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Jewish World Review Oct. 16, 2002 / 10 Mar-Cheshvan, 5763

Michael Ledeen

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Sniper, Saboteur, or Sleeper? Channeling James Jesus Angleton | I've been having real difficulty getting through to my favorite intelligence analyst, the late CIA counterintelligence chief James Jesus Angleton, but late last night I finally got the ouija board to work properly, and the old Yale alum was full of stimulating ideas.

Like everyone else in the Washington area, I've been thinking about the series of assassinations, and I was sure he had, too.

ML: So what do you think?

JJA: It could be anything from a lone nut — always Americans' favorite hypothesis when something terrible happens — to an organized terrorist cell. Americans don't like to face the possibility of an active conspiracy, even though there are lots of them at work in the country, from mafias to street gangs. And you pointed out in The War Against the Terror Masters that we had detailed information on three Arab terrorist sleeper networks inside the United States as early as 1981.

ML: Thanks for the plug. I keep remembering the chilling promise from Iran's #2 thug, former President Rafsanjani, that his country would respond to Bush's condemnation of the Islamic Republic. He said they'd reply "in the heartland of America."

JJA: Sure. This could be a probe, a test to see how well we deal with it, how much panic they can create with it, and our methods for coping. If it is a relatively sophisticated terror group — something like Hezbollah, or its ally al Qaeda, for example — by now they have a lot of useful information, particularly about our methods of getting information. That's particularly important if they intend to expand the attacks on a larger scale — you know, similar assassinations in several cities all at once.

ML: Why is it so important that they know how we get our information?

JJA: Because they will want to deflect our investigations. The more they know about the information flow, the easier it will be for them to put deceptive and misleading data into the pipeline, and the harder it will be for us to put psychological pressure on them.

ML: For example?

JJA: Well, take the white van for example. There have been several reports of a white truck, a white van, and so forth at several of the shooting sites. This is the sort of thing that captures the imagination, which is exactly what they would want. Ideally, they will have law-enforcement people obsessing over the white van while the killers are driving around in a red Mustang convertible or something. You can be positive that as soon as another shot is heard, half the world will look around for the white truck or van, and it will be harder to spot the real getaway vehicle.

On the other hand, if it really is a lone nut — and lone nuts certainly exist, don't get me wrong — then he or she may very well drive around in a white van every time as part of his whacko challenge to the world at large, a form of bravado.

ML: So there's no evidence so far that points in one direction or the other?

JJA: Not so far as I can tell. Of course, it's hard to get anything beyond the popular press up here, so I don't know enough to have a really informed opinion. However, if I were in the government, I'd be yelling at all my colleagues to take the Washington case as a model for future developments, and to plan how to react if this sort of thing spread. It may even spread if it's not terrorism, after all; there are always lots of copycats around, and all the publicity will probably encourage others to do similar things.

ML: Anyway, we pay our government to protect us against worst-case scenarios, right? So they should always assume the worst and hope for the best...

JJA: Yes. Especially at a time when the worst is happening with a certain frequency.

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JWR contributor Michael Ledeen is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of, most recently, The War Against the Terror Masters. Comment by clicking here.


10/01/02: The real foe
09/27/02: The Iranian String Quartet: The mullahs get increasingly nervous
09/25/02: The Dubya Doctrine
09/23/02: Intelligence? What intelligence?
09/12/02: America's revenge: To turn tyrannies into democracies
09/10/02: Iran & Afghanistan & Us: We'll have to deal with the mullahcracy, sooner or later
09/04/02: Iran, according to the Times: All the nonsense that's fit to print
08/21/02: Life and death of Abu Nidal tells us a great deal about our enemies
08/08/02: Can You Keep a Secret?: The media silence on Iran
08/06/02: Fantasy Reporting: The latest disinformation from the Washington Post
08/02/02: Propping Up the Terror Masters: Europe's Solana on tour
07/16/02: Bush vs. the Mullahs: Getting on the side of the Iranian freedom fighters
07/12/02: The State Department Goes Mute: It's official: State has no message
07/09/02: History being made, but the West appears clueless
06/05/02: Is George Tenet endangering peace in Israel?
06/03/02: Ridiculous, even for a journalist
05/20/02: So how come nobody's been fired yet?
05/14/02: Open doors for thugs
04/20/02: Iran on the Brink … and the U.S. does nothing
04/16/02: It’s the war, stupid … someone remind Colin Powell
04/08/02: Gulled: In the Middle East, Arafat doesn't matter
04/02/02: Faster, Please: The war falters
03/26/02: The Revolution Continues: What's brewing in Iran
03/18/02: Iran simmers still: Where's the press?
03/05/02: We can't lose any more ground in Iran
02/14/02: The Great Iranian Hoax
02/12/02: Unnoticed Bombshell: Key information in a new book
01/31/02: The truth behind the Powell play
01/29/02: My past with "Johnny Jihad's" lawyer
01/21/02: It's Munich, all over again
01/08/02: What's the Holdup?: It's time for the next battles in the war against terrorism
12/11/01: We must be imperious, ruthless, and relentless
12/06/01: Remembering my family friend, Walt Disney
11/28/01: The Barbara Olson Bomb: Understanding the war
11/13/01: How We're Doing: The Angleton Files, IV
11/06/01: A great revolutionary war is coming
10/25/01: How to talk to a terrorist
10/23/01: Creative Reporting: Learning to appreciate press briefings
10/19/01: Not the Emmys: A Beltway award presentation
10/15/01: Rediscovering American character
10/11/01: Somehow, I've missed Arafat's praise of the first stage of our war on terrorism
10/04/01: What do we not know?
09/28/01: Machiavelli On Our War: Some advice for our leaders
09/25/01: No Room for the U.N.: Keeping Annan & co. out of the picture
09/21/01: Creative destruction
09/14/01: Who Killed Barbara Olson?
08/22/01: How Israel will win this war
08/15/01: Bracing for war
08/09/01: More Dithering Democrats
08/02/01: Delirious Dems
07/31/01: Consulting a legendary counterspy about Chandra and Condit, cont'd
07/19/01: Be careful what you wish for
07/17/01: Consulting a legendary counterspy about Chandra and Condit
07/05/01: Let Slobo Go
05/30/01: Anybody out there afraid of the Republicans?
05/09/01: The bad guys to the rescue
05/07/01: Bye-bye, Blumenthal
04/20/01: Handling China
04/11/01: EXAM TIME!
04/05/01: Chinese over-water torture
03/27/01: Fighting AIDS in Africa is a losing proposition
03/14/01: Big Bird, Oscar, and other threats
03/09/01: Time for a good, old-fashioned purge
03/06/01: Powell’s great (mis)adventure
02/26/01: The Clinton Sopranos
02/20/01: Unity Schmoonity: Sharon is defying the will of the people
01/30/01: The Rest of the Rich Story
01/22/01: Ashcroft the Jew
01/11/01: A fitting close to the Clinton years
12/26/00: Continuing Clinton's shameful legacy
12/21/00: Clinton’s gift for Bush

© 2001, Michael Ledeen