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Jewish World Review Nov. 13, 2001 /28 Mar-Cheshvan, 5762

Michael Ledeen

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Consumer Reports


How We're Doing: The Angleton Files, IV


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com -- PERHAPS because NSA has increased its monitoring of the ether, it's been hard to get through to the late chief of CIA's counterintelligence, my old buddy James Jesus Angleton. But, early this morning, the Ouija board functioned well, and I got a decent connection. He was in high dudgeon.

JJA: Did you see what those thumb-suckers at the FBI came up with? They trotted out some graphologist who told us just what we wanted to hear about the anthrax envelopes: It's probably some wacko American, probably not even a Muslim, and probably a loner scientist-type with his own lab. Feh!

ML: Well, why not? It's a big country, with all kinds of people, after all. We did produce the Unabomber, didn't we? Why shouldn't it be somebody like that?

JJA: It reminds me of the operation to assassinate the Pope. Remember how the CIA told everyone in sight that it wasn't the Soviets? They had no independent information, and there was every logical reason and plenty of circumstantial evidence pointing to the Soviet bloc, but somehow they "concluded" it couldn't have been the KGB or the GRU, or one of the bloc services.

ML: I remember it well. One day the Pope's private secretary asked me how it could be that only the CIA was in doubt about the Soviet role.

JJA: Why don't you ask the Pope about this one? He'll probably be smarter than the FBI.

ML: I gather you don't buy the "lone-nut" theory...

JJA: Pfui. We've got nearly 50 years' evidence on the terror network that invariably leads us back to state sponsors. There was a drop-off in terrorist activity for a few years after the fall of the Soviet Empire, because the terrorist groups lost an enormous amount of support, from training camps to safe houses to, above all, guidance from professional intelligence services. So their former clients in the Middle East took up the slack, and the Iranians - who run one of the most brilliant and lethal intelligence services in the world - increased their activity. And voilà - the terrorists get stronger again. They start bombing our embassies and our navy ships, and finally get so brazen that they strike here at home. At the same time, the anthrax suddenly shows up. We know that Osama had close ties with Iraq, and probably with Iran as well. We know that Saddam has a big anthrax program. We know that Saddam has the best imaginable motive - revenge - and yet we find some guy who looks at handwriting who tells us it's a nutty American, and we buy it. And this from an FBI that failed miserably to infiltrate a sleeper network within the United States that had been operating for years. It's all too convenient.

ML: Not only convenient, but it undermines an aggressive policy toward the terror states, doesn't it?

JJA: And how! Because some of our policymakers seem to think that the same standards you need in a courtroom should be applied to intelligence. So if they can't prove Iraqi involvement beyond a reasonable doubt, they can't punish Saddam. That's what I call "crackpot realism." You almost never get that degree of certainty in counterintelligence, but this is a case in which our survival is at stake, and you must protect the country against likely scenarios.

ML: Yes. After all, in this kind of business our enemies don't send calling cards - and if there were a calling card, we'd have every reason to think it was deceptive.

JJA: Never mind that "wilderness of mirrors" talk. Saddam has an anthrax program, and nobody doubts he'd use it against us if he could. And it looks like even the secretary of state, who tried so hard to deny to himself that Saddam was up to his neck in Osama's operations, now has changed his mind. There are just too many proven connections.

ML: Yeah, the Czechs are now saying that Osama's guy, Atta, was discussing terrorist attacks against American targets - with Iraqi intelligence officers.

JJA: Some of my sources at CIA tell me there are lots and lots of these contacts, well beyond anything that's yet appeared in public.

ML: So Iraq is next?

JJA: I can't tell you about our own policymakers. I can only read the minds of the bad guys. Occupational bias, and all that...

At which point the Ouija board sparked out. But I'm gonna try again in a few days.



JWR contributor Michael Ledeen is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of Tocqueville on American Character . Comment by clicking here.

Up

11/06/01: A great revolutionary war is coming
10/25/01: How to talk to a terrorist
10/23/01: Creative Reporting: Learning to appreciate press briefings
10/19/01: Not the Emmys: A Beltway award presentation
10/15/01: Rediscovering American character
10/11/01: Somehow, I've missed Arafat's praise of the first stage of our war on terrorism
10/04/01: What do we not know?
09/28/01: Machiavelli On Our War: Some advice for our leaders
09/25/01: No Room for the U.N.: Keeping Annan & co. out of the picture
09/21/01: Creative destruction
09/14/01: Who Killed Barbara Olson?
08/22/01: How Israel will win this war
08/15/01: Bracing for war
08/09/01: More Dithering Democrats
08/02/01: Delirious Dems
07/31/01: Consulting a legendary counterspy about Chandra and Condit, cont'd
07/19/01: Be careful what you wish for
07/17/01: Consulting a legendary counterspy about Chandra and Condit
07/05/01: Let Slobo Go
05/30/01: Anybody out there afraid of the Republicans?
05/09/01: The bad guys to the rescue
05/07/01: Bye-bye, Blumenthal
04/20/01: Handling China
04/11/01: EXAM TIME!
04/05/01: Chinese over-water torture
03/27/01: Fighting AIDS in Africa is a losing proposition
03/14/01: Big Bird, Oscar, and other threats
03/09/01: Time for a good, old-fashioned purge
03/06/01: Powell’s great (mis)adventure
02/26/01: The Clinton Sopranos
02/20/01: Unity Schmoonity: Sharon is defying the will of the people
01/30/01: The Rest of the Rich Story
01/22/01: Ashcroft the Jew
01/11/01: A fitting close to the Clinton years
12/26/00: Continuing Clinton's shameful legacy
12/21/00: Clinton’s gift for Bush

© 2001, Michael Ledeen