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Obama Would Leave America Unprotected

Ronald Kessler By Monday, 23 June 2008 10:03 AM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

Like a Rip Van Winkle who is unaware of recent history, Barack Obama is citing the government’s prosecution of those responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing as the correct way to deal with terrorism.

In an ABC interview, Obama said the government can crack down on terrorists “within the constraints of the Constitution.”

He said, “What we know is that, in previous terrorist attacks — for example, the first attack against the World Trade Center — we were able to arrest those responsible, put them on trial. They are currently in U.S. prisons, incapacitated.”

Apparently, Obama has been asleep for the nearly seven years since 9/11. He missed having learned that the 9/11 hijackers are dead and thus could not have been prosecuted. He missed learning that they wanted to be martyrs and were prepared to be jailed or killed. No threat of prosecution would have deterred them.

Obama missed the 9/11 commission hearings and report, which excoriated both Presidents Clinton and Bush for a lack of imagination in pursuing terrorists after the 1998 bombings of American embassies in Africa and the 2000 attack on the USS Cole. In particular, the commission said that before 9/11, “Military measures failed or were not applied.”

Citing the military invasion of Afghanistan, the commission said, “The president and Congress deserve praise for their efforts in Afghanistan so far.”

In the future, the commission said that the government must identify potential or actual terrorist sanctuaries and use “all elements of national power” to “keep possible terrorists insecure and on the run.” Nothing here about reading them their rights.

Obama missed criticism of President Clinton for failing to do more than fire Cruise missiles at an al-Qaida paramilitary training camp in Khost, Afghanistan. The attack killed 21 al-Qaida trainees from Pakistan but missed Osama bin Laden.

He missed the crescendo of criticism aimed at President Bush for not having done more in summer 2001 to stop the impending 9/11 attack. At that point, since reports of an attack by al-Qaida were vague and there were no known plotters to prosecute, only a broad military action against al-Qaida would have worked.

Finally, Obama missed the fact that, in contrast to what happened after the prosecutions of the 1993 World Trade Center bombers, we have not been attacked for almost seven years after 9/11.

Those on the left will say that is an accident or luck. But as outlined in my book “The Terrorist Watch: Inside the Desperate Race to Stop the Next Attack,” our astounding success in the war on terror results from improvements made by President Bush in the intelligence agencies and his proactive approach, including military and covert action outside the courts.

[Editor's Note: Get Ron Kessler's book FREE. Go here now.]

Besides wiping out the Taliban sanctuary in Afghanistan, the government has repeatedly killed terrorists worldwide in military strikes, including by the CIA’s Predator aircraft. Since 9/11, the FBI, CIA, and military have rolled up some 5,000 terrorists worldwide. Thus, plots were never hatched because terrorists have been killed, arrested, or sent back to their own countries where they are imprisoned, often without the due process mandated by the U.S. court system.

In contrast, in the first World Trade Center bombing, key plotters were never indicted — much less apprehended — because of lack of evidence.

Bush’s proclamation that any country harboring a terrorist will be considered a terrorist country has meant that Arab countries, on threat of invasion, began cooperating in the war on terror, turning over thousands of terrorists and leads.

Obama’s comments signal that he would bring to the presidency pre-9/11 thinking.

Back then, even though mosques are open to the public, FBI agents were not allowed to enter them to follow suspects and develop leads. Because of the same politically correct rules, agents were prohibited from going online to look at public chat rooms where plots are discussed and terrorists recruited, even though any 12-year-old could do so.

FBI agents on the same squad were not allowed to talk to each other about the same case. This so-called “wall” also prevented the FBI and CIA from sharing information.

Some say we have not been attacked because al-Qaida has chosen to space out its strikes. But al-Qaida’s attempt to blow up nine American airliners crossing the Atlantic in 2006 is a reminder that al-Qaida is constantly on the attack.

After the McCain campaign attacked Obama for being “naive” and “delusional,” Obama backtracked, saying his policy position papers assert he would use “military force, intelligence operations, financial sanctions, and diplomatic action” to fight terrorists. But his televised comments tells more about his true feelings and lack of understanding of the subject than position papers drafted by advisers. What he said is disturbingly consistent with the rest of his views on national security.

Obama’s pre-9/11 thinking extends to revoking the tools necessary not only to connect the dots, but to find them in the first place. In fact, he has twice voted against revising the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to allow the National Security Agency to continue to monitor calls by foreign terrorists without a warrant—even if all parties are situated overseas.

If the votes Obama cast had prevailed, the U.S. would have to obtain a warrant to intercept Osama bin Laden’s calls. Because so many tens of thousands of warrants would have to be obtained to intercept foreign terrorists’ calls and e-mails, the entire system for developing clues on impending attacks would have come crashing to a halt.

If Obama’s approach reflects pre-9/11 thinking, it is also irresponsible. In an April 2007 debate, Brian Williams asked the candidate how he would change the U.S. military stance overseas if terrorists hit two American cities simultaneously.

“Well, the first thing we’d have to do is make sure that we've got an effective emergency response, something that this administration failed to do when we had a hurricane in New Orleans,” Obama said. “And I think that we have to review how we operate in the event of not only a natural disaster, but also a terrorist attack.”

After the planes hit the World Trade Center in 2001, no emergency response plan would have saved the men and women who jumped to their deaths from windows of the Twin Towers. Nor would any emergency plan have helped the young children who, with tears streaming down their faces, held up photos of their mothers or fathers, hoping that someone would say they survived the attack.

The next day, The New York Times got it right with a huge headline: “U.S. Attacked.”

No one who would take a chance on a repeat 9/11 attack deserves to be president. If he does win, Obama would leave America unprotected.

Obama doesn’t get that we are in a war for our survival. As FBI Director Robert S. Mueller has told me, al-Qaida’s intent is to wipe us out with a nuclear device. If that were to happen, Obama’s solution would be to review emergency response plans and ask for adjudication by a court — if one survived the attack.

Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via
e-mail. Go here now.

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Like a Rip Van Winkle who is unaware of recent history, Barack Obama is citing the government’s prosecution of those responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing as the correct way to deal with terrorism. In an ABC interview, Obama said the government can crack down...
Monday, 23 June 2008 10:03 AM
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