- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 2, 2003

In this section, we are running the second of four excerpts from Richard Miniter’s new book, “Losing bin Laden: How Bill Clinton’s Failures Unleashed Global Terror” (Regnery). In it, the author describes how CIA Director James Woolsey’s repeated requests for funds for Arabic linguists were rejected by the Clinton administration and Sen. Dennis DeConcini, Arizona Democrat, who was then chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, which had oversight responsibility for the agency. As Mr. Miniter writes, the dereliction of duty by the White House and the senator “kept America blind and deaf as bin Laden plotted.” This egregious indifference to America’s security needs was the rule during Bill Clinton’s two terms as president.

Mr. Woolsey’s personal account of the Clinton White House’s repugnance for those in intelligence is jarring. Despite being handpicked by Mr. Clinton to head the CIA, the president did not meet even once with Mr. Woolsey privately about any security issues during his first two years in office. After Osama bin Laden’s attack on hotels housing U.S. Marines in Yemen in December 1992 and the first World Trade Center bombing in February 1993, it was clear that the United States was being targeted by terrorists. Because of the new threat, Mr. Woolsey went out of his way to be accessible to the new president. In fact, he made the trip from CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, to the White House every day for the president’s intelligence briefing, for which Mr. Woolsey’s staff had prepared detailed reports. It had been the habit of previous presidents to welcome the CIA director into the Oval Office for the briefings so that complex issues could be clarified and advice given. Mr. Clinton, however, left Mr. Woolsey cooling his heels outside in the hall each time.

The humiliating treatment of the nation’s top intelligence expert reflected Mr. Clinton’s cavalier lack of respect for the dangers facing the world’s only superpower. The impertinence of the White House toward Mr. Woolsey reached the level of casting the CIA director as an object of ridicule. As Mr. Miniter reports: “When a small plane accidentally crashed on the White House lawn in 1994, West Wing staffers joked that it was Woolsey trying to see the president.” The planes that crashed into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 — and the fact that the attacks came as a total surprise to America’s intelligence community — were made vastly more likely by Mr. Clinton’s policy of neglect toward intelligence officers and their role in defending the nation.

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