OTR Interviews

Giuliani: Boston terror suspects' endgame was 'amateurish,' New York City was an 'afterthought'

Former NYC mayor on revelation that brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were targeting the Big Apple after the Boston Marathon terror attack


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," April 25, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Next target, New York City.


MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: Last night, we were informed by the FBI that the surviving attacker revealed that New York City was next on their list of targets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Subsequent questioning of Dzhokhar revealed that he and his brother decided spontaneously on Times Square as a target.

BLOOMBERG: They had built these additional explosives, and we know they had the capacity to carry out the attacks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The parents of the bombing suspects are talking.

ZUBEIDAT TSARNAEV, MOTHER: I thought America was going to, like, protect us! Our kids is going to be safe for, like, any reason. But it happened. (INAUDIBLE) America took my kids away from me!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This as Fox News learns the mother may have known two years ago that her older son had been radicalized and willing to die for Islam.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-SC: Bin Laden may be dead, but radical Islam is alive and well, and this administration's let their guard down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lawmakers voicing disappointment, even frustration that the interrogation of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was apparently shut down prematurely.

REP. PETER KING, R-NY: The FBI did not know that the U.S. attorney was coming, that the judge was coming or the magistrate was coming. Clearly, this was -- this is a total mismanagement, at best, from the top.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lawmakers say FBI agents were apparently taken by surprise when the magistrate arrived and read him his rights.

GRAHAM: Between Benghazi and Boston, our systems are failing and we're going backwards. Radical Islam is on the march and we need to up our game!


VAN SUSTEREN: A spontaneous decision that could have led to disaster, New York City's police commissioner saying the accused bombers were headed to Times Square armed with six bombs.

Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani joins us. Nice to see you, Mr. Mayor.


VAN SUSTEREN: Well, no doubt you have some thoughts about the bombers' threat of going to Times Square, your old stomping grounds as mayor.

GIULIANI: Yes, I mean, well, you know, it's -- it's predictable. I mean, New York is a major target. It looks like it was, according to at least the original information, a spontaneous decision. Once they knew they were going to be caught, it was kind of the end game. They were escaping and they were going to do one more bombing in Times Square.

It's always, unfortunately, a target, always worried me every New Year's Eve. Going back to even way before September 11, we were always concerned about terrorist attacks during the New Year's Eve celebration, always made tremendous preparations to try to avoid it. And in 2000, we almost canceled it because of some not quite specific but pretty dangerous threats about Times Square.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, there's so many surveillance cameras in Times Square, but surveillance cameras, what they do is they allow you to catch the person, not necessarily to prevent the crime, to prevent the bombing. That's the problem.

GIULIANI: Yes, you know, one thing that Ray Kelly and Mike Bloomberg have done, you know, since September 11, they've really trained the New York City Police Department to be about as good at observing what Bill Bratton describes as the precursors of terrorism, meaning the suspicious activity that might lead to a terrorist attack.

So even if they had come here, I have some hope that given the training the New York City police department has had, maybe we had a chance to stop them. But you know, thank God it never happened and you don't have to test that.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, there's a tremendous amount of training, tremendous amount of surveillance cameras, but that's tremendously expensive. I realize that Times Square is sort of an obvious target, but I'm -- I suspect that cities like Milwaukee, Denver, Houston -- I mean, I assume that they are just as vulnerable and they don't have the money or the training.

GIULIANI: Yes, they don't -- and they don't have the size of the police department. New York is very fortunate. It's five counties in one city. So we end up with, you know, 35,000, 40,000 police officers. So you can put aside 1,000, 2,000, 3,000 and train them specifically in detecting terrorism. Most cities don't have that flexibility. That's quite true.

But then again, New York City is, along with Washington, D.C., probably, you know, right at the top of the list all the time. Whenever you arrest these guys, it's always an interest in New York or Washington.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, these guys were peculiar. I mean, they didn't have any -- you know, they bombed in Boston. They apparently had no exit strategy. I mean, they basically hung around the neighborhood until they got picked up, and then there was talk about going to New York. I mean, it was, like, these -- it was sort of odd. It wasn't like this was part of an elaborate plan. They just seemed violent.

GIULIANI: You know, there are real contradictions in what they did. The way in which they did the bombing in Boston was pretty darn professional, you know, the way they went in -- they looked pretty cool in the way in which they did it. They got the bombing off effectively. A lot of terrorists have failed to do it. That was all pretty professional.

Their end game was completely amateurish, and I think this plan about New York was an afterthought. They had six bombs left. They were going to try to go out in a blaze of -- a blaze of -- a blaze of glory.

I mean, the real issue here now, as we come away from this is, all of the opportunities that we had in advance at least to catch the older brother, at least to keep focus on the older brother, and we didn't. And rather than trying to look at that from the point of view of blaming anybody, we should look at it from the point of view of how the heck are we going to straighten that out so we don't make that mistake again? I mean, that was a pretty -- a pretty big set of mistakes that were made with the - - with the -- with the older brother.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, somebody talked to him. Someone from the FBI went out and talked to him. There's got to be notes someplace, records someplace. So I mean, we -- I mean, I think we should start there by examining, you know, what did that special agent -- what information did he or she get and where did it go?

GIULIANI: Well, maybe we should also loosen up some of the rules about categorizing these people and listening. One of the FBI agents said he thought it would be illegal to keep the guy on the list. Of course, there'd be nothing illegal about it. They're nothing illegal about following somebody in the open. There's nothing illegal about looking at what they have on the Internet. That's all public record information. It'd be illegal if you broke into his apartment or you tapped his telephone.

So some of the explanations that I'm getting make me very nervous that the FBI is erring on the side of caution...

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, speaking of...

GIULIANI: ... when I want them to err on the side of safety.

VAN SUSTEREN: Speaking of erring on the side of caution, the administration of the Massachusetts governor, Deval Patrick, will not release information about the two, whether they got welfare benefits or not or food stamps or not for privacy interests, to protect the dead one, and now the one who is facing an indictment or facing a criminal complaint.


GIULIANI: What possible privacy interest do you have in that? They either got welfare or they didn't get welfare. And that would be also important to how were they financed? I mean, I'd like to know how much they were getting in welfare. A trip to Russia for six months is a pretty darn expensive proposition. So I've wondered, was anybody financing them? Was there money behind them?

And if you knew how much they were getting in welfare, you'd begin to be able to analyze, well, was that enough to sustain this or wasn't it? I think it's pretty important public information.

I can't figure out what the heck the privacy interest is, except maybe an embarrassment that, you know, by mistake, Massachusetts was giving welfare to potential terrorists. But my goodness, that was -- if that was the worst mistake that was made, it wouldn't be so bad. There were a lot more serious mistakes made than that.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, the law enforcement can subpoena the records, so they can get it for the prosecution. But we in the media would like to get that information and I assume some in the public might like to know whether or not, you know, these people were on public assistance of some sort or not. So it's unavailable to us. But what I don't understand is how someone who's -- who's been- who's obviously been accused of a crime and is dead has a privacy interest.

GIULIANI: Yes, I'd also -- I'd also like to see if the mother's going to get prosecuted for theft. I mean, there's an outstanding -- I think there's an outstanding warrant or proceeding against her for theft before she left the United States. And I mean...

VAN SUSTEREN: I think that's probably why she left.

GIULIANI: Well, I mean, I hope we're going to go forward with that prosecution. That'd be another way to put a little pressure on this kid to -- this kid -- this man to talk. I mean, the maximum amount of pressure we can put on this guy to give us the full information -- I mean, after all, look at that ridiculous thing that happened in interrupting his questioning.

I mean, that's just mind-boggling! To me, someone who spent most of his life in law enforcement, can't imagine in the middle of questioning, this guy is kind of telling you about how he's coming to New York and do a bombing in New York, a judge walks in and we cut off the questioning? What are we, crazy?

VAN SUSTEREN: Mayor, thank you. Always nice to see you, sir.

GIULIANI: Thank you.