James Woolsey Jr., the director of the CIA during the first two years of the Clinton administration, blasted Barack Obama for advocating an “extremely dangerous and extremely naive approach” to countering the terrorist threat, in the wake of comments Obama made to ABC News touting the criminal justice response to the first World Trade Center bombing.
Woolsey, who lead the CIA at the time of the bombing, claimed in a McCain campaign conference call that the law enforcement-only approach of the 1990s was a “miserable failure.” Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Osama bin Laden were both indicted during the decade, but it did not prevent them from planning future terrorist attacks, including Sept. 11. Also, the CIA wasn’t able to see information that would have allowed them to connect the dots. For instance, KSM was the uncle of the first WTC bomber, Ramzi Yousef.
“I do not say this lightly,” Woolsey said of Obama’s comments. “This is an extremely dangerous and extremely naive approach.”
John Lehman, who served on the 9/11 commission, said, “What Obama said, that this is the right approach, the way we went about it in the 1993 bombing was the correct approach, shows a very deep first ignorance of the facts, and a very, very, dangerous policy.”
Lehman said he thought Obama would have to change his mind.
“It is a totally unsupportable position,” he said. “It would provide such an opening for terrorism that no matter how naÃ¯ve he is, he would not go forward with it. If he did, it would certainly make it far more dangerous in the United States.”
McCain campaign foreign policy advisor Randy Scheunemann said, “Once again we have seen that Senator Obama is the perfect manifestation of the Sept. 10 mindset.”
He added, “The only conclusion we could reach is that if Senator Obama got that 3 a.m. phone call that was so talked about during the primary, I guess his response would be to call the lawyers and the Justice Department.”
Scheunemann also anticipated the likely counter argument from the Obama camp.
“I have no doubt that we will hear in the course of the day that the Obama campaign will say we’re practicing the ‘politics of fear,'” he said. “And the reality is what Sen. Obama’s statement reflects last night is that he’s advocating a policy of delusion that ignores what happened with the failed approach of the 1990s which allowed al Qaeda thrive and prosper unmolested. That policy clearly made America less safe and more vulnerable.”
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