Re: Jed Babbin’s How Dare They?:
Amen to Mr. Babbin’s heartening summary of the President’s campaign to subdue and nationalize the rogue organization the CIA has become.
This is a crucial task, and the outcome is by no means certain. The Agency’s failures in its nominal mission are legion and well-known, but it is formidably competent at self-preservation and in advancing its institutional interests.
CIA is a brand, and like the vintners of Bordeaux, somehow always gets the consumer to buy next year’s product no matter how lousy last year’s really was. Note how everybody swallows the so-called Dalfour report whole, in between choruses of complaint about the credibility of the Agency that employs Mr. Dalfour.
Mr. Goss has been sent on a dangerous mission against a wily and resourceful foe. He’ll have to take Draconian steps to win. He can win, but he’ll need the unwavering support of us all, starting with President Bush. That support must included a relentless and skeptical audit of all Mr. Goss does, because he’s the very one the Agency insurgents will try hardest to play. If Goss succeeds, he’ll have earned our deepest gratitude. If, in addition to succeeding, he survives, maybe he’ll agree to be seconded out to the next Secretary of State and engineer the draining of that swamp, too.
— Paul Kotik
Jed Babbin is mistaken in his piece entitled “How Dare They?” There is a very good excuse for what the men of the CIA are doing; it is called fear. And what they are doing, leaving, was largely unavoidable.
Following the intelligence debacle of the 09/11 attacks, a multitude was screaming for the heads of the CIA and to a lesser degree Defense Intelligence and State Department Intelligence, actively seeking a scapegoat for the single most devastating attack upon American citizens within the borders of the United States of America. The President of the United States, George W. Bush, stood behind the Agency and its counterparts in Defense and State. George Tenet remained as the Director until his voluntary retirement in 2004. There were no firings and no purges. The administration stood behind the Agency. Even when they had to acknowledge inaccuracies in its intel and eval functions, no changes were made. The senior staff of the Agency repaid the President by either allowing or coordinating informational attacks upon the President and his administration.
Following his re-election, the current administration has embarked upon a program to redirect the focus and the energies of the Agency. This is similar to what happens when a new CEO enters a failing company or a new coach takes over a struggling sports franchise. He is hired for his vision and those below him will either adopt that vision or, at least, adhere to that vision, or they will seek employment elsewhere. What you are seeing is the backlash from entrenched interests within the Agency toward the new CEO. For better or for worse, it will all sort itself out.
Now the following excerpt from Mr. Babbin’s piece is confusing to me, to say the least:
“In the hope that some of those who are thinking of resigning may read this, I want to address you directly. Each of you should ask yourself the following questions. Do you think your job is important to the war against terrorists and the nations that support them? Do you believe you’re good at it, and are making a significant contribution to the nation’s defense? Do you think that, by your hard work and experience, you may save one American’s life or give the president one more option in any decision he has to make? Do you believe that your subordinates rely on your leadership and mentoring? If you answered any of those questions with a “yes,” and you still dare to resign, you should hang your head in shame for the rest of your born days. It’s all about duty, honor and country. If you think your personal gripes are more important, then go ahead and resign. And good riddance to you.”
I have to assume that Mr. Babbin has some inside knowledge of the situation within the Agency which is unknown to me and which he did not impart in his article. Otherwise, the relevance of this passage is largely incomprehensible. I have served for three decades in public service under a variety of leaders and I have never considered resigning. Nor have I ever gone outside the circle of my peers to criticize the policies and actions of my superiors. I could be wrong, but I do not believe that we have to fear that the dedicated men and women of the Agency will react any differently. A certain type of person is drawn in large numbers to “public service”; they are willing and motivated to make large personal sacrifices for little or no recognition. These people are not to be judged by the standards of that other group of people drawn to “public service,” the politicians.
The upper echelon members of the Agency may feel that they are not receiving the respect that they deserve from the new Director, Mr. Porter Goss, and his staff, but considering the current public activities of the Agency, within the political arena, they should not be surprised. The Agency is not the fourth branch of government, but merely a subdivision of the second branch and therefore answerable to its chief, the President.
The Agency will survive this tempest in a teapot. We can hope that the subsequent realignment will result in a re-focusing of the energies of the Agency on the procurement and analysis of accurate intelligence. As the war on terror continues, the Agency and her counterparts in Defense and State will become crucial to the effective waging of that war. No longer will it be like shooting fish in a barrel. The terrorists will retreat underground. Their glaringly evident ties to established national states will become muted and as tenuous as spider web. To identify, locate and neutralize these people will require intelligence organs of extreme dedication, strength, determination, sophistication and subtlety. The men and women who will compose those agencies will have to embody all of those attributes and others, including vision and the will to sacrifice for the good of society. I think that they are already in place and more will answer the call. The senior staff members who are threatening to resign can either remember their calling or retire and write their memoirs. The winds of change will sweep through the halls of the Agency, one way or the other.
— Michael Tobias
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
THE COMEBACK SENATOR
Re: Tim Carney’s Unfit for Command:
The wringing of the hands and the gnashing of the teeth among conservatives since Senator Specter’s recent foray into issuing (unsolicited) opinions to the president about future judicial appointments should be read as part of a piece: Senator Specter was just reassuring his constituency he was still, well, Senator Specter. Who but the most naive and jejune would ever question that allegiance, which has stood him in such good stead for nearly a quarter of a century as Defender of the Liberal Faith? But for those who were genuinely surprised, allow me to remind you of a colleague’s criticism of Viscount Montgomery during World War II: “In dealing with him, one must always remember that he is not quite a gentleman.”
Timothy Carney’s readable and pointed criticism of Snarlin’ Arlen as the next Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee adds little to that which is already known to anyone who has followed the tenets and principles Senator Specter has championed in his years in the Senate. Despite that record, the White House decided to back his re-election, a decision fraught with unforeseen consequences, one of which occurred shortly after his primary victory by the slimmest of margins: with his vast reservoir of “chutzpah,” the senior senator from the “Keystone State” reassured his liberal base that, not to worry, he was still their man in Washington. It was this very man who came hat in hand to ask for conservative support for “the political battle of my life,” and who spoke like a chastened Progressive on Mr. Limbaugh’s talk show program without the host’s even minimal questioning of his past. In politics, as in life, you (often) get what you deserve and you (mostly) deserve what you get.
Maybe it is my age, but I grow weary of hearing that we are in for major changes with Bush’s second term. There is no question that the nation is better off without Monsieur Kerry and his band of brothers at the helm, but the fulfillment of the conservative domestic agenda is seriously complicated by various factors, not the least of which are three other Republican senators who are Specter clones.
Despite the firestorm of protest from conservative organizations and websites, I believe that Arlen Specter will emerge as the White House’s choice and become the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Time will tell about Senator Specter’s handling of judicial appointments, but allow me to repeat Phaedrus’s caveat: Once lost, Jupiter himself cannot bring back opportunity.
— Vincent Chiarello
If Republicans can remove Trent Lott as Speaker of the House for the good of the party then why can’t we deny Arlen Specter the Chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee for the same reason? Senator Specter’s own remarks have made him controversial with a significant constituency of the Republican Party. Senator Specter has no broad constituency. Few like him even in Pennsylvania. If Trent Lott wasn’t “owed” the speakership then why is Arlen Specter “owed” a committee chairmanship? For the good of the party just say no to Chairman Specter.
Re: Ralph R. Reiland’s The Republican FDR:
What Bush is attempting to do is a great goal. But it needs to expand, not just be a pilot:
Don’t limit the opportunity for only the young to take their 2% elsewhere. I am over 50 and I would take the 2% and invest it myself.
The co-mingling of the 2% with 401(k) funds should be permitted. Caveat of course being something other than your employer stock and not in the high risk category. Nothing succeeds better than having more in a good thing.
Eliminate the income tax system. It’s the ogre of the economy. A national sales tax on what you spend not what you earn is needed. See www.fairtax.org.
Health-care accounts — good thing, bring them on. But if we are going to take ownership of ourselves again we need to know how good the practitioners are. Under the current systems in most states we as individuals do not know who the bad apples are as the mediation/legal suits are generally sealed. Doctors ought to be required to post in public view the number of times they have been sued, the number of people who have died and have been injured while under their care as well as the state norm for the professional class of service this practitioner provides. The market hopefully will drive bad health care professionals out of the system.
— John McGinnis
A DARKER UKRAINE
Re: Doug Bandow’s Between West and East:
It is obvious that Doug Bandow does not live in Ukraine and is watching events from afar. I, on the other hand, have lived here for seven years and have been married to a Ukrainian woman for five of those years. My wife has informed me that if Yanukovych steals this election, she wants me to return to America with our son, while she joins the revolution to fight for Ukraine’s freedom. This is not some threat from a nationalist fighter, but just a regular doctor trying to survive in Kyiv. Ukrainian citizens have had enough of this Mafia-run country and the possibility of civil war is real, although unlikely. Ukrainians are the second-longest ethnic group in history to live under occupation (800 years — their recent 10 years of independence being the longest time of freedom since Genghis Khan’s grandson decimated Central Europe) and still survive as a people-group. They have a history of just accepting their fate without much of a fight. But this time might be different — Western Ukraine has only been subjugated to Russia for the last 60 years under the Soviet Union — and they are not about to allow it to happen again.
And this election is about freedom. Some have estimated that about 16 families control 80% of the resources of Ukraine. These families can not allow Yushchenko to come to power and jeopardize their control of this country. Anyone of significance who has opposed these oligarchs has disappeared, been killed, or have met with an “accidental” and fatal car accident. I can not count how many of these have occurred in the seven years I have lived here. Even Yushchenko himself was poisoned last month and arrived in Austria for medical attention within hours of losing his life. Just prior to this he was dining with the director of the SBU (the successor to the KGB).
When my wife went to vote in the first round, she found her name not on the list of registered voters (along with many of our neighbors). As they searched the list for her name, she recognized several names that have been dead for years. You can bet that after the polls closed and the observers went home, those dead citizens cast their vote for Yanukovych. What proof do we have? The legitimate exit poll showed Yushchenko ahead by 10-20%, not the mere 1-2% officially recorded. Where did all these extra votes come from?
The region of Kherson is in the heart of Yanukovych territory (East and South-East Ukraine). In order to show a solidarity of the East for Yanukovych, it was necessary to ensure this region voted in his camp. The problem was that all the polling data before the election was showing Yushchenko in the lead. The day of the election, thugs appeared throughout the countryside to prevent citizens from casting their votes. And in the capital of Kherson, some polling stations were not open at all. Surprise — Kherson region voted for Yanukovych.
The miners in the Donetsk region, another area critical for Yanukovych, reported that they were required to work a double-shift on election day and thus were prevented to vote (and election day was on a Sunday). Their bosses required them to give them written permission to cast their vote for them. Donetsk is the region where Yanukovych is the Mafia-boss. It was in this region that he served several prison terms for crimes he committed as he climbed the Mafia ladder — including convictions for assault and embezzlement. He would have had a third sentence for gang rape had he not had the money to buy his freedom from that crime.
And this is the heart of the matter in Ukraine. Kuchma, one of the leaders of the Dnipropetrovsk Mafia (that dates back to Khrushchev who was once the boss there), could no longer retain power. The constitution prevented him from running again, and his last minute attempt to change the constitution transferring presidential powers to the prime minister (which he would easily be elected to thus prolonging his power) failed. His only choice was to make a deal with the Donetsk gang.
President Clinton turned his eyes from these oligarchs in exchange for their movement towards the West. President Bush, who is a man of much higher morals, could not ignore their criminal regime. Because of this, Kuchma began to drag Ukraine back towards the Russian sphere which would assure his team staying in power. But Russia did not give them this assurance for free. Much of Ukraine has been sold to Putin’s team in exchange for their protection. Yushchenko has pledged that all those deals will be invalidated when he becomes president. Russia can not allow this. Chernomyrdin, Russian ambassador to Ukraine, was caught saying off-the-record, “We will not allow Yushchenko to become president.” And Russian president Putin was here the day of the election to insure his side would win.
Kuchma, Yanukovych, and Putin know that there could be civil war over this. That is why the October parade was postponed for weeks till the day before the elections to allow for an excuse to bring the largest contingent of military force in over 60 years into the capital. Yanukovych threatened that he would not allow what happened in Georgia to happen in Ukraine (there the people overthrew the regime that stole the elections), and his threats were backed by this military show and the presence of Putin to warn against any opposition to his rule.
Bandow states that “whatever the election result, Washington will remain influential in Ukraine.” This is not true. If Yushchenko wins, then Washington will have influence finally in Ukraine. If Yanukovych wins, then Ukraine will continue to use Washington to keep their regime in power.
For obvious reasons, if you decide to print this reply, please keep it anonymous. It is not as calm a country as Bandow makes it out to be.
— name withheld
To answer A. Robinson’s question about the proximity of blue states to water, the answer is the availability of bulk transport of goods by water. This led to the founding of cities (e.g. Chicago at the juncture of the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River complex). The cities attracted immigrants. The immigrants wanted wrest jobs & influence from the established residents so they started the “soak the rich” ethos. The wealth of the producers allowed non-productive (i.e. administrative) professions to flourish (e.g. lawyers). So the unions and trial lawyers found homes in cities and the producers found homes anywhere. Hence, blue counties in seas of red.
— Bruce Thompson
Mr. Foley, where indeed would us red stators be without all of the subsidies from you blue (blood?) stators? We wouldn’t need the subsidies because the blue states would pay out the nose for all of the things that they don’t produce like food, oil, natural gas, etc. If the world were to collapse into chaos, people like Ms. Ferraro would not survive long, because they would have to get all of these things on their own, and quite frankly, they don’t have the smarts to do it. I’m sure they are quite intelligent, but that is not the same thing as being smart. I know people like her that think food actually comes from a supermarket, or gas just comes from the pump at the local convenience store. They don’t have a clue that all of this stuff comes from those ignorant, pick up driving, fools in the red states. Go ahead and secede, I hope that you do.
— Greg Goff
Looks like Ken Shreve and myself will have to stay hunkered down behind the lines up here a while longer. I was kind of hoping that the “seceshs” would prevail up here to the point where you red staters would be holding a farewell party for them. That way Ken and I would maybe be expatriated to the U.S. while New England looked for another body to leech off. However, like all bags of wind, it’s only talk among the disgruntled few and we will have to endure another hard winter up north here, warmed only by the thought that Bush will be a constant thorn in the side to the liberals who run the show up here.
— Pete Chagnon
Sure let the Ferraro elitists secede. Do they think the blue states will survive? The blue states will be so sparsely populated due to massive migration of citizens whose like values are akin to the red states. These Dems politicians like there Hollywood counterparts think that the world revolves around them. I wish they would try.
— R. Bonifaco
In your essay prompted by Geraldine Ferraro’s remark about the “blue states” (actually the blue enclaves of the rest of the USA), you said:
“Intellectual capital the blue capitals may have, as Ms. Ferraro says, but how will they eat? How will they defend themselves? Were I the base commander a military base in California, what would I do upon a movement toward secession by my county? I think I might be on the growler to my counterparts in Kansas and Nebraska, arranging to move in”
May I suggest that, if the blue enclaves succeed in seceding, which I doubt will ever happen, they will have the intellectual capital only until the smart people stop moving to New York and Los Angeles from Iowa, Kansas, and North Carolina? Not to take anything away from South Dakota, Colorado, and Nebraska, mind you.
— Bill Speers
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