EMAIL PAGE THREE
COLUMN SIXTY-SIX, DECEMBER 1, 2001
(Copyright © 2001 Al Aronowitz)
BUSH IGNORED WARNING
FW: Commission warned Bush
Date: Fri, 14 Sep 2001 21:48:31 -0700
From: "VENIRE" <VENIRE@znet.com>
warned Bush But White House passed on recommendations by a bipartisan, Defense
Department-ordered commission on domestic terrorism.
- - - - - - - - - - -
12, 2001 | WASHINGTON -- They went to great pains not to sound as though they
were telling the president "We told you so."
on Wednesday, two former senators, the bipartisan co-chairs of a Defense
Department-chartered commission on national security, spoke with something
between frustration and regret about how White House officials failed to embrace
any of the recommendations to prevent acts of domestic terrorism delivered
earlier this year.
administration officials told former Sens. Gary Hart, D-Colo., and Warren Rudman,
R-N.H., that they preferred instead to put aside the recommendations issued in
the January report by the U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century.
Instead, the White House announced in May that it would have Vice President Dick
Cheney study the potential problem of domestic terrorism -- which the bipartisan
group had already spent two and a half years studying---while assigning
responsibility for dealing with the issue to the Federal Emergency Management
Agency, headed by former Bush campaign manager Joe Allbaugh.
Hart-Rudman Commission had specifically recommended that the issue of terrorism
was such a threat it needed far more than FEMA's attention.
the White House decided to go in its own direction, Congress seemed to be taking
the commission's suggestions seriously, according to Hart and Rudman.
"Frankly, the White House shut it down," Hart says. "The
president said 'Please wait, we're going to turn this over to the vice
president. We believe FEMA is competent to coordinate this effort.' And so
Congress moved on to other things, like tax cuts and the issue of the day."
predicted it," Hart says of Tuesday's horrific events. "We said
Americans will likely die on American soil, possibly in large numbers---that's a
quote (from the commission's Phase One Report) from the fall of 1999."
Tuesday, Hart says, as he sat watching TV coverage of the attacks, he
experienced not just feelings of shock and horror, but also frustration. "I
sat tearing my hair out," says the former two-term senator. "And still
generally agrees with Hart's assessment, but adds: "That's not to say that
the administration was obstructing."
wanted to try something else, they wanted to put more responsibility with FEMA,"
Rudman says. "But they didn't get a chance to do very much" before
terrorists struck on Tuesday.
White House referred an inquiry to the National Security Council, which did not
return a call for comment.
bipartisan 14-member panel was put together in 1998 by then-President Bill
Clinton and then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., to make sweeping strategic
recommendations on how the United States could ensure its security in the 21st
its Jan. 31 report, seven Democrats and seven Republicans unanimously approved
50 recommendations. Many of them addressed the point that, in the words of the
commission's executive summary, "the combination of unconventional weapons
proliferation with the persistence of international terrorism will end the
relative invulnerability of the U.S. homeland to catastrophic attack."
direct attack against American citizens on American soil is likely over the next
quarter century," according to the report.
commission recommended the formation of a Cabinet-level position to combat
terrorism. The proposed National Homeland Security Agency director would have
"responsibility for planning, coordinating, and integrating various U.S.
government activities involved in homeland security," according to the
commission's executive summary.
commission recommendations include having the proposed National Homeland
Security Agency assume responsibilities now held by other agencies -- border
patrol from the Justice Department, Coast Guard from the Transportation
Department, customs from the Treasury Department, the National Domestic
Preparedness Office from the FBI, cyber-security from the FBI and the Commerce
Department. Additionally, the NHSA would take over FEMA, and let the
commission was supposed to disband after issuing the report Jan.31, but Hart and
the other commission members got a six-month extension to lobby for their
recommendations. Hart says he spent 90minutes with Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld, and an hour with Secretary of State Colin Powell lobbying for the White
House to devote more attention to the imminent dangers of terrorism and their
specific, detailed recommendations for a major change in the way the federal
government approaches terrorism. He and Rudman briefed National Security Advisor
Condoleezza Rice on the commission's findings.
a time, the commission seemed to be on a roll.
April 3, before the Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Terrorism and
Technology, Hart sounded a call of alarm, saying that an "urgent" need
existed for a new national security strategy, with an emphasis on intelligence
intelligence is the key to preventing attacks on the homeland," Hart said,
arguing that the commission "urges that homeland security become one of the
intelligence community's most important missions." The nation needed to
embrace "homeland security as a primary national security mission."
The Defense Department, for instance, "has placed its highest priority on
preparing for major theater war" where it "should pay far more
attention to the homeland security mission.
security would be the main purpose of beefed-up National Guard units throughout
new strategy, new organizations like the National Homeland Security
Agency---which would pointedly "not be heavily centered in the Washington,
D.C. area"---would be formed to fulfill this mission, as well with the
fallout should that mission fail. As the U.S. is now, the Phase III report
stated, "its structures and strategies are fragmented and inadequate."
Diplomacy was to be refocused on
resources needed to be devoted to the new mission. "The Customs Service,
the Border Patrol, and the Coast Guard are all on the verge of being overwhelmed
by the mismatch between their growing duties and their mostly static
resources," the report stated. Intelligence needed to focus not only on
electronic surveillance but a renewed emphasis on human surveillance ---
informants and spies ---"especially on terrorist groups covertly supported
by states." As the threat was imminent, Congress and the president were
urged to "start right away
seemed interested in enacting many of the commission's recommendations. "We
had a very good response from the Hill," Rudman says.
March, Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, introduced the National Homeland Security
Agency Act. Other members of Congress---Rep. Wayne Gilchrest, R-Md., John Kyl,
R-Ariz., Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.---talked about the issue, and these three
and others began drafting legislation to enact some of the recommendations into
in May, Bush announced his plan almost as if the Hart-Rudman Commission never
existed, as if it hadn't spent millions of dollars, "consulting with
experts, visiting 25 countries worldwide, really deliberating long and
hard," as Hart describes it. Bush said in a statement that "numerous
federal departments and agencies have programs to deal with the consequences of
a potential use of a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapon in the
United States. But to maximize their effectiveness, these efforts need to be
seamlessly integrated, harmonious and comprehensive." That, according to
the president, should be done through FEMA, headed by Allbaugh, formerly Bush's
gubernatorial chief of staff.
also directed Cheney---a man with a full plate, including supervision of the
administration's energy plans and its dealings with Congress---to supervise the
development of a national counter-terrorism plan. Bush announced that Cheney and
Allbaugh would review the issues and have recommendations for him by Oct. 1. The
commission's report was seemingly put on the shelf.
last Thursday, Hart spoke with Rice again. "I told her that I and the
others on the commission would do whatever we could to work with the vice
president to move on this," Hart said. "She said she would pass on the
Tuesday, Hart says he spent much of his time on the phone with the commission's
executive director, Gen. Charles G. Boyd. "We agreed the thing we should
not do is say, 'We told you so,'" Hart says. "And that's not what I'm
trying to do here. Our focus needs to be: What do we do now?"
course, as a former senator, Hart well knows what happens to the recommendations
of blue-chip panels. But he says he thought that the gravity of the issue---and
the comprehensiveness of the commission's task---would prevent its reports from
being ignored. After all, when then-Secretary of Defense William Cohen signed
the charter for the 21st Century National Security Strategy Study, he charged
its members to engage in "the most comprehensive security analysis"
since the groundbreaking National Security Act of 1947, which created the
National Security Council, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Office of
Secretary of Defense, among other organizations.
Hart nor Rudman claim that their recommendations, if enacted, would have
necessarily prevented Tuesday's tragedy. "Had they adopted every
recommendation we had put forward at that time I don't think it would have
changed what happened," Rudman says. "There wasn't enough time to
enact everything. But certainly I would hope they pay more attention now."
this have been prevented?" Hart asks. "The answer is, 'We'll never
know.' Possibly not." It was a struggle to convince President Clinton of
the need for such a commission, Hart says. He urged Clinton to address this
problem in '94 and '95, but Clinton didn't act until 1998, prompted by politics.
"He saw Gingrich was about to do it, so he moved to collaborate," Hart
says. "Seven years had gone by since the end of the Cold War. It could have
been much sooner."
said that he "would not be critical of them [the Bush administration] this
early because the bottom line is, a lot has to be done." The commission
handed down its recommendations just eight and a half months ago, he said, and
they'll take years to fully enact.
the other hand," Rudman said, "if two years go by and the same thing
happens again, shame on everybody.
not pointing fingers," Rudman said. "I just want to see some
results." He may get his wish. On Wednesday, Thornberry renewed his call
for a National Homeland Security Agency. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., the assistant
majority leader, called for the formation of a federal counter-terrorism czar.
days ago, if asked to predict what the first major foreign terrorist attack on
America soil would involve, Hart says he would have guessed small nuclear
warheads simultaneously unleashed on three American cities. But, he says,
"there wasn't doubt in anyone's mind on that commission" that
something horrific would happen "probably sooner rather than later. We just
didn't know how."
addition to the Bush administration, Hart has another group that he wishes had
paid the commission's suggestions more heed. "The national media didn't pay
attention," Hart says. One senior reporter from a well-known publication
told one of Hart's fellow commissioners, "This isn't important, none of
this is ever going to happen," Hart says. "That's a direct
points out that while the New York Times mentioned the commission in a Wednesday
story with the sub-headline "Years of Unheeded Alarms," that story was
the first serious mention the Times itself had ever given the commission. The
Times did not cover the commission's report in January, nor did it cover Hart's
testimony in April, he points out. "We're in an age where we don't want to
says he just shook his head when he saw a former Clinton administration Cabinet
official on TV Tuesday calling for the formation of a commission to study the
best way to combat terrorism. "If a former Cabinet officer didn't know, how
could the average man on the street? I do hope the American people understand
that somebody was paying attention."
his April 3 testimony, Hart noted that "the prospect of mass casualty
terrorism on American soil is growing sharply. That is because the will to
terrorism and the ways to perpetrate it are proliferating and merging. We
believe that, over the next quarter century, this danger will be one of the most
difficult national security challenges facing the United States---and the one we
are least prepared to address." He urgently described the need for better
human intelligence and not just electronic intelligence, "especially on
terrorist groups covertly supported by states."
far from happy to have been proven correct. Both Hart and Rudman say with grim
confidence that Tuesday's attacks are just the beginning. Maybe now, Rudman
says, Congress, the White House, the media and the American people will realize
how serious they were about their January report.
nature is prevalent in government as well," Rudman says. "We tend not
to do what we ought to do until we get hit between the eyes.
- - - - - - - - - - -
Jake Tapper is Salon's Washington correspondent and the author of
"Down and Dirty: The Plot to Steal the Presidency.
Copyright 2001 Salon.com ##
* * *
FW: Bush's Faustian Deal With the Taliban
Date: Fri, 14 Sep 2001 22:00:16 -0700
From: "VENIRE" <VENIRE@znet.com>
May 22, 2001 in the Los Angeles Times
your girls and women, harbor anti-U.S. terrorists, destroyevery vestige of
civilization in your homeland, and the Bush administration will embrace you. All
that matters is that you line up as an ally in the drug war, the only
international cause that this nation still takes seriously.
the message sent with the recent gift of $43 million to the Taliban rulers of
Afghanistan, the most virulent anti-American violators of human rights in the
world today. The gift, announced last Thursday by Secretary of State Colin
Powell, in addition toother recent aid, makes the U.S. the main sponsor of the
Taliban and rewards that "rogue regime" for declaring that opium
growing is against the will of God. So, too, by the Taliban's estimation, are
most human activities, but it's the ban on drugs that catches this
mind that Osama bin Laden still operates the leading anti-American terror
operation from his base in Afghanistan, from which, among other crimes, he
launched two bloody attacks on American embassies in Africa in 1998.
the Bush administration is cozying up to the Taliban regime at a time when the
United Nations, at U.S. insistence, imposes sanctions on Afghanistan because the
Kabul government will not turn over Bin Laden.
war on drugs has become our own fanatics' obsession and easily
no point in modern history have women and girls been more
lot of males is better if they blindly accept the laws of an
Taliban fanatics, economically and diplomatically isolated, are at the breaking
point, and so, in return for a pittance of legitimacy and cash from the Bush
administration, they have been willing to appear to reverse themselves on the
growing of opium. That a totalitarian country can effectively crack down on its
farmers is not surprising. But it is grotesque for a U.S. official, James P.
course, Callahan also reported, those who didn't obey the theocratic edict would
be sent to prison.
a country where those who break minor rules are simply beaten on the spot by
religious police and others are stoned to death, it's understandable that the
government's "religious" argument might be compelling. Even if it
means, as Callahan concedes, that most of the farmers who grew the poppies will
now confront starvation. That's because the Afghan economy has been ruined by
the religious extremism of the Taliban, making the attraction of opium as a
previously tolerated quick cash crop overwhelming.
that reason, the opium ban will not last unless the U.S. is willing to pour far
larger amounts of money into underwriting the Afghan economy.
the Drug Enforcement Administration's Steven Casteel admitted, "The bad
side of the ban is that it's bringing their country---or certain regions of
their country---to economic ruin." Nor did he hold out much hope for Afghan
farmers growing other crops such as wheat,which require a vast infrastructure to
supply water and fertilizer that no longer exists in that devastated country.
There's little doubt that the Taliban will turn once again to the easily taxed
Taliban may suddenly be the dream regime of our own war drug war zealots, but in
the end this alliance will prove a costly failure.
Our long sad history of signing up dictators in the war on drugs demonstrates the futility of building a foreign policy on a domestic obsession. ##
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