Scott Horton Interviews Philip Giraldi
A former CIA officer said Wednesday that former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is “not serious” about terrorism and “ignorant” about the Middle East.
Former CIA counter-terrorism officer Philip Giraldi, in an interview with Antiwar Radio on Wednesday, said Giuliani “indicated that he was not only not serious about [al Qaeda terrorism], but seem[s] to be ignorant of both the 9/11 [Commission] report and political realities in the Middle East.”
MP3 here. (50:14)
This answer came in response to a question about the controversy caused by Congressman Ron Paul at the second Republican Presidential debate.
Dr. Paul said that the the attacks on the United States on September 11th were “blowback” from the American government’s interventionist foreign policy. Giuliani, insisting that they hate us for our “freedom,” demanded Paul retract his statement – which Paul refused to do.
When asked for a comment about the controversy, Giraldi said,
“I think anybody who knows anything about what’s been going on for the last 10 years would realize that cause and effect are operating here – that, essentially, al Qaeda has an agenda which very specifically says what its grievances are. And its grievances are basically that ‘we’re over there.’
“So all Ron Paul was basically saying was that – even as the 9/11 commission report indicated – there were consequences for our presence in the Middle East and if we seriously want to address the terrorism problem we have to be serious about that issue.
“Giuliani indicated that he was not only not serious about that issue, but seemed to be ignorant of both the 9/11 [Commission] report and political realities in the Middle East.”
(Giraldi also disdained both Giuliani and Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s embrace of torture and the Guantanamo prison and explained how it only helps al Qaeda, particularly in their propaganda efforts.)
When asked how Osama bin Laden is able to attract followers in the Islamic World, Giraldi explained,
“Well, he taps into reservoirs of resentment in the Muslim world, there’s no question about it. He’s a charismatic leader and he has been successful. He was a key figure in driving the Russians out of Afghanistan. He has certainly bloodied the nose of the United States more than once, so he has a certain appeal. This is not to say that he’s a good man or that he’s a man we would want to copy in any way, but the fact is that the slights and resentments many Muslims see in their relationship with the West are a resource for Osama bin Laden, and that we have reinforced that with things that he can exploit – like invading Iraq.
“As has been made very clear, Osama bin Laden had no connection with Saddam Hussein and to the contrary, they were kind of sworn enemies, and when the United States went into Iraq, Osama bin Laden saw this as an opportunity and he immediately created an al Qaeda organization inside Iraq. There had been no al Qaeda organization inside Iraq prior to that and this was a huge opportunity for him. And as the war has gotten worse and we’ve had incidents like Abu Ghraib, we’ve had repeated civilian casualties – that Lancet report from the British that says as many as 650,000 Iraqis have been killed as a result of the war – things like that just add fuel to the fire. And basically the main beneficiary of all this is not the United States. It may not even be Israel. It’s probably al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.”
When asked specifically what had caused Osama bin Laden, who fought in the U.S.-backed jihad against the Russians in the 1980s, to become an enemy of the United States, Giraldi replied,
“In the wake of the Afghan war, the United States – actually during the first Gulf War – established a major military presence in Saudi Arabia itself. And that was, I believe, the trigger for Osama to become a front-line opponent of the United States. He has repeatedly said in his writings and speeches that the United States’ presence in the ‘holy lands’ of Saudi Arabia were a major element in his political philosophy.”
Giraldi also commented on the Bush administration refrain – literally pitched again by the President as the interview was being recorded – that “if we don’t fight them over there, we’ll have to fight them here,” saying that such an assertion is “totally ridiculous.”
“The premise that if we’re not fighting them over there, we’ll be fighting them over here is totally ridiculous. We’re fighting them over there because we’re over there, and because we’re over there, we have a problem here. And if you eliminate that nexus, if you take us out of our being in their faces, then the reality is that they are not going to be over here because they basically don’t have that agenda.”
When pressed on the question of whether bin Laden would want to send al Qaeda guys to “follow us home” from the Middle East should we withdraw, if only to try to keep us there for al Qaeda’s benefit (such as providing them with increased numbers of recruits and targets for them to train on), Giraldi replied,
“I don’t see that. I think he has a constituency and he has an agenda and he’s very focused on both. His agenda is not to pursue the United States to the United States after we leave the Middle East. … If we were to basically get out of Iraq and get out of the region – in the intrusive way that we’re there right now – that would take a lot of the fuel out of Osama bin Laden’s fire. I don’t see that there’s any agenda to follow us to the United States to destroy our way of life or whatever the explanation would be.”
When asked about the administration’s assertions that al Qaeda will take over Iraq’s al Anbar province if the U.S. military leaves, Giraldi said,
“No. I think the reality is that if the United States leaves it will be a very bad thing for al Qaeda because the Sunnis don’t particularly want them around and would get rid of them.”
He then said that the only reason al Qaeda is tolerated by Iraqi Sunnis is to help fight the American occupation and that,
“There have already been reports that the Sunnis are already kind of tired of them because when they stage a major provocation or attack, it’s the local Sunni population that has to take the grief when the U.S. Army descends. … It’s a marriage of convenience with al Qaeda insofar as it’s a marriage at all. So I think it would be fallacious to assume – In fact, let me [say it] stronger than that: I think it would be ridiculous to assume that al Qaeda could establish some kind of serious presence in Iraq similar to what it did in Afghanistan because the dynamic is completely different.”
When asked how dangerous of a threat to the U.S. al Qaeda really represents, Giraldi said they remain a serious problem and explained the lack of terrorist attacks in the U.S. since September 11th as the result, not of the valiant efforts of the FBI, but of the moderate temper of American Muslims. Regarding the list of terrorism prosecution in the United States since September 11th, Giraldi says,
“[E]very arrest of so-called “radical Islamists” in the United States have been kind of jokes in that, in many cases, these people are not capable of carrying out any acts. In a number of cases, like the most recent one in New Jersey, there was an FBI informant in the middle of the group, and it seems to me, from what I’ve read about it, that the FBI informant may well have been the motivator for these people planning what they were planning.”
Comparing America to Britain, Giraldi said he suspects the main reason there haven’t been more attacks here since 9/11 is that,
“We don’t have that fifth column in the United States of people who are really actively out to betray their country. …
“American Muslims just are not wired that way, and I don’t think that many American Muslims would support the kind of radical action that you see in Great Britain, for example among its own Muslim community – or in France. I think this is a question of – this is a different kind of country, with a different kind of Muslim immigrant that came here. And the expectation and the way these people do things are somewhat different.”
And that’s just the first part of the interview.
Click here to open or download the MP3 and hear all this plus Philip Giraldi on the intelligent way to fight al Qaeda (low-key: cops, intelligence and only rarely military force), the the ongoing covert war against Iran by the CIA and the military, the possibility of overt war – including the use of nuclear weapons, the likely consequences of such folly – including the possible loss of our army in Iraq and destruction of our economy, Admiral Fallon’s reluctance to participate and America and Lebanon’s backing of the Fatah al-Islam terrorist group in Southern Lebanon and how it has already blown back in their face…
“The nuclear option is still on the table in two ways…”