After leading New York city through the trauma of Sept. 11, 2001, Rudy Giuliani has cashed in on his reputation as “America’s mayor” to launch a lucrative security consultancy and establish himself as a frequent television pundit on all things terror-related. He also ran for president in 2008, mounting a campaign that was perhaps most notable for Giuliani’s seeming inability to appear in public without mentioning the numerals “nine” and “eleven.”
Now, Giuliani is back in the news for a different reason: remarks critical of President Barack Obama that have been widely criticized as racist. For observers of Giuliani’s post-9/11 career, the former New York mayor’s most recent broadside against the president smacks of a certain oil-tinged hypocrisy.
“I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America,” Giuliani said during remarks at a New York dinner last week. “He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.” On Sunday, he walked back his remarks by writing in the Wall Street Journal that “I didn’t intend to question President Obama’s motives or the content of his heart.”
It’s hard to know exactly what Giuliani meant by this remark beyond his obvious, general distaste for the president, but in comparing himself to Obama, Giuliani makes an implicit distinction: That he holds in his heart an abiding love for the United States that the current occupant of the White House does not.
What Giuliani doesn’t mention is that the consulting company that has made him a very wealthy man since leaving public office has done work on behalf of a country that all but certainly does not love America in the vague, jingoistic way Giuliani would like you to believe that he does: Qatar, the tiny oil-rich kingdom has drawn criticism in the past for its cozy relationship with violent Islamist movements.
As he ran for president in 2007, his consulting firm, Giuliani Partners, became the focus of quite some controversy. The firm, it turned out, had secured a contract with Qatar to provide security assessments for that country’s lucrative oil infrastructure. For a man wrapping himself in a bloodied U.S. flag for the sake of the Republican presidential nomination, it was quite an awkward revelation. The value of the contract has not been disclosed.
At the time, press reports that revealed the contract focused on the fact that in 1996 FBI agents arrived in Qatar to arrest Khalid Sheikh Mohammed — who would go on to mastermind that attacks of 9/11 — only to have the terror operative give them the slip, in all likelihood with the aid of factions within the Qatari government.
In recent years, the Qatari government has continued to at times work at cross-purposes with the United States. Qatar funds a variety of Islamist groups in the Middle East, including radical militant fighters in Syria. The country also shelters Islamist financiers who have been officially designated as terrorists by the U.S. governments.
But the administration still remains close with Qatar and has exploited its position at the center of Islamist politics in the Middle East. The United States maintains a large air base there and has used Qatar as an intermediary in quiet dealings with Islamist organizations. It was Qatar, for example, that brokered the release of the American writer Peter Theo Curtis from the hands of al-Nusra Front, al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria. Qatar also negotiated the prisoner swap for the freedom of the U.S. Army sergeant Bowe Bergdahl.
Qatar arrived in this position by virtue of its huge oil wealth. It uses that revenue to shower its proxies with cash, guns, and whatever else they might need. Qatar’s energy wealth is its most prized asset — and that’s why Giuliani was awarded with a contract to keep it safe. Calls and emails to Giuliani Partners on Monday inquiring whether the firm still has any active contracts in Qatar went unreturned.
So it’s an interesting notion of love of country that Giuliani expressed last week: One that condones enriching oneself off of an oil industry that has been used to underwrite a foreign policy at times actively opposed and hostile to the United States.
TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images