All the birds seem to be coming home to roost for Rudy Giuliani. First the indictment and further disclosures concerning Bernard Kerik, the man Rudy picked to be head of the nation’s counter-terrorism agency (but who doesn’t know the difference between Shi’ia and Sunni, nor for that matter does he have a high school diploma)–indicted on a series of lurid charges involving gross corruption. The criminal complaint has been circulating all over the place, handed around offices, frequently with the observation–remember, this is the guy who used to be on Fox all the time. Then disclosures about Rudy’s use of public funds to protect his mistress, to walk her dogs and to chauffeur her and her guests around New York and the Hamptons.
But all this is nothing. I then read the series of pieces by Barrett in the Village Voice, and Isikoff in Newsweek–all about Rudy’s ties to powerful figures in Qatar, who in turn have close ties to Osama bin Laden and other prominent terrorists. Possibly connections close enough to land Rudy in trouble under the material support concept (assuming it were applied in a politically neutral fashion, which, of course, is a ridiculous idea). My first take was that this had to be sensationalist nonsense. My second take was that Rudy is a lawyer, is engaged in a professional services business, and deserves some latitude in picking his clients. After reading all the pieces, I come to my third take: this is definitely troubling, and more than just unseemly. Rudy’s motive in all of this is making money, pure and simple. But he seems to exercise very little discretion in the process.
Joe Conason reviews these accounts in his current column at Salon:
If Giuliani was unaware of the terrorism issues surrounding Qatar before he signed his initial contract with the emirate in 2005, then he must not be quite the expert he claims to be. And if he knew of those issues but signed up anyway, that raises other questions.
Certainly he should be asked to explain his connections with the emirate and especially with Interior Minister Abdullah bin Khalid al-Thani, who has long been suspected of harboring KSM and facilitating the travel of al-Qaida operatives to and from Qatar. Whatever reasons the United States may have for maintaining diplomatic and military ties with Qatar, the contradictions in doing business with that nation for a hard-liner like Giuliani should be explored.
Might it be that Rudy’s Qatari friends think they can buy protection from the Bush Administration’s war on terror excesses by putting Rudy on a healthy retainer? Sure looks that way. In any event, with Rudy dodging questions, Conason serves up a number that need to be put to him at his next press conference:
Are your company’s security contracts with Qatar negotiated and administered through the Qatar Ministry of the Interior, as a government spokesman confirmed to the Village Voice?
Are you aware that the interior minister appointed in 2001 and reappointed this year by the emir of Qatar is Abdullah al-Thani, the former minister of Islamic affairs and a strict Wahhabi Muslim who has been identified in U.S. press and government reports as a protector of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed?
Are you aware that Abdullah al-Thani, a strict Wahhabi Muslim, reportedly hosted Osama bin Laden on two visits to his Qatari farm?
Giuliani is routinely identified as the Republican establishment’s number one war-on-terror profiteer. The Qatari relationship looks very unsavory. But maybe Rudy has an innocent explanation for all of it. In any event, it is time we heard from him.