- Note - Chip Beck is a retired Navy commander
and former CIA station chief and clandestine service officer. This appeared
in The Los Angeles Times.
- I question of attacks against Osama bin
Laden's terrorist network, not from a "Wag the Dog" scenario,
but because Americans are not prepared. Politicians need to prepare the
public for the horrors these actions may unleash.
- Imagine downtown Los Angeles, New York
or Washington, where 100,000 inhabitants, from garbage collectors to CEOs,
in kindergarten classes to nursing homes, suddenly and without warning
begin drowning in their own bodily fluids or suffocating on swollen tongues
as mucus pours from every orifice, even while windpipes and blood vessels
constrict, stopping the flow of air and blood. People in the streets and
their homes convulsing so violently that internal organs are displaced
and then shut down in terrifying manifestations of agony.
- Or a bomb goes off near an abortion clinic.
No one is injured in the small explosion. But 30 minutes after rescue squads,
police, journalists and curious spectators converge on the scene, there
are thousands of bodies, killed by nerve gas dispersed by the blast.
- The public knows the military has biochemical
response teams. What they aren't told is that the teams cannot prevent
attacks. Their job is to clean up the "debris" (euphemism for
the dead) after "the event" happens.
- The magnitude of biochemical warfare
waiting to erupt has long been hidden. Pre-empting this onslaught will
require resources, commitment and losses far above what Americans expect
or may tolerate. If Washington cannot justify the harsh measures needed
to prevent disaster and win, then crucial mistakes were made in striking
Afghanistan and Sudan.
- Did Washington embark on the warpath
only after considering all the consequences? I doubt it, but even if it
did, the public remains ignorant.
- In my career, I had friends killed in
bombings, helped evacuate or rescue Americans under fire, and thwarted
one terrorist kidnapping attempt against a friend, only to have him captured
later and killed. I tracked mercenaries and was targeted for assassination;
I have been both hunter and hunted.
- I have seen the United States, unable
to eliminate world tensions, react without the will to finish what it started.
Policies were feeble. Politicians miscalculated dangers. Adversaries were
underestimated. Adequate goals were absent.
- In Indochina, fear of regional conflict
prevented America from expanding the ground war. Hanoi escalated, Washington
- America precipitously entered Angola,
then abandoned victory when Washington couldn't defend its actions to Congress
or the Organization of African Unity.
- We called Beirut a vital national interest,
but it was just a mistake.
- We botched Central America until Moscow
went out of business and saved us.
- We stopped Desert Storm three days early
and are paying for it.
- I know. I was in all five conflicts.
- I don't believe President Clinton without
question on world or private affairs, but I'm confident that U.S. intelligence
has substantive data that Bin Laden's group supported the Kenyan, Tanzanian,
Saudi, and perhaps World Trade Center bombings. Without it, the president
would not have a dog to wag.
- But it is necessary to question the timing,
long-term objectives, and expectations of the missile strikes in Afghanistan
and Sudan. The public must understand the ramifications now, not later.
For 18 years, Washington has shielded voters from scenarios of the mass
destruction that officials know can be inflicted by terrorists using biological,
chemical, and low-grade nuclear weapons. Security agencies can't thwart
catastrophe much longer. The public deserves to hear the worst-case scenarios.
- Horrors of biochemical warfare are hidden
to maintain public morale, divert attention, and promote the impression
that policy makers are in control of the collective destiny. They are not.
- This administration needs to clarify
what the United States will and won't do, what its tolerance levels are
for reprisals or loss of life and projected expenditures of time and resources.
For once, I'd like to know at what point we will cave in before the enemy
knows -- or if we intend to win at all costs.
- Anything less than full disclosure about
the threats and U.S. willingness to confront them invites disaster.
- U.S. attacks bought time but did not
eliminate the danger. The missiles created propaganda that terrorists will
use to recruit new volunteers.
- The world is more dangerous than Americans
realize. Hostile acts inside U.S. borders have intensified since the Cold
War. These latest developments only upped the ante.
- Bin Laden issued a "fatwa,"
a declaration of war, against America. If Washington is serious, Congress
should declare war in return against these transnational terrorists. That
formal declaration would allow more options, including targeting enemy
leaders for death, something peacetime restrictions preclude.
- War will be costly, but so will inaction.
And whatever it will be, Americans need to think it through -- with all
- Source: Bergen Record (New Jersey) http://www.bergen.com/news/terror28199808308.htmCopyright
© 1998 Bergen Record Corp.
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