As most in the military will tell you, intelligence is the key to success or failure. It’s the long pole in the tent. Good, reliable intelligence translates into victories on the battlefield. Wrong or insufficient intelligence translates into defeat. “To lack intelligence,” explained former Marine Commandant General David M. Shoup, “is to be in the ring blindfolded.”
Soon after the attacks of September 11, 2001, Senator John Kerry quickly directed blame at the White House and the intelligence agencies. “And the tragedy is,” he told Bob Schieffer on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” “at the moment, the single most important weapon for the United States of America is intelligence. It’s the single most important weapon in this particular war.” That revelation must have come to the senator at about 9:00 AM on September 11th.
Just four years earlier, Kerry had asked one of his colleagues, “Now that (the Cold War) is over, why is it that our vast intelligence apparatus continues to grow.”
Perhaps we should have been asking: “Why were America’s eyes averted from the potential of 9-11?” “Why were the CIA, FBI and NSA caught unaware that Al Qaeda had cells in the U.S. with the plans, material, and gumption to attack?”
Senator Kerry spent eight years on the Senate Intelligence Committee in the 1990s, when Osama and Al Qaeda were planning attacks and laying out an international terrorist infrastructure. Kerry missed 76 percent of the public committee meetings during those years. When he did show up, he was anything but an advocate for our nation’s intelligence gathering abilities.
In 1994, just months after the first World Trade Center bombing, Kerry proposed a bill that would have cut $1 billion from the coffers that year and another $5 billion for fiscal years 1995 through 1998. Not even fellow Democratic senators Daniel Inouye and Dennis DeConcini could get on board with Kerry’s proposal. “The intelligence budget has already been cut by almost 18 percent over the last two years,” argued Inouye, “An additional reduction of $1 billion would severely hamper the intelligence community’s ability to provide decision makers and policy makers with information of matters of vital concern to this country. These issues include nuclear proliferation by North KoreaÃ?Â¢Ã¢â??Â¬ Â¦as well as terrorist threats against American citizens and property.” DeConcini echoed, “We no longer seem immune from acts of terrorism in the United StatesÃ?Â¢Ã¢â??Â¬ Â¦It makes no sense for us to close our eyes and ears to developments around the world.” Kerry’s proposal was defeated 75 to 20. Even Senator Ted Kennedy voted “nay.”
In 1995, Kerry voted to cut $80 million from the FBI’s budget and proposed a bill that would have reduced the overall intelligence budget by $1.5 billion by the year 2000. He offered an amendment that would cut our intelligence agencies by $300 million per year. Kerry included these proposed cuts in a laundry list of government expenditures the he described as “pointless, wasteful, antiquated or just plain silly.”
Not even liberal senators Kennedy, Patrick Leahy, or Barbara Boxer would join in the effort. S.1290 had no cosponsors and never made it to the floor for a vote.
In a time when his country was enduring terrorist attacks overseas–the U.S. military training center bombing in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the Khobar Towers bombing in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, and the attack on the USS Cole — Kerry voted to cut funding for the FBI, to reduce funding for the CIA, and to slash funding for the NSA. How many times during his eight years on the Intelligence Committee did Kerry vote to increase funding for human intelligence or to reform the intelligence community? Zero.
The man who would be commander-in-chief has had his Vietnam veteran hero status shattered into a heap of lies, unbridled ambition, and video tape. His 19 years of failure to support American national security and her intelligence apparatus now must be addressed.