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12/10/2006
OUR GOVERNMENT IS UNSERIOUS ABOUT NATIONAL SECURITY
CATEGORY: Government, Politics

I don’t care how many elections Republicans lose or if a Democrat is elected President in 2008, the Democrats still have a long way to go in convincing me that they are as serious as I and many conservatives are about national security. And those in government - the bureaucrats and policymakers in the agencies who are charged with counterterrorism - have an equal distance to travel in order to lift the impression that our entire government is at war with an enemy that they don’t understand and have made precious little effort in trying to change that singular fact.

What do I mean by the Democrats getting “serious?” Taking the time to learn the facts about our enemies (calling them “enemies” would be a nice start), engaging in learned debate about military issues rather than simple knee-jerk pandering to their anti-military base, and perhaps, since we are at war, placing national security at the forefront of the party’s and the nation’s business.

I don’t see it. And this certainly doesn’t help; National Security Editor for Congressional Quarterly Jeff Stein iinterviewed incoming House Intel chair Silvestre Reyes and asked him his views about major terrorist groups:

The dialogue went like this:

Al Qaeda is what, I asked, Sunni or Shia?

“Al Qaeda, they have both,” Reyes said. “You’re talking about predominately?”

“Sure,” I said, not knowing what else to say.

“Predominantly — probably Shiite,” he ventured.

[…]

And Hezbollah? I asked him. What are they?

“Hezbollah. Uh, Hezbollah…”

He laughed again, shifting in his seat.

“Why do you ask me these questions at five o’clock? Can I answer in Spanish? Do you speak Spanish?”

“Pocito,” I said—a little.

“Pocito?! “ He laughed again.

“Go ahead,” I said, talk to me about Sunnis and Shia in Spanish.

Reyes: “Well, I, uh….”

(HT: James Joyner)

Stein has been on a quest of sorts for the last few months, going from the FBI to DHS, and othe counterterrorism officials to ask these simple questions about Sunnis and Shias. The answers have been eye openers.

But Reyes is a man who is in charge of overseeing our intelligence community. Can you see this moron sitting in a closed hearing room listening to the latest intelligence on al-Qaeda in Iraq? Or worse, how would he interpret Hizbullah’s moves against Prime Minister Sinora’s government in Lebanon? Or the Taliban’s continuing resurgence in Afghanistan?

It does not comfort me that many bloggers know a helluva lot more about our enemies than the incoming House Chairman of the Intelligence Committee.

And it isn’t just Reyes, of course. From the President (who was ignorant of the Sunni-Shia distinction until 2003), down through our counterterrorism officials, and now evidently through our lawmakers charged with formulating and judging our national security policy, there seems to be a singular myopia about the history and nature of our enemies. What animates them besides anti-Americanism? What is their worldview? How does their religion shape their actions? These would seem to be basic concepts that someone charged with trying to forestall a terrorist attack on the United States would need to have a grasp of; the psychological motivations of the enemy.

As far as the Democrats are concerned, you don’t have to be a male chauvinist pig to say that Nancy Pelosi has made several major missteps since the mid term elections. In fact, the canard that she wouldn’t be receiving this kind of withering criticism if she were a man is ridiculous. She runs on an anti-corruption platform and her first move is to back a shady Congressman for majority leader? I don’t care if you’re a man, woman, or newt, that kind of tone deafness (or arrogance) bespeaks an incompetence not easily brushed aside.

Then there was this brouhaha over the Intel chair that was entirely unnecessary. Jane Harmon may have been a hawk at the beginning of the Iraq War. But when most of the intelligence community had been agitating for a decade to destroy Saddam and his WMD, one can hardly blame a Member of Congress who sat in those hearings listening to briefing after briefing about what a danger the Iraqi dictator was and then not support the effort to topple him.

I don’t know the details of the personal feud between the two lawmakers. But how serious can we believe the Democrats are about our national security if the leader of the party in the House allows personal animus to intrude on her decisions regarding the safety of the American people or, just as bad, shamelessly panders to her rabid, anti-war base on a matter involving the competence of those in charge of intelligence oversight?

It would be one thing if she pulled a stunt like this with the Chairman of the Government Affairs Committee or some congressional backwater that was not vital to the safety of the United States. But by compounding her original blunder by elevating a dunce to the chairmanship of the Intel committee is almost beyond belief.

Maybe we should send the lot of them to the nearest junior college and make them all take a course in the history of Islam. Or better yet, read Karen Armstrong’s Islam: A Short History, a fascinating and informative read.

Either way, it’s scary to think that the ignorance of people in charge of protecting us is found at every level of government.

By: Rick Moran at 2:18 pm
7 Responses to “OUR GOVERNMENT IS UNSERIOUS ABOUT NATIONAL SECURITY”
  1. 1
    And Rightly So! » Government Inaction Pinged With:
    3:19 pm 

    [...] Oh so ouch. I don’t care how many elections Republicans lose or if a Democrat is elected President in 2008, the Democrats still have a long way to go in convincing me that they are as serious as I and many conservatives are about national security. And those in government – the bureaucrats and policymakers in the agencies who are charged with counterterrorism – have an equal distance to travel in order to lift the impression that our entire government is at war with an enemy that they don’t understand and have made precious little effort in trying to change that singular fact. [...]

  2. 2
    B.Poster Said:
    5:13 pm 

    “Our government is unserious about national security.” The title of this post says it all and it is spot on. The jaw dropping unseriousness applies to both Republicans and Democrats. Given the fundamental unseriousness and general cluelessness of our policy makers that has existed since we declared the “War on Terror,” I find it absolutely astonishing that we have not been attacked again on our home land.

  3. 3
    Nikolay Said:
    5:21 pm 

    Maybe we should send the lot of them to the nearest junior college and make them all take a course in the history of Islam.

    You know, the irony here is that Hastings is said to be one of the most hard-working members of the committee. And he knows about Islam enough:

    And he was onto al Qaeda when most members of Congress probably thought it was an insect.

    In 1998, he petitioned then-House leaders Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., and Richard A. Gephart, D-Mo., to “find a way to allow for academia and experts to come here and discuss with us the nature of the religion Islam.”[...]

    “Hastings,” maintains an ally, “could probably lecture on Islam for an hour or two.”

  4. 4
    John Said:
    11:48 pm 

    Given the current crop of senior House Democrats, Reyes is probably about as good as people can hope for as head of the committee. He won election in El Paso after retiring as head of the U.S. Border Patrol’s sector there, where he was credited with stopping the tide of illegals that had been flooing into the city from Juarez though increased enforcement and, yes, establishment of a border fence in the metro area.

    El Paso’s also a major military city, with plans to expand the number of troops at Fort Bliss by 10,000 to 12,000. That means the local economy depends heavily on the base operations, which in turn means Reyes has to be a lot more pro-military than your average House Democrat, or risk being tossed by voters in 2008. That doesn’t excuse his not knowing key items about the Middle East a long-term Intellegence Committee member should know, but he’s still a far better option than Alcee Hastings would have been in the sam position.

  5. 5
    The Fat Guy » Blog Archive » Buy More Guns Pinged With:
    1:06 am 

    [...] Via RWNH…with whom I must quibble, perhaps needlessly — “our government” is us…that “by, for and of”. We have no one to blame for this state of affairs but you and me. I can guarantee you that I could ask the next 20 people and get a similarly ignorant answer, and 10 of them would throw in some specious, racist bullshit about speaking Spanish. [...]

  6. 6
    Maggie's Farm Trackbacked With:
    7:10 am 

    Monday Morning Links

    Dept of Intolerance: Moonbattery has two examples.Department of Ignorant Politicians: RWNH UN backing off on global warming. Am. ThinkerReconsider your end of year donation to MADD. SynthstuffDarfur update: CSM

  7. 7
    The Thunder Run Trackbacked With:
    12:57 pm 

    Web Reconnaissance for 12/11/2006

    A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention.

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