- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 17, 2006

“But when it comes to action risking war, technology has modified the Constitution: the president, perforce, becomes the only man in the system capable of exercising judgment under the extraordinary limits now imposed by secrecy, complexity and time.”

This is a sentence from the Senate testimony of the late Harvard Professor Richard E. Neustadt, March 25, 1963, a leading expert on the presidency, delivered six months after the Cuban Missile Crisis brought the world its first nuclear confrontation. Neustadt was a Democrat and adviser to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. Then the enemy was the Soviet Union. Today it is Osama bin Laden, Iran and Syria.

What the terrorist attacks on America demonstrated September 11, 2001, was that a president is crippled unless his decisionmaking is supported by useful intelligence about what the enemy is up to. If President Bush is “the only man in the system capable of exercising judgment under the extraordinary limits now imposed by secrecy, complexity and time,” it is important the CIA, FBI, the FAA and other intelligence agencies be empowered to seek out America’s enemies in their hideouts.

Mr. Bush was ignorant about Islamofascist activities because eight years of the Clinton administration apparently produced nothing of value to a new chief executive in office less than 240 days when September 11 occurred.

What reason could there have been for an absence of knowledge when Islamofascism’s first aggression against the World Trade Center Feb. 26, 1993 — six dead, 1,000 injured — had led to arrests and convictions? A good beginning, perhaps, but no follow-up. If there had been follow-up could 19 suicide bombers have operate so successfully on U.S. soil?

The 1993 World Trade Center bombing should have been a warning more was to come. Was the warning taken seriously enough so an incoming president would know what needed to be done? In the seven years that remained of the Clinton administration, our intelligence agencies should have been working and the incumbent president or his staff should have demanded continuing reports and action against Islamofascism.

Did anybody in the Clinton administration take the first World Trade Center bombing seriously enough to warrant a full-scale task force dedicated to defanging the Islamofascists?

As for Osama bin Laden, villain in chief, his capture would not end the war against Western civilization, though it would be a good beginning. But suppose we were handed Osama on a silver Pakistani platter, what then? A trial? Long, frothy “it’s-not-my-fault” defense speeches, another U.N. World Congress Against Racism in an American courtroom?

Are the American people now being told if we get bin Laden, that’s it? I hope not. Without the Syria and Iran alliance, and their assorted fronts, Osama bin Laden would be nothing.

The Clinton administration ignored Islamofascism from its beginnings when Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini took power 23 years ago. While the State Department repeatedly listed Iran as the leading state sponsor of terrorism, the Clinton administration played an appeasement game though Iran was behind the June 1996 Khobar Tower bombing (19 U.S. Air Force personnel killed), the Jewish Community Center in Argentina (86 killed, 200 injured) and the assassinations of translators of Salman Rushdie’s novel. The Clinton administration kept looking for Iranian moderates, forgetting Henry Kissinger’s definition: “An Iranian moderate is one who has run out of ammunition.”

The Clinton administration had at least seven years to do something about Islamofascism. The WTC wreckage tells us Clinton & Co. did nothing. Yes, nothing that could have helped avert a national tragedy and a triumph for Islamofascism.

“No other person in our system,” said Professor Neustadt describing the presidential role, “has so massive a responsibility for national security.” And yet President Bush is being harried by a demagogic wave of fear that civil liberties are being eroded. It took the Western democracies 45 years and the leadership of seven presidents to win the Cold War. How many presidents will it take to win the hot war against Islamofascism?

President Bush is aware Islamofascism cannot be appeased. Unfortunately, Democrats in Congress allied to the Liberal Left would rather defeat Mr. Bush than Islamofascism.

Arnold Beichman is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

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