For twenty years now I have been arguing the obvious: namely, that as early as 1997, the Islamist problem was too big and too lethal for any U.S. intelligence service or law-enforcement agency to defeat. At that time, I suggested to my superiors at CIA that we either get permission to kill Osama bin Laden immediately — and thereby probably shatter or at least drastically weaken a still-developing al-Qaeda — or inform the president that he was facing a quickly growing Islamist enemy that would soon not only would require conventional forces to eradicate, but could not be defeated by any other force or combination of forces. I also said that to believe that the Islamist movement was either limited in its capacity to grow in numbers and spread geographically or was unrelated to the faith of Islam could not be substantiated by fact or logic, and that to tell the American people that was so would be a knowing, and its own right, a lethal lie. This, I hasten to add, took no brilliance to see. It was clear as day in 1997; it is — I think — just as clear today.
General Michael Hayden is a man I respect and admire, but one with whom I disagree on several issues. Some are ephemera, but two that do matter are defending and abiding by the Constitution and answering the question “Why does America wage war?” In a recent television interview with Bill Maher, General Hayden words were described as follows by the New York Times:
The disloyal Israel-First/Neoconservative (IF/NC) crowd seems to be having a collective and hopefully fatal seizure over Mr. Trump’s pledge to be strictly even-handed and neutral in the ongoing war between Israel and the Arabs — a war both sides clearly intend to fight to the death.
President Obama’s unilateral and so illegal decision to restart his and Mrs. Clinton’s personal and Africa-ruining war in Libya is a good reminder of what America lost with the death of Justice Scalia. Whether or not you agreed with Justice Scalia’s decisions, you could at least be confident that he was one of the three justices on the Supreme Court — the others being Justice Alito and Justice Thomas — who knew what and why the Founders put what they did in the Constitution, and that they intended its clear language to be interpreted in a manner that did not read into the text things that are not there and that are meant to contribute to the building of a tyrannical national government.
There is no denying that the past few weeks of events at home and overseas have been mighty interesting. None of them, however, seem to bode well for the United States.
Readers of this space will recall my criticisms of senior U.S. general officers who:
I believe this is the first time I have added an addendum to an already-published article. But the National Review’s decision to devote an entire issue to attacking Mr. Trump underscores the point I was striving to make in my original article. That point was that the Republican establishment has nothing whatsoever to do with conservatism and is fully owned and operated by three groups of people: Interventionists, Neoconservatives, and Israel-Firsters. (NB: These three terms may well be synonyms.)
“All this seems to show that change of ministers amounts to nothing. One goes out, another comes in, and still the same measures, vices, and extravagance are pursued. It signifies not who is minister. The defect lies in the system. The foundation and the superstructure of the government is bad. Prop it as you please, it continually sinks into court [authoritarian] government, and ever will.” — Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, 1791-92
In almost all cases, those who oppose the national government’s universal surveillance of U.S. citizens are correct. It is unconstitutional because it violates the 4th Amendment, undermines the 1st Amendment, and is only necessary because the national government has put the United States in a lose/lose situation. It will not stop the U.S.-led overseas military, political, and cultural interventions that motivate the Islamists to attack Americans, but it will not use the U.S. military to its fullest potential to destroy the enemy it has motivated to kill Americans. So long as this status quo continues, the civil liberties of Americans will be incrementally abridged and perhaps ultimately eliminated. That is simply the unavoidable result of prolonged and unnecessary wars, and the executive branch’s aggrandizement of power that inevitably accompanies such wars.