Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Words Senators McCain, Graham, and Warner need to heed:

Shortly after the attacks of September 11, 2001, Tom Clancy wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal about how the CIA was gutted.

I'd like to commend that op-ed to Senators McCain, Graham, and Warner. Particularly the last four paragraphs:
It is a lamentably common practice in Washington and elsewhere to shoot people in the back and then complain when they fail to win the race. The loss of so many lives in New York and Washington is now called an "intelligence failure," mostly by those who crippled the CIA in the first place, and by those who celebrated the loss of its invaluable capabilities.

What a pity that they cannot stand up like adults now and say: "See, we gutted our intelligence agencies because we don't much like them, and now we can bury thousands of American citizens as an indirect result." This, of course, will not happen, because those who inflict their aesthetic on the rest of us are never around to clean up the resulting mess, though they seem to enjoy further assaulting those whom they crippled to begin with.

Call it the law of unintended consequences. The intelligence community was successfully assaulted for actions taken under constitutionally mandated orders, and with nothing left to replace what was smashed, warnings we might have had to prevent this horrid event never came. Of course, neither I nor anyone else can prove that the warnings would have come, and I will not invoke the rhetoric of the political left on so sad an occasion as this.

But the next time America is in a fight, it is well to remember that tying one's own arm is unlikely to assist in preserving, protecting and defending what is ours.

I'm going to speak a little on this. Not to indulge in rhetoric, but to discuss what I feel the likely consequences of tying one of the intelligence community's hands behind its back on this matter. Should the McCain-Graham-Warner version of this legislation pass, it is a virtual certainty that we will get hit in a major attack again.

If that attack involves weapons of mass destruction, the American response will, in all likelihood, be directed by the major command based at Offutt Air Force Base. That response will wipe out at least a city if some restraint is exercised. More likely, an entire country gets wiped off the map, possibly in less time than it takes an order from Pizza Hut, Papa John's, or any other pizza place to get to your doorstep after you've made the phone call.

I wonder how such a thing contains the moral high ground, particularly in comparison to a few suspected terrorists getting roughed up. I suppose it must be some sort of logic that those who are inside the Beltway can fathom. I certainly can't.

It is extremely difficult to see a man who, when the plane hit the Pentagon, raced to the scene and began aiding survivors get second-guessed by a bunch of Senators who seem to be competing for praise from the editorial pages of the New York Times and Washington Post. Donald Rumsfeld got an involuntary up-close look at what terrorists do. Where were Senators McCain, Warner, and Graham? What did they do, cower in some secure location?

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