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QUOTATION: People often say that, in a democracy, decisions are made by a majority of the people. Of course, that is not true. Decisions are made by a majority of those who make themselves heard and who vote - a very different thing. - Walter H. Judd

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2004-07-25 - 1:01 p.m.

Honorable Commission, Toothless Report

From Op-Ed in today's N.Y. Times

By RICHARD A. CLARKE

former head of counterterrorism at the National Security Council, and author of "Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror."

Note: Underlining is mine.

Clarke commends the commission, although rebukes “…Bush administration focused on the wrong country” in going to war with Iraq.

9/11 Commission recommends: “a new cabinet-level national intelligence director and a new National Counterterrorism Center to ensure that our 15 or so intelligence agencies play well together. Both are good ideas, but they are purely incremental…. there are other changes that would help more.

"First, we need not only a more powerful person at the top of the intelligence community, but also more capable people throughout the agencies - especially the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency. In other branches of the government, employees can and do join on as mid- and senior-level managers after beginning their careers and gaining experience elsewhere. But at the F.B.I. and C.I.A., the key posts are held almost exclusively by those who joined young and worked their way up. This has created uniformity, insularity, risk-aversion, torpidity and often mediocrity.

The only way to infuse these key agencies with creative new blood is to overhaul their hiring and promotion practices to attract workers who don't suffer the "failures of imagination" that the 9/11 commissioners repeatedly blame for past failures.

Second, in addition to separating the job of C.I.A. director from the overall head of American intelligence, we must also place the C.I.A.'s analysts in an agency that is independent from the one that collects the intelligence. This is the only way to avoid the "groupthink" that hampered the agency's ability to report accurately on Iraq. It is no accident that the only intelligence agency that got it right on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction was the Bureau of Intelligence and Research at the State Department - a small, elite group of analysts encouraged to be independent thinkers rather than spies or policy makers.

* * * * * * * * *

Clarke goes on to say that we need a larger and more capable commando force for covert antiterrorism work, a network of agents working without diplomatic protection, but even more importantly, an understanding of who the enemy is and what strategies are needed in the fight. “Terrorism is a tactic” not an enemy. He identifies the enemy as “Islamic jihadism, which must be defeated in a battle of ideas, as well as in armed conflict.”

“We need to expose the Islamic world to values that are more attractive than those of the jihadists. This means aiding economic development and political openness in Muslim countries, and efforts to stabilize places like Afghanistan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Restarting the Israel-Palestinian peace process is also vital.”

He recommends a pan-Islamic council of respected spiritual and secular leaders to coordinate the Islamic world’s own ideological effort against the new Al Queda.

In my opinion, the current administration is at a great disadvantage in the battle to win the “hearts and minds” of the Islamic world, because of the unnecessary and counterproductive invasion of Iraq and our steadfast support of all things Israeli. If for no other reason, we need a new President to lead us in a new direction.

Just released by AP: ”It's the economy. That's what delegates to the Democratic National Convention say their presumed presidential nominee or — they shudder to think — President Bush should concentrate on first in 2005, an Associated Press survey of Democratic delegates found.” With health care the No. 2 issue, followed by the war in Iraq, according to the survey of some three-quarters of the 4300 plus delegates.

While the economy and health care may be important issues for Americans, I’m not certain they are the most important issues for the world. And certainly gay marriage isn't!

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