Article Overview:   What is the status of the Global Intelligence Corps?   Is it divided by the politicians of nations raging over who's in charge of the war in Iraq?  Or, does the intelligence community of the world stand above, aloft of the bandy roosters of politics?   Are they our true Sentinels of Vigilance?  Find out.


Saturday--March 8, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 542
As World Leaders Shake Fists & Fingers, Howl & Scream Over War, The Intelligence Community Stands Vigilant

Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

GROUND ZERO, New York City, Mar. 8--I took a deep sigh of relief the other night when Maurice Sonnenberg, former Vice Chairman of the National Commission on Terrorism, responded positively to my question:  "When the war erupts in Iraq, will the nations currently at odds with the U.S. over Iraq bind together in support of battling Terrorism, or will they be further divided?"

Professor Richard Allen, Group Moderator, and Maurice Sonnenberg

        Sonnenberg was one of three scheduled panelists at The New School's World Policy Institute speaking on "America's Intelligence Breakdown" Thursday, Nov. 6.    Also scheduled was Ian Cuthbertson, Director of the Counter-Intelligence Project.  Mr. Cuthbertson was unable to attend due to a last minute crisis.
        Richard Allen, professor of law at Brooklyn Law School and American Scholar in Residence at the EastWest Institute, was also in attendance.
          My wife and I sat up front, as we usually do at the World Policy seminars.   I prefer to be close to take photos and to study the panelists as they speak.  Someone once told me to read a man's eyes for the truth of what he says, not his lips.   I have used my eyes for ears ever since.
         During the questions and answer period, the audience was bent on jamming political agendas down the speakers’ throats.   They were looking for blood, specifically George Bush's, by hammering questions about America's bellicose tactics in standing up to Terrorism despite global criticism.   I sensed the audience wanted the panelists to confirm that Bush was arrogant, abrasive, and a finger-pointing warmonger, a theme prevalent among colleges where dissident opinions flare from sophomoric mouths.

"Terrorism isn't going to go away", Sonnenberg stated

      Both speakers, however, were above the attempts to stir the rancor pot.
       In blunt, historical terms, both speakers denied the thinly disguised anti-war and anti-American policy questions and elevated their answers to the strategic rather than tactical plane of dealing with Terrorism at Large.
        "I see fifty years of turmoil ahead," Sonnenberg stated.  "Terrorism isn't going to go away.   We need to prepare ourselves for it.  This means we must reexamine how we deal with a problem that challenges our current interpretation of Constitutional rights.  We have to weigh our civil liberties against the preservation of our national security."
         He was responding to questions machine-gunned at him by a number of students concerned that the Patriot Act was a government attempt to whittle away individual rights under the excuse of war.   The questions ranged from wiretaps to torturing Terrorist suspects.  They couldn’t have been more down Sonnenberg’s alley.

Maurice Sonnenberg served as former Vice Chairman of the National Commission on Terrorism

       Sonnenberg was a vital force in framing counter-terrorism strategies prior to the Nine Eleven attack.   His warnings and suggestions for radical changes in America's intelligence infrastructure plus a need to restructure certain privacy laws to allow intelligence less risk-adverse access, had been generally glossed over until post Nine Eleven.  The report, published in July 2000 to the 105th Congress, received scathing criticisms by the press because the frankness of the report included adjusting civil liberties as we know them to meet demanding intelligence efforts to thwart Terrorism.
        One headline stated after the report was issued:
National Commission on Terrorism Report: 'Not A Document To Be Cast Aside Lightly; It Should Be Flung With Full Force Across The Room'
        Prior to the seminar I, read the report and saw the clarity of its warnings.   Had America installed the suggestions prior to Nine Eleven outlined in the document, perhaps the tragedy of Nine Eleven might have been averted.
        Intelligence today, he cited, still faces many roadblocks.   One startling fact is that FBI and CIA agents pay 50 percent of their personal liability insurance out of their own pocket.  They are also personally liable to defend themselves in part should they act in such a manner as to bring litigation down on their heads. 
          This policy, he said, "tends to make agents risk adverse."  The threat of such liability often makes agents "flinch" when it comes to pushing forward on issues that could be construed a violation of certain rights.  

          Another major concern then and now is the issue of "separation of agencies," and antiquated data input and retrieval systems that make both the timely collection and analysis of information almost impossible.   The panelists were less than optimistic about the reshuffling of government into the Homeland Security Department at a cost of $38 billion, especially since the two major intelligence sources, the FBI and CIA remain stand-alone entities.  Models for bringing intelligence to the Cabinet Level were exampled by England’s MI5, its domestic intelligence unity, and MI6, its foreign or CIA counterpart.
        The issue of intelligence over civil liberties was a major concern for the audience.

"I would resort to torturing the kidnappers of my grandchildren to get them back if I had to" Allen remarked

        Professor Allen was blunt regarding his stance on the issue.  In his opening statement, addressing the question of suspending certain civil liberties to Terrorist suspects, including a question regarding torturing Terrorists to elicit information, the professor provided a hard-line metaphor.
        "If my grandchildren were kidnapped by Terrorists who demanded a million dollars, and because I do not have a million dollars, if it came down to me letting them kill or hurt my grandchildren or to torture the Terrorists to find out where my grandchildren were and how to retrieve them safely....well, there is no question what I'd do."
         Both panelists bit the reality bullet to the audience's chagrin..  I don't believe the speakers' frankness was appreciated, for it dealt with the Big Picture of stopping Terrorism in the future, weakening arguments bent on weakening American leadership today.
         Sonnenberg didn't mince words regarding the current harangues America is receiving by factions in the U.N. opposed to U.S. unilateral policy against Terrorism.

Sonnenberg grimaced listening to questions thrown at him and Professor Allen

         "We can't pay that much attention to what is happening in the political arenas," he said.  "Bureaucrats are arguing philosophically at the moment for various political reasons.  But the fact is that everyone knows Terrorism is here to stay.   Behind the noise nations are making pro and con the issue of going to war with Saddam Hussein, stands a strong global intelligence community.   It doesn't play games.   Each element is working together despite national political differences to stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction falling into the wrong hands."
          He reminded the audience that until recently warring nations in the Middle East meet weekly at intelligence briefings to share information.
         "The intelligence community is the global backbone in this war.   It won't let politics weaken it.   Policemen are policemen the world over."
          I felt a yoke lift.  Finally, a vision larger than who's more right and who's more wrong was emerging.  

...circling America waiting to feed

Complacent, hungry nations are...

        It was the first time I felt the sinew of the world's muscle flexing as one unit against Terrorism.   If I took the headlines as gospel, it would appear the United States was standing alone with Britain on a gangplank, and below, thrashing in the waters, swarmed packs of hungry sharks with German, French, Russian and Chinese saw-toothed fangs..
         "The global intelligence community is unified on the issue of Terrorism," he asserted.   "And, each day that unity grows stronger.  Terrorism must be stopped before it gets started."
         His strongest point came at the end of the seminar when he said, "Once the war against Saddam Hussein begins, it will send a signal to other nations thinking about using Terrorism as a weapon of power, telling them to back down or suffer similar consequences.   There will be a rippling effect that will be good for the world."
          On a scale of one to ten, he gave our present state of intelligence gathering and analysis against Terrorism a five.  While that sounded bad, he reinforced it was moving up the scale, not down.

Professor Allen (on the left), a strong advocate of civil liberties cited examples of how other nations have fewer than the United States especially during these challenging times.

      On the issue of civil liberties versus national security, Professor Allen cited how other nations have cinched their civil liberty belts to quash Terrorism.   In England, he noted, a policeman could now arrest a Terror suspect and get a warrant for the arrest forty-eight hours later; in France, until recently, a suspect could be held up to a year before trial or sentencing, he said.
         Allen also quoted Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black who said "the Constitution is not a suicide pact."  Then he pounded his hammer on reality's anvil.
        "We are in a situation that is Armageddon in nature.  If weapons of mass destruction become readily available to Terror factions, we all are in danger.   I am pessimistic about the future.  But don't forget.  We (America) conduct war more civilly than any nation on earth."
           I thought heartily about his last statement.
           While no other nation bends over backwards to offer its citizens equal rights and maximum liberties, equally, no other nation has as much pressure on it to engage in war with civility than the United States.
           Recently, the Administration issued a policy allowing journalists to report on the war from front-line positions, in contrast to a restraint placed on them in the Gulf War.   Nothing seems more dangerous than to allow public opinion to dictate a military operation, but fighting Terrorism is not a war against a people, it is a war against a concept of brutal destruction by those who would use Fear, Intimidation and Complacency to rule the world.
           Sonnenberg called the War on Terrorism an "asexual war."   He noted that fighting Terrorism is not about taking the high ground and planting a flag of victory over any nation, but about a constant state of vigilance to suppress its proliferation among those radical fractional elements who seek power through threat.  You can't draw a circle around Terrorism, he noted.

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed "Most Wanted Terrorist" was recently captured by the Pakistani Government and is an example of working together

        In reinforcing the knitting of nations as one universal intelligence body working apolitically to sniff out and snuff Terrorism, the recent capture of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed by the Pakistani government serves as an example of global apolitical intelligence to permeate national borders without the flames of politics searing its fantail.
          Sonnenberg reinforced the world intelligence community has one goal--to find, capture or kill Terrorists.  All nations, he maintains, realize they can be the victims of Terrorism as easily as not.   A biochemical agent or dirty nuclear bomb in the hands of a group of radical combatants who are bent on exercising their power over others, can lead to devastating results for all nations.
          A smallpox epidemic, for example, unleashed in one nation, can spread to countless others as easily as an airplane can take off from one airport and land in another in a matter of hours, containing aboard unsuspecting carriers of the disease.
          It was good for me to hear news that is often buried deep in the bowels of political conflagrations.   There is a unity among the world, an army of Sentinels of Vigilance, who do have their ears to the rail.  They are the intelligence gatherers, the Parents of Intelligence Vigilance.
          Despite the communication barriers that hobble organizations like the CIA and FBI from enjoying a free flow of information, both are bound to protect the people from harm--foreign or domestic.
           But what Mr. Sonnenberg and Professor Allen made vividly clear, was that another element has been added to the stew of nations in this respect.   There is not only a foreign need for intelligence, and a domestic need for it, but also a global need that runs on the same track.

The panelists agreed there is not only a domestic and foreign need for intelligence but also a global need

         The movement of a Terrorist suspect in Yemen is as important to the police chief in Two-Boots, Montana as it is to Scotland Yard or M-5.   Where that individual is going is anyone's guess.   He or she could be on a Terror mission to almost any nation, or any state or province or prefecture.    He could be heading for anywhere in the world's neighborhood, and not necessarily to blow up some vital engine of industry, but simply to poison a water supply, or to unleash the madness of some virulent agent to prove the porous nature of society and its vulnerability to harm by anyone with a penchant for bullying others.
          I heard the message loudly.   We should not judge the world's stance on Terrorism by the battles currently underway in the United Nations Security Council.   Despite all the mud slinging, a unified group of nations is grinding away minute by minute in an intelligence war against Terrorism.
          It also makes sense.
          The United States is constantly offering the U.N. intelligence information in support of its evidence that Saddam Hussein is violating his disarmament agreement.   And daily, the U.N. is questioning that intelligence, demanding more "proof."   Mr. Sonnenberg stated the other night:  "You can't handle a crisis until a crisis occurs."
         Sadly, this is what the U.N. seems to want.   They want to wait until Saddam Hussein unleashes some of his hidden arsenals against others.   They want to react not proact to Terrorism.   The U.S. wants to proact.  Therein lies the rub.
         Intelligence's purpose is to wave red flags so fires don't burst into raging holocausts.    It's mission is to warn the Sentinels of Vigilance to act now rather than later, to snuff out the smoke before it becomes fire.
         Since Terrorism deals in deadly weapons that are indiscriminate in nature, with the capacity to kill thousands by misuse or madness, it cannot be treated with the same sanity one might use against nations and leadership of the past.
         In this way, the U.N. is anachronistic in its approach, for it struggles to preserve the idea of the "sovereign state, where negotiations and diplomacy once served to quell uprising.  But Terrorism ignores the nation-state structure of such diplomacy, for it has no morals.  It would just as soon sell its weapons of mass destruction and arm the indigents as use them to threaten others into Complacency.

Hans Blix, Chief Weapons Inspector for the United Nations

      Just yesterday Hans Blix, the chief U.N. weapons inspector, noted in his speech to the Security Council that Saddam Hussein's reported mobile biochemical units were not yet confirmed, but cited various vehicles had been seen scuttling about the country.   While attempting to refute American intelligence--which is the sum of all intelligence gatherers around the world--he also slipped and brought up the red flag:  What if Saddam had such mobile biochemical stores?
       I think it is virtually criminal that the U.N. is favoring diplomacy over intelligence.  Each day it demands "proof" of the red flags, it is really saying:  "Let's wait until he does something really bad before we act."
       But Terrorism can't be treated with kid gloves.
       It seeks to kill or maim the innocent with unexpected attacks on unsuspecting targets.    Intelligence knows this.   Intelligence is the bloodhound that brays the warning of danger.   Politicians want to wait until the Twin Towers crumble before they act.  They are risk-adverse also.  Thus, they are Complacent by nature.
       Sadly, I feel Mr. Sonnenberg's analysis of "5" on a scale of one to ten regarding his optimism toward our current state of security is probably accurate.
       But happily, I believe America is racking up a ten in its willingness to act on warning signals rather than wait until the next bomb explodes, or the vials of biochemical's work their way out of Iraq into the hands of those whom Saddam Hussein feels are just as power hungry as he.

Rub the Lamp of Vigilance and protect the Children

       In a way, the decision to chose sides on the issue is as easy as considering this choice.   If your children were under a potential threat, who would you run to for protection--the local politician or the local policeman?
       Obviously, the local politician is inclined to limit your concerns, for he probably ran on a platform of "keeping the peace."  To imply or infer your child isn't safe might cost him a vote.
        On the other side of the coin, the policeman knows the Beast of Terror is everywhere, and wouldn't hesitate to draw his gun and rush to your home to insure your child's safety.   He would take the warning you issued as justification for taking action--forceful action if necessary.
       So when it comes to betting on the United Nations to affirm whether Saddam Hussein is a Terrorist threat demanding immediate police action, or relying on global intelligence to dictate that decision leaves little to be discussed.

The Vigilant Sentinels of Intelligence will come to the aid of the Children's Children's Children

       Hopefully, what Mr. Sonnenberg said about other Terrorists backing away after Iraq is invaded and Saddam unseated, will come true.   Hopefully, they will retreat to their caves and realize that Sentinels of Intelligence have won over Complacency of politics and diplomacy.
       And we, the Citizens of Vigilance, will be able to breathe just a little easier.  That is, as long as we keep our Terror Hunters at work, listening, sifting, analyzing and communicating the heartbeats and footsteps of the Beast of Terror.


Mar. 7--Thomas Jefferson Fought Terrorists Unilaterally 199 Years Ago

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