Former FBI agent Ali Soufan testified from behind a wooden panel at today’s Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing on torture. To protect the former al-Qaeda interrogator’s identity, news photographers were asked not to photograph his face because of the danger of retaliation he faces.
And yet, Soufan was very publicly running all around the Middle East for Rudy Giuliani’s “security” consulting business, as I discovered in 2007 while digging into the then-GOP presidential candidate’s secret client list.
As I first reported, Giuliani — while running for president — was secretly on the payroll of Qatar, an Islamic monarchy that played an indirect role in the 9/11 attacks by shielding mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed from FBI arrest in 1996. Soufan worked for Giuliani, and was the key contact arranging the ex-New York Mayor’s lucrative contract with the resource-rich Persian Gulf emirate.
While working for Giuliani, Soufan made frequent public speeches in Qatar’s capital, Doha, and other Middle Eastern countries, I learned. Everyone seemed to know about the luxury Doha hotel where Soufan and Giuliani had their offices. I asked my then-WSJ colleague Chip Cummins of the Journal’s Dubai bureau to check it out. Cummins flew to Doha, strolled into the hotel, and asked the security guard where he could find Ali Soufan. He was promptly directed to Soufan’s 10th floor office. Read the story here.
After we reported all this in the Journal, I got a call from Pasquale D’Amuro, a former top FBI counter-terrorism official and partner of Giuliani. He chewed me out for putting Soufan’s life in danger.
I told him: “If there’s a security problem – it seems to me it’s on your end. Why is it that a complete stranger can walk into the Four Seasons and find out within seconds where Soufan works?”
I don’t mean to be flippant. Really. It was right for Soufan to testify behind the wooden screen today; no point in distributing his image on the Web for anyone to Google. It just didn’t occur to me that his office location in Doha was much of a secret, since everyone knew already. If anything, the episode shows what a farce Giuliani’s “security” business was.
Perhaps Soufan came to the same conclusion. He’s no longer with Giuliani. He now heads his own shop, Soufan Group LLC.