Thursday, April 23, 2009

Obama Risks National Security with CIA Scrutiny

In the past week, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said in a television interview, that the Obama administration would not support prosecutions for "those who devised policy" regarding the CIA interrogations.

The same interrogations that President Barack Obama’s top intelligence adviser, National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair, recently admitted had resulted in "high-value information" as well as a "deeper understanding" of al-Qaida.

Attorney General Eric Holder offered an assurance that the CIA officials who were involved in these acts would not be targeted, as long as their actions were in line with legal advice at the time.

General Holder also told the CIA that the government would provide free legal representation to its employees in any legal proceeding or congressional investigation related to the program and would repay any financial judgment. He said, "It would be unfair to prosecute dedicated men and women working to protect America for conduct that was sanctioned in advance by the Justice Department."

President Obama’s current CIA Director Leon Panetta recently wrote in a message to his employees that, “the CIA responded, as duty requires,” and the president himself said in a letter sent directly to CIA employees that the nation must protect their identity "as vigilantly as they protect our security."

These are the right responses for all the right reasons.

For example, with the exception of Rahm Emanuel, each one of these men has to lead some of the most courageous men and women in the world into an indefinite war against an evil that surpasses any enemy we have ever had to deal with before.

These agents or operatives need the inspiration and support of their leaders and their country.
They shouldn’t have to work with a fear of reprisal or criminal prosecution by politicians who are obsessed with the previous administration, particularly when their actions were deemed legal and necessary at the time and resulted in valuable intelligence that we may not have acquired otherwise.

The politicizing of this and other issues involving our national security has to stop as it is weakening our ability to protect ourselves.

It is amazing to hear our congressional leaders call for one investigation after another when in fact members of Congress repeatedly signed off on the CIA’s enhanced interrogation methods (such as waterboarding) that many of them today decry as torture.

That’s right — Director Blair recently revealed that from 2002 through 2006 when the use of these techniques ended, “the leadership of the CIA repeatedly reported their activities both to executive branch policymakers and to members of Congress, and received permission to continue to use the techniques."

Will those members of Congress too be investigated?

In their zeal to politically persecute President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and others, it appears they have lost their objectivity. It appears they have no concern over the release of national security related information, past and present, that in no way should ever be released publicly or more so to our enemies.

If Congress sincerely wants an accurate report on the National Security policies or the CIA’s interrogation methods used during the Bush administration, perhaps they should hire an independent body to do so for they can’t investigate themselves.

More importantly, we should not and cannot impede our ability to secure this country and fight the war and enemy we face.

The president said himself that he worries about “getting so politicized that we cannot function effectively, and it hampers our ability to carry out national security operations."

Perhaps Congress should take heed and stop politicizing our National Security before it is too late.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Our Security Depends on Missile Defense

President Barack Obama made his first visit to a Muslim nation on Monday as leader of the “free world” and declared that the United States "is not, and will never be, at war with Islam.”

In his address to the Turkish parliament, he called for a greater partnership with the Islamic world and said that Turkey was an important U.S. ally in many areas, including the fight against terrorism.

He called for a greater bond between Americans and Muslims, and said that terrorist groups such as al-Qaida did not represent the vast majority of Muslims.

"Let me say this as clearly as I can," he said. "The United States is not and never will be at war with Islam. In fact, our partnership with the Muslim world is critical . . . in rolling back a fringe ideology that people of all faiths reject."

At the same time the president was speaking in Turkey, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced that he planned to cut 15 percent of the missile defense program, and recommended stopping production of the F-22 fighter jet and scrapping a new helicopter for the president as he outlined deep cuts to many of the military's biggest weapons programs.

Gates said his $534 billion budget proposal for the Department of Defense represents a "fundamental overhaul" in defense acquisition and reflects a shift in priorities from fighting conventional wars to the newer threats U.S. forces face from insurgents in places such as Afghanistan.

He said that we must "fight the wars we are in today and the scenarios we are most likely to face in the years to come, while at the same time providing a hedge against other risks."

As I see it, the message from President Obama is the right one, and although it’s been said almost verbatim by President George W. Bush and the preceding three or four presidents, the mainstream media is acting like it’s the first time they’ve ever heard it.

We are not at war, and we should not be, with the Muslim world or Islam; however, we cannot forget or ignore the fact that radical Islamic extremists are at war with us and will stop at nothing, including death to themselves, to achieve victories in their war.

Secretary Gate’s plan to restructure the Defense Department to address the unconventional threats against us is a must, but we need to very careful not to lose sight of the conventional threats we face; countries like Venezuela, Iran, Russia, and North Korea — three of which are being run by egotistical lunatics that would like nothing more than to see the collapse of the mighty United States of America.

If we’re going to slash defense spending, I think we really need to rethink cutting funds for the missile defense shield program.

I may be a bit “gun shy” if you will, but I just don’t think it’s a good idea to announce we’re cutting missile defense just one day after North Korea launched the longest-range three-stage intercontinental ballistic missile they have yet to build, coupled with its troubling nuclear program, which by all accounts is being developed for capabilities required to strike the United States.

With North Korea and Iran in a marathon race to acquire nuclear capabilities, the reality is that we could be placing our allies and ourselves in serious jeopardy.

An immediate problem scenario is that our allies may feel that we are losing our ability to come to their aide in the event of an attack and they seek that protection elsewhere. This could be devastating to our friendships in the Arab region and Eastern Europe that have taken years to foster.

I am all for cutting government spending and management accountability, but not at the cost of our national security.

North Korea’s recent act of defiance in launching that missile, coupled with the fact that the United Nation’s Security Counsel has proven time and time again that is has neither the courage or capability of holding rouge states and their leadership accountable for egregious violations of U.N. resolutions, is a clear demonstration why we must not cut this program.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The New Freedom Tower

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey made a decision last week to change the name of the tallest new skyscraper slated for the site of the worst terror attack in United States history, from "Freedom Tower" to "One World Trade Center".

I think it’s wrong and I believe that the name should stay, “Freedom Tower.”

The original Twin Towers were two of the greatest economic symbols in our country and the enemy that attacked us then and stalks us now, loathes our economic and religious freedoms and our support for human and women’s rights. Those principals of freedom and many others, are exactly why we were attacked in the first place.

Given the events of that day and its aftermath and reflecting on the innocents we lost and heroes that perished, I believe that this building must be one of the most symbolic and patriotic structures of just about any in our country, and that includes in name.

We owe it to the memory of those we lost – innocent people from more than 100 countries and every walk of life. We owe it to the men and woman from the PAPD, FDNY and NYPD that ran into those buildings and defended our freedoms in one of the greatest rescue missions in world history.

As the Twin Towers imploded and the five surroundings buildings collapsed, there was an overwhelming feeling of denial and anger. But within moments after the dust settled in what appeared to be hell of earth, something began to happen. Freedom began to ring out loud and clear… from every window, building, car antenna and street post… American flags in every size and shape began to appear and the message to the terrorists was clear…

We will not be defeated!

When officials announced 7 years ago, that the tallest of the five planned towers at the site would symbolize the nation’s triumph over terrorism, I thought of those flags, I thought of our freedom and I thought of the message that we would be sending the animals that attacked us.

This building should remain the “Freedom Tower;”

It’s just the right thing to do.