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TOM CLANCY: First we crippled the CIA. Then we blamed it.
WSJ-OPINION JOURNAL ^ | 9/18/01 | TOM CLANCY

Posted on 09/18/2001 4:50:17 AM PDT by Liz

We know now that America has been the victim of a large, well-planned, and well-executed terrorist act. The parameters are yet to be fully explored, but that won't stop the usual suspects from pontificating (and, yes, that includes me) on what happened and what needs to be done as a result. A few modest observations:

• As I write this we only know the rough outlines of what has taken place. We do not know exactly who the perpetrators were, though we have heard from Vice President Dick Cheney that there is "no question" that Osama bin Laden had a role. But many groups may have been involved, and we do not know their motivation, or for whom or for what particular objective they worked.

• "Don't know" means "don't know" and nothing more. Absent hard information, talking about who it must have been and what we need to do about it is a waste of air and energy.

To discern the important facts, we have the Federal Bureau of Investigation as our principal investigative agency, and the Central Intelligence Agency (along with National Security Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency) as our principal foreign-intelligence services. Getting the most important information is their job, not the job of the news media, which will only repeat what they are told. Gathering this information will take time, because we need to get it right.

• Terrorism is a political act, performed for political objectives. The general aim of terrorism is to force changes in the targeted society through the shock value of the crime committed. Therefore, if we make radical changes in how our country operates, the bad guys win. We do not want that to happen.

Whoever planned this operation is watching us right now, and they are probably having a pretty good laugh. We can't stop that. What we can do is to maintain that which they most hate, which is a free society. We've worked too hard to become what we are, and we can't allow a few savages to change it for us.

Next, our job is to take a step back, take a deep breath and get to work finding out who it was, where they are, and what to do about it.

Terrorism is a crime under the civil law when committed by domestic terrorists; it can be an act of war when committed by foreigners. For domestic criminals we have the FBI and police. For acts of war we have our intelligence community and the military. In either case we have well-trained people to do the work. If we let them do their job, and give them the support they need, the job will get done as reliably as gravity.

The foreign-source option seems the most likely at this time. The first line of defense in such a case is the intelligence community. The CIA is an agency of about 18,000 employees, of whom perhaps 800 are field-intelligence officers--that is, the people who go out on the street and learn what people are thinking, not how many tanks they have parked outside (we have satellites to photograph those).

I've been saying for a lot of years that this number is too small. American society doesn't love its CIA, for the same reason that it doesn't always love its cops. We too often regard them as a threat to ourselves rather than our enemies. Perhaps these incidents will make us rethink that.

The best defense against terrorist incidents is to prevent them from happening. You do that by finding out what a potential enemy is thinking before he is able to act. What the field intelligence officers do is no different from what Special Agent Joe Pistone of the FBI did when he infiltrated the mafia under the cover name of Donnie Brasco. The purpose of these operations is to find out what people are thinking and talking about. However good your satellites are, they cannot see inside a human head. Only people can go and do that.

But America, and especially the American news media, does not love the CIA in general and the field spooks in particular. As recently as two weeks ago, CBS's "60 Minutes" regaled us with the hoary old chestnut about how the CIA undermined the leftist government of Chile three decades ago. The effect of this media coverage, always solicitous to leftist governments, is to brand the CIA an antiprogressive agency that does Bad Things.

In fact, the CIA is a government agency, subject to the political whims of whoever sits in the White House and Congress. The CIA does what the government of which it is a part tells it to do. Whatever evil the CIA may have done was the result of orders from above.

The Chilean event and others (for example, attempts to remove Fidel Castro from the land of the living, undertaken during the presidency of JFK, rather more rarely reported because only good came from Camelot) caused the late Sen. Frank Church to help gut the CIA's Directorate of Operations in the 1970s. What he carelessly left undisturbed then fell afoul of the Carter administration's hit man, Stansfield Turner. That capability has never been replaced.

It is a lamentably common practice in Washington and elsewhere to shoot people in the back and then complain when they fail to win the race. The loss of so many lives in New York and Washington is now called an "intelligence failure," mostly by those who crippled the CIA in the first place, and by those who celebrated the loss of its invaluable capabilities.

What a pity that they cannot stand up like adults now and say: "See, we gutted our intelligence agencies because we don't much like them, and now we can bury thousands of American citizens as an indirect result." This, of course, will not happen, because those who inflict their aesthetic on the rest of us are never around to clean up the resulting mess, though they seem to enjoy further assaulting those whom they crippled to begin with.

Call it the law of unintended consequences. The intelligence community was successfully assaulted for actions taken under constitutionally mandated orders, and with nothing left to replace what was smashed, warnings we might have had to prevent this horrid event never came. Of course, neither I nor anyone else can prove that the warnings would have come, and I will not invoke the rhetoric of the political left on so sad an occasion as this.

But the next time America is in a fight, it is well to remember that tying one's own arm is unlikely to assist in preserving, protecting and defending what is ours.
Mr. Clancy is a novelist.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: cia; intelligence; tomclancy
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1 posted on 09/18/2001 4:50:17 AM PDT by Liz
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To: Liz
Of course, neither I nor anyone else can prove that the warnings would have come . . .

Perhaps warnings DID come, but they were ignored.

2 posted on 09/18/2001 4:55:54 AM PDT by WillaJohns
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To: Lion's Cub,Cinderreno,Brynna77,error99,gunnut,KLT,NorthernRight,jern,irv,GretchenEE
Let me be the first to flag & bump this excellent article, and suggest we forward links to it to newspapers and others, to help educate America...
3 posted on 09/18/2001 4:58:30 AM PDT by backhoe
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To: WillaJohns
VERT INTERESTING READ...TRAINING OF WOULD-BE TERRORISTS SPONSORED BY THE U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT..CLICK
4 posted on 09/18/2001 4:58:38 AM PDT by newsperson999
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To: WillaJohns
VERT INTERESTING READ...TRAINING OF WOULD-BE TERRORISTS SPONSORED BY THE U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT..CLICK
Published on 9/7/2001

5 posted on 09/18/2001 4:59:23 AM PDT by newsperson999
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To: WillaJohns
Perhaps warnings DID come, but they were ignored.

Years from now, someone will do enough research to show that "all the warnings were there, but were ignored". But what such analyses often miss is that there are these types of warnings every day -- the only way to know for sure which ones were credible is after the fact.

6 posted on 09/18/2001 5:01:08 AM PDT by kevkrom
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To: Liz
Mr. Clancy is a novelist.

Correction: Mr. Clancy was a novelist, until he released The Bear and the Dragon, the most hilariously ignorant waste of paper I've ever had the pleasure of chucking in the trash.

7 posted on 09/18/2001 5:02:08 AM PDT by The_Expatriate
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To: Liz
I'm a huge fan of Mr. Clancy, who has proven to be quite a prophet. I assume this is largely because he understands foreign and domestic affairs better than 99% of government employees. For instance...did anyone else watch Sen. Torricelli defend the need to have CIA field agents ask for permission from Washington to utilize rogue agents?
8 posted on 09/18/2001 5:04:49 AM PDT by NittanyLion
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To: Liz
An excellent article. BUMP!
9 posted on 09/18/2001 5:06:24 AM PDT by Frumanchu
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To: WillaJohns
TC: Of course, neither I nor anyone else can prove that the warnings would have come . . .

Perhaps warnings DID come, but they were ignored.

Anything we're getting now.....most of it I have to interpret as disinformation.

10 posted on 09/18/2001 5:06:45 AM PDT by Liz
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To: Liz
American society doesn't love its CIA, for the same reason that it doesn't always love its cops. We too often regard them as a threat to ourselves rather than our enemies. Perhaps these incidents will make us rethink that.

I agree 100%.

11 posted on 09/18/2001 5:07:19 AM PDT by DreamWeaver
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To: NittanyLion
.......did anyone else watch Sen. Torricelli defend the need to have CIA field agents ask for permission from Washington to utilize rogue agents?

Barf, hurl....torrisilly....now you REALLY made my day!!!!

12 posted on 09/18/2001 5:08:06 AM PDT by Liz
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To: Liz
I bet Rush reads from this article today. Sure hope so, along with recorded quotes from the speeches of liberals responsible for the crippling.
13 posted on 09/18/2001 5:09:08 AM PDT by YaYa123
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To: backhoe, one_particular_harbour
Let me add to that list. Clancy has nailed it. We may all fear the CIA from time to time but they are now only a satirical shell of what they used to be and they used to be effective.
14 posted on 09/18/2001 5:11:17 AM PDT by riley1992
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To: Liz
already posted
15 posted on 09/18/2001 5:11:25 AM PDT by The Raven
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To: NittanyLion
CIA field agents (needed) permission from Washington to utilize rogue agents.......

Clintoon and his ex-CIA head Deutch instituted a "Human Rights Scrub Policy."
Only Mr Rogers would have qualified as an intel asset.......would have looked cute in his cardigan.

16 posted on 09/18/2001 5:12:47 AM PDT by Liz
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To: Liz
"It is a lamentably common practice in Washington and elsewhere to shoot people in the back and then complain when they fail to win the race."

Great quote!!!

This should be chiselled into the marble of the Capitol building.

17 posted on 09/18/2001 5:14:00 AM PDT by DeSoto
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To: The Raven
...already posted

I did several searches and surfed the site before posting....didn't come up.

18 posted on 09/18/2001 5:14:01 AM PDT by Liz
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To: DeSoto
TC: "It is a lamentably common practice in Washington and elsewhere to shoot people in the back and then complain when they fail to win the race."

Great quote!!! This should be chiselled into the marble of the Capitol building.

Makes you wonder if our elected reps are with us or against us.

19 posted on 09/18/2001 5:15:48 AM PDT by Liz
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To: Liz
...here it is
20 posted on 09/18/2001 5:15:54 AM PDT by The Raven
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To: YaYa123
I bet Rush reads from this article today. Sure hope so, along with
recorded quotes from the speeches of liberals responsible for the crippling.

Liberals....without exception, the source of all our woes.

21 posted on 09/18/2001 5:17:12 AM PDT by Liz
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To: The Raven
I believe you, I believe you....OK?
22 posted on 09/18/2001 5:18:23 AM PDT by Liz
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To: Liz
If the enemy won't attack our high ground we must descend to their level in our to defeat them.


BUMP

23 posted on 09/18/2001 5:19:15 AM PDT by tm22721
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To: Liz
Clintoon and his ex-CIA head Deutch instituted a "Human Rights Scrub Policy."

O'Reilly claims he's spoken with former agents, and they said station chiefs stopped asking for permission, because they knew it wouldn't be forthcoming. O'Reilly further claims the CIA's poor performance is as a result of demoralization - because Washington ties their hands. Can't say I disagree with any of that, based on my limited knowledge.

24 posted on 09/18/2001 5:21:42 AM PDT by NittanyLion
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To: Liz
Here's a clipping from an interview that Torricelli once gave:

MG: You get into a big tiff with Newt, don't you?

RT: My worst fight with him was about the CIA matter in Guatemala. We'd actually gotten along fairly well until then. But there is no having a relationship with Newt Gingrich. If he sees an opportunity to gain a single step by your destruction, he'll take it.

It was a terrible time because I felt I had done the right thing. I had never before had the experience where I knew I had done the right thing but I was paying a negative price for it. People have said to me, "You must have really agonized over this; you got information that a CIA operative had been involved in murder; the CIA continued to pay the person and hid the crime; you must have agonized about revealing the truth." But the fact is, I didn't think about it for a minute. I got this information that this person had been involved in a murder. The woman gave me this compelling case. She had chained herself to a statue in Guatemala City. She was now on a hunger strike outside the White House. And all she wanted to know is whether her husband was dead. This American citizen, suddenly her husband has disappeared, she can't get any help, there are other suspicious cases. I never hesitated. But I felt abandoned and in real jeopardy. The Clinton Administration offered me almost no protection, although I knew they agreed with what I did.

People were cowered by the intelligence community, which was an America I was unfamiliar with. The intelligence community genuinely has intimidated parts of this government. People would prefer to remain apart from it. And I felt a lot of friends in the Congress abandoned me, too.

25 posted on 09/18/2001 5:23:22 AM PDT by janus
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To: NittanyLion
...did anyone else watch Sen. Torricelli...

Essentially Toricelli was saying that the reputation and good(?) name of the government is more important than the lives of a few thousand Americans. I thought O'Reilly was going to smack him. I wish he had.

26 posted on 09/18/2001 5:26:23 AM PDT by NCSteve
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To: Liz
BTTT...
27 posted on 09/18/2001 5:27:52 AM PDT by March I up
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To: NCSteve
Essentially Toricelli was saying that the reputation and good(?) name of the government is more important than the lives of a few thousand Americans. I thought O'Reilly was going to smack him. I wish he had.

I am furious O'Reilly even had the creep on to spout his liberal nonsense.

28 posted on 09/18/2001 5:28:06 AM PDT by Liz
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To: Liz
Makes you wonder if our elected reps are with us or against us.

They are neither. They are in it strictly for themselves. Mostly for babes, money and to feed there massive egos. If the public should benefit from their decisions, it is purely an unintended consequence.

29 posted on 09/18/2001 5:30:35 AM PDT by DeSoto
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To: janus
Thanks for the clip. At about that time, politically ambitious Torrisilly blatantly leaked top-secret info, and was
allowed to get away with it. Who know how many people were targeted because of his personal ambitions?
30 posted on 09/18/2001 5:31:12 AM PDT by Liz
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To: Liz
I did several searches and surfed the site before posting....didn't come up.

Here's a useful search hint: do your article search on a unique word within the title. For example, searching on "crippled" would have turned up the previously posted article.

Regardless...thanks for dropping it into Breaking News. It's important enough to be there.

31 posted on 09/18/2001 5:32:11 AM PDT by Leroy S. Mort
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To: DeSoto
Makes you wonder if our elected reps are with us or against us.

They are neither. They are in it strictly for themselves. Mostly for babes, money and to feed
there massive egos. If the public should benefit from their decisions, it is purely an unintended consequence.

Perhaps its time we resurrect the Aliens and Sedition Act.

32 posted on 09/18/2001 5:34:42 AM PDT by Liz
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To: Leroy S. Mort
..... do your article search on a unique word within the title. For example, searching
on "crippled" would have turned up the previously posted article.

I DID do that.....used headline's key words.....even searched Tom Clancy.......
Nevertheless, this post was timed well .....a good read with breakfast.

33 posted on 09/18/2001 5:41:32 AM PDT by Liz
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To: Liz
What is the CIA good at?

At creating and inspiring the best damn excuses! Excuses are really a form of intelligence, doncha know. Yeah, that's the ticket ... the "product" is EXCUSES!

34 posted on 09/18/2001 5:42:22 AM PDT by bvw
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To: NCSteve, desot, janus, nittany lion
Alien and Sedition Act
An Act respecting Alien Enemies. July 6, 1798

SECTION I. Be it enacted . . ., That whenever there shall be a declared war between the United States and any foreign nation or government, or any invasion or predatory incursion shall be perpetrated, attempted, or threatened against the territory of the United States, by any foreign nation or government, and the President of the United States shall make public proclamation of the event, all natives, citizens, denizens, or subjects of the hostile nation or government, being males of the age of fourteen years and upwards, who shall be within the United States, and not actually naturalized, shall be liable to be apprehended, restrained, secured and removed, as alien enemies.

And the President of the United States shall be, and he is hereby authorized, in any event, as aforesaid, by his proclamation thereof, or other public act, to direct the conduct to be observed, on the part of the United States, towards the aliens who shall become liable, as aforesaid; the manner and degree of the restraint to which they shall be subject, and in what cases, and upon what security their residence shall be permitted, and to provide for the removal of those, who, not being permitted to reside within the United States, shall refuse or neglect to depart therefrom; and to establish any other regulations which shall be found necessary in the premises and for the public safety:

Provided, that aliens resident within the United States, who shall become liable as enemies, in the manner aforesaid, and who shall not be chargeable with actual hostility, or other crime against the public safety, shall be allowed, for the recovery, disposal, and removal of their goods and effects, and for their departure, the full time which is, or shall be stipulated by any treaty, where any shall have been between the United States, and the hostile nation or government, of which they shall be natives, citizens, denizens or subjects: and when no such treaty shall have existed, the President of the United States may ascertain and declare such reasonable time as may be consistent with the public safety,and according to the dictates of humanity and national hospitality.

35 posted on 09/18/2001 5:46:14 AM PDT by Liz
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To: WillaJohns
Of course the base closings didn't help either, ad fighters were scrambled from Otis AFB (Massachusetts) to protect New York, and Langley AFB (Virginia) to protect Washington. It's time to evaluate base closings based on national security concerns and not on whose Congressional district is affected.
36 posted on 09/18/2001 6:06:07 AM PDT by OrioleFan
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To: Liz
• Terrorism is a political act, performed for political objectives. The general aim of terrorism is to force changes in the targeted society through the shock value of the crime committed. Therefore, if we make radical changes in how our country operates, the bad guys win. We do not want that to happen.

This statement gives the terrorists too much credit. It assumes they are NOT a bunch of insane, possessed idiots seeking revenge on someone that has done them no wrong at all. Everytime the media interviews an expert in Islam or an expert in why these people hate us, I am always releived to find that their hate is baseless. They hate us for no good reason at all. It further justifies our retaliation.

37 posted on 09/18/2001 6:10:50 AM PDT by biblewonk
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To: Liz
I've been saying for a lot of years that this number is too small. American society doesn't love its CIA, for the same reason that it doesn't always love its cops. We too often regard them as a threat to ourselves rather than our enemies. Perhaps these incidents will make us rethink that.

Boy is this true and a lot of paranoid freepers need to consider it.

38 posted on 09/18/2001 6:21:18 AM PDT by biblewonk
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To: Liz
Bump
39 posted on 09/18/2001 6:24:12 AM PDT by right
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To: Liz
The best defense against terrorist incidents is to prevent them from happening.

Baseless, silly. dangerously deluded thinking. Their are "political" terrorists who resort to terror as a last resort when none other are available. I'd put the IRA in that group. This one you can stop by providing an honest political and social remedy.

Then there are two other classes, at least, one being the kind we are now up against with its faction among the Arabs -- suicidal zealot -- the culture of the Assassin. The other being the sociopaths like the UNABOMBER.

In those cases, the terrorist is motivated by the love of terror, of death, of infliction of suffering. The terrorist will find a way to make these occur. Perverted necessity is the mother of invention, too.

Those can only be stopped by wiping out the persons and culture that spawns them. Sorry -- that's way it is. Set a lesser target and we'll be suffering terror again and again.

40 posted on 09/18/2001 6:26:28 AM PDT by bvw
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To: biblewonk
The great white hope, recast. Some better, well-supported CIA would have saved us. No.

The CIA, by being the appearent single point of responsibility for national intelligemce has prevented, just by that appearence, other more grounded, more focused, more task responsible organizations from doing their jobs. Being "central" the CIA has NO chance at being responsible for anything. Responsible intelligence gathering must be directly tied to where it is used. That is, the DIA, INS and Customs are the better place for overseas intelligence organizations, as those organizations are then responsible for the outcome. The CIA can only be irresponsible.

It can be nothing but the House of Excuses.

41 posted on 09/18/2001 6:38:59 AM PDT by bvw
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To: Liz
Frank Church is dead but maybe we can bring Carter up on charges of treason.
42 posted on 09/18/2001 6:47:06 AM PDT by Straight Vermonter
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To: riley1992
"Let me add to that list. Clancy has nailed it. We may all fear the CIA from time to time but they are now only a satirical shell of what they used to be and they used to be effective."

They were wonderfully effective when they were arming and training bin Laden and his boys in Afganistan. At least they were effective enough then to make sure the Afgans had plenty of Stinger missiles. Good old American effectivity!

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-000074773sep17.story

43 posted on 09/18/2001 6:50:09 AM PDT by KO5A (I forgot how to link Klink)
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To: Liz
BTTT
44 posted on 09/18/2001 6:58:29 AM PDT by T. Buzzard Trueblood
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To: KO5A
Then that effectiveness needs to be regained. Don't you think?
45 posted on 09/18/2001 7:02:12 AM PDT by justshutupandtakeit
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To: Liz
And the media praised Clintoon for gutting our intelligence funding. We have met the enemy, and it is the leftists and the media.
46 posted on 09/18/2001 7:05:43 AM PDT by 1Old Pro
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To: Liz
BUT, BUT,
That's the American way!
47 posted on 09/18/2001 7:09:22 AM PDT by MooCollins
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great quote "It is a lamentably common practice in Washington and elsewhere to shoot people in the back and then complain when they fail to win the race."
48 posted on 09/18/2001 7:29:25 AM PDT by jern
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To: The_Expatriate
Right on man. That book was horrible. But he has written classics, like my character!
49 posted on 09/18/2001 7:44:02 AM PDT by Mr.Clark
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To: Liz
The anti-CIA rats still live. Even on this thread.
50 posted on 09/18/2001 8:04:31 AM PDT by aculeus
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