Jewish World Review August 9, 2002 / 1 Elul, 5761

Edward I. Koch

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Traitors: Journalistic and 'patriotic' | Before the Gulf War in 1991, those opposed to the U.S. decision to oust Saddam Hussein from Kuwait and prevent him from seizing the oil reserves of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia tried to blame American Jews for leading the calls to war.

This anti-Semitic effort was led by Pat Buchanan, who referred to Jews as the "Amen corner," listing Jewish names as the culprits. As was pointed out by Buchanan's critics, President George Herbert Walker Bush was not Jewish, nor were the members of his cabinet. The vast majority of the Congress -- overwhelmingly not Jewish -- also voted to go to war against Iraq. Buchanan and his philosophy have now been repudiated in two presidential elections. He should be shunned like David Duke, but regrettably, his media colleagues continue to provide him with a forum for his discredited views.

Eleven years after the Gulf War, a similar battle is again being waged, this time by George W. Bush against those who would prefer appeasement of Saddam Hussein. In blatant violation of U.N. resolutions and Gulf War ceasefire requirements, Iraq has refused to allow United Nations inspectors to return to Iraq in order to locate weapons of mass destruction. The U.S., Great Britain and others believe Hussein has chemical and biological weapons and shortly will have nuclear weapons as well. Hussein seeks to divide members of the Security Council by offering tidbits of cooperation to those on the council who want to engage in appeasement of this tyrant. Fortunately, the U.S. and Great Britain have been firm in their insistence that there be no dilution of the Security Council resolutions relating to Iraq.

There are those, like the editorial writers of Newsday, who take the position that President Bush has the burden of convincing the American public that Iraq is today a threat to world peace sufficient to justify war. They are right in that demand. I have been convinced by Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell and Rice that the threat posed by Iraq to its neighbors and ultimately to the U.S. is real, and we should use military force to compel Hussein to allow the immediate entry into Iraq of U.N. inspectors to conduct unfettered searches for weapons of mass destruction for the purpose of eliminating them. If he removes his opposition to unrestricted U.N. inspections, so much the better. If he doesn't, he should be ousted by force. I also believe that just as President Bush's father requested and received approval from Congress to use U.S. military force, so should President Bush.

This is all by way of introducing a collateral issue -- the unauthorized release by someone at the Pentagon, apparently in opposition to a U.S. military assault on Iraq, of a classified, secret document laying out how such a war would be fought. Not long ago, I wrote a column condemning as a "traitor" the individual who "smuggled out a copy and gave it to The New York Times," and further stated, "The Times should have returned it unopened to the Pentagon."

I received an e-mail in response that said, "I find your last paragraph pretty scary…maybe the Times story will lead to the Congressional debate that is standard when you risk the lives of thousands of Americans." I replied that the debate referred to has been going on for many months and continues today with U.S. Senate hearings being held on the issue of war with Iraq. That debate is a legitimate and necessary part of our democratic process.

Publishing the contents of a secret document is not necessary, however, to enhance the debate. It merely multiplies the danger to American soldiers by providing the Iraqis with military details they can use to sabotage our war effort. The danger to U.S. troops is especially acute given that Iraq is believed to possess weapons of mass destruction.

What is not legitimate is the criminal and traitorous conduct which occurred with the unauthorized release to the Times of a top-secret Pentagon document. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld has said, "Pentagon employees who handle sensitive documents like they're paper airplanes belong in prison." He also has said release of the document has endangered American lives. The-e-mail enthusiast wrote, "I don't see the leakers as traitors, just as the leakers of the Pentagon Papers weren't traitors." I replied, "You do not see 'leakers as traitors,' because in the cases you mention, you agree with the leakers' goals. The law, if it is to be justly applied, should not be applied on the basis of whose ox is being gored."

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JWR contributor Edward I. Koch, the former mayor of New York, can be heard on Bloomberg Radio (WBBR 1130 AM) every Saturday from 9-10 am. Comment by clicking here.

07/31/02: Euros should spend their time analyzing their own country's wartime actions
07/25/02: I may know next to nothing about the stock market, but I'm not getting out
07/18/02: Dems should stop trying to 'Whitewater' the President
07/11/02: Real Americans and the Islamic threat

© 2002, Edward I. Koch