October 22nd, 2012
11:14 AM ET
2 years ago

Giuliani, O'Brien take part in fiery debate

(CNN) - Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani argued Monday on CNN that President Barack Obama should have known from "common sense" that the U.S. consulate in Libya was at risk prior to last month's deadly attacks in Benghazi.

When pressed further on his point, however, Giuliani engaged in a heated exchange with Soledad O'Brien, anchor of CNN's "Starting Point."

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Joining the show live from Boca Raton, the site of Monday night's presidential debate, Giuliani responded to recent reporting that it took more than a week for the administration to change its initial assessment that the violence was a "spontaneous" attack.

"The president should have known based on common sense that an attack like that, an attack in which you're using rocket propelled hand grenades, in which mortars are used...Now all the sudden you get an attack on September 11 and you're scratching your head about it?"

He continued: "If it wasn't a cover-up, then the ineptitude of this administration is startling."

CNN reported Friday that it took the administration "until that next week" after the attack to sort through conflicting accounts and adjust the intelligence assessment. This was after Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice described the attacks as "spontaneous" in Sunday morning interviews, which came from talking points provided by the intelligence community.

"It wasn't until after the points were used in public that people reconciled contradictory information and assessed there probably wasn't a protest around the time of the attack," an intelligence official told CNN last week.

A new report by the Wall Street Journal released Monday showed the administration didn't make its final assessment until September 22 and that Obama was told in his daily intelligence briefing for more than a week that the violence emerged from a spontaneous protest.

Giuliani, however, said that was no excuse for the administration being unprepared for the attack. O'Brien pointed to recent comments made by Matthew Dowd, a former Bush administration official, who used the war in Iraq as an example of how it can take government a long time to make final decisions from intelligence.

"This wasn't two weeks. This was months and months and months of a conversation where we never got the right answer to this," Dowd said on ABC's "This Week."

O'Brien followed up with Giuliani, asking if it was "unfair" to expect the administration to find accurate and final answers within weeks. The former mayor, however, shot back. "We're going to blame this on Bush, too?"

"You got to stop putting words in my mouth, sir," she said. "Seriously, hang on. Let me finish."

"Every time I ask you a question," she continued, "You like to push back as if somehow the question that's being posed to you is unfair. It's not. I'm a journalist. You said some things. I'm trying to get some accurate responses from you. You are welcome to answer. Go ahead."

Giuliani repeated his claim that the media was trying to blame the Benghazi attack on Bush, saying such a premise was "absurd." The former mayor said the current president only has to answer a few questions.

"Did he know about the consulate attacks that took place before Sept. 11, 2012?" he asked, highlighting previous attacks on diplomatic posts in Libya.

O'Brien, however, interrupted, saying Dowd was not trying to link the violence to Bush, but trying to make the point that it can take a while for government to sort through complicated issues involving weapons of mass destruction.

"But," Giuliani fired back, "It doesn't take a long time for the president of the United States to tell us whether or not he was aware that this consulate had been attacked twice before."

O'Brien said Giuliani was not answering her question.

"The point and my question to you is: Does Matthew Dowd have a point? That it could take far longer than two weeks or four weeks before people understand what happened?" she asked.

Giuliani replied: "He has a point about some parts of this incident. He does not have a point about the part of the incident that refers to what was the president's knowledge, did the president take steps to protect our ambassador and the other people there...and why wasn't that information made available for a month?"

O'Brien reminded Giuliani that Dowd did not make those points. "(Matthew) Dowd did not say that."

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Filed under: 2012 • Libya • Presidential Debates • Rudy Giuliani
soundoff (56 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    "Frank – FL

    Another example of the "Left" leaning bias of CNN.'

    Really? Where? Show us, using quotes from their exchange, where she was biased at all. Go ahead. SHOW US. Captain 911 was refusing to answer the question, refused to stop uttering the same thing over and oer even though it was unresponsive to the question and refused to come back down to Earth and reality after he'd been caught spewing misrepresentations again. How is it biased to correct that and insist that he answer the question he had been asked? The words they both spojke make it abundantly clear that Captain 911 expected that he had the right to go on the show and refuse to answer questions and simply ignore the reporter asking them while he spewed baseless talking points. He was informed pretty clearly, but in not so many words, that his time on the show a a guest was for him to answer the questions asked, not for him to broadcast free advertising for GOP talking points. You accuse her of bias simply beacuse she wouldn't allow Captain 911 to run roughshod over her...one of the few times we'll see a CNN reporter actually do a decent job of actually being unbiased and preventing their guest from simply abusing their inrterview time? Patently absurd.

    October 22, 2012 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  2. Malory Archer

    President Obama could (and should) shut down the rightwing claptrap with one statement:

    It is not the policy of my administration to comment on ongoing criminal investigations. The FBI, CIA and several other agencies are investigating the events in Libya, and until such time as they conclude their investigations, neither I nor anyone from my administration will comment further.

    October 22, 2012 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  3. Rudy NYC

    You can always tell when someone is knocking it out of the park with a conservative because they begin the "talk over filibuster" on you, trying to drown you out. Guiliani confabulated himself into a corner and O'Brien wouldn't let him filibuster HER on HER own show. Guiliani's performance was rude, crude, and screwed up..

    October 22, 2012 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  4. SaintM

    Why are they giving Rudy any air time at all? He's like Romney, unemployed, but still thinks he's still politally viable. If he really was what he thinks he is, it would be a Giuliani/Obama presidential run.

    He is like Romney, nothing but criticism and no substance or thoughtful debate. He's just a cheerleader for his plutocratic pal Romney. I'm so tired of hearing Rudy talk about what a better leader he would be on foreign policy just because he was mayor on 9/11, Rudy, just shut up and go back to your hole, your relevance ended after your failed attempt at a run for the presidency. Any speaking you do now only confirms what a fool you are.

    October 22, 2012 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  5. Lisa P

    NOTADEMOCRAT

    The only possible conclusion is that, in order to preserve the fiction that the Obama policy in Libya was working, Hillary and Obama were willing to put the life of our ambassador at mortal risk, and afterwards deliberately misdirected our attention away from a genuine lethal threat to our security, Al Qaeda, toward a fake one, a year old online video. Its clear to the whole world, and the more Obama denys it. The more we see how willing he is to lie.
    October 22, 2012 11:58 am at 11:58 am
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Ambassador Stevens chose to spend that day and, unfortunately, that night at the Benghazi consulate rather than the better-defended and more secure embassy in Tripoli. The Ambassador spoke Arabic, was in touch with leaders of several militia groups and was aware that there was a fair amount of chaos and competition going on between them. He knew what day it was but he still went about a routine schedule of meetings, and had more planned for the next day. If he had foreseen an attack, or even though it was a probability, do you really think he would have stayed that night in Benghazi? Quit trying to turn an unusually able, intelligent and engaged diplomat into some kind of mindless puppet! If "the Obama policy in Libya" was working it was because people like Ambassador Stevens, and, I hope, his successor, had the freedom and flexibility to make it work. If that involves risks, than that, too, was and is their call.

    A Romneybot hiding behind a Marine detachment would be worse than useless in helping a newly liberated country find it's way to democracy, but then I can't imagine a country led by President Romney and his fellow plutocrats would inspire many oppressed people to throw off their own dictator. On the contrary, he seems to want us to take a cue from them - just shut up and be happy with what we choose to give you; it ain't much, but we can make it less, any time we want.

    October 22, 2012 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  6. rl-mich

    The problem with the Mayor and ALL the other politicians and their surrogates is they have a difficult time answering the most basic questions without attempting to twist it into something negative in regards to the other party. You can ask them about something rather specific and the will answer "I'd rather talk about this........" It is EXTREMELY annoying.

    October 22, 2012 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
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