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Friday, October 01, 2004

Security State of The Union

The world changed on September 11, 2001, we've been told. A war is fought against a stealthy and cunning enemy, an enemy who would stop at nothing to destroy the American way of life. And, we've been told, we have no other option but to prevail in this epic struggle.

So, how secure are we? Well, three years after 9/11 it looks like we are not that secure at all, possibly far less so than on that very tragic day. Thanks to The Nation's Ari Berman, we now know that not only is the FBI translation unit woefully inadequate, but also so is the CIA's unit dealing with Osama bin Laden.
The bin Laden unit is stretched so thin that it relies on inexperienced officers rotated in and out every 60 to 90 days, and they leave before they know enough to be able to perform any meaningful work, according to a letter the C.I.A. officer has written to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees.

"There has been no systematic effort to groom Al Qaeda expertise" among C.I.A. officers since Sept. 11, 2001, according to the letter, written by Michael F. Scheuer, the former chief of the agency's bin Laden unit and the author of a best-selling book that is critical of the Bush administration's handling of the war on terror.

Excerpts from Mr. Scheuer's letter were read publicly by Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, on Tuesday at a Senate hearing on the confirmation of Porter J. Goss as director of central intelligence. Congressional officials later provided a copy of the letter to The New York Times.
One would tend to think that the issue of a falsified intelligence document that affected the Administration's decision to go to war against Iraq is an issue with a significant bearing on the US national security. One would also think that this is an issue the country's security services would pursue vigorously. Maybe they did, but it is apparently the case that a journalist easily managed to speak to Rocco Martino, the source of the forged Niger uranium document, but the FBI did not.

The roster of various security flaws in the US national security system could be continued. However, I believe the above examples are sufficient grounds to ask whether there is any real activity in progress to make our nation more secure, or whether all we have is just a large-scale sham which the Administration uses as a smokescreen to pursue its objectives, both foreign and domestic. It also seems to be legitimate to ask whether some of those objectives run counter to both the law of this nation, as well as true interests of its citizens.

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