SUBJECT: Analysis - Something you need to read in detail before you vote on 11/7. Also forward to your friends who may need enlightened on these subjects.My response:Analysis: Election About Stopping The Next 9/11
By Ronald Kessler
Contrary to what many pundits would have you believe, this election is not about side shows like the meaning of Macaca or Senator John Kerry’s assessment of American soldiers’ I.Q. Instead, voters face choices about the most fundamental issue: our national security and whether we can foil a devastating attack that could kill millions of Americans and wipe out our economy.
In talking about the war on terror, the Democrats have focused on how to beef up port security and why Osama bin Laden wasn’t captured years ago at Tora Bora. But the key to stopping an attack is uncovering a plot before a nuclear device has been slipped on board a ship. Nor is bin Laden relevant to the war on terror. He has been neutralized, unable to communicate to his underlings because of fear of being killed.
The Republican administration understands that what is necessary to stop the next attack is a fragment of information that might lead to uncovering a plot. Obtaining that clue requires giving the FBI and CIA the necessary tools and funds to penetrate terrorist cells and make use of intercepted phone calls and emails.
In cutting the CIA’s budget by eighteen percent, after taking inflation into account, and reducing the number of covert officers by 25 percent, the Clinton administration provided an example of how not to uncover those clues.
Under Clinton and John M. Deutch, his director of Central Intelligence, the CIA imposed a rule that its officers needed high-level clearance before recruiting an agent with so-called human rights violations.
Yet agents who had murdered or tortured people were the ones who would know what the bad guys were up to. Deutch’s rule sent a message to CIA officers throughout the agency that it was better to sit quietly in their offices than take the kind of risks necessary to obtain intelligence on terrorist activities.
President Clinton himself had little use for intelligence. While he read the President’s Daily Brief prepared by the Agency, six months after taking office he stopped his face-to-face CIA morning briefings.
Meanwhile, under Louis Freeh, Clinton’s appointee as FBI director, the bureau became so politically correct that agents trailing suspects were not allowed to follow them into mosques. FBI agents could not even sign on to online chat rooms to develop leads on people who might be recruiting terrorists or distributing information on making explosives. The FBI had to determine first that there was a sound investigative basis before it could sign on to chat rooms that any twelve-year-old could enter.
“A crime practically had to be committed before you could investigate,” Weldon Kennedy, a former FBI deputy director, told me. “If you didn’t have that, you couldn’t open an investigation.”
Two days after 9/11, Andrew H. “Andy” Card, Jr. started to go over the day’s schedule with President Bush. Bush stopped him. The previous evening, the president had developed plans for reshaping the government’s response to terrorism.
Instead of passively waiting for the next attack, the U.S. would become the aggressor, taking on terrorists wherever they were. Instead of focusing on catching and prosecuting terrorists after they had killed innocent people, the government would switch its priorities to preventing attacks. Instead of relying on laws that created impediments to tracking down terrorists, the government would enact new laws so the FBI and other government agencies would not be handcuffed.
Bush told Card he wanted to rearrange the day’s schedule so he could implement those plans. After the usual CIA briefing at 8 a.m., Mueller and Attorney General John Ashcroft began to brief Bush.
“They talked about how the terrorists got plane tickets, got on planes, moved from one airport to another, and then attacked our citizens,” Card told me. “And the president, while he was very interested in that report, said, ‘Mr. Director, that’s building a case for prosecution. I want to know what you have to say about the terrorist threats that haven’t materialized yet and how we can prevent them.’”
With those instructions, the entire mission of the FBI changed. It became prevention oriented.
While the FBI in the previous six years had stopped forty terrorist plots before they happened, the bureau tended to look no further than the latest case when going after terrorism. In the previous bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993, the FBI had been content to catch those responsible without taking the next step to try to determine if it was part of a larger plot or led to other terrorists.
To help the FBI stop the next plot, Bush proposed the USA Patriot Act. As outlined in an Oct. 31 NewsMax article, before the Patriot Act, because of what was known as “the wall,” FBI agents working the same case could not talk to each other about the case because some were working it as a criminal case and others were working it as an intelligence case.
The same wall prevented the CIA from sharing information with the FBI. The Patriot Act broke down the wall and allowed the FBI and the CIA to connect the dots.
Two weeks after 9/11, Bush met with General Michael V. Hayden, then director of the NSA, and other NSA officials in the Oval Office.
“The president asked, ‘What tools do we need to fight the war on terror?’” said Card, who attended the meeting.
Hayden suggested changing the rules to allow NSA to target calls and to intercept emails of terrorists if one end of the communication was overseas. Thus, if bin Laden were calling the U.S. to order the detonation of a nuclear device, and the person he called began making overseas calls, NSA could listen in to those calls as well as to bin Laden’s original call.
“Bingo. As a result of the president’s question, we took a fresh look at what NSA could be doing to protect us,” Card said.
Prior to Bush’s order, the information from the calls would have been lost. Even the emergency provision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) was useless because, before listening in on a call, NSA had to obtain Justice Department authorization. By the time approval came through, the call was gone.
“The president’s action made it more likely that the NSA would intercept the communications most critical to the defense of the nation—that is, communications we believe to be affiliated with al Qaeda, one end of which is in the U.S.,” Hayden told me for a Sept. 25 NewsMax article after he became CIA director.
Hayden noted that under the FISA statute, “NSA cannot put someone on coverage and go ahead and play for 72 hours while it gets a note saying it was okay.”
In August 2005, Bush created the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC). Despite the media’s claim that the FBI and CIA don’t talk to each other, at the NCTC, analysts from the FBI and CIA sit side by side, sifting clues and parceling out leads 24 hours a day.
These changes and others have produced solid results. Since 9/11, the CIA and FBI, often with the help of foreign partners, have rolled up some 5,000 terrorists. Dozens of plots have, in fact, been stopped. Others never materialized because the potential perpetrators had already been locked up or booted out of the country. The FBI now has 10,000 terrorism cases under investigation.
Those results have been achieved despite disclosures by the New York Times and other papers of secret operational capabilities, disclosures that are “killing us,” in the words of one high level FBI counterterrorism agent.
“The most important thing has been an overall strengthening of the intelligence community,” Fran Townsend, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, told me. “It’s intelligence reform, it’s greater resources in human intelligence, it’s the transformation of the FBI, it’s the Patriot Act, and the technical tools like the NSA terrorism surveillance program and the financial program. The sum of these changes is greater than the parts.”
If the Democrats win control of Congress and their rhetoric and votes are to be believed, they would adopt the Clinton administration’s spineless approach to fighting terrorism.
They would gut the USA Patriot Act.
They would stop interception of calls from al Qaeda to and from the U.S.
They would end tracking of terrorists’ financial transfers.
They would bestow legal rights on al Qaeda terrorists who are being interrogated about planned plots rights similar to those enjoyed by American citizens.
Finally, they would cut off funds to support the war effort in Iraq, handing al Qaeda a win in what the terrorists themselves have described as a crucial battleground in their effort to defeat America and impose their vision of radical Islam on the world.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had it right when he recalled how wrong appeasement was when dealing with Nazi Germany: Ultimately, the U.S. lost 300,000 lives in World War II. The total killed worldwide was 70 million. War expenditures were 38 percent of America’s GDP per year.
Those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it. Yet today, because terrorists are trying to obtain weapons of mass destruction, the stakes are far higher than in World War II.
“The race that we’re in right now is to prevent an attack with any kind of WMD,” Joe Billy, Jr., the FBI’s chief of counterterrorism, told me. “The implosion of a nuclear device or chemical-biological weapon of some type is really what we live to try to prevent.”
Because of George Bush’s vision and resolve in the face of vicious personal assaults, we have not been attacked since 9/11.
The question is whether voters will demonstrate the same vision by electing members of Congress who recognize the danger and will keep intact the tools needed by the FBI and CIA to insure our survival.
SUBJECT: RE: Analysis - Something you need to read in detail before you vote on 11/7. Also forward to your friends who may need enlightened on these subjects.
Don't talk to me about 'enlightenment' and don't say you didn't ask for the following.
This article you sent was written by Ronald Kessler of the New York Times, which for the first time in memory is endorsing NO Republican U.S. congressional candidates this year. For that story, go here:
Also, in the November 20, 2006 Issue of The American Conservative, there is an editorial entitled "GOP Must Go", which takes a similar point of view. To see that editorial, go here:
If the notion that the midterms we're all voting in come Tuesday are about preventing terrorist enemies from acquiring a nuclear device, then why exactly did the Bush White House just publish the plans for making a nuclear bomb on a public government web site and no one in the administration caught it? The reason why: Two Republican congressman (Mike Pence & Peter Hoekstra) and George Bush pressured the intelligence community to publish the information in a hurry, even though the intelligence community had concerns the info was too sensitive. Read more on this in the highly conservative publication The Weekly Standard:
Under political pressure from Republicans the material was posted and many documents captured in Iraq were put on the web to help make the case that there was justification for Bush's war. In those documents were detailed plans to build nuclear weapons from before 1991 when Saddam was considered no threat.
Two days ago the White House finally shut down the web site after the New York Times (again, the paper that employs Ronald Kessler, who penned the analysis in the email I'm replying to) asked about complaints from weapons experts that Bush was giving nuclear weapons plans to the terrorists. The weapons experts were shocked by the public disclosures. Bush talks about fighting a war on terrorism yet he gives terrorists the most detailed a-bomb plans that have ever been published.
How could they put nuclear plans on the Internet without knowing that they were there? The Republicans are putting the safety of the world at risk for pure political purposes. More on that from the Lawrence Journal-World:
Issues of John Kerry's gaffe and George Allen's blatant racism (both past and present) aside, I don't know that I believe many people are planning on voting solely towards preventing another 9/11 - I think what is happening is that the consistent failures and hand-over-fist ineptitude within the Bush administration and the GOP majority in both houses are finally coming back to bite them in their collective butts. At best, this kind of fearmongering has lost its luster and fewer people are buying it. It has come back down to assigning blame to Clinton, and I call BS on that one. Leaving aside the wretched truth that the far right is once again using September 11 to score political points, the facts regarding the still-lingering effort to blame the Clinton administration for the attacks must be brought to the fore.
Roger Cressy, National Security Council senior director for counterterrorism in the period 1999-2001, responded to these allegations in an article for the Washington Times in 2003. "Mr. Clinton approved every request made of him by the CIA and the U.S. military involving using force against bin Laden and al-Qaeda," wrote Cressy. "As President Bush well knows, bin Laden was and remains very good at staying hidden. The current administration faces many of the same challenges. Confusing the American people with misinformation and distortions will not generate the support we need to come together as a nation and defeat our terrorist enemies." According to the 9/11 Commission Report (pg. 199), then-CIA Director George Tenet had the authority from President Clinton to kill Bin Laden.
Measures taken by the Clinton administration to thwart international terrorism and bin Laden's network were historic, unprecedented and, sadly, not followed up on. Consider the steps offered by Clinton's 1996 omnibus anti-terror legislation, the pricetag for which stood at $1.097 billion. The following is a partial list of the initiatives offered by the Clinton anti-terrorism bill:
* Screen Checked Baggage: $91.1 million
* Screen Carry-On Baggage: $37.8 million
* Passenger Profiling: $10 million
* Screener Training: $5.3 million
* Screen Passengers (portals) and Document Scanners: $1 million
* Deploying Existing Technology to Inspect International Air Cargo: $31.4 million
* Provide Additional Air/Counterterrorism Security: $26.6 million
* Explosives Detection Training: $1.8 million
* Augment FAA Security Research: $20 million
* Customs Service: Explosives and Radiation Detection Equipment at Ports: $2.2 million
* Anti-Terrorism Assistance to Foreign Governments: $2 million
* Capacity to Collect and Assemble Explosives Data: $2.1 million
* Improve Domestic Intelligence: $38.9 million
* Critical Incident Response Teams for Post-Blast Deployment: $7.2 million
* Additional Security for Federal Facilities: $6.7 million
* Firefighter/Emergency Services Financial Assistance: $2.7 million
* Public Building and Museum Security: $7.3 million
* Improve Technology to Prevent Nuclear Smuggling: $8 million
* Critical Incident Response Facility: $2 million
* Counter-Terrorism Fund: $35 million
* Explosives Intelligence and Support Systems: $14.2 million
* Office of Emergency Preparedness: $5.8 million
The Clinton administration poured more than a billion dollars into counterterrorism activities across the entire spectrum of the intelligence community, into the protection of critical infrastructure, into massive federal stockpiling of antidotes and vaccines to prepare for a possible bioterror attack, into a reorganization of the intelligence community itself. Within the National Security Council, "threat meetings" were held three times a week to assess looming conspiracies. His National Security Advisor, Sandy Berger, prepared a voluminous dossier on al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, actively tracking them across the planet. Clinton raised the issue of terrorism in virtually every important speech he gave in the last three years of his tenure.
Clinton's dire public warnings about the threat posed by terrorism, and the actions taken to thwart it, went completely unreported by the media, which was far more concerned with stained dresses and baseless Drudge Report rumors. When the administration did act militarily against bin Laden and his terrorist network, the actions were dismissed by partisans within the media and Congress as scandalous "wag the dog" tactics. The news networks actually broadcast clips of the movie "Wag the Dog" while reporting on his warnings, to accentuate the idea that everything the administration said was contrived fakery.
In Congress, Clinton was thwarted by the reactionary conservative majority in virtually every attempt he made to pass legislation that would attack al-Qaeda and terrorism. His 1996 omnibus terror bill, which included many of the anti-terror measures we now take for granted after September 11, was withered almost to the point of uselessness by attacks from the right; Senators Jesse Helms and Trent Lott were openly dismissive of the threats Clinton spoke of.
Specifically, Clinton wanted to attack the financial underpinnings of the al-Qaeda network by banning American companies and individuals from dealing with foreign banks and financial institutions that al-Qaeda was using for its money-laundering operations. Texas Senator Phil Gramm, chairman of the Banking Committee, gutted the portions of Clinton's bill dealing with this matter, calling them "totalitarian."
In fact, Gramm was compelled to kill the bill because his most devoted patrons, the Enron Corporation and its criminal executives in Houston, were using those same terrorist financial networks to launder their own dirty money and rip off the Enron stockholders. It should also be noted that Gramm's wife, Wendy, sat on the Enron Board of Directors. Source: (http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/083006J.shtml) - written by William Rivers Pitt, another NY Times writer.
Sorry, but this election is about a LOT more than the usual trickery that the GOP has used to create this kind of fearmongering for votes, a LOT more. Whether or not the Democrats take over both houses or not, the gap is closing for the Republicans and it's because they've failed at every turn of the road. If we're going to talk about what this election is really about, then let's talk about it. Off the top of my head, I offer: Abu Ghraib, Gitmo, raging incompetence, corruption, Katrina/FEMA, Enron, Halliburton, global warming, record oil company profits, Diebold, Terri Schiavo, stem cell research, shrunken pensions, habeas corpus, bin Laden is STILL free, GOP leadership scandals left & right, drug plan (?), NSA wiretaps, sacrificed soldiers, wasted billions, North Korea, Iran, Syria, the Swift boat hit squads, and the $11 million per hour that the Iraq nightmare is costing. That's what I'm getting from the people I speak with and read up on.
Bush & the GOP's response to these charges? "We have to protect the sanctity of marriage as between a man and a woman", as if a 50% success rate is something to be sanctimonious about. That's laughable at worst, a crap shot at best. Compared to working on the real issues, wasting one atom of energy on 'gay marriage' is not only pathetic - it's shameful. Comparatively speaking we could do a lot worse than a Democratic Majority, we could leave it in the disastrous hands of the GOP.
I will state again for the record that I am NOT a Democrat, but I would be if they had any balls.