Stories are emerging (and being denied) that
the Bush Administration placed very intense
pressure on the British Government to bust
the terrorists in a way the British believed was
I do not know the truth; we should not jump
to conclusions; this issue must be thoroughly
investigated not only about whether pressure
was applied, but if so, why?
I know a lot about intelligence from many
years of experience and, all things being
equal, the smart move is to delay terror
busts as long as safely possible. Delay
enables counter-terrorism and intelligence
officials to track the contacts, financing and
personnel of terrorists who do not know they
are being monitored.
All things are not equal; and three points stand
out in my opinion, and should be investigated,
nailed down, and made public.
First, as a factual matter, was there, or was
there not, pressure applied against the
British Government by the Bush Adminstration?
Was the British Government forced against
the better judgment of their counter-intelligence
people to prematurely execute the bust? Yes
Second, at the time of the bust, exactly how
close were the terrorists to executing the
operation and once we ascertain the facts,
do the initial statements to the public through
the press bear more or less credibility?
And third, if the facts bring out that there was
pressure against the British Government, what
were the motives for that pressure?
I would counsel everyone to avoid prejudging
the matter and to avoid jumping to theories
of conspiracy. It seems to me, there was a
very legitimate terrorist operation in progress
and the counter-intelligence and enforcement
operatives who executed it should be highly
What has bothered me about this subject
since 9-11, is that almost everything that
matters has been subject to such extreme
secrecy, in some cases justifiably and in
some cases not, that the issues so vital to
our national security have been largely taken
out of our democratic process of open debate.
In principle this is profoundly dangerous, this
opens up whole arenas to potential political
abuse, and we know that the entire circle of
events since 9-11 has at a minimum created
major crediblity problems, which themselves
are destructive to national security.
So, while I counsel everyone to keep an open
mind on the facts, until they emerge, it is very
essential that the facts on the key points of
this matter do emerge, after whatever inquiry
or investigations are needed, to verify or rebut
the allegations now being made and denied.