MEMORANDUM FOR: Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense
RE: Your 16 October 2003 Memo, "Global War on Terrorism"
Mr. Secretary: Though your memo was widely misunderstood and misconstrued by my colleagues in the media, it asks all the right questions. Hopefully you've already received responses from intended recipients, Messer's Meyers, Wolfowitz, Pace and Feith. Since a copy found its way to my "inbox" as I prepare to return to Iraq, herewith, responses to some of the questions you posed.
You first asked, "Are we winning or losing the Global War on Terror?"
Short answer: Yes. The first standard for gauging success in the war on terrorism is the defense and security of Americans here at home. Since Sept. 11, 2001, when nearly 3,000 people died in the United States at the hands of Islamic Jihadists, we've not had a similar event on our shores.
Sun Tzu, the great Chinese strategist, once counseled, "Those skilled in war bring the enemy to the field of battle and are not brought there by him." The president's political opponents may decry the approach, but you have succeeded in shifting the battleground from U.S. territory to Afghanistan and Iraq.
While that makes Afghanistan and Iraq more dangerous in the short term, it can make the United States and the world safer in the long term, if we stay the course. Critics who complain that Iraq is now "the central front in the war on terror" miss the gruesome point that it is that much easier to kill and capture terrorists if there is a central front. In short, though you can't say it publicly, it's better to battle terrorists in Baghdad than in Boston.
You asked: Does CIA need a new finding?
Short answer: No. We need a CIA. Since the late 1970s, we haven't had an intelligence service worthy of the name. That's not to say we don't have some very smart, dedicated and courageous people working at collecting, analyzing and disseminating intelligence. We do. But for more than two decades, the CIA has been a political football in Washington.
As a consequence, our ability to collect human intelligence -- the only kind that matters in this war -- has been drastically curtailed. CIA Director Stan Turner gutted the Clandestine Service, apparently believing we didn't need spies because "satellites can read a license plate from a hundred miles in the sky." Great idea if we're being attacked by license plates -- but a lousy concept when small cells of Islamic Jihadists are plotting murder and mayhem.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.