- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 2, 2005

In three years, the United States will know who the Democratic and Republican nominees for president will be. Today, many have anointed their choice of Democratic nominee, Sen. Hillary Clinton from New York. In choosing a president, the country is, of course, also choosing a commander-in-chief, the most solemn of jobs performed by the president as he or she undertakes to “provide for the common defense.”

The junior senator from New York recently complained that the country appeared to be run by Alfred E. Neuman, the smiling moron known to millions of readers of Mad magazine, know by his philosophy of “What, me worry?” It is, of course, unclear whether the senator was referring to the current administration or the Congress, especially the obstructionist party that she leads. Can this mystery be solved?

The impression the former first lady apparently hoped to leave with her audience was, in contrast to those “running the country,” she, of course, took things seriously and was intensely seeking to protect America. She wistfully complained that when “we” were running the country — referring to the former president, Bill Clinton, and herself — things were so much better and she was ready to return to those great days if only the country would elect her, or at least make her a co-president one more time.

Well, let’s look at the record, especially when it comes to the threats from terrorists, their state sponsors and the weapons of mass destruction we all fear they might threaten us with. In the past administration, the intelligence community eliminated analysts and country experts by the hundreds. According to John Weisman’s new book, “Direct Action,” the Clinton administration destroyed dozens of intelligence networks, leaving us virtually blind to key aspects of terrorism and weapons proliferation. Mr. Weisman notes the near destruction of our intelligence community between 1993-2000 left us so blind to threats that we have now been forced to outsource much of our capability to assess threats, discover key intelligence and protect our security.

In the same period as well, the United States went on a procurement holiday in terms of weapons acquisition for our military. Our key weapons programs were deliberately under-funded by 40 percent according to a senior Clinton administration official, meaning even the lower-than-needed procurement levels could not in fact materialize. To justify this “fuzzy security policy,” the threats for which we had to prepare were deliberately downplayed, dismissed or ignored.

In one critical area, missile threat data from North Korea and Iran was deliberately “cooked” to make a looming threat appear minor or non-existent. Iran missile and nuclear threats were dismissed, with one senior State Department official threatening the diplomatic status of representatives of one of America’s key allies because they wouldn’t “look the other way.” Even when Congress was on the eve of passing legislation calling for administration action, senior administration officials pleaded with congressional leaders to back off and allow “engagement” to work. Those threats are now here, threatening the Pacific and the Middle East, as well as the U.S. homeland.

But maybe the senator from New York has changed her views on national security since her days as co-president. Let’s look at the record. Item one: In addressing a major security conference in Europe this spring, Mrs. Clinton roundly condemned the Bush administration for what she viewed as unfair criticism of the United Nations, this in the face of $22 billion in stolen oil-for-food funds, sex-slave rings being used by U.N. “peacekeepers,” and Sudan, Cuba and Zimbabwe representatives deliberately on human rights abuses. Item two: When hearing testimony from the commanders of New York-based Guard and Reserve units, the senator asserted the forces were not being provided adequate equipment. The military leaders quickly responded that such was not the case and that the Bush administration had provided increased capability and protection, (in contrast to the slash-and-burn cuts experienced during the Clinton administration). Item three: While speaking recently to the Democratic Leadership Council, the senator claimed the “South” was moving away from concerns of social and economic justice. This is a strange comment given the extraordinary service of men and women from the South in our military as they voluntarily put themselves in harms way to protect our liberty and freedom, a sacrifice certainly consistent with a concern for justice.

The real Hillary Clinton, however, may in fact remain unchanged from the days of being a co-president. Just a few hundred feet from her office in the West Wing was the office of Richard Clarke, the counter-terrorism czar. In a summer 2000 briefing to the House Committee on Government Reform, Mr. Clarke said establishing a comprehensive threat assessment was too difficult to do. When asked whether a comprehensive counter-terrorism plan would be developed, he claimed such an effort was “silly.” No doubt this solves the mystery. Here was the real Alfred E. Neuman, “What, me worry?” administration.

Peter Huessy is president of GeoStrategic Analysis.

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