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Jewish World Review Nov. 26, 2003 / 1 Kislev, 5764

Michael Ledeen

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Back to the Angleton Files | I remembered that my old friend, James Jesus Angleton (long-time head of CIA's counterintelligence operations) had been suspicious of the snipers, and so, as one had been convicted and the other was about to go on trial, it seemed a good time to ask the old spook about the latest developments in the war on terrorism.

It took several days. I think the ouija board got snafu'd during the hurricane, and it took a while to get it back in tune, but today I finally got a decent connection.

JJA: Good to hear from you, I was afraid something had happened —

ML: No, we're still okay. Nervous, but okay. How does it look to you?

JJA: Well, it's a bit frustrating, I don't mind telling you. Obviously, the Supreme Being knows the whole story, but he doesn't share information, so we have to make do with snippets from news broadcasts and the like. Not very satisfactory.

ML: I can imagine. I was calling primarily because you had speculated that the snipers might have been a sort of "probe" by the terror network, watching our reactions so that if and when they decided to mount large-scale operations inside this country, they'd have some operationally useful information. How does it look now?

JJA: It's a bit maddening, frankly. Nobody seems to have followed up the most suggestive leads, namely the ones that said that Muhammed had organized phony passports for several people in the Caribbean. Terrorists need those, and it seemed to me that he might have been doing multiple tasks. But I haven't seen any follow-up on that stuff.

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ML: Right. But then again, if it was investigated, we wouldn't necessarily know about it, would we?

JJA: No, you're right. But the FBI in recent years has pretty much given up on intelligence work. It just does law enforcement (which makes me wonder why the president put the bureau and the Justice Department are in charge of the domestic war on terrorism). Maybe CIA has looked into it.

ML: Have you seen anything else that enhances your suspicion?

JJA: Yeah. The most interesting factoid to come out of the sentencing phase of Muhammed's trial is that Muhammed and Malvo seem to have shot up Temple Beth El in Tacoma, Washington. The prosecutors say the bullet was tied to a gun to which Muhammad had access, and that Muhammad espoused anti-Semitic views. That again suggests that Muhammed may have been more than a lone homicidal nutcase. Someone with that kind of hate would be a prime target for recruitment by the terror network. And he was a recent convert to Islam; I'd like to know a lot more about his conversion. Who did it? What version of Islam was it? And so forth.

ML: If you were in charge of domestic counterintelligence how would you go about it?

JJA: The first thing is to create a proper counterintelligence structure, which we do not have, even at CIA. Just look at the penetrations in Guantanamo! Three different people, some of whom were handling sensitive materials. That tells you everything you need to know, because the folks in charge include both Pentagon and agency people.

Just turning it over to Homeland Security does nothing. In fact, in many ways it makes things worse, because you now have a federal agency that is required to coordinate with 50 different state agencies, all "fighting terrorism." Most of those people have no background in counterintelligence, and since all those agencies are hiring Arabic speakers as fast as they can, it's a virtual certainty that there are some enemy agents among them.

ML: I'm told that we're making lots of arrests, both at home and overseas. The public doesn't see these because they're secret.

JJA: No doubt that is happening, and as there are more and more terrorist attacks against allies, they will work harder and share more information with us, hoping that we will act vigorously. It seems that the Italians, Spaniards, and Germans are being particularly helpful, and I expect lots of help from the Turks in short order. They aren't very understanding of terrorists who kill hundreds of Turkish citizens.

ML: Yeah, that's my impression, too. And, after all, we haven't had another attack since 9/11, so we must be doing something right.

JJA: Undoubtedly we are. But all the political correctness blinds us to profitable lines of investigation. One of the great strengths of democratic societies is that the people generally cooperate with the authorities. But they have to be told what to look for. Remember that the snipers were caught because somebody at a rest stop spotted them, and told the authorities. Meanwhile, our experts were looking for a white van — that never existed.

ML: So what should we tell the people?

JJA: Tell them that there are certainly terror cells in the country, and that the terrorists do not necessarily come from the Middle East (remember Johnny Jihad) or have dark skin. But they do have radical beliefs, and so people should pay attention to activities at their local mosques, etc. I'd pay particular attention to activities on college campuses and in the prisons, where recruiting is undoubtedly going on.

ML: And what would you say when people start yelling about racial profiling?

JJA: I would say — the ouija board started to gasp and wheeze — common sense is a better guide than "correctness" (his voice was fading). Constitution doesn't require suicide, does it?

And that was the end. I hope next time he'll fill in the missing words, because he was very agitated. Or so it seemed. It always was hard to tell with him unless you could see his eyes.

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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.


11/25/03: The Turks, Italians & us — never again
11/06/03: Regional Struggle: Fighting narrow vision in Iraq
11/04/03: Unpunished Failure: What are we waiting for?
10/21/03: Curses: Diamonds and Naples
10/15/03: Into the Quagmire: Important days ahead for Iran
09/18/03: The Ayatollahs’ bomb: An invulnerability strategy
09/12/03: You can't make peace until the war is won
09/11/03: Ron Paul, dishonorable congressman
09/03/03: The Latest Horrors: Still organized
08/29/03: The Peace Trap: Back to the war, please
08/27/03: Angrier and Angrier: Self-deception, big-time
08/25/03: Iraq's terrorists have friends in high places
07/10/03: The Future of Iran: Armitage might want to rethink that "democracy" line
07/02/03: Looking Toward July 9: Independence Day in Iran?
06/24/03: Iran: Back the freedom fighters
06/17/03: The Iranian Revolution, 2003: Regime change in the air
06/05/03: Academic Standards: A Middle East scholar has his way with the truth.
05/28/03: The Moment of Truth? U.S. policy could determine Iran's destiny
05/15/03: Iran's Path: Stopping the mullahs in their tracks
05/13/03: The Nuclear Axis of Evil: The people solution
05/08/03: Inside the Dark: Applebaum's ‘Gulag’
05/06/03: Tough Guy: Powell's curious priority list
05/01/03: Desert Shame Redux: Want a free Iran and a free Syria? We have to fight for it
04/25/03: Timing Is Everything: We have a narrow window in Iraq to win Shiite support
04/15/03: Political war can remove terror masters in Syria and Iran
04/07/03: The Others: We have miles to go in eliminating the Axis
04/02/03: French Lies: Take the foreign minister at his word
03/31/03: Why muzzle Saddam's foes?
03/28/03: The post-war terror threat
03/26/03: All Fronts: Military war, political war, psychological war
03/24/03: More Bad News for Daschle: Taking out terror of all nationalities
03/21/03: The Killer Pneu: Virus terror from China
03/13/03: Iran: Nuclear suicide bombers?
03/11/03: A Theory: What if there's method to the Franco-German madness?
03/05/03: The Iranian-Election Revolt: The people speak. The West won't listen
02/19/03: The willful blindness of those who will not see
02/12/03: The Europeans Know More Than They Now Pretend? They choose to dawdle and obstruct
02/03/03: Monumental failure: Nelson Mandela had promise
01/30/03: Elevation: The president knows what it's all about
01/29/03: No Leader: France's Chirac is all about personal interest
01/28/03: The Axis of Evil Redux: Same place, a year later
01/27/03: The Return of the Ayatollah: Washington could afford a little more attention on Iran
01/13/03: How we could lose
01/09/03: Fish are Better than Women: Gauging U.S. priorities
01/07/03: The Shape of Things to Come: The terror masters are now waiting for us
12/20/02: A Prophecy for the New Year --- Faster, please!
12/16/02: Scud Surrender: The "W" factor
12/13/02: The Heart of Darkness: The mullahs make terror possible
12/12/02: The Real War
12/09/02: Tom Friedman's Reformation: His Iran
11/26/02: How Tyrannies Fall: Opportunity time in Iran
11/22/02: The Blind Leading the Blind: The New York Times and the Iranian crisis
11/13/02: The Temperature Rises: We should liberate Iran first --- now
11/05/02: End of the Road: Iran's Mohammed Khatami, on his way out
10/29/02: The Angleton Dialogues, Contnued: What George Tenet doesn’t know
10/24/02: The Iranian Comedy Hour: In the U.S., the silence continues
10/16/02: Sniper, Saboteur, or Sleeper? Channeling James Jesus Angleton
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