Commentary Magazine


Posts For: November 3, 2007

The Friends of Lyndon LaRouche

Several days ago on contentions, I pointed out that Robert Dreyfuss, Senior Correspondent of The American Prospect, once worked as the “Middle East Intelligence Director” for Lyndon LaRouche’s Executive Intelligence Review newspaper. This is not news—nor is it a secret—but, to my knowledge, no one at The American Prospect has publicly addressed concerns that one of their writers has ties to the LaRouche organization. The only reason I brought it up was to point out the irony that a Prospect writer would express so much fascination with and heap ridicule upon the LaRouche movement, not seeming to understand that one of her work colleagues has a long history with the demagogue and cult-leader.

But the radio silence from The Prospect and its writers in response to my post has been rather odd. Here are some very simple questions for the Prospect (and the other publications for which he writes, not limited to The Nation and Rolling Stone), an answer to any of which would be warmly appreciated:

Did you know about Dreyfuss’s ties to the LaRouche movement when you hired him?

Has he in any way refuted his past work for LaRouche?

Why do you endorse and hawk his LaRouche-published book, Hostage to Khomeini, on your website?

To my knowledge, based on thorough internet searches, Dreyfuss has never renounced his past official affiliation with the LaRouche organization. So, for all we know, he still thinks favorably of LaRouche, having moved onto more ostensibly respectable work at The American Prospect. His journalism, however, characterized by unoriginal conspiracies about neo-con domination of American foreign policy, does not appear to have changed much from the tinfoil hat stuff characteristic of LaRouche. Perhaps the leading lights of the liberal blogosphere can explain why they aren’t troubled by The American Prospect’s employing a man with ties to what the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based, liberal watchdog group Political Research Associates refers to as a “fascist movement.”

Several days ago on contentions, I pointed out that Robert Dreyfuss, Senior Correspondent of The American Prospect, once worked as the “Middle East Intelligence Director” for Lyndon LaRouche’s Executive Intelligence Review newspaper. This is not news—nor is it a secret—but, to my knowledge, no one at The American Prospect has publicly addressed concerns that one of their writers has ties to the LaRouche organization. The only reason I brought it up was to point out the irony that a Prospect writer would express so much fascination with and heap ridicule upon the LaRouche movement, not seeming to understand that one of her work colleagues has a long history with the demagogue and cult-leader.

But the radio silence from The Prospect and its writers in response to my post has been rather odd. Here are some very simple questions for the Prospect (and the other publications for which he writes, not limited to The Nation and Rolling Stone), an answer to any of which would be warmly appreciated:

Did you know about Dreyfuss’s ties to the LaRouche movement when you hired him?

Has he in any way refuted his past work for LaRouche?

Why do you endorse and hawk his LaRouche-published book, Hostage to Khomeini, on your website?

To my knowledge, based on thorough internet searches, Dreyfuss has never renounced his past official affiliation with the LaRouche organization. So, for all we know, he still thinks favorably of LaRouche, having moved onto more ostensibly respectable work at The American Prospect. His journalism, however, characterized by unoriginal conspiracies about neo-con domination of American foreign policy, does not appear to have changed much from the tinfoil hat stuff characteristic of LaRouche. Perhaps the leading lights of the liberal blogosphere can explain why they aren’t troubled by The American Prospect’s employing a man with ties to what the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based, liberal watchdog group Political Research Associates refers to as a “fascist movement.”

Read Less

Michael Scheuer Watch #8: Please Pass the Truth Serum

As I noted in the previous edition of this series, in a letter that appeared in the June 2005 COMMENTARY, Michael Scheuer claimed that between 1992 and 1999, CIA officers working in the units led by him accomplished a number of important counterterrorism feats, which he then proceeded to enumerate. The final accomplishment on his list was generating “all–repeat, all–of the chances that the United States has ever had to capture or kill bin Laden.” Scheuer continued by saying “that there is no need to take my word for any of this” and “for the last item, read the 9/11 Commission report.”

I have now re-read the report. Scheuer–he is called “Mike” in the report to conceal his then-still-secret identity–figures prominently in the narrative. How does he come out?

Read More

As I noted in the previous edition of this series, in a letter that appeared in the June 2005 COMMENTARY, Michael Scheuer claimed that between 1992 and 1999, CIA officers working in the units led by him accomplished a number of important counterterrorism feats, which he then proceeded to enumerate. The final accomplishment on his list was generating “all–repeat, all–of the chances that the United States has ever had to capture or kill bin Laden.” Scheuer continued by saying “that there is no need to take my word for any of this” and “for the last item, read the 9/11 Commission report.”

I have now re-read the report. Scheuer–he is called “Mike” in the report to conceal his then-still-secret identity–figures prominently in the narrative. How does he come out?

In early 1998, the CIA developed a dramatic plan to capture Osama bin Laden. The operation was considered up and down the rungs of the relevant national-security bureaucracies of the Clinton administration and ultimately shelved as too risky. Here are some relevant excerpts that tell the story in brief:

“Mike” thought the capture plan was “the perfect operation.” It required minimum infrastructure. The plan had now been modified so that the [U.S.-allied Afghan] tribals would keep bin Laden in a hiding place for up to a month before turning him over to the United States–thereby increasing the chances of keeping the U.S. hand out of sight. “Mike” trusted the information from the Afghan network; it had been corroborated by other means, he told us. . . . Military officers reviewed the capture plan and, according to “Mike,” “found no showstoppers”. . . .

In Washington, [National Security Advisor Sandy] Berger expressed doubt about the dependability of the tribals. In his meeting with  [CIA director George] Tenet, Berger focused most, however, on the question of what was to be done with bin Laden if he were actually captured. He worried that the hard evidence against bin Laden was still skimpy and that there was a danger of snatching him and bringing him to the United States only to see him acquitted.

On May 20, Director Tenet discussed the high risk of the operation with Berger and his deputies, warning that people might be killed, including bin Laden. Success was to be defined as the exfiltration of bin Laden out of Afghanistan. A meeting of principals was scheduled for May 29 to decide whether the operation should go ahead.

The principals did not meet. On May 29, “Jeff” informed “Mike” that he had just met with Tenet, [CIA Deputy Director of Operation James] Pavitt, and the chief of the directorate’s Near-Eastern division. The decision was made not to go ahead with the operation. “Mike” cabled the field that he had been directed to “stand down on the operation for the time being.” He had been told, he wrote, that cabinet-level officials thought the risk of civilian casualties–“collateral damage”–was too high.

This version of events is more or less corroborated by Tenet’s recently published memoirs, At the Center of the Storm:

Mike Scheuer, the head of the Alec Station [the name of the CIA’s bin Laden unit] was strongly in favor of going ahead with the operation. I took his recommendation very seriously, but six senior CIA officers stood in the chain of command between Mike and me. Most of them were seasoned operations officers, while Mike was an analyst not trained in conducting paramilitary operations. Every one of the senior operations officers above Mike recommended against undertaking the operation.

Say what you will about Michael Scheuer–and I’ve already said a lot–he comes out looking pretty good in both the 9/11 Commission report and in Tenet’s memoirs. In this and other equally dramatic episodes recounted in the report, the hero of our Watch was pressing for action against bin Laden, and the bureaucracy above him–for reasons that appear preposterous in hindsight and probably appeared preposterous at the time–was pressing back. Surely, a neutral observer might say, this portion of Scheuer’s record counts for something.

Yes, it certainly does. Nonetheless, I have more dots that I have been unable to connect. Before I explain what they are, I have to bring two new characters into this tale.

Jamie S. Gorelick is an attorney at the firm Pickering, Hale & Dorr. Before that, she served as deputy attorney general of the United States and in a variety of other high-level positions in the Clinton administration.

Slade Gorton is an attorney at the firm of Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Preston Gates Ellis. Before that, he spent 18 years as a U.S. Senator (Republican) representing the state of Washington. And before that, he was attorney general in the state of Washingtonl.

Both Gorelick and Gorton served on the 9/11 Commission. Both, unlike me, are pillars of the establishment, and both have earned respect and built careers by choosing their words with care and circumspection. In 2005, they signed a joint letter to COMMENTARY in which they wrote the following carefully chosen and circumspect words:

The 9/11 Commission, on which the two of us served as commissioners, thoroughly and exhaustively interviewed Michael Scheuer, whose book Imperial Hubris is criticized at length [in the May 2005 May 2005 COMMENTARY] by Mr. Schoenfeld. On a number of factual issues, he was of real value. But much of what he had to say was not borne out by our investigation” (emphasis added).

Several questions arise from this:

1. Is there a transcript of Scheuer’s session with Commission investigators?

2. Is the transcript classified or under seal?

3. If it is classified or under seal, can it be obtained using the Freedom of Information Act?

4. What exactly did Scheuer tell the investigators?

5. If “much of what [Scheuer] had to say was not borne out by [the] investigation,” which parts were of “real value” and which parts were the reverse?

6. What inferences, if any, can we draw from the Gorelick-Gorton statement about Michael Scheuer’s integrity and how do they fit into a larger view of his credibilty?

What we have here is a collection of dots that form only a partial picture. If you can help me connect them, write to letters@commentarymagazine.com and put Michael Scheuer Watch in the subject line.

Confidentiality is guaranteed. (But see my Why Journalists Are Not Above the Law to understand exactly how far I would go in honoring that guarantee.)

A complete guide to other items in this Michael Scheuer Watch series can be found here.

Read Less

Take Back the Night

Has anyone else noticed that we seldom ever hear the time-defying slogan, Take Back the Night, being chanted on college campuses these days? Is that because I have simply tuned it out, or is it because feminism has long since moved on to other things?

Either way, if one listened closely earlier this week, one could hear Hillary Clinton’s campaign staff whispering the slogan after a debate in which their candidate suffered what they evidently regard as a violent assault by a gang of male competitors who had “piled on.”

A number of conservative commentators have pointed out that this whispering was nothing more than an old-fashioned and extremely convenient feminist maneuver to play the victim card. But Paul Mirengoff of powerline speculates interestingly that it might be part of a deliberate strategy of garnering sympathy and votes from “disaffected women” among whom such “whining will resonate.”

Paul might well be right that the whining will bring in votes. But I have my doubts that any of this is part of a deliberate strategy. Playing the female victim card seems to be something of an automatic reflex in Clintonian circles.

Read More

Has anyone else noticed that we seldom ever hear the time-defying slogan, Take Back the Night, being chanted on college campuses these days? Is that because I have simply tuned it out, or is it because feminism has long since moved on to other things?

Either way, if one listened closely earlier this week, one could hear Hillary Clinton’s campaign staff whispering the slogan after a debate in which their candidate suffered what they evidently regard as a violent assault by a gang of male competitors who had “piled on.”

A number of conservative commentators have pointed out that this whispering was nothing more than an old-fashioned and extremely convenient feminist maneuver to play the victim card. But Paul Mirengoff of powerline speculates interestingly that it might be part of a deliberate strategy of garnering sympathy and votes from “disaffected women” among whom such “whining will resonate.”

Paul might well be right that the whining will bring in votes. But I have my doubts that any of this is part of a deliberate strategy. Playing the female victim card seems to be something of an automatic reflex in Clintonian circles.

Back when she was Bill Clinton’s Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright repeatedly engaged in this same kind of maneuver–at least, as we learn from her memoir, Madame Secretary, she engaged in this same kind of maneuver inside of her own head. 

Even as she took great pride in being our country’s first female Secretary of State, Albright seemed to see herself less as a Margaret Thatcher or a Golda Meir–that is, a woman who made it to the top based upon her own smarts and strengths–than as a somewhat undeserving beneficiary of affirmative action who had to be perpetually on guard for sexual slights.

At one juncture fighting battles inside the Clinton White House, Albright recounted how she “found it hard to argue” with Colin Powell at Cabinet meetings, especially because of his imposing medals. At another juncture, she caught herself wondering “whether gender played any role” in causing National Security Advisor Anthony Lake to drum his fingers impatiently on the table as she spoke.” These were not isolated incidents of male chauvinist needling. As she, too, whined, “I had to deal with the problem of operating in a predominantly man’s world.”

Hillary Clinton’s situation is very different from Madeleine Albright’s. The former needs votes and is seeking sympathy to get them. The latter didn’t need votes; she was merely telling her tale and seeking sympathy en route. But in both cases, and no matter what other compelling factors might explain why critics are “piling on,” gender is being cited nstead.

This may be a good way to win primaries: we will find out this coming winter and spring. But as an explanation for what happened to Hillary Clinton in this week’s debate, it makes about as much sense as the nonsensical slogan: Take Back the Night.

Read Less




Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.