|Man Without Qualities|
Friday, May 24, 2002
Earlier, a design error in the first Death Blog had allowed the Rebels to cruise its mesial groove and propel a destructive Harvard Crimson press release deep into its bowels –destroying it as it erupted with a colossal explosion of intellectual dishonesty!
This Episode opens in Emperor Adragna’s throne room in the new, deadlier Quasi Death Blog he has ordered constructed high above MWQ, an insignificant satellite of the planet Insta which is inhabited by Musils – dwarfed creatures so backward and incapable of fact checking that they still believe the paved-over, super-urban capital of the Galaxy is the planet Trantor. The Emperor, in reality a Dem Lord in tune with the Liberal Side of the Force that pervades the Blogoshere, has drawn the rebels into combat this time with a “teaser post” which he has deliberately dropped into the hands of Bothan spies.
The rebel situation is desperate!
The Emperor, Barlow, and a horrified Luke watch the aerial battle fireworks out the window and on the viewscreens. Another Rebel ship explodes against the protective shield.
EMPEROR: As you can see, my young apprentice, your friends have failed. Now witness the firepower of this fully armed and operational Quasi-Blog! (into comlink) Fire at will, Commander. Activate the super-FISA-death post!
Luke, in shock, looks out across the surface of the Death Blog to the Rebel fleet beyond.
COMMANDER’S VOICE FROM COMLINK: We are receiving the end of a Reuters’ transmission from the lunar surface, your Liberalness!
EMPEROR: Put it on audio, Commander.
END OF REUTERS' TRANSMISSION FROM COMLINK:
According to the letter, the Minneapolis field office felt the case should have been treated more seriously by headquarters, and there was a last-minute effort to circumvent FBI headquarters and go to the CIA to get approval for the warrant…..
In early October Mueller told reporters the FBI had turned down a request made by its agents in Minneapolis for a warrant under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to review Moussaoui's computer hard drive.
"The request ... was looked at by lawyers at the FBI. And the determination was made that there was insufficient probable cause at that time," Mueller told a news conference at the time, explaining why the request had been denied.
Stunned, the Emperor lapses into a days-long coma, allowing Luke to escape the second Death Blog, which subsequently implodes of its own weight.
Update: The Washington Post has a further report of how FISA paralysed the FBI:
FBI attorneys in Washington determined there was not enough evidence to ask a judge for warrants to search Moussaoui's computer under routine criminal procedures or a special law aimed at terrorists. Officials have said there was no evidence of a crime and no solid connections between Moussaoui and any designated terrorist group. ....
In late August, CIA officials learned from "FBI agents in the field" that they hoped to obtain a warrant under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which would have allowed the government to search Moussaoui's laptop computer without notifying him, one government official said. He could not confirm that this was the contact that brought the admonishment.
"The argument is that there was already probable cause and headquarters didn't move aggressively enough," one source said. "If you had the analysis from Phoenix, that would have made the case even better."
Thursday, May 23, 2002
Mr. Adragna is "standing firm," as in Scene 4.
In the mean time, for people who like to do their homework in advance, here's a little something to chew on regarding the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978, which Congress had to revise in the USA-Patriot Act late last year, specifically because FISA hindered intelligence gathering on Al Qaeda (scroll to page 33 or do an internal pdf search for "FISA"):
"Recognizing that a need would continue for related efforts by law enforcement agencies, the [Bush] Administration also pressed for passage of legislation to enhance their authority to acquire information on terrorist activities by monitoring various forms of communications in the United States and to detain non-U.S. persons suspected of terrorist ties."
" ...the Administration sought authority to make available to intelligence agencies foreign intelligence information derived from grand jury disclosures and criminal investigations. This provision generated significant controversy based on concerns that such transfers would encompass extensive and sensitive personal information obtained by law enforcement agencies being made widely available to
intelligence agencies. Some expressed concern about potential abuses, noting that such information could be related to “entirely lawful activities, business transactions, political relationships, or personal opinions."
"The resultant statute, the USA-Patriot Act (P.L. 107-56), eased restrictions on law enforcement agencies established in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978. FISA was modified to permit exploitation of changing information technologies–roving surveillance, pen registers, and trap and trace authorities. Furthermore, it permits the transfer of foreign intelligence information obtained from law enforcement sources to intelligence agencies with such transfers of information conducted in accordance with regulations established by the Attorney General in consultation with the DCI (and with exceptions if the Attorney General determines that disclosure would jeopardize an ongoing law enforcement investigation or impair other significant law enforcement interests)."
The same alert reader who provided the above link also observes that for the real down and dirty on FISA, there's this interview with Herbert Romerstein (author of The Venona Secrets) to be enjoyed:
Romerstein: ....Church put in motion a whole series of concepts, that you had to restrict your intelligence services, both your foreign intelligence service, the CIA, and your domestic security, the FBI, because they are the real enemy. They are "rogue elephants," they want to do terrible things to U.S. persons, and you’ve got to stop them. ....
In 1979 the Congress passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act [FISA]. This provided that the FBI had to get a warrant to wiretap somebody they knew to be a foreign intelligence agent or an agent of a "foreign power," which meant not only foreign governments but foreign entities that operated in the United States in ways that were detrimental to us.
That was the first hurdle put in the way of the intelligence services. As a result, the FBI now has to go to a court and ask for a warrant to do the wiretap. And they have to show that the person that they would like to wiretap is engaged in activities of a foreign power, such as terrorism and the like.
The liberal Democrats decided that this was not a big enough hurdle for the FBI to overcome, so they put up another obstacle to gathering intelligence through wire taps. One of the issues was, "What do you do with Mr. X, who has not engaged in spying in the past or has not engaged in terrorism, but is a member of an organization which has traditionally engaged in espionage or terrorism?"
The security-minded types felt this individual should be wiretapped also. But the liberal Democrats wanted a provision in the bill that said that you can wiretap only leaders of foreign powers that engage in espionage or terrorism activity, but not the rank and file.
In other words, under the law that passed, the FBI could wiretap bin Laden—if he had been in the United States—but not the guys who took over the airline. They would be considered "rank-and-filers."
[then congressman] Ashbrook had put in an amendment to cover rank-and-file members of foreign powers or foreign entities, but the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Eddie Boland [D.-Mass.], came over to us and said, "John, we’re giving you your amendment. We’re not going to fight it, but just add it to the bill." I said, "John, we won." But John said, "No, we lost, because if we voted on it and got a big enough vote, the House would have to fight for the provision in a Senate-House conference on the bill. But since we didn’t vote on it, they are going to throw it away in conference." And they did.
And so, in the law that eventually passed the Congress, the FBI was unable to wiretap a member of a foreign power engaged in hostile intelligence or terrorism, rank-and-file members of the Soviet controlled Communist Party, for example. ....
HE: According to that concept, what if a Sudanese dissident walks across our Mexican border?
Romerstein: As soon as he crosses the Rio Grande, he becomes a "U.S. person," with all the rights and privileges of a U.S. citizen. Therefore, why should that nice person be wiretapped just because he’s a member of an organization that has blown up American facilities abroad? Why should you expect that he might do something like that here and go get a warrant for wiretapping? You can’t wiretap him without a warrant. You have to convince the court that in fact this is an appropriate person to wiretap. You need probable cause.
HE: In other words, an Arab terrorist who has legal, or even illegal, immigration status in the United States, but who was not actually involved in the commission of a crime before flying an airplane into the World Trade Center, would not, under the law, be liable to a wiretap?
Romerstein: Yes, unless you had an informant who said this man says he’s going to commit an act of terrorism. Then you have probable cause, but not under the basis of membership in the group, but on the basis that he intends to commit the act.
HE: Let’s be even more precise. If the FBI knew this terrorist was a member of Osama bin Laden’s group, Al Qaeda, and went to the FISA judge and said we know he’s a member, though not a leader, of Al Qaeda, the judge, if he actually followed the law, would say, "That’s not enough, I won’t give you the warrant."
Romerstein: Not only wouldn’t the judge give the warrant, but the Justice Department wouldn’t even ask for the warrant. Unless the FBI comes in with massive evidence in the first place, they know they will be turned down. And this law, so far as I know, has not been revised in the area we’re discussing.
Mr. Adragna says that FISA is key to making his points. I can hardly wait to see what he has to say!
Fareed Zakaria crafts a thoughtful article on the need for - and peril of - a domestic counterpart to the CIA. He addresses the essential balance of obtaining effective intelligence while safeguarding civil rights. Such a balance can be struck, but tragically has not yet been accomplished.
Mr. Zakaria's observations highlight why the opportunistic grandstanding of Senator Leahy and other liberal Congressional Democrats has been so counterproductive.
UPDATE: R. James Woolsey, a head of the CIA in the Clinton Administration, has some very interesting things to say about how the intelligence services might be given the tools they need.
FURTHER UPDATE: Oh my God - how could I have done this? Mr. Woolsey isn't only a head of the CIA in the Clinton Administration! And he is now is a partner at Shea & Gardner in Washington, D.C. How could I have made such dreadful fact checking errors! What will Mr. Adragna shreik about this? Can seek absolution from Jim Jeffords?
Wednesday, May 22, 2002
Caught misreading my original three-sentence post on the recent death of Professor Gould and the articles to which it linked, Mr. Adragna returns to embarrass himself further.
Professor Gould was a professor of geology, as I originally said. Mr. Adragna wrote that I had got Professor Gould's "field of study" wrong. But I did not purport to describe a "field of study" - I linked to Associated Press articles for that. In his current post, Mr. Adragna says that "a full review of Gould's bio would show that he was not only a professor of geology, and was more widely regarded as a paelontologist [sic] and professor of zoology." But I did not say Professor Gould was "only" anything. Further, he was not only a paleontologist and professor of zoology and geology, so Mr. Adragna fails his own revised and re-tortured standards. Professor Gould held the position "professor of geology" for most of his Harvard career, as "a full review of Gould's bio" which I attached to my post makes clear. In short, Mr. Adragna got it all wrong and continues to get himself in deeper.
The significance of the rant regarding Professor Gould in Mr. Adragna's original post was as Mr. Adragna's pretext for failing to address my analysis in my totally unrelated answer to Ted Barlow. Mr. Adragna has still not provided any coherent statement on that part - so it seems he continues to abide by his pretext. Mr. Adragna should stop hiding behind Professor Gould's snails.
I will leave the reader to decide for herself the merits of Mr. Adragna's approach and reasoning. But I will not address matters relating to Professor Gould in this context again. It was inappropriate for Mr. Adragna to employ Professor Gould's memory the way he did - and it remains inappropriate. And, while it is a small matter, Mr. Adragna should really learn how to spell "paleontologist" (or "palaeontologist") if he's going to write about Professor Gould. The word is spelled phonetically - so Mr. Adragna may want to check his pronunciation, too.
Tuesday, May 21, 2002
According to the Harvard Gazette, Stephen Jay Gould "became assistant professor of geology and assistant curator of invertebrate paleontology at Harvard in 1967. He was promoted to associate professor of geology and associate curator of invertebrate paleontology in 1971 and to professor of geology and curator of invertebrate paleontology in 1973. In 1982, he was named the Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology."
As his Stanford Presidential Lectures and Symposia capsule biography described Professor Gould:
"He completed his undergraduate education with a degree in geology from Antioch College in 1963 and returned to New York to earn a Ph.D. in paleontology from Columbia University in 1967. He has been Professor of Geology and Zoology at Harvard University, currently as the Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology and Professor of Geology at Harvard University, Curator of Invertebrate Paleontology in the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology, and adjunct member of the Department of the History of Science. He has established a reputation as one of Harvard's most visible and engaging instructors, offering courses in paleontology, biology, geology, and the history of science."
Yes, Professor Gould was "a Harvard professor of geology" - as stated here below, and as both the Harvard Gazette and his Stanford University capsule biography also state. But of course that description describes his academic position not his field of study. Professor Gould's field of study was no more limited to geology than it was to paleontology or biology or the history of science or snails or baseball. Surely no thoughtful person could confuse academic position with field of study. I do suppose there are people who would try to obscure their confusion by suggesting that they know what Professor Gould's field of study was - but ineffectively seek to avoid exposing their narrowmindedness by not actually stating what they think that field of study was. Imagine what a person subject to such confusion would do with an actual complex matter.
I'll deal with the rest of this later.
Further Update: Stephen's Snails
Mr. Adragna conflated his assault on my post about Professor Gould with a larger assault on my response to Ted Barlow. I have separately posted the above response to the portion of Mr. Adragna's efforts respecting Professor Gould - an effort in which Mr. Adragna accomplishes the acrobatic feat of getting basic facts of Professor Gould's life wrong while simultaneously failing to state what he thought those facts were and castigating my correct version of them. I had not planned to explain why my post was separate. However, on reflection there appears to be no good reason not to provide that explanation. Simply put, I consider it to be indecent, almost obscene, for Mr. Adragna to have casually interlineated his dismissive comments regarding the death of a leading scientist between two intemperate rants (Mr. Adragna follows his comments regarding Professor Gould with "p.s.: Don't even get me started on how Mr. Reagan's response to terrorism -- ). For that reason, I have separated my response.
Vermont Senator James Jeffords has been catching a lot of flak recently for his recent New York Times Magazine interview
Interviewer: Some on the right have likened you to Judas. Is there a Biblical figure that you identify with?
Interviewer: You're going to catch hell for that one.
Jeffords: I see myself as a very frank, open person who lets everybody know where they are and works for compromise. I'm a mediator, and my talents have been in pulling together people to get things enacted. There are two types of political power -- power that you see, and power that you don't see. The power that you see mostly comes from party leaders who help set agendas and engage in rhetorical political battles. The power the public usually doesn't see comes from those who work behind the scenes to reach compromise and move good, sound public policy forward. I have always worked to be the quiet, behind-the-scenes worker.
Now, the Man Without Qualities views all the recent criticism of Mr. Jeffords as just picking. It is true that historically not many people seem to have viewed Jesus as the quiet, Senate cloakroom wheelerdealer type as Mr. Jeffords does. The traditional view of Jesus has been rather more forthcoming – more “evangelical,” if you will. But that is his right. And, yes, one does not usually think of a person who actually “identifies” with Jesus - as opposed to traditional Christians, who usually describe themselves as “inspired” by Jesus or aspire to be like Jesus to the extent the flesh will allow – as likely to be a United States Senator. Instead we tend to picture such a person as more likely having a rather high dosage regimen that should, perhaps, nevertheless be just a little bit higher than it is.
But these views are all so misleading because they turn on Jesus being God, and only Christians think that Jesus is God. So Mr. Jeffords’ critics are missing the subtle signs that the Senator – as nominally a Congregationalist and Christian as he was previously nominally a Republican - is once again signaling that he is willing to bolt for Independence, this time bolting from Christianity, if the old affiliations don’t come around to his demands.
It is not hard to imagine the frustration on Mr. Jeffords part that the church of his family has no more delivered on what he must see as its long litany of hollow promises than did the Republican Party. If his statements concerning his former Party are a good indication, this Green Mountain Boy likely believes that for two millennia Christianity has been making a lot of noise about things like feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, caring for the sick and prisoners and burying the dead. But aside from the church graveyards, the outspoken Vermonter probably views the traditional church’s performance as pathetic and increasingly out of touch. One can easily imagine Mr. Jeffords, spurred on by not more than three Vermont apple martinis, demanding: “Where is the funding? Where is the commitment? Where is the divine intercession? It’s time for Christianity to put or shut up. Or maybe it’s time to give Jesus a demotion!”
Yes, the quiet, back-room dealing Jesus that Senator Jeffords is identifying with in his New York Times Magazine interview does not seem to be God – a view of the so-called “Second Person of the Holy Trinity” that Mr. Jeffords surely regards as “arrogant” and “overly conservative.” Senator Jeffords is reported to be particularly annoyed that almost 80 percent of evangelical Christians – who obsess on what the Senator must think of as the ultra-conservative position that Jesus is God – voted for George W. Bush. Of course, always the independent eclectic, judging by the New York Times interview Senator Jeffords does not seem to view “forgiving injuries done to us” as central to his understand of politics, religion or personal relationships, whatever focus he may have on Christianity’s inability to deliver on its other “Acts of Mercy.”
While still a Republican, Mr. Jeffords had already quietly signaled his disapproval of the divine status of Jesus by omitting any mention of Jesus in messages delivered on Christmas Day itself: “We are thankful for the roofs over our heads, for the food on our tables, for the health and happiness of our families and friends,” Jeffords said. “We are thankful for living in a land of peace and prosperity, and for living in a nation that protects our basic rights and freedoms.”
But Mr. Jeffords’ rethinking of the divine status of Jesus may have really picked up momentum when he and then Senators. Al Gore and Timothy Wirth started to work with the National Religious Partnership for the Environment (NRPE). One article on the NRPE says, in part:
“In a March 26 story by John Fialka, the Wall Street Journal reported that churches in 21 states were mounting an all-out attack against the Bush administration's proposal to open the Arctic Natural Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration. This campaign is coordinated by the National Religious Partnership for the Environment.” …
“[T]he NRPE is the outgrowth of extreme ecologists who believe the Bible is obsolete, that the earth – gaia – is the giver of life, that human beings are but individual cells in the gaia organism, and that the United Nations is the evolving ‘brain’ of gaia.”
“Paul Gorman, director of the NRPE, was director of the Temple of Understanding, housed at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York. He organized a ‘Joint Appeal,’ consisting of 22 scientists and 100 religious leaders that became the NRPE. Mikhail Gorbachev hosted a conference for the group in Moscow, where James Lovelock, author of ‘The Ages of Gaia,’ was the featured speaker. Dr. Robert Muller, 30-year deputy secretary general of the U.N., and Thomas Berry, served on the Temple's board of directors.”
“Writing for World Goodwill, in Oct. 1989, Robert Muller said: ‘We are part and parcel of a living planetary organism. Each of us is a cell, a perceptive nervous unit of the Earth. You, as cosmic and earth cells, are part of a vast biological and evolutionary phenomenon ... We have now a world brain which determines what can be dangerous or mortal for the planet: the United Nations and its agencies, and innumberable [sic] groups and networks around the world, are part of the brain.”
“Muller readily admits that his beliefs are based largely on the writings of Alice Baily, who founded the Lucifer Publishing Company, and whose works are said to be transmitted by an ‘ascended master,’ called Djwhal Khul.”
“Thomas Berry's belief system, called "Cosmolatry," is even more bizarre. In his ‘Dream of the Earth,’ he says: ‘This re-enchantment with the earth as a living reality is the condition for our rescue of the earth from the impending destruction that we are imposing upon it. To carry this out effectively, we must now, in a sense, reinvent the human as species within the community of life species. Our sense of reality and of value must consciously shift from an anthropocentric to a biocentric norm of reference.
“Berry compares man's belief that God created the earth to the ancient belief that the sun revolved around the earth. He says both beliefs are wrong, and the truth is only now being discovered through what he calls ‘enlightenment.’" …
“Al Gore delivered a sermon at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, [on a day] which is reported in Cathedral literature this way:”
“I saw children lying in the laps of large dogs and a boy bringing his stuffed animals to be blessed. I saw the not-yet famous elephant and camel march up the aisle; a lawyer who scoops the poop and enjoys being clown-for-a-day; a priest who finds himself covered with wriggling ferrets; a man and a woman who meet when their leashes become enmeshed; a volunteer gardener marching to the altar with a bowl full of compost and worms; a sermon by Al Gore, in which he called on the congregants to recognize that 'God is not separate from the Earth.'"
Doesn't that sound nice?
Monday, May 20, 2002
Stephen Jay Gould, the Harvard professor of geology who wrote popular books and got involved in all kinds of political things died today.
According to the Associated Press, "Much of Gould's work focused on the land snails of the West Indies, which he occasionally used to support a point in his articles for general readers."
I never noticed that.
Sunday, May 19, 2002
UPDATE: OpinionJournal features more on the Clinton administrations' contibutions to the nation's intelligence and military deficiencies. OpinionJournal points out that President Clinton is not responsible for the Sepotember 11 attacks. But neither does a review of the facts and history suggest that the Clinton administrations did the right things that could have been done or did not seriously contribute the general federal intelligence decrepitude that allowed the terrorists to succeed.
Ted Barlow writes on his blog that he is upset about my comments regarding the recent statements of some prominent Democrats about September 11. He asks for a response, and I am pleased to comply.
I cannot fully answer some of Mr. Barlow’s questions because some of them simply make no sense to me. For example, as evidence that liberal Democrats have supported strong and effective intelligence services, he asserts that “President Clinton more than doubled the budgets for intelligence agencies, at the same time the head of the FBI, Louis Freeh, openly worked to destroy him and his presidency.” While it makes sense to cite an increase in intelligence funding to argue that Mr. Clinton supported strong intelligence services, I cannot understand what is added by the phrase “at the same time the head of the FBI, Louis Freeh, openly worked to destroy him and his presidency.” Mr. Freeh certainly had his weak points as FBI Director, but to my knowledge no one has ever proposed a plausible reason to think Mr. Freeh acted in bad faith when he moved contrary to the Bill Clinton’s desires. Why connect Mr. Clinton's funding of anti-terrorism with Mr. Freeh's urging appointment of an independent prosecutor in one case or another? The relationship seems tenuous, at best.
Whether Mr. Barlow and like minded people like it or not, American intelligence services have been deliberately handicapped by Federal law from sharing information effectively and extensively. By way of example only, U.S. law prohibits the nation’s foreign intelligence agencies, including the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), from retaining intelligence on American citizens. [National Security Act of 1947 (50 U.S.C. 401 note)] If a terrorist followed by the CIA enters the United States, the CIA must notify the FBI. Then, the FBI and CIA may either create a joint case or the FBI may allow the CIA to continue its pursuit with its knowledge. The CIA may then retain information on U.S. citizens the terrorist encounters only as part of a joint CIA-FBI investigation. The CIA has the crucial role in the FBI investigation because the CIA is the source for the pertinent foreign intelligence. But after the case is closed (as an investigation) and turned over for prosecution, the information on American citizens must be purged from CIA files. Thereafter, the CIA has amnesia about the Americans who were involved with the terrorists. That is not effective or extensive sharing of intelligence.
The above described restrictions continue to exist as a result of liberal Democrat determination, allegedly to protect civil liberties, but actually to render the intelligence services largely ineffective. In fact, from the Church Senate hearings in the 1970’s liberal Democrats have preponderantly viewed the intelligence services – and especially the CIA - as a threat to civil liberties. One may argue whether such concern was well founded, but questioning its existence as a long-term motivating force is just silly.
The law described above impedes intelligence about US nationals, but the Clinton Administration added policies that seriously restricted intelligence about foreign nationals - such as al Qaida. It is no secret that the Clinton Administration shared the general liberal Democratic hostility toward the intelligence services. The first Clinton chief of the CIA, James Woolsey, quit in reported disgust with Mr. Clinton in 1995. Mr. Clinton appointed John Deutch to that post. Mr. Clinton instructed Mr. Deutch to work with then-Representative Robert Torricelli to suppress the CIA's Clandestine Service ability to use foreign nationals of unsavory background. This was done by Mr. Deutch implementing a policy which forbade such use of such “unsavories” without special authorization – and such authorization was made very rare. It is also reported that Deutch implemented "sensitivity seminars" to improve "tolerance" -- apparently forgetting that terrorists don't get "sensitivity training." By the end of Mr. Deutch term at the CIA in December 1996, CIA morale and the ability to collect human intelligence, "HUMINT," had withered.
It is true that the CIA got money for things besides HUMIT. A good deal of money went into satellites, for example, which are certainly necessary for modern intelligence – but very, very far from sufficient. I have seen no one explain how one uses a satellite to distinguish whether a particular terrorist plan to hijack an aircraft is a suicide mission or one in which the aircraft and people on board are to be held as hostages. That kind of determination requires “HUMIT”. I HAVE NOT HEARD HILLARY CLINTON EXPLAIN WHY THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION WAS JUSTIFIED IN IMPLEMENTING POLICIES WHICH IMPEDED THE ABILITY OF THE CIA TO GATHER INFORMATION FROM UNSAVORY PEOPLE SUCH AS MEMBERS OF AL QAIDA. Now that she’s piping up, she should be required to answer for those policies.
Through the above restrictions – and there were others - the Clinton Administration and Congressional Democrats and the liberal media actively impeded intelligence sharing. Indeed, the constant expectation on the part of the intelligence services of opportunistic hostility from the media and the Democrats was and is certainly a major reason for their depressed morale and effectiveness. In fact, The New Republic points out that the CIA actually helped demolish 1999 anti-terrorist efforts in part “out of fear that they would rekindle the agency's cold war reputation for dirty tricks.” But failure to update necessary intelligence sharing systems in the face of a steadily increasing need for such sharing also played an important role. Some indication of the effect of eight years of the passive side of Presidential and Democrat hostility to the intelligence services can be gleaned from what it is now costing to repair the mess the last Democratic administration left behind:
“The federal government is spending $155 million this year for “information and intelligence sharing,” with $722 million more requested in next year’s White House budget proposal, according to Homeland Security Office spokesman Gordon Johndroe. ‘The goals are to tear down the information stovepipes,’ Johndroe said yesterday, referring to the long-held practice of various agencies to keep data to themselves. ‘Information stays in one pipe, and now we’re going to tear down those stovepipe walls.’”
Previous efforts to pass anti-terrorist legislation have met with unremitting opposition from the liberal establishment. As The New Republic described the liberal assault on a 1999 anti-terrorism effort: “Civil liberties groups were predictably hostile. Within hours of the report's release, the ACLU called it an ‘ominous cloud.’ The Arab American Institute's James Zogby said it harked back to the ‘darkest days of the McCarthy era.' Leftist commentators accused the commission of hyping the danger of terrorism so that the FBI and CIA could justify greater surveillance powers and more money. Salon's Bruce Shapiro suggested that the NCT's warnings of domestic attack ‘are a con job, with roughly the veracity of the latest Robert Ludlum novel.’ Robert Dreyfuss wrote in Mother Jones that ‘[f]or the national security establishment, adrift with few enemies since the end of the Cold War a decade ago, the terrorist threat seems made to order.’" The New Republic – not most people’s idea of right-wing agitprop - also points out that the Clinton Administration’s own intelligence and Department or Justice appointees helped torpedo the 1999 effort. And it drops the sentence “Civil liberties groups were predictably hostile” with the clear understanding that no informed person doubts that Democrat-aligned civil rights groups were and are predictably hostile to legislation expanding intelligence authority.
The civil rights of American citizens are of utmost importance, but their protection should not be used as a pretext for handicapping the intelligence services - and that's what is and was going on in the Congressional Democratic Party and with its liberal allies. Only if the public is reassured that the Administration will not misapply intelligence-related powers can the correct balance be struck. The Clinton administration not only handicapped the intelligence services, it also exploited and distorted serious domestic tragedy for political gain – in the process creating widespread public distrust that the government (that is, the Clinton administration) can be trusted with enhanced intelligence related powers. Who could forget Hillary Clinton’s paranoid conjuring that her political foes constituted a “vast right wing conspiracy” – inflaming concern that she and her husband could not be trusted with additional power.
Many aspects of the Clinton administration contributed to the sense that their interest in anti-terrorism was distorted to serve a partisan liberal Democratic agenda. Towards the end of that Administration the FBI’s antiterrorism budget did increase. But the additional money wasn’t spent by the Clinton FBI. Given the Clinton administration’s obsession with right wing domestic terrorists, an obsession consistent with Hillary’s delusions of “vast right wing conspiracies,” serious questions as to how such money would have been spent are in order. Recall the Clinton Administration’s use of spectacular force in Waco, a use of force explained at the time with serious misrepresentations by the Attorney General. Subsequently, the administration politically exploited the hideous acts of Timothy McVeigh to suggest that “right wing extremists” were a threat to the nation even though no credible evidence has ever been produced that Mr. McVeigh was acting for any such substantial group, or that people of his ilk posed any real general threat. For a while the Clintons and the Democrats rode rather high on their gun-control hobbyhorse, and even proposed gun control legislation probably inconsistent with the better reading of the Second Amendment in the federal Bill of Rights. But such Clinton Administration concern with domestic terrorism does not extend to active extremists groups on the left – which amplifies the sense of partisan opportunism. For example, the so-called “Friends of the Earth” are domestic terrorists willing to kill and commit arson in service of maintaining their version of earth’s ecological balance. But neither the Clintons nor Al Gore made a high-profile point of damning the FOE, choosing instead to focus on their confected “right wing conspiracies,” although FOE has burned homes in the very Long Island communities supposedly represented by Senator Clinton.
The Democrats in Congress never lack for feckless pontificating, and Dianne Feinstein's recent statements are a good example of that. Senator Feinstein says she was "concerned" about terrorism. Well, there is not a single United States Senator or Representative who would not say the same thing. Senator Feinstein’s bloviating is meaningless. She says that she complained to Vice President Cheney. Good. Maybe HE could do something constructive. Prior to September 11, the CURRENT administration had actually formulated a plan to dispose of al Qaida - but it was too late. What, specifically, did Ms. Feinstein want in addition to that - other than to grandstand?
It is particularly outrageous that Senator Feinstein is the conduit for this particular piece of Democratic grandstanding, because she co-sponsored the last important piece of antiterrorist legislation Congress considered prior to September 11 – and she therefore knows that liberal Democrats killed it – as reported by The New Republic:
“For one brief moment, Congress looked like it might impose change. Using the [1999 National Commission on Terrorism] report as their template, in July 2000 Senators Jon Kyl and Dianne Feinstein attached the recommended reforms to an intelligence authorization bill. As one Senate staffer told me, ‘It could have been one of the most important overhauls of American intelligence in recent memory.’ But the Kyl-Feinstein legislation quickly ran aground thanks largely to one man: Vermont's Patrick Leahy. Warning of CIA mischief and "risks to important civil liberties we hold dear," Leahy threatened to hold up the entire intelligence authorization bill to sink the reforms; so Kyl and Feinstein untethered the proposals from the budgetary process. Then, in October, bin Laden blew a hole in the USS Cole and Kyl and Feinstein's effort gained new momentum. But this time, instead of trying to defeat the legislation outright, Leahy weakened it so much that it became essentially useless. By threatening to place a hold on the bill, he extracted countless concessions. And when the legislation finally cleared the Senate in November, it did nothing to loosen CIA recruitment guidelines or expand the FBI's wiretapping authority. ‘It was so watered down by the time we got the bill,’ says one House Republican aide, ‘it wasn't worth taking up.’ And so the legislation died.”
Senator Feinstein obviously knew and understood the dimensions of the terrorist threat. Why didn’t she have the courage to stand up to more liberal Democrats like Senator Leahy and Hillary Clinton during the prior eight years of Democratic control of the Executive? She had no problem sponsoring gun control legislation following the disaster in Oklahoma City and making a big deal out of that. Why didn’t she do anything as aggressive to take on Senator Leahy and his kind in connection with antiterrorism efforts that really matter – and why isn’t she taking them on now? The answer is probably that she is a Democrat and so can't make too many waves in this area before it really comes back to haunt her. She also could have proposed even more than did propose. She could have proposed a bill to fund a supercomputer program for intelligence sharing among agencies, for example. And did she take and maintain definite action after President Clinton shocked the world by wasting expensive missiles in a far-fetched supposed attempt to kill bin Laden that served coincidentally to distract the country from the Lewinski scandal? Or after his bizarre attack on an African medical factory?
The Executive must lead in matters of national security. For eight years the Clinton administration did not do that - and Senators Feinstein, Daschle and Clinton were just fine with that approach. The "systemic" intelligence weaknesses now being talked about by the likes of Senators Feinstein, Daschle and Clinton took years of executive neglect and hostility to develop - with the consent and assistance of Congressional Democrats and the liberal media. The current administration inherited that mess from the prior Democratic administration, and there was clearly no time prior to September 11 for such problems to be fixed. Most of those problems have not been fixed yet. The Democrats should not be permitted to pretend otherwise. Are the Democrat bad? In this matter they are. Very, very bad.