November 15th, 2009
01:57 PM ET
12 years ago

Giuliani sounds off on trials for 9/11 suspects in New York City

(CNN) – The man who ran New York City on September 11, 2001 is slamming a recently announced decision by Attorney General Eric Holder to hold criminal trials in civilian court for five men suspected of conspiring to carry out the September 11th terrorist attacks.

Instead of bringing suspected mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other suspects to Manhattan federal court, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani says military tribunals are better suited to try those accused of terrorism.

“A military tribunal is certainly fair,” Giuliani said in an interview that aired Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, “it’s a great example to the rest of the world. The tradition for over 150 years has been to use those military tribunals.”

Giuliani said that law enforcement officials had made a mistake in using civilian federal court to try those accused of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

“To treat the 1993 bombing as if it were just a criminal act – just one of the 1,973 murders in the city of New York that year – was a big mistake. So, basically the Obama administration is repeating the mistake of history. . . . It should’ve been treated as an act of war.

“And it’s part of a bigger picture here,” Giuliani told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King, “it’s part of Barack Obama deciding that we’re not at war with terrorism any longer. So this is not treated as if it was an act of war which is what it should be treated like.”

The former New York City mayor also said the Obama administration’s decision not to use the phrase “war on terror,” a phrase coined and used frequently by the previous administration, was problematic.

“The only problem with [Obama’s approach], John, is the terrorists haven’t stopped going to war with us. It may be that the Obama administration doesn’t think that we’re at war with them but they’re very clear on the fact that they’re at war with us.”

Giuliani also said the trials will pose security problems for New York City including additional threats in a city already regarded as a target, millions of dollars in additional security costs, and the inconvenience of having to close areas around the federal courthouse where the trials will take place.

Because military tribunals are available as an alternative means to try terrorism suspects, Giuliani said Holder’s decision posed “unnecessary risk” to the city and gave “unnecessary advantage” to the suspected terrorists.

“If it was necessary, if this was the only option, well, of course, I’d be in favor of it,” Giuliani told King.

Updated: 1:57 p.m.

soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. KJ

    And people call Obama an elitist and pompous! Rudy has annoited himself the king!

    November 15, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  2. Adalbert

    This guy has no idea what he is talking about. He is just blowing hot air as usual.

    November 15, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  3. John, Brooklyn, NY

    Giuliani has no military credentials so, in order to look attractive to military hawks within the Republican Party, he has chosen this position so that he can appear "pro-military".

    The fact is, Giuliani is a former US Attorney and knows perfectly darn well that the US District court in NY is the perfectly appropriate jurisdiction and venue for individuals (not military) be tried for crimes against US civilians.

    November 15, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  4. Paul

    Giuliani on the 2006 federal trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, another 9/11 terrorist:

    "It does demonstrate that we can give people a fair trial, that we are exactly what we say we are. We are a nation of law."

    Of course, Bush was president then, so Rudy had different rules. Just another GOP hypocrite.

    November 15, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  5. Tom C in NY

    What a coward this little man is! What's the matter, Ghouliani, don't you have faith in the American justice system? Your stance here says much more about your petty partisan nature than about the ability of the courts to prosecute crime.

    November 15, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  6. GrannyBG

    Giuliani "sounds off" a lot. But today he is either totally out of the picture or lieing. Take your pick.

    In this interview with John King (who by the way is such a hot journalist he didn't even hold him to the truth)....Giuliani went on to say that Bill Owens, Democrat who won NY 23, did NOT vote for the Health Care bill.

    The fact is that he enthusiastically voted for the Health Care bill.

    Giuliani is such a blow hard. Let the people of NY wreck their revenge on those who attacked them.....this is the most fitting venue for their tirals I can imagine. an ex NewYorker here.

    November 15, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  7. Mark

    I no longer trust Giuliani's opinion. What makes America great is our constitution and rule of law.

    November 15, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  8. marc

    Don't forget Rudy all you were was a mayor of a high profile city. Don't pretend that your privy to National Security discussions by offering an opinion on where these terrorists should be tried. Let the well-informed make those decisions. I don't understand the logic that we can't safely incarcerate terrorists on U.S. soil. For one we already have terrorists incarcerated in the U.S. prison system. Second I am not worried about a bunch of scrawny looking cowards overtaking our country. These guys wouldn't last 5 minutes in general population at your local county jail let alone a Super max prison. Repubs need to quit trying to politicize this issue. You had 8 years to figure it out and did nothing and now you want to whine when someone has to clean up your mess.

    November 15, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  9. steve

    Martina Stewart,
    If you are a good journalist, you should at least point out GiulianIi's inconsistency when it comes to trying terrorist suspect in our court which he praised in the past. The difference now is that we have A democratic President and Giuliani is running for Gov of New york.
    He is a pathetic hypocrite.

    November 15, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  10. Emma

    What constitutional laws that are applied by military courts differ from the laws which are adjudicated by the US court system.

    Perhaps the argument can be made that the terrorists committed war crimes, but is it really that clear cut? I suspect the outcome would be the
    same either way, if the adjudicators are working from the same legal reference.

    It seems Republicans never miss a step in the dance to undermine Obama. How good is that for America?

    November 15, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  11. Bob Pacific Grove, Ca

    And the reason these murderers haven't already been tried for years after their incarcerations?? Its due to the sheer incompetency of the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Gonzales administration......They had NO PLANS TO TRY THESE CRIMINALS WHILE THEY WERE IN OFFICE. Their own military is on record as saying they did not want to have military tribunals to try these prisoners. Finally Obama, less than than year in office, wants to see justice finally served to the victims and their families. HOW DARE these phoney republican hypocrites make their much used political scare tactics to frighten a war weary public......ENOUGH, BRING THESE CREEPS TO JUSTICE!!

    November 15, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  12. ERP

    It's more than about time that Rudy Giuliani pack up his one-act, mean show and leave politics to more capable people. This mean, self-centred little man has no idea what "the bigger picture" is, either in politics or in life in general. His mean-spirited act as mayor-sheriff of New York City may have worked to clean up the town a generation ago, but it has grown stale. His embarrassing performance in his campaign for the Republican nomination clearly showed his limitations and the fact that he does not belong on the national stage.

    November 15, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  13. old aged pensioner

    you can't have it both ways – to now threat the 9/11 acts as 'acts of war' negates the billions of dollars in compensation the Bush administration paid out to the relatives of those who perished. Supposedly the payouts were to preclude suits against the airlines and owners of the World Trade Center due to inadequate security or evacuation plans. If 9/11 were classified as an 'act of war' when it happened, the suits would not have been allowed and thus the payouts not made as you can't sue for an 'act of war' !

    November 15, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  14. Sean

    Loud mouth that only blasts worthless comments.

    November 15, 2009 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  15. W l Jones

    Look like the head of New York City security were sleep on his job before 911.

    November 15, 2009 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  16. Simmy

    Rudy G. just happened to be in office on 9/11......He got credit for being smart and on top of things, when it was everyone else around him making him look good......His campaign for president revealed the palinism within.....He'd best serve his party if he mellowed out until 2020........Peace.....

    November 15, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  17. Disgusted

    Maybe if Bush had treated 911 as a criminal act – rather than wage war against an entire nation(s) over the actions of 19 men with box cutters – we may not be in the position we are in now with 2 unwinnable wars raging at great cost in lives and treasure. Surely no one listens to Rudy '911' Giuliani any more though, do they?

    November 15, 2009 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  18. C Spurgeon

    Do they implant a talk tape in their head or just send it out real fast. They all sound exactly the,talk, amd do nothing constructive for the president or country. UGH...

    November 15, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  19. Terry, TX

    Giuliani is right....what is the big deal...trials and imprisonment at Gitmo... no security additional costs to speak of disruption of the city of New York...that day the Pentagon was hit....and the third target was the White House.

    One Hair on a New Yorkers Head is Harmed ....Prez Obama and Eric Holder would have to resign...why put the President in such a position?

    November 15, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  20. No Hillary = No Obama

    When you look at the before and after pictures of that Mohammad terrorist, and realize that he was water boarded 6 times a day for month, you know now he's really got religion. Obama is making a mistake by parading these people in front of the world. This will incite retaliation and instead of somehow honoring the 9/11 victims, it will cost more American lives.

    November 15, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  21. Lynne

    So what Guiliani and the rest of the fear mongerers are saying is that they have no faith in the American judicial system nor the penal system. Yet they are the first to go on about the Constitution and the founding fathers when it suits them!

    They also like to attack the "socialist" gov'ts of Britain and Spain for policies like universal health care who have tried and jailed terrorists under their laws and penal system.

    November 15, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  22. A.Darton

    Who really gives a darn what Rulley Giuliani has to say? I respect the opinions of the people who lost loved ones in 9/11, more then I care about anything Giuliani has to say. What is he running for now?

    November 15, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  23. Tear Down the GOP Orange Curtain CA

    Rudy is a fraud and should be investigated for dealings with his NYC police commissioner – convicted criminal Bernie Kerik. Every single photo op in 2001 was with this man at Rudy's side.

    November 15, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |