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By Ray McGovern and Coleen Rowley
Yesterday, a blogger with the PBS'
NewsHour asked former CIA analyst Ray McGovern to respond to three
questions regarding recent events involving the CIA, FBI, and the intelligence
community in general (http://tinyurl.com/yg8jz4o ).
Two other old intelligence hands were
asked the identical questions, queries that are typical of what radio/TV
and blogger interviewers usually think to be the right ones. So
there is merit in trying to answer them directly, such as they are,
and then broadening the response to address some of the core problems
confronting U.S. counter-terror strategies.
After drafting his answers, McGovern
asked former FBI attorney/special agent Coleen Rowley, a colleague in
Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) to review his responses
and add her own comments at the end. The Q & A is below:
What lapses in the American counter terrorism apparatus made the
Christmas Day bombing plot possible? Is it inevitable that certain
plots will succeed?
The short answer to the second sentence
is: Yes, it is inevitable that "certain plots will succeed."
A more helpful answer would address the question as to how we might
best minimize their prospects for success. And to do this, sorry
to say, there is no getting around the necessity to address the root
causes of terrorism or, in the vernacular, "why they hate us."
If we don't go beyond self-exculpatory
sloganeering in attempting to answer that key question, any "counter
terrorism apparatus" is doomed to failure. Honest appraisals
can tread on delicate territory, but any intelligence agency worth its
salt must be willing/able to address it.
Delicate? Take, for example,
what Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the "mastermind" of 9/11, said was his
main motive. Here's what the 9/11 Commission Report wrote on
page 147. You will not find it reported in the Fawning Corporate
"By his own account, KSM's animus
toward the United States stemmed"from his violent disagreement with
U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel."
This is not the entire picture, of
course. Other key factors include the post-Gulf War stationing
of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, widely seen as defiling the holy sites
of Islam. Add Washington's propping up of dictatorial, repressive
regimes in order to secure continuing access to oil and natural gas--widely
(and accurately) seen as one of the main reasons for the invasion of
Iraq and Afghanistan. Not to mention the Pentagon's insatiable
thirst for additional permanent (sorry, the Pentagon-preferred term
is now "enduring") military bases in that part of the world.
The writers of the 9/11 Commission
Report made a stab at puncturing the myth about "why they hate us"
(and actually succeeded in giving the lie to familiar bromides like
"they" hate us for our democracy, our freedoms, our way of life,
and so forth). See, for example, pp 374-376 of the Commission
But, you may object, I am not
answering the first question posed above; I am, rather,
fighting the problem.
Not true. I am trying to address
the right question"trying to deal with causes, not just symptoms
and consequences. The first question, as posed, deals in a familiar
way with symptoms of the core problem but not the core itself, and thus
tends to obscure the essence of "why they hate us."
There are over 1.2 BILLION Muslims
in the world, many of whom watch nightly TV coverage of the violence
resulting from U.S. military and political support for Israel (including,
for example, Washington's acquiescence in the brutal Israeli attacks
on civilians in Gaza one year ago) and from U.S. actions in Iraq, Afghanistan,
Pakistan, Yemen, and elsewhere.
And what is the puerile approach taken
by not only the politicians but also by the clueless amateurs who now
lead the intelligence community: No problem, they say. Technology
permits us to build a database of one billion names".easy!
Right. And how to find needles
in that haystack. Easy? A database of "only" 550,000
names did not prevent the Abdulmutallab caper, did it?