Watch Out, John Kerry

Last week, I had the chance to sit down with Jeff Beatty, a Republican U.S. Senate candidate for the state of Massachusetts. Beatty is currently rallying support in order to offer a strong challenge to the current seat holder, Senator John Kerry. Jeff, who was in town to receive the prestigious "Guardian Award" from the International Association of Counter-terrorism and Security Professionals (IACSP), left me confident that we are putting our best foot forward in November’s race and that Kerry will be facing a worthy opponent. Jeff’s unique background as a counterterror professional and businessman positions him well to unseat Kerry and provide the leadership that this nation needs in an uncertain security environment.

As a counterterrorism professional, Jeff is well suited to set security policy, as he is the only person that I know who has served with all three of our nation’s elite counterterror units. As an Army officer, Jeff was wounded in combat while serving as a Delta Force Assault Troop Leader during the invasion of Grenada. His story of being shot down during a helicopter assault is both harrowing and inspiring. Jeff — though wounded during the helicopter crash — organized the evacuation of his fellow Soldiers and then continued on to complete his assigned mission. For his actions, Jeff received the Purple Heart and medal for valor.

After leaving the Army, Jeff went on to serve in the FBI as an advisor to the Bureau’s elite Hostage Rescue Team (HRT). I know a little bit about that unit, and I can tell you that they are the best of the best in terms of tactical proficiency and intellectual and physical prowess. Jeff’s leadership in preparing the HRT for its role in the 1984 Olympics speaks volumes about his expertise and professionalism. Only the best are selected to train the best.

Jeff then went on to serve as a CIA Counterterror officer, running operations in Europe and the Middle East from 1985 to 1992. While much less is known about this portion of his career (Beatty would certainly not divulge anything), one need only to take a look at the timeline to know that he was knee-deep in taking the fight to our nation’s enemies.

When I asked Jeff why he was running for the Senate and what made him think that he was a better candidate then Senator Kerry and his Republican challengers for the nomination, he relayed a story in which he was invited to the Pentagon with a select group of businessmen who were professionals in the security industry. A senior Pentagon executive outlined a soon-to-be-executed military operation, and at the end asked for comments. With over 30 years of military planning experience behind him, Jeff saw deep flaws at all levels of the plan, from tactical to strategic. When he expressed those doubts, he was unsatisfied with the answers. And the fact that his question was the only one that penetrated the briefer’s statements left him wondering why no one with his experience and credentials was there beside him. The short answer is that very few have the perspective and experience he has.

Despite being asked his opinion, Jeff realized then that as a businessman, he had little say in the conduct of national security policy and military strategy; but as a Senator, he could effect these areas for the better — as one of the few elected officials who could ask the hard questions based on a lifetime of operational experience.

Beatty’s Pentagon visit made a powerful impression: he knew that he had to run.

If there is a bottom line here it is this: Jeff Beatty has spent a lifetime walking the foreign and security policy decisions of our nation, giving him a unique perspective that will serve him well in setting future policy.

Interestingly, Beatty’s business career will also help him lead our nation as we navigate through an uncertain security environment. As President of TotalSecurity.US, Jeff has established a reputation as a leader who understands the threat and takes preventative steps to meet that threat head on. The citation that Jeff received last week states that "pre 9-11 Mr. Beatty trained every Officer in the MBTA Police Department in prevention and response to terrorism" and that "pre 9-11 Mr. Beatty trained every headmaster in the Boston Public School System on prevention and response to violence." Did you get that? "Pre 9-11."  

What goes unsaid is that Jeff also warned officials in Atlanta of a threat prior to the Olympic Park bombing and that he also advised officials in the airline industry — again, pre 9-11 – of sophisticated hijacking threats that would require changing counter-hijacking procedures and the hardening of cockpit doors.  

Now I don’t know about you, but Jeff’s track record of predicting the threat prior to September 11th and his efforts to prepare for yet-to-happen attacks leaves me confident that he will be one or two steps ahead of our adversaries in the future. Personally, that is precisely the kind of person I want setting our national security agenda.

And to think that I have not even mentioned that since 9-11, Beatty has been cited for training over 10,000 professionals in the Massachusetts transportation arena on anti-terrorism awareness. Anyway you cut it, this guy knows our enemy and works hard to deny him an opportunity to strike.

But allow me to place his government and business expertise in the field of counterterrorism aside and focus on an equally important part of Beatty’s qualifications: that of running a business in a challenging economic environment. Unlike Senator Kerry, Beatty has spent more than a few years managing a payroll, paying business taxes, and providing jobs, healthcare, and benefits to his employees. Jeff, who smiled as he told me that he is a "proud member of the middle class," is quick to remind me that he knows what it is like for his employees to balance paying a mortgage, wrestling with rising fuel costs, and putting food on the table. Because he has faced those struggles himself.

Draw your own conclusions, but if the voters of Massachusetts want to elect someone who understands and relates to their daily challenges, they need look no farther than Jeff Beatty.

As you can tell, I was deeply impressed by Jeff. As a guy who has spent the last four years running around Senatorial offices on Capitol Hill and dealing with elected officials on all matters national security related, I can state that Jeff Beatty is exactly the kind of person we want shaping our policies and leading the security debate.  

To put it plainly, at a time when we have so few leaders in Congress who have served in the military and even fewer who understand the nature of the threat that our nation faces, Jeff Beatty strikes me as the kind of leader that our nation needs as we move into an uncertain security environment. Warrior, businessman, and "proudly middle class," Jeff has what it takes to give Senator Kerry a run for his money.