August 04, 2003

Senator Gary Hart Talks about Terrorism, the Bush Administration and What's Not Being Done to Prevent Further Attacks

(8/4/03) Remember, not only where there numerous and specific
intelligence warnings from our allies about
impending attacks from Al-Qaeda that were not acted
upon by the _resident, the VICE _resident, the White
House au pair and the rest of the cabal, not only did
they shelve the Clinton-Gore national security team
plan on crushing Al-Qaeda handed to them with the keys
to the Oval Office, not only did they cause so much
frustration for counter-terrorism investigator John
O'Neal that he resigned to go to work as director of
security for the World Trade Center (and died there,
attempting to rescue others on 9/11), the _resident
and his cabal rejected the conclusions of the
Hart-Rudman commission (empowered by Clinton-Gore)
only to institute *some* of the Hart-Rudman
recommendations many months later as a political
distraction and in an incompetent and subverted way.
Of course, as with everything they touch, the concept
has been corrupted: we have a Department of Homeland
Insecurity, one that tracks Democratic state
legislators in Texas instead of a real Dept. of
Homeland Security that would have the money to secure
the ports, the air traffic, the railways, the water
system, etc. The money was spent instead on a foolish
and unfare tax cut and a foolish and unnecesary war in
Iraq...But who will tell this story to the American
people? Who will connect the dots of all this criminal
Here is a great Buzzflash interview with Gary Hart
(D-Reality), but I doubt Hart will have such
insightful questions to answer if you see him on
PrettyBlandStuff's Noose Hour...The names of Hart and
Rudman (R-Reality) are, of course, scrawled on the John O'Neal
Wall of Heroes...

August 4, 2003
Senator Gary Hart Talks about Terrorism, the Bush Administration and What's Not Being Done to Prevent Further Attacks

"And that was our first recommendation to the
President. And it was that failure to act -– to begin
to do that -– that I think permitted this event to


If anyone knows that the United States -– and the Bush
Administration -– should have seen September 11th
coming, it’s Gary Hart.

Former Colorado Senator Gary Hart co-chaired both the
U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century,
which issued three public reports forecasting the age
of terrorism and outlined a new, post-Cold War
national security policy, as well as the Council on
Foreign Relations task force on homeland security,
which recently released its report "America -- Still
Unprepared, Still in Danger."

Many of the issues Hart presciently raised and
discussed in the 1970s and 1980s -- including military
reform, intelligence reform, energy independence, and
a number of others -- have now begun to re-enter the
arena of national debate. In the late 1990s, Hart's
mastery of security issues and grasp of foreign policy
led him to make multiple and tragically unheeded
predictions -- one as late as September 5, 2001 --
that America would be attacked by terrorists using
weapons of mass destruction.

No longer a "prophet without honor" in the wake of
9-11, Gary Hart believes the United States is still
woefully unprepared to intercept and respond to
attacks on American territory. Like a latter-day Paul
Revere, he is continuing to provide direction to both
his party and his country in an age marred by

In the light of the recently released 9/11 report,
BuzzFlash turned to Senator Hart to provide some
insight into America's war on terrorism.

* * *

BUZZFLASH: First I wanted to ask you, before we get
into the Hart-Rudman report, on your
[LINK] of June 25th, you wrote, "Meanwhile" – and I’m
quoting – "the Administration’s efforts to remake the
Middle East to our liking, with all the ramifications
of benign imperialism, goes on. It just happens to
have little to do with the real war on terrorism." Can
you explain a little more what you meant by that?

SENATOR GARY HART: Well, I think when the history of
this military engagement is written, the real purposes
behind it will have to do much more with the politics
in the Middle East than with any war on terrorism. We
are not, in North Korea or anywhere else, preemptively
attacking nations whose governments we do not like, or
who are oppressive to their own people, or even in the
case of North Korea, which possesses weapons of mass
destruction and might use them against us. So all the
arguments used that were ostensibly the reason for war
in Iraq, I think, were efforts by the Administration
to bring Iraq under the umbrella of the war on
terrorism. They worked for the moment, but now that we
are trying to make the case, we’re not able to do so.
I think the real reasons, as I’ve said, had a lot more
to do with our long-range objectives in the Middle
East and the Arab world.

BUZZFLASH: Among the controversies about the
just-released 9/11 report, there are a couple things
we’d like your comments on. First of all, the missing
pages that allegedly have to do with support by
individuals within Saudi Arabia -- and perhaps within
the government -- for Al-Qaida. Do you have any
comment on that? Some would argue that the Bush
Administration has been covering up for Saudi Arabia,
and that there are far more indications of connections
between Saudi Arabia and al-Qaida than Iraq had.

HART: I gather you’re talking about the Congressional
report that just came out.


HART: Well, it’s very difficult for us to want to
withhold that portion of the report on the grounds of
protecting the Saudis, when the Saudi government
officially stated it wishes the report released. And I
gather the Saudi Foreign Minister made that case to
the President. So it puts us in a position of
protecting a government that claims it doesn't want to
be protected. I think frankly, if it looks like that,
we’re endangering the Saudi government in the region,
because essentially what we’re saying is we’re so
close to the Saudis we need to protect them in this.
And the Saudis don't want to be protected. And that
makes them look very beholden to us politically. And
so I don't see as it’s doing anybody any good. You can
blank out sources and methods – how you learned
something or who gave it to you – and still 95% of
that section could be released, and I think it should

BUZZFLASH: Now you co-chaired the Hart-Rudman report,
and it was officially released just about the time
that the Bush Administration came into office. And it
received some coverage – not a tremendous amount --
but some media attention was given to it. And I have a
CNN article in front of me from February 1st, 2001,
which says, in the introduction to an article about
the Hart-Rudman report, "While few officials doubt the
group’s research, some question whether these
suggestions are possible and necessary." How did you
feel at the time that the report received coverage,
but pretty much died down as much news does after
awhile if there’s no one to keep it alive?

HART: Well, first of all, there were three reports.
The first was issued sometime before the one you
mentioned. These are all public – rolled out in news
conferences with full notification to the press. And
the first report said that America would be attacked
by terrorists using weapons of mass destruction, and
Americans would lose their lives on American soil,
possibly in large numbers. The date of that report was
September 15th, 1999 – two years, almost to the day,
before the attack on the World Trade Center.
Furthermore, a second report came out in the spring of
2000, and the third one is the one that you mentioned.
The first of fifty recommendations, all of which were
eminently doable, was to create a National Homeland
Security agency. And if CNN or anyone else was saying
that it wasn't feasible, well, two years later, we had
one finally created. So the question was: are you
going to do it before the terrorists attack, or
afterwards? And unfortunately, the Administration
waited until well afterwards.

I would point out also that the so-called newspaper of
record, the New York Times, didn't print one word
about that final report. Keep in mind this wasn't just
another federal commission. This was the most
comprehensive review of U.S. national security since
1947. And so we weren't competing with a thousand
other federal commissions. This was groundbreaking
stuff, and we had spent two and a half years putting
these recommendations and findings together.

BUZZFLASH: Because of that intensity of work that was
put into it, it covers a lot of ground. And I won't
ask you to try to review all of it. But let me ask you
about a couple of significant areas of discussion. One
was the issue of the National Security Council at the
White House, and that it had perhaps become too
imbalanced over the years – too reflective of a given
administration’s position, not necessarily just the
Bush Administration. We certainly saw that under Nixon
and his relationship with Kissinger, and your
commission recommended that more power should be
returned to the State Department. Do you feel that
events have borne out that finding?

HART: Yes, I think so, having very little to do with
9/11. But I think most of us felt, and many others
have felt, that the power of the National Security
Council has grown well beyond what its original
purposes were – that is, to coordinate the security
activities of major branches of government. It has
become a second State Department, and a competitor
with the State Department. That happened well before
the Bush Administration. It’s been going on for quite
some time. And it’s, in almost every administration,
been the source of friction and grievance and
confusion. So it seemed to all of us who had studied
the matter for some time that it made eminent sense to
reestablish a proper balance between a smaller and
more discrete national security staff and the State
Department, which is tasked with conducting the
foreign policy of the United States.

BUZZFLASH: The Hart-Rudman Report mentions the
importance of human intelligence gathering. Can you
explain that a little bit? Has our reliance in the
recent past been on gathering intelligence primarily
through technology?

HART: Well, in the latter days of the Cold War,
technology permitted us, through the use of overhead
satellites and very sophisticated listening stations
and devices, to acquire a great deal of information.
Indeed, at some points, more than we could ever
possibly digest. And, as our reliance and fascination
with those sources expanded, we more and more
neglected the agent on the ground, and particularly
the agent penetrating organizations that might pose a

And it was just very simple – if you believe that one
of the largest, if not the largest threat, of the
early 21st Century is going to be terrorism, these are
non-state organizations that do not lend themselves to
the kind of electronic surveillance that nation-states
do, with capitals and governments, and established
networks of communication and so on. So it’s just kind
of common sense that if you’re going to fight
terrorism in this new world, that you’re going to have
to get agents inside those organizations to tell you
when, where and how they intend to act.

BUZZFLASH: In a news story prior to the interview, we
were looking back on the history of the
recommendations from the Hart-Rudman reports. And one
news story mentioned that you had tried to warn the
Bush administration – I’m quoting from them. "Hart
pleaded with the Bush Administration to take the
Al-Qaida threat seriously, throughout the spring and
summer of 2001, with Hart even meeting personally with
Rice just one week before the Twin Towers were
attacked." Do you have any comment about this
interpretation of events?

HART: I’d put it differently. There were fourteen of
us, and not all of us agreed or shared the same degree
of urgency about this threat. We all concluded that it
existed. We all concluded that it was going to happen.
The question was: would it be sooner or later? I felt,
and I think a few others felt, a higher degree of
urgency about this. And in my case, I went around the
country. Keep in mind the mandate of the commission
required that it be dissolved by February 15th, 2001.
We got an extension because there were Congressional
committees that wanted testimony from us. But by and
large, once we delivered the reports, as a body, we
had pretty much completed our work.

But individually, I went around the country, gave
speeches and urged people to pay more attention to
this. I also urged reporters and journalists to pay
more attention. One of the speeches I gave was in
Montreal, ironically, to an International Air
Transportation Association meeting. And the next
morning, the Montreal papers’ headlines were: "Hart
Predicts Terrorist Attacks on America."

BUZZFLASH: And when was that?

HART: That was the day I went down to Washington and
met with Dr. Rice, whom I had known before. And I
said, "Please get going more urgently on the issue of
homeland security." And that was September the 6th,
2001 – five days before the attack.

BUZZFLASH: Rice has said that Bush was briefed, I
believe, on August 6th of 2001 – if that’s not the
exact date, it’s within a couple of days – that there
might indeed be serious bombings by Al-Qaida in the
United States, or hijackings, but that they couldn't
predict planes would be flown into the Twin Towers or
the Pentagon. Do you have any response to that?

HART: Our commission did not have the resources to
give detailed projections as to how, when and where.
But the fact is that for two years we had said this
was going to happen, and one major step that needed to
be taken was to coordinate existing federal assets,
particularly our border control agencies – Coast
Guards, Customs and Border Patrol, and Immigration and
Naturalization Service, and the Federal Emergency
Management Agency. We were very explicit about that,
and we had been. And that was our first recommendation
to the President. And it was that failure to act – to
begin to do that – that I think permitted this event
to happen. No one believes in absolute security. But
the goal is to make it as difficult for the attackers
as possible, and we had not done that. There had been
no – to my knowledge – no major step taken by this
administration in the period between January and
September to stop these attacks, including
coordinating the databases and communication systems
of the Board of Control Agency and the INS. Everybody
since 9/11 that’s looked at the situation has said the
porousness of that system is what permitted these
people to do what they did. And the question is: what,
if anything, did the administration do between January
31st and September the 11th? And the answer is: not
very much.

Now a commission of fourteen people cannot substitute
for the federal government of the United States. The
President had the power. The President controlled the
FBI and the CIA. And when the tragedy happened, no one
was fired. Why is that? Why was there no
accountability? So instead of pointing the finger at
us, and say: well, if you’d just told us they were
going to use airplanes, and that the target was the
World Trade Center, and it was going to be September
11th, maybe we could have done something. That’s total

BUZZFLASH: Well, we’ve pointed out on BuzzFlash on a
number of occasions that when Rice mentioned that they
knew of hijackings, but not hijackings into buildings,
that this was beyond ridiculous, because the way you
stop a hijacking into a building is the same way you
stop a hijacking.

HART: Right.

BUZZFLASH: And so though the ultimate destination
perhaps, according to her, was not known to them, the
means of preventing it was the same.

HART: Yes. I was told very recently that there was
somebody in the intelligence community that created a
scenario that did involve the use of airplanes. I
haven't seen that scenario or where it came from, but
I didn't know it existed until somebody said it – that
it had been in one or more scenarios.

BUZZFLASH: Your co-chairman of the Hart-Rudman
committee, former New Hampshire Senator Warren Rudman,
headed the panel for the Council on Foreign Relations
that recently released a report that says – and I
quote – "The United States remains dangerously
ill-prepared to handle a catastrophic attack on
American soil." This was just released a short time
ago. And particularly that we were lacking in
equipping and training the so-called first responders.

HART: Yes.

BUZZFLASH: The Administration dismissed this as a
commission outside the government that didn't really
have access to enough information to make these
judgments. What do you think about that finding?

HART: Well, first of all, to complete the record, that
report succeeds one that Senator Rudman and I did for
the Council on Foreign Relations in October 25, 2002 –
last fall. We did one on the anniversary of the
attacks to assess how much progress had been made in
homeland security in the year following 9/11. Our
report was entitled, "America’s Still at Risk.
America’s Still Unprepared."

The members of that panel included two former
Secretaries of State, including George Shultz and
Warren Christopher, three Nobel Prize winners, some of
the top security experts in the country. And Warren
[Rudman] and I, who had, by now, spent three or four
years of our lives on this – to say we were outside
the government, and therefore couldn't know what was
going on, is nonsense. We talked to an awful lot of
first responders. I personally have talked with
mayors. I’ve talked with fire departments, police
departments. We talked with the City of New York. We
talked to an awful lot of people. And so this wasn't
wild speculation. Warren’s report absolutely tracks
what all of us have been reporting all along; that is,
that the integration of the federal, state and local
government simply has not taken place.

BUZZFLASH: Now something happened horrible on
September 11th. Surprised the Bush Administration.
Surprised us all. Terrified this country. Since that
time, the Bush Administration has said: trust us. If
you challenge us, you’re unpatriotic. Everyone’s
concerned about terrorism. I mean, this is a natural
human instinct. We want to protect ourselves, protect
our families. I hate to ask the proverbial question,
but if you were president, what would you be doing
that’s not being done? And what would you not do
that’s being done? In short, what are the gaps here
beyond the first responders?

HART: Well, the Administration has three massive tasks
of integration. The first is to integrate the 22
federal departments that are part of a new Homeland
Security Department. That’s a massive task. It’s going
to take quite awhile. And part of it’s happening, but
it’s not happening fast enough. The key word here is
urgency. There is no sense of urgency.

The second, as I’ve said, is to integrate the federal
system. The first responders are not federal forces.
They are state and local forces – by and large, local.
This is a test of the federal system, meaning the
national government, state governments – fifty state
governments – and thousands of local governments. The
federal government’s role is to train and equip, and
to provide the resources for those state and local
responders, particularly local. They are not doing
that. They are not doing it nearly fast enough. So
across the board, whether it’s a communication system,
whether it is databases, whether it is linking local
databases to the federal database and watch lists,
training emergency health workers, training and
equipping the National Guard, port security – the list
goes on. It’s contained in the first Council on
Foreign Relations report last fall and the second one
this summer, in considerable detail.

The third integration that no one -- almost no one –
ever talks about is to integrate the public and the
private sector. There is something called the critical
infrastructure. That’s composed of financial systems,
communication systems, transportation systems, and
energy production and distribution systems, all of
which are critical to the operation of our society and
our economy. Virtually none of those industries have
been hardened or prepared for cyberattack or any other
attack. And then you’ve got other industries,
including chemicals, food and so forth that also have
to be protected. And the federal government can't do
all this. Those industries themselves have to be
tasked, either by law or by Presidential leadership,
with making themselves less vulnerable to being used
as a means of attacking our society.

An example: legislation was introduced in the last
Congress to get the chemical industry to harden its
sites and protect them better. Every member of the
chemical industry lobbied against that legislation.
And no word was heard from President Bush, Vice
President Cheney, or Governor Ridge about the duty of
the chemical industry as good citizens to help protect
itself and the American people. And there was no
meeting in the White House chaired by the President
with the CEOs of any of these industries, saying:
"Ladies and gentlemen, here’s what I expect you to do
as loyal American citizens to help make this country
invulnerable. You are not doing it. Now does anybody
here have a problem with that? I want to see your
hand." No hand would be raised. That would be strong
Presidential leadership.

BUZZFLASH: Let's return to where we started, which is
the war in Iraq and the Middle East, and the quote
from your entry in, which is to say,
if you were president, would you have considered Iraq
a target to expend $4 billion a month and the loss of
so many lives as significant enough in the war on
terrorism to spend those costs and lose those lives?
Or were there other targets or uses of our limited
defense forces and funds that probably might have
better served to advance the war on terrorism?

HART: I don't think you put it in dollar terms. I
think you rather say where are the most immediate
threats to American security and American lives. And I
would not have put Iraq first in that war on
terrorism. North Korea comes ahead – possibly one or
two other places – Al-Qaida certainly. And I agree
with Bob Graham when he says that the war in Iraq took
our focus away from Al-Qaida. When was the last time
you heard anything about us finding any Al-Qaida
people? So by mistakenly or erroneously dragging Iraq
into the war on terrorism, or making it the highest
priority, we have, in fact, dispersed our resources
and taken our eye off the principal challenges that we
face. There was an alternative.

People say, well, so you were just willing to let
Saddam Hussein prepare to attack us. Of course not.
The alternative was coercive, intrusive, permanent
inspection, permanently keeping Saddam in his box. And
that could have been done totally with international
support. And instead, the administration was so hell
bent on regime change – getting rid of him – that they
overrode the international community on the grounds
this had to do with our security, when no proof had
been made that it did. In fact, the arguments that
were made for the war having to do with our security
have almost all turned out to be wrong.

BUZZFLASH: As a final question, Bush and the Attorney
General and Vice President Cheney have said and/or
implied that to challenge them on how they’re
conducting the war on terrorism is, in essence,
unpatriotic. Do you have any thoughts about that?

HART: Of course, it’s nonsense. This is kind of the
last refuge of scoundrels – to say that anybody who
disagrees with you is unpatriotic. It’s almost not
worthy of response. Anybody who says "my way or the
highway," including the President of the United
States, or any party that says "we define patriotism
and if you don't agree with us, you’re unpatriotic,"
hasn't read the Constitution or doesn't have a clue
about what the history of this country’s about.


Posted by richard at August 4, 2003 07:43 AM