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Congressional Democrats and Obama have a "September 10th" mindset on U.S. national security.

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Sept. 10th Democrats

Congressional Democrats and Obama have a “September 10th” mindset on U.S. national security.

Is it fair to say that Congressional Democrats and Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama have a “September 10th” mindset on U.S. national security? While Democrats vigorously object to this charge, evidence is mounting that this is indeed the case.

By a “September 10th” mindset, I mean the naïve national security positions advocated by Democrats until September 10, 2001 that failed to focus on real threats to our nation. These positions included favoring after-the-fact litigation against foreign terrorists, over preventing attacks by maximizing our intelligence and military resources.

In the aftermath of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, President Clinton prosecuted those directly responsible for the attack but did little else. He failed to recognize the broader threat and failed to immediately adopt a preventative policy to thwart future attacks. Obviously, this approach failed. This mindset is evident in other bad policy decisions. CIA Director John Deutch’s “Deutch Doctrine” limited the recruitment of human intelligence sources and ended up devastating U.S. human intelligence assets. Erroneous interpretations of law were allowed to raise walls between foreign intelligence and domestic law enforcement. What resources were left in the intelligence community were re-tasked to study global warming and other issues where intelligence adds little or no value.

To their credit, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, most Democrats abandoned – at least for a while – their September 10th national security mindset and joined with Republicans to support tough anti-terrorist programs. However, over time, Democrat support for anti-terrorism programs waned. Instead of crediting these programs for keeping our nation safe and preventing another 9/11 attack, Democrats began to attack them to score political points against President Bush by claiming these programs endangered the civil liberties of Americans.

This started in 2006 when Democrats falsely denounced the Terrorist Surveillance Program (TSP) as a “warrantless wiretaps” effort that endangered the privacy of Americans. Similar criticism was lodged against other valuable anti-terrorist programs, such as the High Value Terrorist Detainee Program, and the Terrorist Finance and Tracking Program. More recent actions evidence Democrats’ rapid regression back to a “September 10th” mindset.

* For example, Democrats have made it clear that they still prefer to fight terrorists in court and not by using aggressive military and intelligence counterterrorism methods. Senator Obama was quick to endorse the Supreme Court’s wrong-headed and legally unsupportable Boumediene Supreme Court decision which gave habeas corpus rights to foreign terrorist suspects and indicated he would extend legal rights, guaranteed in our constitution only to Americans, to Osama Bin Laden. This endangers American security on a macro basis and on a micro basis the lives of our men and women on the battlefield. Do Democrats want our troops to read bin Laden his Miranda rights? How dumb can we be?

* Democrats in Congress have devoted enormous resources to false criticism that has misled the American people and weakened the ability of U.S. intelligence agencies to monitor the electronic communications of foreign terrorists. Although last week the House passed compromise language to shore up electronic surveillance of terrorist communications, this language passed primarily because occasionally-conservative “Blue Dog” Democrats threatened to abandon their leadership on this issue and back tougher legislation supported by House Republicans. Even so, this critical legislation was opposed by a majority of the Democratic caucus.

* Like the 1990s, Congressional Democrats prefer to use intelligence resources to study penguins and polar bears instead of radical jihadists and energy security. Last week, (June 25th) the House Intelligence Committee and the House Committee on Energy Security and Climate Change held a joint hearing on a new intelligence community analysis of global warming mandated by the Democratic Congress in 2007. This analysis contains no clandestine intelligence and is so weak that its authors had to admit at the start of the report that they had “low to medium confidence” in its accuracy.

* House and Senate Democrat leaders and Senator Obama have no answer to energy security and rising gas prices other than to ridicule Senator McCain for his sensible call to increase domestic U.S. oil production through off shore drilling. Their solution? Sue OPEC in the belief that by introducing trial lawyers into this process will lower gas prices. Are the Democrats serious? When has bringing in trial lawyers lowered the price of anything?

Such naïve policies suggest Democrats do not understand or are ignoring real threats facing our nation just as they did on September 10, 2001. The stakes for our security will be high this fall as voters choose between Senator Obama, who supports these dangerous proposals, and Senator McCain, who understands the lessons from 9/11 and will take a more responsible approach. Let’s hope the voters make the right choice this November.

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Congressman Peter Hoekstra (R-Michigan) is the top Republican on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

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