Rudy Giuliani’s biggest conspiracy theory, his grandest lie of all, has him raking in more than $100 million in 63 countries on every continent save Antarctica.
He is paid big money for speeches and advice by people who know him as the former New York mayor who made the city safe and became “America’s Mayor” in the aftermath of 9/11. The truth is that when it comes to crime and security, Giuliani knows jack shit. Jack Maple would have been the first to tell you that.
Maple was the late crime-fighting genius who as a subway cop developed strategies that he implemented as an NYPD deputy commissioner to produce record reductions in violent felonies throughout the city during Giuliani’s time as mayor. He was essentially given free rein by then-NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, who always bestowed credit where credit was due, but did not mind posing for the cover of Time magazine. A jealous Giuliani drove Bratton out and Maple departed with him.
“You go home with the guy who brought you to the dance,” Maple said at the time.
The strategies stayed in place and crime continued to decline even though Giuliani seems never to have understood why. He talks about squeegee men and quality of life and zero tolerance and broken windows. He fails to understand that the essential reason the NYPD was able to achieve an apparent miracle was that the cops in New York began treating every crime as if the victim were their mother. A dot was a dot on a crime map and commanders were held equally accountable for each one, whether it was in a rich neighborhood or a poor one.
Jack Maple went on to become an international consultant who actually knew something about crime and might well have become police commissioner under a later mayor had he not died from cancer in August of 2001. Giuliani had by then demonstrated that he also knew jack shit about security. He chose to construct a command post on the 23rd floor of a 47-story building adjacent to the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center, thereby establishing the world’s only command bunker-in-the-air right at a bull’s eye for terrorists.
New York already had a command post at NYPD headquarters, but that offered Giuliani limited opportunity to use his favorite pronoun. The police took orders from the police commissioner, not the mayor. Cops in one Bronx precinct mocked Giuliani’s effort to pose as their supreme leader by replacing the framed photos on the station house wall of the five top police commanders with five photos of Giuliani.
At the same time, Giuliani had been in a running dispute with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which has its own police department and administers the area’s airports, along with some bus stations, bridges and tunnels. The PA had dared to thwart Giuliani’s effort to take control of the airports and merge the PA police into the NYPD.
Giuliani then learned that a private developer was ready to lease the city more than 40,000-square-feet on the 23rd floor of 7 World Trade Center, adjacent to the Port Authority's headquarters in the Twin Towers. He decided that this was the perfect in-your-face place for his new emergency command center. He was not deterred by a 1998 memo issued by an NYPD study group.
“Seven World Trade Center is a poor choice for the site of a crucial command center for the top leadership of the City of New York,” the memo said.
The memo detailed “significant points of vulnerability.” These included the location of the building, which had signs at the back reading "WTC Garage Entrance" and "Receiving and Delivery" lest anyone forget the 1993 bombing of the Twin Towers. And the command post would not only be on the 23rd floor. It would have a 1,200-gallon diesel fuel tank in the ceiling for its generator. There were thousands of gallons more in a power substation below street level.
Giuliani went ahead and the new command center of the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) opened in 1999, complete with bulletproof glass and safeguards against the electromagnetic pulse that would be generated by a nuclear explosion. There was also a video-conferencing link, so people could see as well as hear Giuliani in control.
When The New York Times reported the NYPD’s objections, Giuliani suggested he had little to do with selecting the site, saying his OEM commissioner, Jerome Hauer, had made the choice. Hauer then said he had wanted to build the command post in Brooklyn and had only gone along with the World Trade Center location after Giuliani insisted the command post be within walking distance of City Hall.
Two years later, the planes flew into the Twin Towers. Burning debris set fire to 7 World Trade Center and the flames were fed by the fuel in the aerial bunker ceiling and in the below-ground substation. The blaze raged for seven hours before the building collapsed.
Unable to use his command post, Giuliani had gone instead to a firehouse 20 blocks uptown. He and his entourage had to break in. Nobody had stayed behind when the firefighters of Ladder 5, Engine 24 responded to the twin towers. Eleven of them were killed.
Gliuliani had come to this same firehouses in 1994, after a fire in which one member was killed outright and two others suffered burns that would prove fatal. He went to the upstairs quarters along with FDNY Chaplain Mychal Judge. Some of the firefighters had left open lockers that had pin-ups of naked women inside and Giuliani began slamming the doors closed lest the priest see them.
“It’s OK,” Father Mychal told him. “It keeps them relaxed.”
As Father Mychal proceeded to comfort the firefighters and the families, he proved to be as much a genius as a priest as Maple was as a cop. Giuliani saw Father Mychal at work on a bigger scale in 1996, after TWA flight 800 exploded within minutes of taking off from JFK Airport, killing all 230 aboard.
No doubt Father Mychal would have done the same after 9/11 had he not been killed when the Twin Towers collapsed and become the first official fatality, registered as DM0001. Giuliani would later say that having watched Father Mychal in the aftermath of Flight 800 served as his guide on 9/11 and the days that followed. He channeled the Firefighters' Chaplain and became known as America’s Mayor.
Giuliani subsequently tried and failed to parlay that into becoming America’s president. Meanwhile, he founded Giuliani Safety & Security, a subsidiary of Giuliani Partners, to market himself as a supposed world-class expert on crime and security. He cashed in seemingly everywhere but in his home city, where people knew him too well.
Even now, he doesn't seem to understand why crime went down and stays down in New York. He instead yammers about a zero-tolerance policy, failing to grasp the real purpose of that secondary strategy. The idea was not so much to establish order as prescribed by the “broken windows theory,” but to lock up bad guys and otherwise make their lives miserable.
“The Broken Balls Theory,” Maple once said. “It’s not about broken windows, it’s about breaking balls.”
Maple emphasized that all the strategies—from treating every crime as important to cracking down on minor offenses—need to be guided by an essential principle. “The strategies have to be enforced equally for all, but good people need a play,” Maple said. “It’s a sense of fairness that you want out there.”
Maple noted that taking somebody into custody unnecessarily removed the cop from the scene. Giving a good person a play had the added reward of leaving the cop in place. “Not only a sense of fairness, but you want to catch more bad guys,” Maple added.
The result is that fewer people are arrested, but crime goes down—math that was and is beyond Giuliani’s grasp.
“Crime goes down, arrests go up!” he once said to Maple.
“No, crime goes down arrests go down,” Maple said.
“No, crime goes down, arrests go up!” Giuliani insisted.
In Mexico City and Colombia, the strategies from New York have proven to be marginally effective even when imported by someone who does not fully comprehend why they work.
Crime did fall 8 percent in Mexico City after Giuliani secured a $4 million consultancy contract there in 2002. But it quickly rebounded amid criticism that Giuliani’s strategies had focused far more on rich areas than on poor ones, in direct contravention of the key to New York’s continuing success.
A 2006 study titled “Policing in drag: Giuliani goes global with the illusion of control” found that in Mexico City, “Plan Giuliani... failed to achieve either a substantive reduction in serious crime or an increased feeling of safety among urban residents.”
“Giuliani capitalized on residents’ fear and insecurity, but unlike in New York, he did not deliver a sense of stability and security,” says the study by Alison Mountz of Syracuse University and Winnifred Curran of DePaul University. “Giuliani’s ideas garner high popularity not because of their success on the ground, but due to their currency in public discourses where they produced a ‘cult of personality.’”
The study adds, “Giuliani’s policies in Mexico City constituted a performance: policing in drag, a dressing up of policies cloaked in the language of control, and alternatively marketed with Giuliani’s masculinity and reputation as a ‘tough guy.’”
Elsewhere, Guiliani marketed himself as a “cybersecurity expert” even though he seems barely to know how to operate a computer. And his past with the bunker-in-the-air hasn't kept him from contracting to help establish a centralized Emergency Command system in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv.
In Ukraine, Giuliani managed a fraud within a fraud, for his ultimate purpose there was to dig up political dirt as President Trump’s personal lawyer.
That effort now has Giuliani under federal investigation for possible violation of lobbying laws. He received a tweet of support from President Trump, a fellow New Yorker who embraces the Giuliani myth but has never bothered to learn actually why crime went down in his home city and maybe apply that nationally.
“So now they are after the legendary ‘crime buster’ and greatest Mayor in the history of NYC, Rudy Giuliani,” Trump wrote.
Giuliani may end up consulting with one associate who can offer actual expert advice. Former NYPD Commissioner Berard Kerik, a Giuliani appointee and subsequent founding member of Giuliani Partners, was sentenced to four years in federal prison after pleading guilty to tax and perjury charges in 2009. He no doubt can offer helpful tips on adjusting to prison life.
Back in those pre-9/11 days before anybody would have thought of him as America’s mayor, Giuliani made late night calls to Father Mychal, seeking guidance in his messy personal life.
“Pray for me,” Giuliani said at one point.
“No, no, God hears from me all the time and I’m sure he’s tired of it,” Father Mychal responded.
Mychal then said something that Giuliani might now want to remember: “But, He’d love to hear from a real sinner.”