A one-time member of Rudy Giuliani's inner circle said on Tuesday that the former New York City mayor is greatly exaggerating his understanding of torture and his experience with advanced interrogation.
Jerry Hauer, who served as New York's first director of emergency management, said the idea that Giuliani learned first-hand about aggressive interrogation techniques during his service as mayor is not only untrue but legally questionable.
"If Rudy is suggesting in any way that they used torture or aggressive interrogation in New York City then he is absolutely unfit to be president," Hauer told the Huffington Post, "because torture in a local jurisdiction is, first of all, illegal. Secondly, it is inhumane. It is not something that is done at the local level."
On the campaign trail, Giuliani has highlighted his work as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York as a period when he dealt directly with interrogation. This past weekend, however, in an interview with Bloomberg's Al Hunt, he insinuated that his experience as mayor of New York offered even more direct understanding of the issue.
MR. HUNT: Do you know more about torture than John McCain?
MR. GIULIANI: I can't say that I do but I do know a lot about intensive questioning and intensive questioning techniques. After all, I have had a different experience than John. John has never been - he has never run city, never run a state, never run a government. He has never been responsible as a mayor for the safety and security of millions of people, and he has never run a law enforcement agency, which I have done. Now, intensive questioning works. If I didn't use intensive questioning, there would be a lot of mafia guys running around New York right now and crime would be a lot higher in New York than it is.
Hauer dismissed the notion that aggressive interrogation was ever condoned or conducted by the Giuliani administration.
"That would have been absolutely disgraceful and a downright violation of everybody's constitutional liberties," Hauer said. "We were not at war in New York City. Being a suspected criminal is not the same as being a suspected terrorist. And even when they caught the terrorists that were going to blow up the subways [in August 1997], obviously there was interrogation but I never heard of anything involving aggressive techniques."
Other critics of the former mayor added that Giuliani is embellishing his resume as U.S. Attorney. Even in that position, they say, there would have be little or no direct involvement in aggressive interrogation.
"When you are a prosecutor and the United States attorney you don't question people," Giuliani biographer Wayne Barrett told the Huffington Post. "The FBI questions people. You just don't question them. That's just not a realistic assessment of what happens... I covered many of Giuliani's public corruption cases and I still think of him as a tremendous prosecutor, but the notion that he personally questioned any of the key individuals is baffling."