Guiliani Claims Clinton’s Response To U.S.S. Cole Terror Attack Was ‘Let It Go’

Last night on Fox News, former mayor Rudy Giuliani repeated the myth that President Clinton failed to respond adequately to the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole, claiming that Clinton’s response to the terrorist attack was “let things go.”

During an interview with Fox’s Sean Hannity to promote his new “12 Commitments” to America, Giuliani said that Americans are being lured by the “very appealing” idea that the U.S. should “kind of act the way Clinton did in the ’90s.” Giuliani described this mentality as “don’t react, let things go,” and charged, “You know, we get attacked on the Cole. We don’t do anything about it.”

Watch it:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2007/06/hannitygiuliani.320.240.flv]

In fact, President Clinton was eager — at the recommendation of his counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke — to retaliate against al Qaeda for the U.S.S. Cole. But that attack took place in October 2000. As Clinton explained in a 2006 interview, both the CIA and FBI “refused to certify that it was Bin Laden was responsible” for the attack on the Cole until early 2001 which foreclosed on the possibility of a full response during the Clinton administration.

Further, while Giuliani asserted that “America needs leadership to remain on the offense,” on national security issues, his “12 Commitments” to America doesn’t contain a single reference to the war in Iraq. Giuliani defended the omission, claiming “the fluid situation there makes it hard to speak in specifics about the war.”

“Iraq may get better; Iraq may get worse. We may be successful in Iraq; we may not be. I don’t know the answer to that. That’s in the hands of other people.”

Guiliani’s comments demonstrate exactly how far out of touch with the American people he truly is. As a spokesman for American Against Escalation in Iraq said, “The notion that the war in Iraq does not need to be addressed by presidential candidates because it is ‘in the hands of other people’ is simply preposterous.”

Ryan Powers

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HANNITY: That’s your first of 12 promises. Are they in any particular order?

GIULIANI: Well, that’s the preeminent challenge of our generation that’s been imposed on us by the terrorists. I mean, they’ve been at war with us for a long time. Unfortunately, tragically, we didn’t recognize it until September 11th, or America didn’t, but now we do. And we have to remain on offense against them. We have to be doing the things that you do to keep yourself safe and get this over with as quickly as possible, meaning the use of our military, Patriot Act, electronic surveillance, interrogation, the things that were at the core of these two plots that were just uncovered.

It’s a frustrating thing, and America needs leadership to remain on offense. We can fall back easily into what the Democrats are talking about. It sounds very appealing, you know? Don’t react, let things go, kind of act the way Clinton did in the ’90s. You know, we get attacked on the Cole. We don’t do anything about it. We got attacked in (INAUDIBLE) we have a very inadequate response.

HANNITY: Khobar Towers, the embassy bombings.

GIULIANI: Khobar Towers, Tanzania, USS Cole. What you see there is, in some cases, no reaction, and in each case an inadequate reaction. The first attack on the World Trade Center, where we dealt with it as if it were a criminal act. And when you listen to the Democratic rhetoric, it sounds like they want to go back to dealing with it as if these are criminal acts and not acts of war, acts of terror.

HANNITY: You know, I’m listening to everything you’re saying, in terms of the Patriot Act, and NSA surveillance, and interrogations, and all these different issues. It almost seems what is emerging for the general election. And I know you want to get through the primary. But the differences in the two parties now, when you listen to the Democrats debate, the Republicans debate, they’re against these things. You’re for these things.

Going back to your first commitment that you’re laying out here today, you know, we’re going to stay on offense. In that sense, are they on defense?

GIULIANI: Well, I think that this election has accelerated real quick. Three Republican debates, two Democratic debates. You do get a pretty good idea of what the two parties are about. We’re about — or I am — certainly about being on offense on terrorism. They’re about going back to defense on terrorism. And there are stark differences on the domestic economy. People haven’t paid as much attention to that yet. But if you pay attention to the debates, it’s emerged dramatically.