March 19, 2003

The Anti-Terrorism Experts Aren't Too Happy Today

"...I'm not positive that there's a consensus (among intelligence services) that deposing Saddam's regime is a bad idea for fighting terror." Meaning what? That there's just an overwhelming majority that thinks it? "I think that there are serious concerns about resources and alienating allies..." Yep. "[B]ut some of us see an upside." The upside I see is that a barbaric, tyrannical, and sadistic Iraqi regime is about to fall, which is likely to be very good news for 20 million Iraqis. But I wish I saw a bigger upside than that.


United Press International: Top White House anti-terror boss resigns: By P. Mitchell Prothero | From the Washington Politics & Policy Desk | Published 3/19/2003 5:37 PM | WASHINGTON, March 19 (UPI) -- The top National Security Council official in the war on terror resigned this week for what a NSC spokesman said were personal reasons, but intelligence sources say the move reflects concern that the looming war with Iraq is hurting the fight against terrorism.

Rand Beers would not comment for this article, but he and several sources close to him are emphatic that the resignation was not a protest against an invasion of Iraq. But the same sources, and other current and former intelligence officials, described a broad consensus in the anti-terrorism and intelligence community that an invasion of Iraq would divert critical resources from the war on terror.

Beers has served as the NSC's senior director for counter-terrorism only since August. The White House said Wednesday that he officially remains on the job and has yet to set a departure date.

"Hardly a surprise," said one former intelligence official. "We have sacrificed a war on terror for a war with Iraq. I don't blame Randy at all. This just reflects the widespread thought that the war on terror is being set aside for the war with Iraq at the expense of our military and intel resources and the relationships with our allies."

A Senate Intelligence Committee staffer familiar with the resignation agreed that it was not a protest against the war against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein but confirmed that frustration is widespread in the anti-terror establishment and played a part in Beers' decision.

"Randy said that he was 'just tired' and did not have an interest in adding the stress that would come with a war with Iraq," the source said.

The source said that the concern by the administration about low morale in the intelligence community led national security adviser Condoleezza Rice to ask Beers twice during an exit interview whether the resignation was a protest against the war with Iraq. The source said that although Beers insisted it was not, the tone of the interview concerned Rice enough that she felt she had to ask the question twice.

"This is a very intriguing decision (by Beers)," said author and intelligence expert James Bamford. "There is a predominant belief in the intelligence community that an invasion of Iraq will cause more terrorism than it will prevent. There is also a tremendous amount of embarrassment by intelligence professionals that there have been so many lies out of the administration -- by the president, (Vice President Dick) Cheney and (Secretary of State Colin) Powell -- over Iraq."

Bamford cited a recent address by President Bush that cited documents, which allegedly proved Iraq was continuing to pursue a nuclear program, that were later shown to be forgeries.

"It is absurd that the president of the United States mentioned in a speech before the world information from phony documents and no one got fired," Bamford said. "That alone has offended intelligence professionals throughout the services."

But some involved in the fight on terror said that it was dangerous to look too far into one resignation -- particularly from an official who has not blamed the war on Iraq.

"I found his resignation shocking," said one official closely involved in the domestic fight on terror. "And it might reflect a certain frustration over the allocation of resources. But I'm not positive that there's a consensus (among intelligence services) that deposing Saddam's regime is a bad idea for fighting terror. I think that there are serious concerns about resources and alienating allies, but some of us see an upside."

But others point out that the CIA warned Congress last year that an invasion might lead to a rise in terrorism. This, they say, is evidence there's more than just ambivalence about the war among the spy community.

"If it was your job to prevent terror attacks, would you be happy about an action that many see as unnecessary, that is almost guaranteed to cause more terror in the short-term?" said one official. "I know I'm not (happy)."

Beers joined the NSC in August after heading the State Department's International Narcotics and Law Enforcement branch, where he ran the Plan Colombia program to fight narco-traffickers in that country. Beers served both Bush administrations as well as serving in similar capacities with both the Clinton and Reagan administrations.

Posted by DeLong at March 19, 2003 09:17 PM | TrackBack

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The phone conversations came as Putin's chief diplomat, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, warned that a U.S.-led war in Iraq would undermine the international anti-terrorism coalition and might escalate into a global conflict.

"It is important not to cross the line in which the war against terrorism might escalate into a confrontation of entire peoples, religions and civilizations," Ivanov told a security conference in Moscow.

"Unfortunately today, in connection with the looming threat of war against Iraq, the unity of the international anti-terrorism coalition is under threat," said Ivanov, who has emerged as the harshest critic of war in the Russian government.

...

In the State Duma, deputies postponed a vote to ratify a U.S.-Russian nuclear arms treaty, and Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznyov warned that if war starts it might never be ratified.

"In the event of an American strike on Iraq, the fate of the entire treaty will be in question," Seleznyov said during a visit to the Czech capital, Prague, Interfax reported

...

Sergei Shishkaryov, the deputy chairman of the Duma's foreign affairs committee, directly linked the postponement of the treaty to Bush's ultimatum.

"We consider ratification very important, but this step is not justified," he told Reuters.

"We are standing on the verge of World War III, and the consequences of the beginning of military action in Iraq are to a large extent unpredictable," he said.

Igor Sergeyev, Putin's adviser on global security, also warned that a war in Iraq could "lead to unpredictable consequences for international security."

http://www.themoscowtimes.com/stories/2003/03/19/002.html

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on March 20, 2003 05:22 PM

Good riddance to Rand Beers. The man simply has no idea what he is talking about. He is someone the very polite Brad DeLong would describe as a ďreal idiot.Ē Beers is totally incompetent. The exact opposite will occur due to our invasion of Iraq. The Islamic militants and their more secular comrades respect only power. Our extraordinary and very successful use of force will deter further terrorist actions in the future.

Also, an American helicopter crashed in the Iraqi dessert. A number of our troops and those of the British were killed. The French and the other Old Europeans probably deserve much blame for this horrible accident. Our military personnel should have gone in months ago when the weather was more to our liking. Please remember this tragedy the next time you are tempted to purchase a bottle of French wine.

PS: I have decided to employ only the insulting language of Professor DeLong to describe those I disagree with. He has plenty on his blog to choose from. Whatís good enough for him, is good enough for me! I shall definitely abide by his example to others.

Posted by: David Thomson on March 20, 2003 11:56 PM

David, you're getting better and better. I spotted your 'signature' within five words.

A while back, it might have taken me a whole paragraph or even two. But you're getting better and better.

Posted by: Barry on March 21, 2003 04:04 AM

Richard Clarke, the architect of our war against Al Qaeda, and chief counter-terroism advocate in the Whitehouse throughout the 90s and three administrations is also resigning.

Wish the current administration had listened to him in January 2001.

Posted by: Dennis Slough on March 21, 2003 05:31 AM

Actually, David, it was Blair and Powell who persuaded Bush to try to go through the UN, which according to you proved to be a futile waste of time. Now are you going to blame the deaths of 14 US and British servicemen on those two traitorous weasels?

Posted by: andres on March 21, 2003 02:34 PM

"Please remember this tragedy the next time you are tempted to purchase a bottle of French wine."

DT: You can show your support to your likeminded by signing a petition to send back Liberty to France:
http://www.sendbackliberty.us/whoarewe.php

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on March 21, 2003 05:06 PM

Better yet, you can help rename SF (of all!), San Freedomfrisco:
http://www.sanfreedomfrisco.us/

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on March 21, 2003 05:12 PM

"Actually, David, it was Blair and Powell who persuaded Bush to try to go through the UN, which according to you proved to be a futile waste of time. Now are you going to blame the deaths of 14 US and British servicemen on those two traitorous weasels?"

You are being very disingenuous. Both Tony Blair and Colin Powell urged a return trip to the United States only to satisfy the objections of the French and their fellow Saddam appeasers. Powell is now letting the world know that the French conned him. They didnít even have the courtesy to use any vaseline.

France has made a serious mistake. There is a lot of wine to be bought from other sources. Vacations will not be spent in Paris for a long time into the future. Franceís economy only grew about 1% last year. I wonder what it will look like next year?

Posted by: David Thomson on March 22, 2003 04:20 AM

"You are being very disingenuous. Both Tony Blair and Colin Powell urged a return trip to the United States..."

Whoops! Let's try this again:

"You are being very disingenuous. Both Tony Blair and Colin Powell urged a return trip to the United Nations..."

Posted by: David Thomson on March 22, 2003 04:25 AM

Ah yes, the French conned us. So because the French conned us, we decided not to take a second resolution to the Security Council where the vote would have been 13-2 in our favor, and either France or Russia would have had to use their veto, which would have been futile because the U.S. would have gone ahead anyway with a huge degree of popular approval, as opposed to the sycophantic support of unpopular heads of state like Aznar and Berlusconi.

Does this scenario seem consistent? Or maybe, just maybe, it could be the case that Bush and Blair decided to avoid a vote on a second resolution because we couldn't even get a majority of the Security Council to vote in our favor. Do the French really have so much influence with Chile, Mexico, China(!) and Angola? By the way, the security council countries in the middle backed the compromise proposal put forward by Canada. Shouldn't you be blaming our northern neighbors for failing to use vaseline also? How unsanitary.

"PS: I have decided to employ only the insulting language of Professor DeLong to describe those I disagree with. He has plenty on his blog to choose from. Whatís good enough for him, is good enough for me! I shall definitely abide by his example to others."

I'm surprised that someone of your political views would engage in this exercise in moral equivalency. It is true that Brad has used "colorful" language to describe people whose opinions he finds repellent (they are not all Republicans, by the way--Barbara Ehrenreich, Eric Alterman, Naomi Klein, and Eric Hobsbawm are all individuals on the left who have gotten their asses kicked on this site).

On the other hand, I have not seen Brad single out and attack whole groups of people based on their nationality or their vector of political opinions. Based on your oh so witty diatribes against Germany, France, Canada, and I mean not just their political leaders but their entire populations, as well as against "leftist appeasers", I am surprised he hasn't censored you wholesale. But I am not surprised other commenters on this blog have called you a bigot.

Personally, I guess I'll tolerate whatever insulting language you wish to use to describe my opinions on various subjects. But do expect me and others to speak up, and by no means sweetly, whenever you go on another nationality-bashing spree. If the shoe fits, wear it.

Posted by: andres on March 22, 2003 11:27 PM

"Personally, I guess I'll tolerate whatever insulting language you wish to use to describe my opinions on various subjects. But do expect me and others to speak up, and by no means sweetly, whenever you go on another nationality-bashing spree."

There is nothing wrong when speaking in general terms about a nation's dominant characteristics. This is definitely not the same thing as indulging in racial and ethnic slurs. Itís just that Iím criticizing values and attitudes that you find pleasing. Political correctness has really caused a lot of grief. Many today absurdly fail to distinguish between justifiable cultural criticism and outright bigotry.

Posted by: David Thomson on March 23, 2003 02:09 PM

Does it escape your thought process that many nations, e.g. China and Japan to name just a few, are completely defined by their ethnicity, and that to bash the citizens of such countries in general is the same as engaging in ethnic slurs?

When all you can do is criticize, without once asking yourself why a country and its culture (a nebulous and highly imprecise term) might have a set of given "dominant characteristics" (which are often characteristics which exist only in your imagination) and under what conditions these characteristics may change, then there is plenty wrong. Think about it.

Posted by: andres on March 23, 2003 10:08 PM

In general, is it so difficult to understand that any country's "ethnicity", no matter how heterogeneous, is simply a combination of cultural traits? And that such cultural traits are not only highly varied but also tend to evolve over time? Think some more.

Posted by: andres on March 23, 2003 10:15 PM

"Now are you going to blame the deaths of 14 US and British servicemen on those two traitorous weasels?"

Colin Powell is a former 4-star general, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

He served in combat in Vietnam (foot patrols in the A Shau valley), and was awarded a Purple Heart (a punji stick through his foot).

In his second tour of duty he survived a helicopter crash, and went back into the smoking wreck to pull out three men.

Now, just what have *you* done for the United States, that allows you to spew out such filth?

P.S. And Tony Blair is the elected Prime Minister of Great Britain. You aren't even a British citizen. (Fortunately for the British.)

Posted by: Mark Bahner on March 24, 2003 09:49 AM

Mark, I swear trying to communicate with you is like trying to have a dialogue with a non-carbon based life form. Did it simply not occur to you when reading the passage that you quoted that I was being sarcastic?

Posted by: andres on March 24, 2003 11:16 AM

And being sarcastic at Thomson's expense, by the way, not anyone else's.

Posted by: andres on March 24, 2003 01:44 PM

"Did it simply not occur to you when reading the passage that you quoted that I was being sarcastic?"

No, my bad. That's the problem of skimming/reading at lunchtime. I should have realized you wouldn't refer to Colin Powell in that way. (I *have* read derogatory comments about Tony Blair on this blogsite...though nothing as bad as "traitorous weasel.") My apologies.

Posted by: Mark Bahner on March 24, 2003 02:33 PM
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