Giuliani fears US will become complacent about future attacks

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said he is afraid Americans will become complacent as the country nears the 10th anniversary of the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil.

Giuliani, who became known as “America’s mayor” for his role in responding to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, implored people to remain as vigilant as the terrorists who continue to plot attacks against the United States.

“The biggest fear that I have is that as we get to the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, people are going to believe it’s over,” said Giuliani, who spoke Tuesday at the National Press Club. “There’s nothing special about a 10th anniversary.

“September 11th is not yet part of our history ... September 11th is part of our present reality. The people who attacked us under that banner of distorted Islam still want to attack us under distorted Islam, and they are planning to do it as we memorialize the 10th anniversary.

“So we cannot use this as an opportunity to say, ‘Oh, let’s put this behind us.’ Because if we do that, we will repeat the mistakes we made before September 11th, which is not evaluating correctly the scope and the danger of Islamist extremist terrorism.”

Giuliani — who ran for president in 2008 and is considering a bid for the 2012 Republican nomination — made no announcement about his future plans.

He said he had postponed his decision about whether to run for president until after the 9/11 anniversary because the occasion needs to be honored without political overtones. Giuliani said that while he’d have a “hard time” getting the GOP nomination because he’s not conservative enough on social issues, if he did secure it, he thinks he’d have a good chance at winning the presidency.

The former mayor also stressed that one of the first lessons the United States should take away from the 9/11 attacks is to use different words when describing many of the terrorists who plot attacks on the country. Giuliani described the terrorism as “Islamic extremist.”

“If you can’t face your enemy, you can’t defeat your enemy,” he said. “If you can’t honestly describe your enemy, there are distortions in your policy decisions as a result of that.

“There is nothing insulting to decent, good members of the Muslim religion when I say ‘Islamic extremist terrorism’ any more than it was insulting to the Italian-American community, when I was a prosecutor, to say the word ‘Mafia.’ Or that it would be insulting to decent Germans to say the word ‘Nazi.’ Our failure to do it leads to a series of mistakes that easily could harm us in the future. One mistake to avoid is political correctness. You can’t fight crime, you can’t deter terrorism if you are hobbled by political correctness.”  

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, made similar comments last week as he blasted President Obama’s new counterterrorism strategy released in June.

Lieberman said that instead of using the term “violent extremism,” the Obama administration should use “violent Islamist extremism.”

The issue of singling out Muslims in the United States’s war against terrorists came to a head earlier this year when Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) held the first in his series of hearings on American-Muslim radicalization.

Nearly 100 Democratic lawmakers wrote to King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, and asked him to expand the scope of the hearing to include other radical extremist groups, such as white supremacists, environmental extremists and animal-rights activists. King declined to expand the hearing’s scope and heralded it as a success for drawing attention to an issue that lawmakers and government officials too often avoid.

This story was originally posted at 5:10 p.m. and has been updated.