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The Man Who Knew Too Much

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Apparently the Bush Administration’s mishandling of the War on Terror is so dangerous to America that a high-level counter-intelligence adviser who served four Presidents (three of them Republicans) just couldn’t take it any more.

Amazing article in the Washington Post:

Beers’s resignation surprised Washington, but what he did next was even more astounding. Eight weeks after leaving the Bush White House, he volunteered as national security adviser for Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.), a Democratic candidate for president, in a campaign to oust his former boss. All of which points to a question: What does this intelligence insider know?

“The administration wasn’t matching its deeds to its words in the war on terrorism. They’re making us less secure, not more secure,” said Beers, who until now has remained largely silent about leaving his National Security Council job as special assistant to the president for combating terrorism. “As an insider, I saw the things that weren’t being done. And the longer I sat and watched, the more concerned I became, until I got up and walked out.”

In a series of interviews, Beers, 60, critiqued Bush’s war on terrorism. He is a man in transition, alternately reluctant about and empowered by his criticism of the government. After 35 years of issuing measured statements from inside intelligence circles, he speaks more like a public servant than a public figure. Much of what he knows is classified and cannot be discussed. Nevertheless, Beers will say that the administration is “underestimating the enemy.” It has failed to address the root causes of terror, he said. “The difficult, long-term issues both at home and abroad have been avoided, neglected or shortchanged and generally underfunded.”

The focus on Iraq has robbed domestic security of manpower, brainpower and money, he said. The Iraq war created fissures in the United States’ counterterrorism alliances, he said, and could breed a new generation of al Qaeda recruits. Many of his government colleagues, he said, thought Iraq was an “ill-conceived and poorly executed strategy.”

“I continue to be puzzled by it,” said Beers, who did not oppose the war but thought it should have been fought with a broader coalition. “Why was it such a policy priority?” The official rationale was the search for weapons of mass destruction, he said, “although the evidence was pretty qualified, if you listened carefully.”

He thinks the war in Afghanistan was a job begun, then abandoned. Rather than destroying al Qaeda terrorists, the fighting only dispersed them. The flow of aid has been slow and the U.S. military presence is too small, he said. “Terrorists move around the country with ease. We don’t even know what’s going on. Osama bin Laden could be almost anywhere in Afghanistan,” he said.

As for the Saudis, he said, the administration has not pushed them hard enough to address their own problem with terrorism. Even last September, he said, “attacks in Saudi Arabia sounded like they were going to happen imminently.”

Within U.S. borders, homeland security is suffering from “policy constipation. Nothing gets done,” Beers said. “Fixing an agency management problem doesn’t make headlines or produce voter support. So if you’re looking at things from a political perspective, it’s easier to go to war.”

The Immigration and Naturalization Service, he said, needs further reorganization. The Homeland Security Department is underfunded. There has been little, if any, follow-through on cybersecurity, port security, infrastructure protection and immigration management. Authorities don’t know where the sleeper cells are, he said. Vulnerable segments of the economy, such as the chemical industry, “cry out for protection.”

“We are asking our firemen, policemen, Customs and Coast Guard to do far more with far less than we ever ask of our military,” he said. Abroad, the CIA has done a good job in targeting the al Qaeda leadership. But domestically, the antiterrorism effort is one of talk, not action: “a rhetorical policy. What else can you say — ‘We don’t care about 3,000 people dying in New York City and Washington?’ ”

About Brian Flemming

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Whoop-frickin-dee. You found one career intelligence guy who ain’t satisfied. He doesn’t appear to have any particular new insight or perspective. It’s somewhat like Ritter: you found one guy to say what you want to hear, then go on like it means anything, ignoring everything that contradicts your premise.

    Again Brian, you have no real credibility because it is apparent that nothing that actually happens on the ground nor any argument that anyone makes will make any difference. You already know the answer: Bush=bad. Now, let’s just shop around to get anything to support the forgone conclusion.

  • Doctor Slack

    “Now, let’s just shop around to get anything to support the forgone conclusion.”

    Like your conclusion “war=good”? Pot. Kettle. Black.

    And guys like Ritter were hardly alone in questioning Iraq — with good reason, it would appear — but never mind. People like Al already know the answer, and will listen only to sources that support their conclusion. It will never occur to them that Beers may be saying nothing new because all the reservations being expressed by a surprising range of figures before the Iraq war were actually valid.

  • http://www.unproductivity.com Tom Johnson

    What’s the old saying? “If you’re not a part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.” So instead of staying where he was, where he could work to make a difference, Beers has abandoned ship to go to a political candidate who likely will not be elected? Yeah, that’ll help.

    You know, the anti-Bush contingent needs to look at another possibility – that Beers was forced to resign for a reason we can’t and won’t ever know, and that this is his way of getting revenge. I’m really surprised no one has come up with this scenario, seeing as paranoia and conspiracy theories apparently run rampant in the anti-Bush community. But, of course, that doesn’t really serve your cause, does it?

  • Doctor Slack

    “You know, the anti-Bush contingent needs to look at another possibility – that Beers was forced to resign for a reason we can’t and won’t ever know, and that this is his way of getting revenge.”

    Ah yes, the “them critics is all just bitter” solution. That would be convenient, wouldn’t it? Why not take the extra step, though, and just start spreading stories about his sex life? Tried and true RNC tactic — more bang for your buck, as it were.

    “paranoia and conspiracy theories apparently run rampant in the anti-Bush community.”

    You mean like the paranoid conspiracy theory that Saddam was hours away from minting a nuke and handing it off to a terrorist who hated him?

    Oh no, you mean the “paranoid conspiracy theory” that neocons actually influence White House policy, being as there’s a bunch of them in key White House posts and on influential think tanks. Time to anti-Semitism slur: 3… 2… 1…

  • jadester

    both sides make good points, but the fact is you are never going to eradicate terrorism simply by using force. You’ll just be ensuring terrorists have (whether valid or not) reason for being terrorists.