In his grab-the-pitchforks address to the Republican National Convention on Monday night, former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani insisted the enemy wasn’t “most of Islam,” just “Islamic extremist terrorism.”
But in an interview with The Intercept on the convention floor Tuesday night, Giuliani enthusiastically defended policies that treat all Muslims like criminal suspects.
Asked whether he supports Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s proposals to have police spy on mosques, Giuliani replied “I was the mayor who put police officers in mosques, in New York and New Jersey.”
Giuliani even claimed credit for a longer history of police surveillance of New York area mosques than is widely known, predating the 9/11 terrorist attacks. “We did it for the eight years I was mayor,” he said. Giuliani was mayor from 1994 through December 2001.
“After the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center by Islamic extremist terrorists from New Jersey, I did it in early January of 1994.”
After the 9/11 attacks, the New York Police Department launched a now well-documented but then-secret program of spying on every mosque within a 100-mile radius of New York City, including in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New England. The department acknowledged in 2012 court testimony that the program had never generated an investigative lead and in 2014, Mayor Bill De Blasio shut down the program’s most controversial unit.
Giuliani insisted on Tuesday that the mosque surveillance during his tenure “helped stop, hopefully, three or four attacks,” and said that “those leads helped us immensely. And they were enormously valuable to us. And Mayor De Blasio doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”
But when pressed, Giuliani would not name a terror plot the program stopped. “Of course I cannot! That’s top secret information. I’m not Hillary Clinton, I do not reveal top secret information.”
In his speech on Monday, Giuliani called for “unconditional victory” against “Islamic extremist terrorism” and attacked Hillary Clinton over her willingness to accept Syrian refugees into the United States even though they are “going to come here and kill us.” Andrew Rosenthal of the New York Times said the speech would have been better delivered “at the head of a torch-bearing mob.”
Giuliani, “for the purposes of the media,” insisted on Monday night that he did not say the enemy was “all of Islam” or even “most of Islam. I said Islamic extremist terrorism. You know who you are! And we’re coming to get you!”
Indeed, Giuliani argued that screening and surveillance were actually doing “good Muslims” a favor. “Failing to identify them promptly,” he said of extremists, “maligns all those good Muslims around the world.”
Giuliani is the CEO of Giuliani Partners, a lucrative security firm he founded in 2002 to sell “security consulting services” to international companies. In 2004, asked whether he would join the Bush administration, he told CNN that “the money’s really good.” More recently, he joined the powerful, global law and lobbying firm Greenberg Traurig.
The NYPD’s post-9/11 program was widely ridiculed by civil liberties groups. The NYPD’s “Demographics Unit,” (later renamed the Zone Assessment Unit) mapped neighborhoods based on “ancestries of interest,” including “black American Muslims.” A 2007 report from the NYPD’s Intelligence Division outlines radicalization “indicators,” including “growing a beard,” “abstaining from alcohol,” and “becoming involved in social activism.” The Brennan Center described it as a recipe for “racial and religious profiling deleterious both to civil liberties and to genuine efforts at attaining security.”
In 2012, the Associated Press revealed that the NYPD was photographing the faces and license plates of mosque worshippers, installing hidden cameras pointed at mosques, and recruiting informants to infiltrate mosques, report on sermons, and bait Muslims into making inflammatory statements.
The ACLU was critical of Giuliani’s statement to The Intercept.
“It should come as no surprise that Rudolph Giuliani, a serial violator of civil liberties, reveals himself as directing discrimination on the basis of religion,” said Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU’s National Security Project. “It’s telling that Mr. Giuliani makes his assertions while hiding behind the hollow and implausible claim that he cannot say more because something that might have happened decades ago should remain a secret.”
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