' Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.
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Jewish World Review August 12, 2003 / 14 Menachem-Av, 5763

Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.

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Divided loyalties


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | A curious thing happens when conservatives are elected President of the United States -- particularly if they have the temerity to govern as conservatives: Non-trivial numbers of federal civil servants oppose the President's agenda and work to scupper it through quiet obstructionism, anonymous but highly critical press leaks and, on occasion, public disagreements over policy and programs.

Rarely has this phenomenon been more evident than in the run-up to and aftermath of the Mr. Bush's decision to liberate Iraq. In particular, the past few weeks have seen a number of present and recently retired government employees coming forth to castigate the President and his national security team. The charge: selective utilization and willful distortion of intelligence about the nature and the imminence of the threat Saddam Hussein posed to the United States.

This gives rise to the perception, at best, of an incoherent, if not incompetent, presidency. At worst, it strengthens the hand of other critics -- in Congress, presidential candidates, the media and the public at large -- who cite the Administration's own personnel in making their attacks on the President's integrity and judgment.

This sort of thing seems to happen much less when Democrats are in charge of the executive branch. At least in part, that fact is attributable to a profound difference between the parties: Governing is an avocation for Democratic partisans. Their Republican counterparts tend to view it as a public duty, to be performed only as an interlude in a career otherwise spent in the private sector.

Democrats consequently fare better when it comes to staffing administrations -- under GOP as well as Democratic presidents. This is so, not least, because the latter often make a concerted effort to convert political appointees into career civil servants who then "burrow" into the permanent bureaucracy. When GOP political appointees take over, as they did in the months after Bill Clinton left office, they often find themselves saddled with individuals of a profoundly different ideological stripe who hold senior staff positions and who, under civil service rules, cannot be easily displaced.

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Certain proclivities can greatly exacerbate this problem. The Bush Administration decided, as evidence of its commitment to reduce the size of government, to cut the White House budget. In order to staff the National Security Council, it was therefore compelled to rely heavily upon detailees from the State Department and CIA, organizations riddled with career civil servants whose left-of-center leanings were greatly exacerbated by hiring and promotion practices during the Clinton years. One such loaned staffer, Rand Beers, recently left the NSC in a blaze of denunciations of the Bush team to become foreign policy advisor to presidential candidate John Kerry.

Matters were made worse when Secretary of State Colin Powell decided to turn the vast majority of the policy-making positions in his department over to Foreign Service officers and civil servants who were recruited and/or promoted to senior posts during the Clinton Administration. Not surprisingly, Foggy Bottom has been a hotbed of covert and occasionally overt opposition to much of President Bush's foreign and defense policy agenda.

This has been particularly true of the Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), an organization staffed by Foreign Service officers and civil servants who do tours of duty in INR between rotations to overseas and other assignments. Not surprisingly, this bureau's intelligence products have tended to reflect the policy predilections of State's permanent bureaucracy, rather than the facts.

Two INR officials, recent retiree Greg Thielmann and his former subordinate Christian Westermann, have been among the few intelligence officials publicly to attack the integrity of the Bush Administration's case for war with Iraq. The former reportedly fared poorly when given an opportunity to support his charges recently before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence; Senate staffers have described Westermann's charges of politicization of intelligence to be "laughable."

Even the Defense Department -- an organization whose senior ranks have been largely populated by Donald Rumsfeld with individuals who actually support the President's security policies -- has nonetheless found its efforts to help develop and advance those policies under assault from people with "insider" credentials. Patrick Lang, a former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst, and Lieutenant Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski, a recently retired Air Force officer who served a tour in the Pentagon's policy shop, have leveled of late a number of charges to the effect that classified information was selectively used to justify otherwise unsupportable claims that Saddam posed a threat.

In fact, neither critic appears to have been directly involved in or otherwise to have first- hand knowledge of the alleged activities. Instead, they seem to be passing on scuttlebutt whose provenance, to say nothing of veracity, seems highly questionable. In the case of Ms. Kwiatkowski, a review of numerous screeds she has published on the Internet -- including some evidently written while on active duty -- evince an ideological hostility towards the President, the Secretary of Defense and others in her chain of command that calls into question her objectivity and the accuracy of her charges.

The most successful U.S. administrations draw on talented personnel from both sides of the aisle and pursue policies that enjoy sustained bipartisan support. Where federal employees -- whether civilian or military -- find themselves unable faithfully to execute a President's policies, however, the public interest will be best served if they stop pretending to work for the government. They are welcome to join the public debate from outside but, as they do so, they should make clear the political or ideological leanings that rendered them unable to work for the incumbent and his team.

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

Up

08/05/03: The dot-connector
07/31/03: Wishful thinking about Islamist terror
07/22/03: Horatius Pipes
07/15/03: Making Saddam's day
06/17/03: UNDESIRABLE INFLUENCE
05/29/03: 'ROAD TRAP' FOR AMERICA, TOO
05/20/03: Saudi terror watch 05/13/03: 'Transformation, part deux'
04/29/03: Shooting the messenger
04/22/03: ISLAMIST POWER PLAY
04/15/03: Who's next?
04/08/03: Winning the peace
04/01/03: 'EMBED' FREE IRAQIS, NOW!
03/05/03: A friend in need
02/25/03: The plot thickens
02/18/03: Who's 'with' President Bush?
02/11/03: Islamists' White House gatekeeper
02/04/03: The Powell report
01/28/03: Bush's finest hour
01/14/03: North Korean scorecard
01/07/03: Nuclear meltdown
12/17/02: Serious about defending America
12/03/02: Defining 'regime change'
11/26/02: With friends like the Saudis...
11/19/02: The Jayna Davis files
11/12/02: Could Israel die of thirst?
11/04/02: Against us
10/22/02: Too clever by half?
10/17/02: 'Drain the swamps'
10/08/02: The temptations of George Bush
10/01/02: Return of the San Francisco Dems
09/24/02: The next crusader?
09/17/02: It is no accident that advocates of coercive inspections have opposed prez's goal of regime change
09/10/02: A model for Iraq
08/27/02: Beware 'consensus leadership'
08/20/02: To Iraq or not to Iraq?
08/13/02: Trading with the 'enemy'
07/30/02: Who's trashing Ashcroft?
07/23/02: Wall Street's 'poisoned apples'
07/16/02: Back on the China front
07/09/02: See no evil?
07/02/02: Rethinking peacekeeping
06/25/02: Political moment of truth on defense
06/19/02: Inviting losses on two fronts
06/12/02: Make missile defense happen
06/04/02: The next 'Day of Infamy'?
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.