Clinton: Terrorist Fighter

jbone at jbone at
Sun Nov 2 17:20:50 PST 2003

Clinton:  my vote for best Republican President of the 20th Century. ;-)


Clinton's Role In The War Against Terrorism (Politics)

By theboz
Sat Nov 1st, 2003 at 12:27:53 PM EST

Many people today are critical of how the Bush administration is 
handling the war against terrorism. Very few, however, are offering 
alternatives for how it could be handled. Amidst complaints of civil 
and human rights violations, government propaganda, and shady politics, 
there appear to be very few alternatives to what we can do to preserve 
our safety. We trust the President of the U.S. to be in charge and take 
care of our nation. There is one president in recent history that we 
can look to for an example of how to fight against terrorists, Bill 
Clinton. Although many have blamed the former president for not taking 
a hard stance against terrorism, Clinton did quite a bit against 
terrorism. This article will discuss the efforts taken to fight terror 
under the Clinton administration, as well as discussing the supporters 
and detractors of these efforts.

No president can directly fight terrorism. Whether you discuss Bush, 
Clinton, or any others, they are not the ones in the mine fields of 
Afghanistan, nor are they the ones raiding the hideouts of terrorist 
cells. They do, however lead people, and their efforts as leaders are 
just as important. They guide the nation as a whole to protect 
themselves and prevent harm. Clinton had been given quite a bit of 
credit in this area when he was in office. His detractors did not 
criticize his anti-terrorism efforts, but instead discussed the attacks 
on Bosnia, the Monica Lewinsky scandal, and other things that were 
fairly minor. It is accurate to say that Clinton had a very broad range 
of support across the political spectrum. In reference to the Clinton 
administration's national security efforts, Robert Oakley, a 
counter-terrorism expert in Reagan's State Department said to The 
Washington Post:
"Overall, I give them very high marks." He then went on to say:
"The only major criticism I have is the obsession with Osama, which 
made him stronger." Also in the Washington Post are many compliments 
from both sides when Clinton ordered the bombing of Afghanistan and 
Sudan. Newt Gingrich, a longtime critic of the Clinton administration 
had said:
"I think the president did exactly the right thing." Gingrich further 
praised Clinton by saying:
"By doing this we're sending the signal there are no sanctuaries for 
terrorists." Gingrich also complemented Clinton's aides for being 
"sensitive to making sure we were not blindsided in this." However, not 
everyone was happy with Clinton's fight against terrorism. Sen. John 
Ashcroft, for example, was not pleased and made the statement that 
"there is a cloud over this presidency" in response to Clinton taking 
on al Qaeda.

So what did Clinton do to earn praise in his anti-terrorism tactics? 
There were many fronts on which Clinton fought terrorism. The first was 
in policy. Clinton tripled the FBI's anti-terrorism budget. He gave 
funding to other agencies and organizations to be used against al Qaeda 
and other terrorist groups. He also sought tough anti-terrorism 
legislation, although the bill presented to him was not as strong as he 
originally wanted. Clinton had ordered the stockpiling of vaccines for 
smallpox and anthrax, which became very important after 9/11. Another 
law signed in by Clinton was an airport security bill. There were many 
other policy changes that Clinton brought about to fight terrorism, 
even though Congress fought against Clinton's anti-terrorism efforts 
whenever they could.

Of course, Clinton's efforts were not all about policy. He had taken a 
tough stance on fighting terrorists as well. An order to kill Usama bin 
Laden had been given by Clinton to the CIA in 1996 in response to the 
attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. In addition, after the 
U.S.S. Cole bombing, Clinton begun a plan to attack and destroy 
terrorist training camps in Afghanistan, to which he tasked 
counterterrorism expert Richard Clarke.

Clinton's anti-terrorism work had paid off. There were many spectacular 
attacks avoided because of his efforts, which Clinton himself talks 
about. One such thwarted plot was an attempt to kill the pope by Abu 
Sayyaf, a Filipino terrorist group with suspected ties to al Qaeda. The 
U.S. also foiled Project Bojinka, a plan to hijack and blow up 12 U.S. 
civilian airliners in a single day. In reference to his 
accomplishments, Clinton said:
"When I was president, we stopped planned attacks on the Holland 
Tunnel, the Lincoln Tunnel, the Los Angeles Airport, planes flying out 
of Los Angeles to the Philippines, millennium weekend bombs planned for 
cities in the Northeast and the Northwest, for Jordan, and for a 
Christian site in the Holy Land." There were other things Clinton did 
that were more similar to what Bush has done, such as sending cruise 
missles into al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan, as well as other 
attacks on Afghanistan, Sudan, and other nations that had terrorist 
controlled areas. Even the financial fight against terrorism was also 
well underway. Clinton had ordered $254 million of Taliban money to be 
frozen. He had bin Laden money frozen as well.

This was not enough though. The Clinton administration needed to plan 
for the future, which brought about the beginning of a bi-partisan 
committie that eventually came up with the Hart-Rudman report. 
According to the executive summary, some of the major goals were:

     * "ensuring the security of the American homeland"
     * "redesigning key institutions of the Executive Branch"

and other things related to national security. In particular, they 
called for:
"National Homeland Security Agency (NHSA) with responsibility for 
planning, coordinating, and integrating various U.S. government 
activities involved in homeland security. NHSA would be built upon the 
Federal Emergency Management Agency, with the three organizations 
currently on the front line of border security -- the Coast Guard, the 
Customs Service, and the Border Patrol -- transferred to it." The 
Hart-Rudman report was the basis for what came into effect after 9/11, 
which called for the Department of Homeland Security as well as other 
reorganizations of the federal government. The Clinton administration 
had put all this together with the help of politicians from both major 
political parties, and presented this to Bush administration officials 
in January, 2001. These plans eventually went through the bureaucracy 
and made it to the desk of George W. Bush in the middle of 2001. This 
plan was presented to Condoleeza Rice by Richard Clarke, who is now in 
charge of the Bush administration's cyberterrorism office. Clarke's 
reccomendations, based on the Hart-Rudman report, were initially 
shelved by Vice President Dick Cheney, who was extremely busy working 
on many different things. President Bush had asked Cheney to get back 
with him by the beginning of October, 2001.

Unfortunately, the FBI, CIA, and other agencies that had information 
about the potential of an al Qaeda attack, could not do anything about 
the events that happened on September 11th, 2001. After the attacks of 
9/11, the Hart-Rudman report became a top priority again, and many of 
the things it called for were brought into law with the full support of 
both the Republicans and the Democrats. It is not entirely likely that 
these things would have happened before the terrorist attack, because 
of the difficulty of getting both of the major parties to support it.

After the terrorist attacks, Bill Clinton has continued to speak 
publicly and support the U.S. in its fight against terrorism and in its 
efforts to find safety. While it is horrible that 9/11 happened, it 
could have been even worse if not for the efforts of President Clinton. 
He not only fought terrorism while he was in office, but he also blazed 
the path for President Bush has followed today.

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