'From the Beirut Bombing to 9/11'

Rick Moran
Today is the 25th anniversary of the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, A huge truck bomb detonated outside of the building housing our Marines located near the Beirut Airport and leveled the structure killing 241 American servicemen.

In a sobering column in today's Wall Street Journal, Robert F. Turner draws a straight, undeviating line from that bombing to the attacks on 9/11 and shows how Osama Bin Laden took the measure of America and found it wanting while Congress seized powers previously reserved to the executive and emasculated our intelligence apparatus:

During a 1998 interview with an ABC News reporter in Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden declared that this withdrawal proved Americans can't accept casualties. It was obviously a consideration in his decision to order the 9/11 terrorist attacks. But the conventional wisdom, that those deadly attacks resulted from "an intelligence failure," doesn't tell the full story.

A major reason we failed to detect the 9/11 attacks in advance was because, beginning in the 1970s, Congress launched a major public attack on the intelligence community. Mr. Biden, for example, was one of 17 senators to vote on Oct. 2, 1974, to make all covert operations (even espionage in some cases) unlawful. In 1986, he bragged in a New Republic interview that he'd personally blocked planned covert operations during the Reagan administration simply by threatening to leak them. (That statement calls to mind John Jay's observation, in Federalist No. 64, that because Congress could not be trusted to keep secrets, the Constitution left the president "able to manage the business of intelligence as prudence might suggest.")

In 1978, Congress continued its intrusion into presidential powers by enacting the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), making it a felony for intelligence professionals to monitor communications between foreign terrorists abroad and individuals within the U.S. without first getting a special warrant. But in a unanimous opinion, the appellate court established by FISA observed that every court to decide the issue had held the president has "inherent authority" under the Constitution "to conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign intelligence information," adding: "We take for granted that the President does have that authority . . ."

Congress failed to anticipate in FISA the dangers posed by a terrorist like Zacarias Moussaoui -- which is why FBI agents were unable to examine the contents of Moussaoui's laptop computer and perhaps prevent the 9/11 attacks. Michael Hayden, then Director of the National Security Agency (NSA), later expressed his "professional judgment" that had these legal constraints (FISA) not existed "we would have detected some of the 9/11 al Qaeda operatives in the United States" prior to the attacks, and "we would have identified them as such."

It is hard to overestimate the damage done by liberal Congressional Democrats over the last 30 years to our intelligence capabilities. They not only put up walls between our foreign and domestic spy agencies but also created a mindset that deliberately destroyed our "Humint" or human intelligence capability. Carter's DCIA Stansfield Turner fired 80% of covert agents and turned our intelligence efforts toward satellites and other electronic methods of intelligence gathering. 

When ex-CIA agent Philip Agee outed several European CIA chiefs of station, the left made him a hero - which is strange when you consider the crocodile tears the left shed over the "outing" of Valerie Plame. When liberals became so concerned about keeping the names of our CIA personnel secret, they never revealed.

The leaks coming from liberals ensconced in the CIA and DIA over the last 8 years have been damaging and astonishingly partisan. This is a consequence of liberals in Congress doing the same thing with impunity. If they don't like something the intel people are doing, they run to the press. If they discover a secret that, if outed, could be politically useful to them, they blab it. 

They have emasculated, politicized, railroaded, terrorized, and caused confusion and dispiritedness in our intelligence community for going on 30 years. Some of our best and brightest analysts and agents retire early rather than deal with the constant leaking that makes their jobs next to impossible to perform. 

The patriots who serve without public recognition in our intelligence agencies deserve better.




 
Today is the 25th anniversary of the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, A huge truck bomb detonated outside of the building housing our Marines located near the Beirut Airport and leveled the structure killing 241 American servicemen.

In a sobering column in today's Wall Street Journal, Robert F. Turner draws a straight, undeviating line from that bombing to the attacks on 9/11 and shows how Osama Bin Laden took the measure of America and found it wanting while Congress seized powers previously reserved to the executive and emasculated our intelligence apparatus:

During a 1998 interview with an ABC News reporter in Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden declared that this withdrawal proved Americans can't accept casualties. It was obviously a consideration in his decision to order the 9/11 terrorist attacks. But the conventional wisdom, that those deadly attacks resulted from "an intelligence failure," doesn't tell the full story.

A major reason we failed to detect the 9/11 attacks in advance was because, beginning in the 1970s, Congress launched a major public attack on the intelligence community. Mr. Biden, for example, was one of 17 senators to vote on Oct. 2, 1974, to make all covert operations (even espionage in some cases) unlawful. In 1986, he bragged in a New Republic interview that he'd personally blocked planned covert operations during the Reagan administration simply by threatening to leak them. (That statement calls to mind John Jay's observation, in Federalist No. 64, that because Congress could not be trusted to keep secrets, the Constitution left the president "able to manage the business of intelligence as prudence might suggest.")

In 1978, Congress continued its intrusion into presidential powers by enacting the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), making it a felony for intelligence professionals to monitor communications between foreign terrorists abroad and individuals within the U.S. without first getting a special warrant. But in a unanimous opinion, the appellate court established by FISA observed that every court to decide the issue had held the president has "inherent authority" under the Constitution "to conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign intelligence information," adding: "We take for granted that the President does have that authority . . ."

Congress failed to anticipate in FISA the dangers posed by a terrorist like Zacarias Moussaoui -- which is why FBI agents were unable to examine the contents of Moussaoui's laptop computer and perhaps prevent the 9/11 attacks. Michael Hayden, then Director of the National Security Agency (NSA), later expressed his "professional judgment" that had these legal constraints (FISA) not existed "we would have detected some of the 9/11 al Qaeda operatives in the United States" prior to the attacks, and "we would have identified them as such."

It is hard to overestimate the damage done by liberal Congressional Democrats over the last 30 years to our intelligence capabilities. They not only put up walls between our foreign and domestic spy agencies but also created a mindset that deliberately destroyed our "Humint" or human intelligence capability. Carter's DCIA Stansfield Turner fired 80% of covert agents and turned our intelligence efforts toward satellites and other electronic methods of intelligence gathering. 

When ex-CIA agent Philip Agee outed several European CIA chiefs of station, the left made him a hero - which is strange when you consider the crocodile tears the left shed over the "outing" of Valerie Plame. When liberals became so concerned about keeping the names of our CIA personnel secret, they never revealed.

The leaks coming from liberals ensconced in the CIA and DIA over the last 8 years have been damaging and astonishingly partisan. This is a consequence of liberals in Congress doing the same thing with impunity. If they don't like something the intel people are doing, they run to the press. If they discover a secret that, if outed, could be politically useful to them, they blab it. 

They have emasculated, politicized, railroaded, terrorized, and caused confusion and dispiritedness in our intelligence community for going on 30 years. Some of our best and brightest analysts and agents retire early rather than deal with the constant leaking that makes their jobs next to impossible to perform. 

The patriots who serve without public recognition in our intelligence agencies deserve better.