Gary Hart’s ‘Open Letter’ to Rudy Giuliani

Former Senator Gary Hart writes an “open letter” to Rudy Giuliani on the Huffington Post blog. (You’d think someone of his stature could get op-ed space somewhere, no?) His beef is that Giuliani says Democrats aren’t serious about terrorism yet Giuliani did nothing to stop the 9/11 attacks even though Hart put out a white paper in January 2001 saying there was a threat of a terrorist attack in the United States.

The George W. Bush administration did nothing about these warnings and we lost 3,000 American lives. What did you do during those critical eight months? Where were you? Were you on the defensive, or were you even paying attention?

Before you qualify to criticize Democrats, Mr. Giuliani, you must account for your preparation of your city for these clearly predicted attacks. Tell us, please, what steps you took to make your city safer.

Until you do, then I strongly suggest you should keep your mouth shut about Democrats and terrorism.

That’s got to be the silliest thing I’ve read in quite some time. Granted, Giuliani’s grandstanding on terrorism, especially on partisan lines, is rather absurd, too. But, surely, a generalized warning that terrorists might attack the United States is hardly the same as “clearly predicted attacks.”

And what exactly was the mayor of NYC supposed to do with the information? Put anti-aircraft missiles atop the World Trade Center in case some planes were hijacked and flown into them?

For that matter, it’s not entirely clear what President Bush should have done. After all, Bill Clinton was president during al Qaeda’s ascendancy, including numerous attacks on U.S. targets. While some of us criticized him for the tepidness of his responses, it’s doubtful he could have mustered the support necessary to invade Afghanistan and wipe them out. Surely, Bush couldn’t have, either, pre-9/11, having come to office months after the most recent attack.

The 9/11 attacks did not, as the cliché goes, change everything. They did, however, change the nature of the debate around terrorism. While I disagree with silly partisan gamesmanship over the issue, it’s perfectly fair to draw distinctions between one candidate’s preferred policy options and another’s.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2008, Terrorism, , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Andy says:

    And what exactly was the mayor of NYC supposed to do with the information? Put anti-aircraft missiles atop the World Trade Center in case some planes were hijacked and flown into them?

    Given that the WTC was well known as the #1 target of Islamic extremists, he could have NOT put the city’s emergency command post there.

  2. James Joyner says:

    could have NOT put the city’s emergency command post there.

    Maybe. I don’t know much about the logistics of setting up emergency command posts, though. It may well have been the smartest place to put it from a command, control and communications standpoint. I honestly don’t know.

  3. M1EK says:

    I keep coming back to the fact that the Clinton team told the Bush team that alQaeda was the number one thing they needed to watch – and they ignored them and went to work on Cold War crap like the missile shield (and, of course, preparing to invade Iraq).

    It’s partisan hackery to call both sides the same when your side is much worse just as it is to pretend the other side is worse when they’re both the same.

  4. spencer says:

    Hart’s report was the product of a Congressional Commission specifically assigned with the task of report on what could be done about the rising terrorists threat. It was a little more then “a generalized warning” that you characterize it as.

    It had a long list of recommendations, including things like greater port security that the Bush administration has clearly failed to implement because it is too busy creating a whole new generation of trained and experienced terrorists in Iraq.

  5. mike cobble says:

    Giuliani, it would be nice to see ‘scare tactics’ giuliani come up with something fresh rather than reliving the whole 911 doom, terror and scare message that he has ridden the wave on over the last 4 years. If elected he would continue what hasn’t worked for the last 6 years.

  6. graywolf says:

    Remember Hart(pence) got his rep. by selling out his country (opportunistically ala John Kerry)on the Vietnam war.

  7. cian says:


    Giuliani’s ‘scare tactics’ are for the base only. The rest of us are more frightened by the scary bunch presently running the country. If he brings this kind of talk to the big table post the primaries (should he be the chosen one) the dems could run Senator Byrd and still win.