Monday, June 28, 2010

Petraeus Needs a Winning Strategy, Resources

The debate over whether General Stanley McChrystal should have been relieved of his command over the comment revealed in a recent Rolling Stone Magazine by him or his aides will go on forever - however, there should be no debate that General David Petraeus is the right man to replace him. Patraeus' record speaks for itself and his military genius was demonstrated in northern Iraq in 2003 and then again in his strategy and success with the surge in Iraq in 2007. Petraeus' new command will come with terrain and operational challenges quite different from Iraq, however none of which he should not be able to overcome given the right resources to do the job. This is where he could run into a problem as his success strongly depends on his support by the President and this administration. Incompetent commanders, a lack of resources, untrained troops and a failed strategy, either combined or separate and apart, could result in a failure in battle. That being said, the President has now placed our best war fighter in command with what I believe is the best trained military in the world today. Now it's only a matter of strategy and resources. Last December the President said that, "after 18 months, our troops will begin to come home," when discussing the Afghan initiative. Petraeus, as politely as he could, disagreed with the Commander-in-Chief, saying that counterinsurgency is a "roller coaster experience," and does not lend itself to a strict timeline. Petraeus knows that the terrorists and Taliban will sit and wait us out and a timeline would embolden our enemies to change their overall strategies and sit tight until we're long gone. When Generals McChrystal and Petraeus put the Afghan initiative together, McChrystal asked for 40,000 additional combat troops to support his operation. The President on the advice of others on Capital Hill refused McChrystal's request and gave him far less than what he asked for. Why? Who knows better than the commanders on the ground as to what is needed for the mission? If the President has a real desire to win the Afghan offensive, he needs to allow General Petraeus to design the strategy and he must give him whatever he says he needs to carry out the mission. If the President refuses to do so, it will be his loss, but moreover a greater loss for the security of this country... one that we cannot afford. We have a proven winner in General Petraeus and we have the best troops money can buy. Now let's create a strategy that will win and give Petraeus what he needs to get it done. We must support Petraeus 100 % or we will be jeopardizing the lives of our brave men and women in harms way and that just cannot be.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Terror Threat Should Have Prevented Disaster

In the immediate aftermath of the attacks of 9/11, Osama Bin Laden proudly announced that the damage they expected as a result of their attacks was far less than actually occurred. He continued to call for "spectacular" attacks against the United States both here and abroad. Since then, I along with several others had predicted that some of our greatest threats would eventually come from within, from home grown and naturalized citizens who were radicalized and hated this country. It is realistically our deadliest and most dangerous threat as these people are like chameleons amongst us. The most recent arrests of Mohammed Mohmood Allessa - 20, and Carlos Amonta - 24, both of New Jersey, is an example of just that threat. Two young men, radical Islamic fundelmentalists, living in suburban communities, was intent on joining Al Shabab, a radical extremist group believed to be connected with the bombings of the United States Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania is the mid 90s. According to reports, Allessa and Amonta were dead set on killing American troops. Both men were arrested as they were about to leave the U.S., on their way to Egypt and it is questionable as to what they would have, or could have realistically accomplished. Over the past several years, New York City alone, has been the target of at least 11 terror plots, the most recent being the attempted Time Square bombing. It should be clear to a blind man, that the threats still exits and continue to grow daily, but how long will it be before these maniacs succeed in an attack, or the radical leadership regroups and establishs a chatistrhophic plan with point men that have an IQ over 10. I strongly believe that that time is coming and the recent events in the Gulf of Mexico is a clear demonstration of the amount of damage they could cause with just one such event. What if there were two? To date, close to $1 billion dollars has been spent cleaning up the Gulf of Mexico according to sources, and that is just the beginning. The economic damage to the fishing and tourism industries is far worse and will last for years to come. It's hard for me to believe that Bin Laden and his barbarians aren't sitting back watching this in humor, plotting... based on what appears to be, by all accounts a disaterous response. What's frightening is that according to a source in the Washington Post who spoke on the condition of anonymity, "Nobody as ever done what we're trying to do." So, here lies my question; WHY NOT? Knowing Bin Laden and Al Qaeda's threats in the past and their track record on 9/11, why hasn't the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security anticipated something of this magnitude? Why haven't they planned, prepared and practiced for events like this and those that could be equally chatistrophic, anticipating that our new found enemy would love nothing more than to call this, their doing? What about our power plants, water resavoirs, mass transit systems, airline control systems and national power grids? What about our ports and shipping industry and cruise lines? A dozen strikes against these types of soft target at the same time on the same day could be spectacular, in the words of Bin Laden. For now, it is outrageous that BP has failed to get this leak under control, but the government's failure to step in and get the job done, is even more concerning. President Obama should find that person that admitted they had never done this before and then have them flogged. Then he should be asking the the rest of his administration: Why aren't we prepared?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

It is Time to Move Forward…

On December 3, 2004, after three decades of dedicated service to the City of New York and to our country, President George W. Bush nominated me to become the second Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

It was a privilege and an honor, and I accepted the president’s nomination with a strong belief that my experience and success as a public servant would make this country safer in the wake of a newfound enemy as we continued to defend ourselves in the war against terror.

A week after my nomination, I withdrew my name from consideration because the confirmation process was quickly deteriorating into a tabloid nightmare which threatened to make a mockery of everything I had ever accomplished. What began with failing to pay the payroll tax of my children's nanny -- which has plagued more than a dozen presidential cabinet nominees, past and present -- became a five and a half year nightmare of local, state, and federal investigations that resulted in a fifteen count criminal indictment against me.

For nearly three years, I prepared to go to trial to defend myself against substantially the same charges I had already faced in New York State Court. Then, just days before the federal trial was to begin, my bail was revoked and I was imprisoned. The judge threatened to disqualify my legal team, which both he and the government prosecutors had already done twice before and would have sent me back to square one for the third time with my savings now exhausted.

On November 5th, 2009, I was being held in pre-trial detention and financially helpless.  I faced the prospect of remaining behind bars awaiting trial for what could have been more than a year while new court appointed lawyers prepared for my defense. As a result, I decided to accept a plea agreement offered by the government prosecutors.  I pled guilty to eight counts in exchange for a sentence of 27 to 33 months, which many legal observers have opined as severe considering the allegations made against me in the case, especially considering my otherwise unblemished record of service to this country dating back more than 30 years to my days as a young GI in Korea.

Ignoring the signed plea agreement and recommendations made by the prosecutors, as well as the recommendation of the U.S. Department of Probation and my highly decorated service to the American people, the judge sentenced me to 48 months in federal prison – 15 months over the recommended and agreed upon sentence.

Words cannot express my disappointment in the prosecutors and the judge’s behavior, and his sentence that followed.  I have repeatedly expressed remorse for what I may have done, however, unlike many, I can’t remain silent in the face of what I believe has been a gross injustice, which I pray will be remedied by an appellate court.

As I prepare to serve my sentence, I have had to likewise prepare Angelina and Celine, my seven and ten year old daughters for what is next to come and had to teach them that there are times when we are put in situations which are beyond our control and that no matter how undeserved, unsought, or unwanted, we must find the strength, courage, and perseverance to carry on and move forward.

I sat with them and watched the movie Rocky Balboa, for the sole purpose of having them watch one scene where Rocky speaks to his son and says, “The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It's a very mean and nasty place and I don't care how tough you are….it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard ya hit. It's about how hard you can get it and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward!”

When Sly Stallone wrote those words, he was talking about the challenges in real life and the principles of courage, strength, and perseverance.

In my life, I have been confronted with extraordinary challenges, from the age of three when I was abandoned by my own mother who was later murdered, to gun battles on the streets of New York City, through the aftermath of 9/11, to my work rebuilding a shattered Iraq, these are the principles by which I have lived.

My friends say that because I have persevered in the face of great challenge, I became a convenient target of personal and political attacks, most of which were waged by people that have never met me and know nothing about me other than the media headlines that they have read.  As I have listened to my critics, I have often wondered, how they would have fared under the same circumstances and the same scrutiny.

I have been blessed with tremendous support, friendships, and loyalties that I will never forget, and mean more to me than anyone will ever know. To those that have been in my corner and have spoken up for me, written letters of support and that have prayed for me, I offer my heartfelt thanks. It is a humbling thing to have such support, and I will forever cherish it and try to remain worthy of it.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross once said, “People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”  I’m not exactly a stained-glass window, I don’t think I’ve sparkled or shined, and I certainly don’t claim to be beautiful, but I do think there is a light within me! 

That light is my love for my wife, my children, and my country.  It is a light that they ignited; they sustain, and will guide me through the dark times ahead.

And now, as I have told Celine and Angelina, “It is time to move forward,” and end this nightmare. 

I pray for God to watch over my wife, my two little girls, and my family in my absence. I also pray that he brings us together again much sooner rather than later.

I pray for our country, its leadership, and the men and women who like my son, are on the front lines and in harm’s way everyday, protecting us from evil and defending the very freedoms by which we live.

Finally, I can only hope that history will judge me based on my 30 years of public service to our great nation, and not by tabloid headlines, my imperfections, or the mistakes that I may have made.