October 22nd, 2012
11:14 AM ET
6 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)

    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 |
  2. TM

    I wonder if Mr. "noun, verb and 9/11" would EVER apply the same criteria to GWB. Especially since we KNOW he was told about potential threats MONTHS before September 2001. And Bush was trying to pin responsibility for those attacks on Iraq for months DESPITE every intelligence finding to the contrary.

    October 22, 2012 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  3. Borderless

    Soledad O'Brien isn't even a reporter. She's just another well placed surrogate for Obama. Where is Christiane Amanpour these days? She wouldn't just be a talking head for the president. I am so over these fake reporters like Soledad and Candy.

    October 22, 2012 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  4. v_mag

    The right wing has nothing to say, so they try to make an issue of an unfortunate attack in Libya. Then they send in the clowns, like Rudy-tootie Giuliani to flap their jaws about it. Soledad should have thrown him out of the studio for being obnoxious.

    October 22, 2012 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  5. chilly g

    ruddy is good for nothing except partisan politics,he made more money off of what happen on 911 that anybody,
    he got rich off of 911 terroist attack, so he need to shut up and be quiet because you is a corrupt politican

    October 22, 2012 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  6. Are you kidding me?

    As a fair minded republican I think the GOP critics are off base on this. This is what got us into 2 wars with no goal or withdrawal plans laid out. Giuliani has no experience to draw from when he is criticizing the situation. He has no knowledge of the facts and people should see through the spin and realize that this is not a situation that should be labelled within hours without a thorough investigation.

    Giuliani is a wind bag and should know full well that evidence leads to prosecution not speculation.

    October 22, 2012 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  7. DM

    I suggest that the commentator's bias (voting record) be disclosed to the viewer at the start of the interview.
    Does anyone believe that Ms. O'Brian, Mr. Blitzer, or Ms. Crawley will not vote for Obama?

    October 22, 2012 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  8. 1crusader

    The loss of our citizens was tragic; and I agree with the mother of one of those killed.She said she didn't want to see her son's death politicized like this, and she said that she does't trust Romney.These things take time to sort out.Romney had very bad judgment in running out and making a statement with no facts.The president has done a good job overall in the Middle East.Some things will go wrong.Ryan and the GOP turned down the administratio on additional funds for security, so a lot of the blame belongs with them.

    October 22, 2012 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  9. Frank - FL

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

    October 22, 2012 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  10. Mr. Moderate

    Well Rudy, you should have know from common sense that you should not put NYC's emergency operations center in the World Trade Center.

    October 22, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  11. beevee

    Is he connected to mafia or something? He is trying to bully O'Brien instead doing an interview like a gentleman and answering questions asked by a journaist. What an idiot.

    October 22, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  12. searayshea@gmail.com

    Let's see...............................CNN Ratings STINK, let's hire more Uber-Partisan Political Hacks like Soledad O'brien and Candy Crowley, that will really turn it around. puff ball questions for the Democrats and constant interrupting for Republicans, that's the strategy.

    Welcome to Bankruptcy CNN. It's coming...........

    October 22, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |

    He still thinks his opinions are relevant. LOL!

    October 22, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  14. tammy

    the funniest thing about this exchange this morning was the statement by Soledad! "I AM A JOURNALIST" FUNNY!!!

    October 22, 2012 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  15. Darrell

    Really! You Republicans have no Shame. Four Americans were killed and the Republicans are trying to score political points on their death. Even there supporters, if you read the comments here, are trying to do the same without any access to the official intelligence findings. Yet they are using conservative talking points, as usually, to try to disgrace the President and his administration. This level of hate of Obama is unreal. Only God knows how you people can sleep at night with so much hate and fear in your hearts...especially those who call themselves Christians or people of faith. Faith has no fear and no hate....it is so unfortunate that hate and fear have captured your hearts and heads.

    October 22, 2012 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  16. Jose Panlilio

    This president aims first before he shoots, so much for the neo cons who couldn't wait to get us into another war. Listen to Romney talk about Iran, Syria and the middle east. 4 for for 44

    October 22, 2012 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  17. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    To paraphrase a comment about a former Red Sox player, "That's Rudy being Rudy." Even back when he was Mayor of NYC, he had a poor relationship with the press, especially if they asked him for details or explanations about anything. Rudy was incapable of providing more than a soundbite. As for Soledad vx. Christine Amanpour, do you really think Rudy would have survived a Christine A interview this intact?

    October 22, 2012 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  18. honestuck

    The next thing you know they will expect all Presidents of the United States to be able to Speak with God, like George W. Bush used to be able to, to get the low down before it happens. Like George knew about 9/11 or the fact that God told him about the presence of WMD, you know the reason we went to war on 2 fronts and lost an additional 6000 American lives. But then again God only speaks to Republican Presidents/ Presidential Candidates.

    October 22, 2012 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  19. Al-NY,NY

    just hearing Ghouliani's name makes me queasy and want to take another shower to wash the slime off

    October 22, 2012 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  20. Are you kidding me?

    I have to laugh when some people denounce or ignore the true and call the news organization an Obama surrogate or liberal. These people's warped sense of reality is comical and troubling.

    Do not ignore facts if you do not agree with them. The GOP has a very hard time admitting that we are in a much better situation because they only want to grab at power. That is not leadership.

    Just Ask the windbag Giuliani why he is not in office right now. He is no leader and people realized that.

    October 22, 2012 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  21. Malory Archer


    I thought this "journalist" was auditioning for MSNBC.


    Ms. O'Brien and MSNBC should take that as a complement as they're the only "journalists" who are willing to take BOTH candidates to task and aren't going to roll over for the liars on the right.

    October 22, 2012 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  22. Malory Archer


    When O'Brien interviews Republicans she continually throws out the left's talking points and defends the President. You can actually see her getting angrier as Giuliani would not accept the rediclous premis of her arguements.


    No, she calls him out on his lies, and WE SHOULD ALL BE ANGRY that the liars on the right are so bold that they believe they can lie with impunity and not get called on it!

    October 22, 2012 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  23. The REAL Truth...

    The GOP has figured out long ago that if you spread enough lies about a "situation" that some of it will stick. I'm so sick of hearing about who said what about Benghazi when, yada, yada, yada, and coming from the former mayor of the city that was hit during 9/11with an obvious political slant – even tho' it was known MONTHS in advance of such a plan – makes it all the more repulsive and heinous. Typical GOP tactic.

    Who cares that the POTUS used the word "terrorist" in the Rose Garden at x time after the event. Guliani did not have all the details of 9/11 the same day did he? Took quite some time to "fact find" that MAJOR incident that cost some 2800 lives in his own friggin back yard, yet he claims the POTUS should have known about something half-way round the planet? This is absolutely disgusting politics from the GOP.

    October 22, 2012 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  24. Pam

    and you Rudy should have known that New York was at risk back in September of 2001!
    but you failed to see the cues that flew right in your face and thousands died!
    so why would anyone listen to you now???

    October 22, 2012 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  25. Malory Archer

    Dan J

    Why does Soledad Obrien always sem to get into heated exchanges with republicans? Why doesn't she press demorats as hard?


    Maybe because the Democrats aren't lying their backsides off everytime they open their mouths.

    October 22, 2012 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
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