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Fred Thompson Lacks Experience

Monday, 27 Aug 2007 05:15 PM

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Former Sen. Fred Thompson was the subject of a New York Times profile on Aug. 27 and came out wanting.

Before his election as a United States senator, one of Fred Thompson's major contributions to public service was that of special counsel to the Senate Intelligence Committee investigating the fitness of William J. Casey to continue to serve as director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

According to the Times, documents show that Thompson's first comments in that position "assured the White House that there was no 'smoking gun'. He had yet to interview a single witness. Based on Mr. Thompson's subsequent investigation, the Senate declared the intelligence director, William J. Casey, 'not unfit to serve.' 'He was looking to save Casey's job,' said Irvin Nathan, who represented the committee's Democratic minority. 'His job was to get the matter off the table for the White House. He did it well, and he did it graciously.'"

The investigation concerning Casey involved, according to The Times, “a torrent of questions about Mr. Casey's business dealings, involving lawsuits filed by disgruntled investors and accusations that he had been less than forthcoming about his finances during his confirmation hearings." Other investigations into Whitewater — of President Clinton — and into fundraising scandals during President Bill Clinton's 1996 re-election campaign were, according to former White House Special Counsel Lanny Davis, handled fairly. The Times quoted Davis as saying, "Initially, he was viewed as a hatchet man, but he ended up bending over in a way that refreshed me to try to be fair. He convinced those of us in the Clinton White House that it's possible to be partisan and intellectually honest at the same time."

The Times article did not discuss Thompson's Senate legislative record in the Senate. I am not aware of any legislative leadership he demonstrated in the nine years he served. His successes and rise to an expected presidential candidate appear to come primarily from the expectation that having done a good job as an actor portraying a tough district attorney on the television show "Law & Order" and becoming very well known as a result, he should now be seen as a contender. It may be unfair — but it is honest — for me to say that every time I saw him speak when he was a senator and since then, my indelible picture of him is that of Sen. Claghorn of Fred Allen's radio show. If need be, the reader can Google Fred Allen.

Now to another former director of the CIA, George Tenet. The recent report of the Inspector General of the CIA, according to The Times, “recommended that several top agency officials, including former director Tenet, be held accountable for their failure to put in place a strategy to dismantle al-Qaida in the years before Sept. 11, 2001. Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the current CIA director and his predecessor, Porter J. Goss, have declined to seek disciplinary action against Mr. Tenet and others named in the report."

The report was released to the public because of a law passed by Congress. Prior to the enactment of that law, the CIA refused to make the document, which is hundreds of pages long, available. As a result of the law requiring publication, a 19-page summary of the report was released. As was pointed out succinctly by Congressman Rush D. Holt, Democrat of New Jersey, a member of the House Intelligence Committee who had access to the full report, "Accountability is a concept the American people understand." Apparently not the CIA Director George Tenet resigned his post in 2004. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bush. Why did he get that medal when he was a failure?

Congress should hold hearings on the inspector general's report directed at Tenet. Tenet should be invited to defend himself and at the very least, the medal given to him should be withdrawn.

The inspector general states there were "failures to implement and manage important processes to follow through with operations and to properly share and analyze critical data." The fact that the report "found that no agency employee violated the law and that none of their errors amounted to misconduct" does not mean his personnel record should not contain a censure.

Leona Helmsley died this week at 87. Her remark, "only little people pay taxes," resonated immediately with the public and evokes the sense of injustice that people feel, even if not true and not intended by her. Recently, I wrote of two businessmen in New York City who were convicted of evading “about $3.4 million in state and city taxes for six years. They were sentenced to pay “$10 million in restitution and penalties” and will receive in a plea bargain no prison time, only probation. Another miscarriage of justice.

The best documentary I've seen about 9/11 was shown on National Geographic television this past week. It documents the failures of our security agencies to protect the United States. It should be on everyone’s must see list. I am sure it will be repeated. I want to reiterate that we are at war with a worldwide Islamic terror organization. We are facing not only Islamic terrorists in Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan; we are facing a worldwide threat with local cells in almost, if not all, Western countries. They want to kill Americans in particular, but also all those adhering to Western civilization. We — Christians, Jews, Hindus — are the infidels. The program makes the point that Americans do not appear sufficiently aware of the danger. And regrettably, we are not.

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