"I didn't see the enormity of it"

Rudy Giuliani weaves his way through Tim Russert.

By Tim Grieve

Published December 10, 2007 2:47PM (EST)

If Rudy Giuliani emerged relatively unscathed from his appearance on "Meet the Press" Sunday, maybe that's because the mayor said so precious little. When he wasn't explaining why he couldn't say more about the question-raising clients who've employed his consulting firm, he was doing his best to avoid direct answers on foreign policy, homeland security and Bernard Kerik.

A few of the highlights:

Giuliani on how long U.S. troops will remain in Iraq: "For as long as necessary to get the strategic objective achieved."

Giuliani on whether the U.S. is succeeding in Iraq: "Everything that I can see, information that I can get, tells me that our military, including Gen. Petraeus, thinks that there's still a chance we can achieve that objective."

Giuliani on whether he appreciated the threat posed by al-Qaida before 9/11: "I ... didn't see the enormity of it. Neither did the administration at the time. My -- I was, I was dependent on the briefings that I was getting from, from, from the administration, and they were not -- I don't think they saw the threat as big as it was, as, as, intense."

Giuliani on why he won't release a list of his consulting firm's clients: "Well, first of all, I, I, I couldn't do that. I mean, I couldn't put out a list of all my clients. There are confidentiality agreements that surround the relationship that businesses have with law firms, in particular, in some cases with security firms. So I can't do that. All, all I can tell you is the following: I can tell you that every client of G.P. [Giuliani Partners] of any significance while I was there, while I was involved in the ... day-to-day operations ... none of them amount to anything other than ethical, lawful, decent work done by both companies, sometimes of the highest standards, always ethical and decent. And none of them involve any kind of conflict of any kind. And as we go along, we'll explore more of it."

Giuliani on financial disclosures he's willing to make: "We do all the financial disclosures. I did a very complete financial disclosure, I think it was in May. I'll do some more complete financial disclosures. But I'm, I'm not going to do more than what is absolutely required, and we'll go further than that."

Giuliani on whether he'll release his tax returns: "The right time is not now. The right time is ... when we get to financial disclosure. We'll see what is the appropriate financial disclosure. What have other people done? What are other people going to do? What is the right standard? Here's the thing we will definitely do. We'll obviously meet all of the standards that the law requires, and then we'll take a look and see should we go beyond that? Is there a reason to go beyond that? And if there is, we will. The thing I will commit myself to, obviously, is meeting all the standards, which are pretty darned high. We will meet all of those, like everybody else has, and then we'll take a look at what the right thing to do is."

Giuliani on whether he didn't make a really big mistake when he recommended that George W. Bush nominate Bernard Kerik as the chief of homeland security: "Well, look, I've, I've recommended and appointed thousands of people over the years. So I think the way you find out is my judgment generally very good and sometimes bad, like any other human being is, what kind of results have I gotten with the people that I appointed?"

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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