In extensive June 17 interviews on Fox & Friends and MSNBC's Morning Joe, Rudy Giuliani offered a plethora of falsehoods on President Obama's handling of crises. The media's use of Giuliani as a credible crisis management expert belies his history of falsehoods and the criticism of his performance before, during, and after the 9-11 attacks.
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Claim: Obama "waited 50 days, 55 days to really begin" responding to Gulf oil spill
From the June 17 edition of Fox & Friends:
GIULIANI: The government has played a big role in letting us down here as well. And who the heck is -- you know, criticizing President Obama, President Obama's response? I mean, the president waited 50 days, 55 days to really begin a resp--he told us in his speech that the federal government was in charge from the very beginning.
Fact: Timeline of events indicates Obama administration responded almost immediately to the spill. As Media Matters for America has documented, the Coast Guard began responding to the spill hours after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded at 10 p.m. on April 20. Obama was briefed on the incident and dispatched officials to the region the next day.
Claim: Obama should have "assembled a team" from "the big companies" to provide "second opinion" on spill
From the June 17 edition of Fox & Friends:
GIULIANI: The president's never assembled a team that really can act as a counter to BP. That's what he should have done from the very beginning. If I were handling this crisis, if someone who had any experience in crisis management were handling this crisis, the first thing you would have done is you would have gone to Exxon, Shell, the big companies--
STEVE DOOCY (co-host): People who do that stuff every day.
GIULIANI: Yeah, and I'd have somebody conduct a search, who's the best at this? Who has done this five times before? Like when you look for a surgeon, who's the best at heart surgery? Get em, put a team together, and let them look over everything BP is doing and independently advise me, are they making the right decision or the wrong decision?
From the June 17 edition of Morning Joe:
GIULIANI: The first thing I would have done is to bring in experts from the industry who are an independent source of advice for me. I met with some of the industry --
JOE SCARBOROUGH (co-host): The president didn't do that?
GIULIANI: Two days ago, I had dinner in Houston with several people who are top people in the industry. Never reached out, never asked, "Gee, has Shell done this before? Has Exxon done this before?" If your father or mother were sick, you would go get a second opinion from an expert doctor, not from an academician, which is what he did.
Fact: The oil spill response plans for all five major oil companies drilling in the Gulf were reportedly written by the same "tiny" consulting firm. According to a June 16 Washington Post report, "the same tiny Texas subcontractor" authored the Gulf spill response plans for BP, ConocoPhillips, Chevron, Shell Oil, and ExxonMobil. The Post further reported that all five plans rely on "the same reassuring language," that three of the plans listed the phone number of a deceased marine science expert, and that four of the plans included provisions to protect walruses, which "have not called the Gulf of Mexico home for 3 million years." In congressional testimony, the CEOs of ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips acknowledged that these flaws were an "embarrassment."
Fact: ExxonMobil's CEO acknowledged that "we are not well equipped to handle" major spills. In testimony before the House Energy and Environment Subcommittee on June 15, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson stated repeatedly that his company is "not well-equipped to handle" major oil spills.
Claim: BP was only drilling "out there" because "environmentalists have prevented us from drilling closer"
From the June 17 edition of Fox & Friends:
GIULIANI: The only reason they were drilling, according to the president, out there in deep water is because of our addiction to oil.
BRIAN KILMEADE (co-host): And that is totally --
GIULIANI: Totally untrue. The reason they are drilling out there is because environmentalists have prevented us from drilling closer and in other places like ANWR.
GRETCHEN CARLSON (co-host): Right, which is a very interesting point.
GIULIANI: That's the honest point, rather than the, rather than the let's take advantage of any crisis kind of point.
Fact: Bush MMS said "remarkable increase" in deep-water drilling due in part to "finding of reservoirs with high production wells." According to the U.S. Department of the Interior's Minerals Management Service (MMS): "The deepwater portion of Gulf of Mexico has shown a remarkable increase in oil and gas exploration, development and production. In part this is due to the development of new technologies reducing operational costs and risks, as well as the finding of reservoirs with high production wells."
Fact: Bush MMS reported that the "best source of new domestic energy resources lies in the deep water Gulf of Mexico." In a 2004 report -- titled Deep Water: Where the Energy Is -- the MMS stated that "our best source of new domestic energy resources lies in the deep water Gulf of Mexico and other frontier areas." MMS reported that due to "declining production" in "near-shore, shallow waters" in the Gulf of Mexico, "energy companies have focused their attention on oil and gas resources in water depths of 1,000 feet and beyond." MMS estimated that "the deep water regions of the Gulf of Mexico may contain 56 billion barrels of oil equivalent, or enough to meet U.S. demand for 7-1/2 years at current rates."
Fact: Bush MMS reported deepwater drilling is "America's Offshore Energy Future," "significant proved reserves" discovered in recent years. In a 2008 report titled "Deepwater Gulf of Mexico 2008: America's Offshore Energy Future, MMS reported:
The deepwater GOM has contributed major additions to the total reserves in the GOM. Figure 40 shows the proved reserves added each year by water-depth category. Additions from the shallow waters of the GOM declined in recent years but, beginning in 1975, the deepwater area started contributing significant new reserves. Between 1975 and 1983, the majority of these additions were from discoveries in slightly more than 1,000 ft (305 m) of water. It was not until 1985 that major additions came from water depths greater than 1,500 ft (457 m). From 1998 to 2001, significant proved reserves were added in the 5,000- to 7,499-ft (1,524- to 2,286-m) water depth range. The year 2002 saw the first substantial addition from water depths greater than 7,500 ft (2,286 m).
Fact: NY Times reported BP discovery of "giant oil field" in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico indicated area was "probably the most promising area in United States-controlled territory." A September 2, 2009, New York Times article reported that "BP announced on Wednesday the discovery of what it characterized as a giant oil field several miles under the Gulf of Mexico," which the Times stated "was another indication that the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico are probably the most promising area in United States-controlled territory to bolster domestic oil production." The Times further credited BP's deep-water rigs with having "stabilized domestic production after almost two decades of yearly decline."
Fact: Transocean issued a report in February 2010 showing "significant quarterly revenue" from its deepwater rigs. A May 27 backgrounder issued by the Council on Foreign Relations reported that in February, Transocean Ltd. -- which owned the Deepwater Horizon rig -- "posted significant quarterly revenue from its ultra-deepwater rigs, while revenue from its shallow-water rigs declined." CFR further reported that "nearly half Transocean's shallow-water rigs have been idle, while its ultra-deepwater rigs were booked through the end of the year." CFR credited the surge in deepwater drilling to the fact that it "just started becoming economically profitable and technically feasible on a large scale."
Claim: Obama wasn't "held to account" for handling of "the Christmas almost-bomber" the way Bush would have been
Giuliani: If Bush had Mirandized the alleged Christmas Day bomber and waited several days to comment on the attack, he would have been criticized by the media. From the June 17 edition of Fox & Friends:
GIULIANI: One of the problems that President Obama has had is, he's never been really held to account the way other presidents have. If he had been held to account for the Christmas bombing, and his dilatory conduct with regard to that, his remaining on vacation, all the mistakes they made, 'the system worked,' all that stuff, given him Miranda warnings, you know, eleven days of remaining on vacation, he might have been, he might have, he might have awakened in time to realize, a president's gotta jump on top of this.
GIULIANI: They caught him on Christmas morning, the president's on vacation, the president remains on vacation for 11 days, doesn't respond for three days, this is, this is a dilatory response that I think if it had been President Bush, the media would have come down on him like cats and dogs.
Fact: Bush waited six days after 2001 attempted shoe bombing before commenting publicly. On December 22, 2001, after Richard Reid attempted to light a fuse in his shoes while aboard a U.S.-bound American Airlines international flight, the passengers and flight crew were able to restrain him and foil the plot. Bush first mentioned Reid on December 28, 2001 -- six days after Reid's attempted bombing -- during a press conference in Crawford, Texas.
Fact: Bush remained on two-week vacation at Camp David and at his Texas ranch after shoe bomber attack. According to announcements from the Office of the Press Secretary (accessed via Nexis), Bush arrived at Camp David on December 22, 2001, and then traveled to the Bush ranch in Crawford, Texas, on December 26. The New York Times reported on December 31: "Last week, the president arrived at the ranch after Christmas at Camp David and has since been running, fishing, clearing brush, watching University of Texas football, reading a biography of Theodore Roosevelt and getting in a 'little chain-saw work,' as he put it at his news conference." The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported (accessed via Nexis) on January 6, 2002, that Bush would return to the White House on January 7, 2002
Fact: Wash. Times reported in January 2002 that "Critics find little to carp about with Bush vacation." Bill Sammon wrote in a January 4, 2002, Washington Times article that "Democrats and journalists" had not criticized Bush for taking the vacation and quoted Leon Panetta who said of Bush, "No matter where you're at, you're going to find yourself preoccupied with the job of being president ... It's not like he's sitting in a rocking chair."
Fact: Politico contrasted Bush and Obama responses and reported "[T]here were virtually no complaints from the press or any opposition Democrats that [Bush's] response was sluggish or inadequate." In a December 29, 2009, article, headlined "President Obama takes the heat President Bush did not," Politico reported that "it was six days before President George W. Bush, then on vacation, made any public remarks about the so-called shoe bomber, Richard Reid, and there were virtually no complaints from the press or any opposition Democrats that his response was sluggish or inadequate." Politico added: "That stands in sharp contrast to the withering criticism President Barack Obama has received from Republicans and some in the press for his reaction to Friday's incident on a Northwest Airlines flight heading for Detroit."
Fact: During Bush administration, shoe bomber was also read his Miranda rights. According to news reports, attempted shoe bomber Richard Reid was read his rights shortly after his 2001 arrest and the investigation into Reid's crimes was handled by the FBI and federal prosecutors.
Claim: Unlike Bush and Giuliani, Obama "was off on vacation twice" during a crisis
From the June 17 edition of Morning Joe:
GIULIANI: [I]f this is job number one, which I don't think it was, because the president was off on vacation twice during all of this. If this were job number one--
SCARBOROUGH: Did you go on vacation as the mayor?
GIULIANI: Did I go on vacation as the mayor? No.
SCARBOROUGH: Isn't that a cheap shot?
GIULIANI: No, it is not a cheap shot.
SCARBOROUGH: You never went on vacation?
GIULIANI: Not in the middle of a crisis, I didn't.
SCARBOROUGH: Ronald Reagan went on vacation.
GIULIANI: Not in the middle of a crisis he didn't.
SCARBOROUGH: George W. Bush went on vacation.
GIULIANI: Not in the middle of a crisis. This is the second time the president has done that, and I resent it. On Christmas Day, when we had the Christmas bombing, he was on vacation --
SCARBOROUGH: It was Christmas.
GIULIANI: -- remained on vacation for 11 days.
GIULIANI: He's the president of the United States.
SCARBOROUGH: They've got microphones in Chicago.
GIULIANI: On Christmas evening, the first year I was the mayor, I left my house and I went to the hospital, and I spent five hours there, because I was the mayor of New York City, and I should be on the spot, taking charge of something from the very beginning.
This has been a gross failure in crisis management. Could not have done it worse. And you shouldn't be on vacation when a crisis is affecting the country.
Fact: Obama visited Asheville in April and Chicago in May. The Obamas visited Asheville, North Carolina, the weekend of April 23. During that trip, Obama eulogized the 29 workers killed in the West Virginia mine explosion and "met with the workers' families privately before the ceremony," according to CNN. During Memorial Day weekend, Obama traveled to Chicago and was scheduled to deliver his Memorial Day address at the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery. Due to a thunderstorm, he spoke at Andrews Air Force Base instead.
Fact: Bush vacationed during aftermath of Katrina. In the two months after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast on August 29, 2005, Bush reportedly made at least three separate weekend trips to the presidential retreat at Camp David. Bush visited the Camp David retreat in September 2005 and again during two weekends in October 2005. Three months after the hurricane, news outlets reported that hundreds of thousands of people were "still at loose ends in provisional housing -- many in isolated trailer parks"; "thousands of people were "still unaccounted for"; and "[m]ore than 80 percent of New Orleans's population has not been able to return home."
Fact: Giuliani reportedly spent more time at Yankees games than at ground zero following the 9-11 attacks. In an August 18, 2007, Salon.com article, Alex Koppelman examined Giuliani's schedule in the 90 days following the World Trade Center attacks and found: "By our count, Giuliani spent about 58 hours at Yankees games or flying to them in the 40 days between Sept. 25 and Nov. 4, roughly twice as long as he spent at ground zero in the 90 days between Sept. 17 and Dec. 16."
Claim: "It's about time we stopped blaming Bush" for spill
From the June 17 edition of Morning Joe:
SCARBOROUGH: In the role of devil's advocate, we hear that we had the technology to stop this, in 2002, though, Dick Cheney and his energy task force said, no, we're not going to take an extra step.
GIULIANI: I have no -- I have no idea what Dick Cheney did five or six years ago.
SCARBOROUGH: Isn't it important to know?
GIULIANI: Of course it's important to know
SCARBOROUGH: It's part of the story.
GIULIANI: It's important to know as part of the history of this but the reality is, he's been president now for 18 months. It's about time we stopped blaming Bush.
Fact: Bush MMS adopted regulations stating drillers are "in the best position to determine the environmental effects of its proposed activity." The Washington Post reported on May 25 that the actions taken by MMS "are shaped in part by a 2005 regulation it adopted that assumes oil and gas companies can best evaluate the environmental effects of their operations." The article stated that "[t]he rule governing which information the MMS should receive and review before signing off on drilling plans states: 'The lessee or operator is in the best position to determine the environmental effects of its proposed activity based on whether the operation is routine or non-routine.'" Rolling Stone magazine reported that these "new rules pre-qualified deep-sea drillers" to receive an "exemption from environmental review," even though such exemptions were "originally intended to prevent minor projects, like outhouses on hiking trails, from being tied up in red tape."
Fact: In April 2008, Bush MMS loosened rules requiring blowout plan. The Associated Press reported on May 5 that "A rule change two years ago by the federal agency that regulates offshore oil rigs allowed BP to avoid filing a plan specifically for handling a major spill from an uncontrolled blowout at its Deepwater Horizon project." AP further reported: "The MMS rule change, made in April 2008, says that Gulf rig operators are required to file a blowout scenario only if one of five conditions applies. For example, an operator must provide a blowout scenario when it proposes to install a 'surface facility' in water deeper than 1,312 feet. While Deepwater Horizon was operating almost 5,000 feet below the surface, [BP spokesman William] Salvin said the project did not meet the definition of a surface facility. The MMS official agreed."
Fact: Bush MMS 2007 environmental impact assessment for BP lease dismissed risk of massive oil spill. The Washington Post reported on May 5: "While the MMS assessed the environmental impact of drilling in the central and western Gulf of Mexico on three occasions in 2007 -- including a specific evaluation of BP's Lease 206 at Deepwater Horizon -- in each case it played down the prospect of a major blowout." The Post stated that "In one assessment, the agency estimated that 'a large oil spill' from a platform would not exceed a total of 1,500 barrels and that a 'deepwater spill,' occurring 'offshore of the inner Continental shelf,' would not reach the coast. In another assessment, it defined the most likely large spill as totaling 4,600 barrels and forecast that it would largely dissipate within 10 days and would be unlikely to make landfall." According to the Times-Picayune, these assessments "paved the way for BP to assert that its plans for drilling in Lease Sale 206 posed no real dangers."
Fact: Bush MMS failed to respond to 2004 warning about vital piece of blowout preventer. The Wall Street Journal reported on May 3 that "[f]ederal regulators learned in a 2004 study that a vital piece of oil-drilling safety equipment may not function in deep-water seas but did nothing to bolster industry requirements. The equipment, called shear rams, is supposed to seal off out-of-control oil and gas wells by pinching the pipe closed and cutting it." The Journal further reported that "[e]xperts theorize the rams may have failed to work as expected in the Deepwater Horizon disaster."
Fact: Bush MMS ignored warnings about faulty cementing in wells. The Associated Press reported on May 24 that numerous MMS reports identified a "poor cement job" as the cause of many offshore accidents, including incidents that took place in 2005 and 2007, "[y]et federal regulators give drillers a free hand in this crucial safety step." AP noted that rig owner Transocean and "independent experts" have pointed to "faulty cement work" as a possible cause of the blowout, and that new rules "in the works long before the Deepwater Horizon" took effect June 3, which "take a conservative watch-and-wait approach and demand only routines already carried out around the industry: a management program with monitoring and diagnostic testing."
Fact: WSJ reported that in 2003, Bush MMS decided not to require last-resort shut-off device. ABC News reported on April 30 that in 2000 MMS "issued a safety alert that called added layers of backup 'an essential component of a deepwater drilling system'." However, according to the Wall Street Journal, "The industry argued against" mandating a remote-control shut-off switch that serves as "last-resort protection against underwater spills," and "[b]y 2003, U.S. regulators decided remote-controlled safeguards needed more study. A report commissioned by the Minerals Management Service said 'acoustic systems are not recommended because they tend to be very costly'." The Journal noted that the Deepwater Horizon rig did not have a remote-control device, which is required "in two major oil-producing countries, Norway and Brazil," and that "[i]ndustry consultants and petroleum engineers said that an acoustic remote-control may have been able to stop the well, but too much is still unknown about the accident to say that with certainty."
NPR similarly reported that Michael Saucier, MMS regional director in New Orleans, said at a hearing, "I think it was around 2001, there were some draft rules concerning secondary control systems for BOP stacks, and those rules were then sent up to headquarters to continue through the process." The NPR report goes on to state, "But what came back from headquarters were not rules, he said, just notices that 'highly encouraged' companies to use the backup systems. 'There is no enforcement on it,' he said."
Fact: Bush MMS reportedly suppressed scientists' concerns about environmental impact of spills in Alaska. A June 6 Denver Post article reported that an MMS office in Alaska rejected a 2006 analysis conducted by a biologist, which stated that a large oil spill could significantly harm fish populations. The analysis, which would have "required MMS to conduct a more detailed environmental impact statement before auctioning leases in the Beaufort Sea," was rewritten after a supervisor told the biologist that his analysis would cause a "delay in sale 202. That would, as you can imagine, not go over well with HQ and others." The Denver Post further reported, "[c]oncerns raised by another MMS biologist, James Wilder, that the impact on polar bears was not adequately addressed in Shell's Alaska exploration plan, also were rebuffed, according to e-mails."
Claim: Obama waited "55 days" before he appointed "someone to deal with" the oil spill
From the June 17 edition of Morning Joe:
GIULIANI: They haven't put a team together, and that's obvious. What is the team? He took until two days ago to appoint another czar. I mean, 55 days into this and you finally appoint someone to deal with it? 50 -- And he's had 55 days to deal with it.
Fact: Adm. Allen was appointed National Incident Commander on May 1. While Obama announced on June 15 that he had directed Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus to develop a "long-term Gulf Coast Restoration Plan," a May 1 press release from the Deepwater Horizon Unified Command stated that "U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen will serve as the National Incident Commander for the administration's continued, coordinated response -- providing additional authority and oversight in leveraging every available resource to respond to the BP oil spill and minimize the associated environmental risks." The release further stated that "Admiral Allen has overseen Coast Guard efforts since the moment this incident began."
Giuliani has long record of ludicrously false or hypocritical statements
Giuliani falsely claimed that "[w]e had no domestic attacks under Bush." On the January 8 edition of ABC's Good Morning America, Giuliani falsely claimed that "[w]e had no domestic attacks under Bush. We've had one under Obama." Giuliani later walked back his blatantly false statement, saying, "I did omit the words 'since September 11th.' I apologize for that. I should have put it in." However, Giuliani continued to ignore several domestic attacks that took place under Bush after 9/11 -- including the 2002 attack at the Los Angeles International Airport, the 2002 DC-area sniper shootings, and the 2006 SUV attack at the University of North Carolina. Giuliani also dismissed the 2001 anthrax attacks, which were characterized by John Ashcroft as "a terrorist act," because, Giuliani said, "as far as we know, that was not done in the name of Islamic terrorism."
Giuliani attacked KSM's civilian trial after lauding Moussaoui's. On the November 13, 2009, edition of Fox News' Your World, Giuliani criticized the Obama administration's decision to try Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (KSM) in the U.S. criminal justice system in New York City as a "terrible, terrible mistake" because KSM "should be prosecuted in a military tribunal." But in 2006, Giuliani reportedly praised the federal trial of Zacarias Moussaoui -- who was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for his role in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks -- of which he said: "It does demonstrate that we can give people a fair trial, that we are exactly what we say we are. We are a nation of law."
Giuliani falsely claimed Obama never said "war" in his State of the Union. In a January 28 Fox & Friends appearance, Giuliani falsely claimed that President Obama "didn't mention the word 'war' " in his State of the Union address. In fact, Obama made at least seven mentions of the word "war," including calling for the U.S. military to "have the resources they need in war," adding that "we all have a responsibility to support them when they come home."
Giuliani's performance before, during, and after the 9-11 attacks was criticized
Giuliani reportedly placed emergency command center in WTC despite warnings it was "number one" terrorist target. Giuliani has received criticism for selecting 7 World Trade Center -- which collapsed during the 9-11 attacks -- as the site of his emergency command center. In their book, Grand Illusion: The Untold Story of Rudy Giuliani and 9/11 (HarperCollins, August 2006), Village Voice senior editor Wayne Barrett and co-author Dan Collins wrote that the site was chosen after Giuliani "overruled" warnings from former police commissioner Howard Safir and NYPD chief operating officer Lou Anemone not to locate it there, "[r]ejecting an already secure, technologically advanced city facility across the Brooklyn Bridge" because Giuliani "insisted on a command center within walking distance of City Hall." In an August 7, 2007, Village Voice article, Barrett reported that Anemone "had done a detailed vulnerability study of the city for Giuliani, pinpointing terrorist targets" and that Anemone says that "[i]n terms of targets, the WTC was number one."
Giuliani failed to ensure New York police and fire departments had interoperable radios. New York City's firefighters have been critical of Giuliani for what they see as his failure to ensure that the New York police and fire departments had interoperable radios, with Harold A. Schaitberger, general president of the International Association of Fire Fighters [IAFF], reportedly saying of Giuliani: "The whole issue of the radios is unforgivable. ... Everyone knew they needed a better system, and he didn't get it done." At the time of the attacks, the New York fire department was using outdated VHF radios that were incompatible with the police department's UHF radios. In failing to improve the radio system, Giuliani reportedly ignored warnings that followed the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and a 1995 sarin-gas drill conducted by New York City officials that the lack of interoperable radios was a problem.
Giuliani reportedly "drew outrage" from first responders by falsely claiming he "was at Ground Zero as often" as "most of the workers." The New York Daily News reported on August 10, 2007, that Giuliani "drew outrage and indignation from Sept. 11 first-responders yesterday by saying he spent as much time -- or more -- exposed to the site's dangers as workers who dug through the debris for the missing and the dead." According to the Daily News, Giuliani stated: "I was at Ground Zero as often, if not more, than most of the workers. I was there working with them. I was exposed to exactly the same things they were exposed to. So in that sense, I'm one of them" On August 17, 2007, The New York Times reported that "for the period of Sept. 17 to Dec. 16, 2001," Giuliani spent "a total of 29 hours" at the WTC ruins "often for short periods or to visit locations adjacent to the rubble." The Times added that "[i]n that same period, many rescue and recovery workers put in daily 12-hour shifts."
Giuliani-backed Homeland Security nominee Kerik pled guilty to eight felonies, sentenced to four years in prison. On December 3, 2004, President Bush nominated Bernard Kerik to head the Department of Homeland Security, reportedly after Giuliani had repeatedly made a "personal pitch to the White House" on Kerik's behalf. Giuliani had appointed Kerik New York City Police Commissioner in 2000 -- even after Giuliani was reportedly briefed on Kerik's ties to what the Times described as a company "suspected of links to organized crime" -- and the two were reportedly "literally inseparable on 9/11 and in the months that followed."
On December 10, 2004, Kerik withdrew his nomination. Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson subsequently began investigating Kerik for corruption, resulting in Kerik's 2007 indictment on 16 counts. In 2009, Kerik pleaded guilty to eight felonies, including two counts of tax fraud, one count of making a false statement on a loan application, and five counts of making false statements to the government. The last charges "stemmed from statements Mr. Kerik made to the White House during the vetting process after the Bush administration nominated him to lead the Department of Homeland Security." In 2010, Kerik was sentenced to four years in prison.