for opting to handle the alleged bomber’s case in civilian court, essentially saying that the problem with civilian courts is that suspects are given lawyers.
“If you put someone in a civilian court, within a short period of time a lawyer is appointed and the person shuts up,” he remarked. “If you have a person in the military system, you can question him endlessly for as long as you have to to make sure you’ve got the full scope of information.”
Giuliani then praised Obama for using the phrase “war on terror.”
“I’m very hopeful that President Obama turned a corner yesterday,” he said. “He first used the words, thank goodness, ‘War on Terror.'”
In 2007, while campaigning for the Republican nomination for president, Giuliani told a New Hampshire crowd that America would ultimately prevail against terrorists but that if a Democrat was elected president the United States would suffer more casualties.
“But the question is how long will it take and how many casualties will we have?” Giuliani said. “If we are on defense [with a Democratic president], we will have more losses and it will go on longer.”
“I listen a little to the Democrats and if one of them gets elected, we are going on defense,” Giuliani continued. “We will wave the white flag on Iraq. We will cut back on the Patriot Act, electronic surveillance, interrogation and we will be back to our pre-Sept. 11 attitude of defense.”
“The Democrats,” he added, “do not understand the full nature and scope of the terrorist war against us.”
Curiously, Giuliani is the third high profile Republican to conveniently suggest that no domestic terror attacks occurred on President Bush’s watch or to try to blame the Clinton administration for 9/11. Former White House Press Secretary Dana Perino and GOP operative Mary Matalin also recently said similar things during TV appearances blasting President Obama for allegedly ignoring terrorism.
This video is from ABC’s Good Morning America, broadcast Jan. 8, 2010.