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Jewish World Review June 4, 2002 /23 Sivan, 5762

Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.

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The next 'Day of Infamy'? | Bill Clinton would have said, I feel your pain. A phone call I received Sunday afternoon gave me a chilling first-hand experience of what President Bush and his subordinates have been going through as they have received warnings of various kinds about future terrorist attacks -- and considered what, if anything, to do about them.

The call relayed a message from someone knowledgeable about Verdic astrology. His assessment is that the planetary alignment for June 10 is nothing short of cataclysmic, portending, in his words, events that will cause "the earth to shudder."

What does one do with such information? Discount it on the grounds that those who are steeped in Verdic astrological techniques (not to be confused with the pop versions that appear on cartoon pages) may be revered in Eastern cultures, but are generally regarded as kooks by Westerners and particularly the smart people in Washington?

As it happens, the call came in as I was on my way to see the new Tom Clancy film, "Sum of All Fears." In it, the city of Baltimore is devastated by a small atomic explosion. The vivid visual portrayal of what such a device could do in the hands of terrorists (changed in a remarkable sop to Hollywood's political correctness from the Islamist cell of the original Clancy novel to a polyglot Fascist conspiracy) made the astrological forecast unsettling, to say the least.

Unfortunately, if one does take seriously this information, it is no more actionable than much of that available to the U.S. government in the months -- in some cases, even years -- before September 11th. We now know, of course, that there were indications hijackers might commandeer airplanes for the purpose of attacking U.S. government facilities like the CIA or even the World Trade Center. (In fact, Mr. Clancy even wrote another best-selling book based on such a scenario.)

With hindsight, the warnings and clues stand out sharply, allowing congressional critics and others to excoriate the Bush Administration for not having seen 9/11 coming, to say nothing of its failure to do what could be done to prevent the terror that will always be associated with that morning. It is assuredly the case, however, that we have in our possession right now at least some evidence about the perpetrators, if not the exact source and nature, of the next, potentially far more deadly attack(s) -- whether it is June 10th or some other date that proves to be yet another Day of Infamy.

That being the case, it seems like a lousy time for CIA Director George Tenet to be meddling in the Middle East, especially for the purpose of trying to reestablish and reempower the Palestinian Authority's paramilitary that Yasser Arafat has repeatedly used as instruments of terror. As the Mayor of Jerusalem, Ehud Olmert put it in an op.ed. in Monday's Wall Street Journal, "Hundreds of members of the Palestinian police forces have engaged in terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians, including American citizens, during the last 21 months." The case for relieving Mr. Tenet of his day-job responsibilities at the CIA is getting ever-more-compelling (see, for example, Richard Miniter's essay in the New Republic concerning suspicions that Tenet was behind the leaking of the extremely closely held August 6 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing). Until that happens, he certainly should be required not to neglect those responsibilities -- especially to the extent that, by so doing, he is actually undermining U.S. security interests in the Mideast.

The good news is that President Bush, Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller have in the past week taken steps that should enable the Bureau to perform the sort of internal security function that virtually every other democracy on the planet understands is needed. The revised guidelines, internal reorganization and reforms will almost certainly infringe upon some civil liberties, including perhaps in ways we would find unacceptable in peacetime.

This is, however, not peacetime. And if the sort of indicators that have prompted a succession of Cabinet officers and others to warn of attacks that would make the earth shudder -- whether based upon various intelligence intercepts, debriefings of al Qaeda detainees or even Verdic astrology -- are any guide, the next attack may make September 11th look like a day at the beach. And, if so, you can bet that afterwards our civil liberties will be infringed upon to a vastly greater degree as the Nation struggles to cope and to respond.

Accordingly, this is a moment for a maximum and highly synergistic effort to be made, marrying: the best intelligence collection, timely analysis and comprehensive "fusion" (the technical term for interagency sharing of information) of which we are capable; redoubled efforts to protect what we can here at home and prepare, wherever possible, for the orderly evacuation of populations after an attack and where necessary in situ emergency services for those who cannot relocate); and preemptive attacks on terrorists and their sponsors -- as called for last weekend by President Bush in his address to the graduating class at West Point.

We should consider ourselves warned. Now it is up to us to do what we can in the time available to prepare for, and if possible to stave off, the next Day of Infamy.

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JWR contributor Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. heads the Center for Security Policy. Send your comments to him by clicking here.


05/29/02: Bush's Russian gamble
05/21/02: The 'next war'
05/15/02: Ex-presidential misconduct
05/07/02: When 'what if' is no game
05/02/02: Careful what we wish for
04/24/02: The real 'root cause' of terror
04/02/02: First principles in the Mideast
03/26/02: 'Renounce this map'
03/20/02: The inconvenient ally
03/12/02: Adults address the 'unthinkable'
03/05/02: The Saudi scam
02/26/02: Rumsfeld's 'now hear this'
02/19/02: Where's the outrage?
02/12/02: Post-mortem on 'Pearl Harbor II'
02/05/02: Spinning on the 'Evil Axis'
01/29/02: A challenge for the history books
01/22/02: Who pulled the plug on the Chinese 'bugs'?
01/15/02: No 'need to know'
01/08/02: Sentenced to de-nuclearize?
12/18/01: Missile defense mismanagement?
12/11/01: Is the Cold War 'over'?
12/04/01: A moment for truth
11/29/01: Send in the marines -- with the planes they need
11/27/01: 'Now Hear This': Does the President Mean What He Says?
11/20/01: Mideast 'vision thing'
11/13/01: The leitmotif of the next three days
11/06/01: Bush's Reykjavik Moment
10/30/01: Say it ain't true, 'W.
10/23/01: Getting history, and the future, right
10/16/01: Farewell to arms control
10/05/01: A time to choose
09/25/01: Don't drink the 'lemonade'
09/11/01: Sudan envoy an exercise in futility?
09/05/01: Strategy of a thousand cuts
08/28/01: Rummy's back
08/21/01: Prepare for 'two wars'
08/14/01: Why does the Bush Administration make a moral equivalence between terrorist attacks and Israel's restrained defensive responses?
08/07/01: A New bipartisanship in security policy?
07/31/01: Don't go there
07/17/01: The 'end of the beginning'
07/10/01: Testing President Bush
07/03/01: Market transparency works
06/27/01: Which Bush will it be on missile defense?
06/19/01: Don't politicize military matters
06/05/01: It's called leadership
06/05/01: With friends like these ...
05/31/01: Which way on missile defense?
05/23/01: Pearl Harbor, all over again
05/15/01: A tale of two Horatios
05/08/01: The real debate about missile defense
04/24/01: Sell aegis ships to Taiwan
04/17/01: The 'hi-tech for China' bill
04/10/01: Deal on China's hostages -- then what?
04/03/01: Defense fire sale redux
03/28/01: The defense we need
03/21/01: Critical mass
03/13/01: The Bush doctrine
03/08/01: Self-Deterred from Defending America
02/27/01: Truth and consequences for Saddam
02/21/01: Defense fire sale
02/13/01: Dubya's Marshall Plan
02/05/01: Doing the right thing on an 'Arab-Arab dispute'
01/30/01: The missile defense decision
01/23/01: The Osprey as Phoenix
01/17/01: Clinton's Parting Shot at Religious Freedom
01/09/01: Wake-up call on space
01/02/01: Secretary Rumsfeld
12/27/00: Redefining our Ukraine policy
12/19/00: Deploy missile defense now
12/12/00: Sabotaging space power
12/05/00: Preempting Bush
11/28/00: What Clinton hath wrought
11/21/00: HE'S BAAAACK
11/14/00: The world won't wait

© 2001, Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.