Skip to comments.Tom Clancy transcript from O'Reilly Factor
Posted on 09/20/2001 9:05:32 PM PDT by kcpopps
O'Reilly: You know I thought of you, as I told you in the break, about an hour after that happened, because I'm a big fan, and I have Debt of Honor The Passage right here, - it is so close to what really happened. and my question in my mind was, if Tom Clancy can write about this and put forth a very plausible scenario - and I know all the Intelligence guys in the United States read your books- why weren't they more, why wasn't there more urgency to make it more difficult to do what happened?
Clancy: Bill that's the price you pay for living in a free society as we have today. If you want to go be like the Soviet Union where it was illegal for example to take a photo of a train station, just, you know you can restrict our civil liberties that far but end up being like the Soviet Union was, and that was a failure.
O'Reilly: But the airline security situation, was abysmal and now we're going to change it and now, we'll have impenetrable doors and better screening devices, but you know in your book, you made it... you laid it out how this could happen and unfortunately, it happened
Clancy: Well it was a very different scenario in my book and it had very littel to do with this, I rather doubt that Osama bin Laden is a Tom Clancy fan
O'Reilly: But you must know... that the way you laid it out was pretty eerie. Now when you researched your book, and you research all you books, thats why lots of people read them because they're very realistic, and you get into the nuts and bolts of things... did you see weaknesses that terrorists could exploit in this country?
Clancy: Uh, no, in my case the terrorist in question was an airline pilot who worked the air traffic control system - these guys just evaded that completely, and in fact when the continental air defense sighted this, one or two F-15's out of Otis Air Force Base out of Cape Cod actually rolled off into the air when the first of the towers was hit and was about 70 miles from New York when the second tower was hit, so the Air Force was on the case about as well as they possibly could have been, given the circumstances.
O'Reilly: Do you believe that our defenses against terrorism were weak?
Clancy: You can't mount surface to air missle batteries on office buildings. You just can't do it Bill.
O'Reilly: But compared to El Al for example, our security on the airlines is nowhere near what theirs is...
Clancy: Yeah but do we want to emulate Israel in everything we do? I don't think so. (something?) talking about the Mossad and how great they are, well maybe so but the Mossad's been whacking people for 30 years and they're still at war. So their tactic is ineffective in achieving the goal, which is a happy and peaceful state of affairs for the State of Israel, it just hasn't happened. We do not want to emulate Mossad.
O'Reilly: Allright. Now, the Intelligence Agencies have been critisized here, uh...
Clancy: No they're all, they're - Bill, the Intellegince Agencies are always criticised by the people who crippled them to begin with
O'Reilly: Allright but are they crippled, that was my question...Do you believe they're crippled?
Clancy: They were crippled in the 1970's when Senator Frank Church held his hearings about the CIA attempts to kill Castro. Which he didn't say was run by Robert F. Kennedy. You have to remember only good things came out of Camelot , so you can't say the Kennedys were trying to do this.
O'Reilly: So as far back as the 70's, you believe that the capability to of US Intelligence being impaired by politicians.
Clancy: The CIA's Director of Operations, which generates what we call human intelligence and the DO, Director of Operations, (something?) the actual field spooks that actually go out into the field and talk to people to get human intelligence information, they were gutted, first as a result of the Church Committee, and secondly by Stansfield Turner who was appointed by Jimmy Carter in the late 70's. That capability Bill, has never been re-established. And it takes 10 years to build it up.
O'Reilly: Was there a reason why Turner and Carter wanted a weaker Intelligence?
Clancy: It's politically correct.
O'Reilly: Simple as that?
Clancy: I think so. The political left, they deal in symbols rather than reality. The general difference between conservatives and liberals is that liberals like pretty pictures and conservatives like to build bridges that people can drive across. And conservatives are indeed conservative because if the bridge falls down then people die, whereas the liberals figure, we can always build a nice memorial and make people forget it ever happened and was our fault. They're very good at making people forget it was their fault. Allright? The CIA was gutted by people on the political left who don't like Intelligence operations... and as a result of that, as an indirect result of that, we lost 5,000 citizens last week.
O'Reilly: How about the FBI... they don't seem to be nearly as efficient and effective as they used to be... same situation?
Clancy: Disagree. The FBI is one of our premier agencies...and they've developed a whole lot of information in this case already,... they're probably the best police agency in the whole world... but you know... a police agency by its very nature is reactive rather than proactive. It's not an intelligence gathering organization - it reacts to crimes, investigates crimes.
O'Reilly: ... one of the charges of the FBI is to protect us from internal terrorism... as you know...
Clancy: ...they're awfully good at it...
O'Reilly: ...well, and they were clueless this time, and then they had the big spy that was operating for 15 years for Russia, and they had all the problems in the agency with Mr. Clinton, and they couldn't get a straight answer out of him, ummm, I don't know I'm not there.
Clancy: OK Bill, hang on, how perfect is the news media?
O'Reilly: Not perfect at all... but our charge isn't to protect anybody...
Clancy: The trouble with any human institution is that it's vulnerable to imperfections... there aren't too many perfect people in the world
O'Reilly: So you are confident that the FBI is up to protecting us internally?
Clancy: ohhh, they're the best in the world... without a doubt.
O'Reilly: OK. Now, I've been banging this drum for more than a year and I did a talking points tonight on it, is that the borders are so chaotic, and they're not secure and we're very vulnerable from both Canad and Mexico, for people who want to bring stuff in and want to come in here, and the INS can't control it. Am I wrong there?
Clancy: No... its one of the problems...one of the consequences of living in a free and open society. You know the Statue of Liberty stands and invites people in...she's not holding a machine gun to keep people away...
O'Reilly: but it's a changing world now, it's not like it was at the turn of the century... it's now...people want to hurt us...
Clancy: Bill... if we change our society because of what some lunatics do to us, then the lunatics win. The object of a terrorist is to create political change in the society that he targets, if we change the terrorist wins... if we keep to our principles and we remember that we are the United States of America, we win.
O'Reilly: But what if we improve Mr. Clancy, you wrote a book on drug trafficking... I'm telling you, if you put the military on the southern border, you stop a lot of that drug trafficking - it might go somewhere else - but you'd also stop a lot of the chaos down there...there's no will to do that. And I don't think that infringes on any Americans rights at all.
Clancy: Our border with Mexico is what... about 2000 miles...because of all the ...convolutions...how many troops is it going to take to secure that?
O'Reilly: I don't know, but you can do a better job than what they're doing... which is a terrible job... and it's not their fault - border patrol is outmanned, they can't do it, INS can't do it, see what I'm saying, if we can improve because of this...
Clancy: Bill... when you have the military perform a police function what you get is a disaster....
O'Reilly: ...there in three countries now...Kosovo, Bosnia and Korea... we're guarding their borders...
Clancy: Korea is a true military function...you don't use soldiers to be cops because soldiers don't know how to be cops... you have policemen to be policemen and soldiers to be soldiers...they're differnt functions. The Brits tried to to that in northern Ireland using the British army in a police capacity and it was a disaster...
O'Reilly: OK but most nations have military presence on their borders, as you know, and I we could train our soldiers to go down there and do that job. Not to take it over, but just to be a presence down there to help the border patrol.
Clancy: Do you want American soldiers killing Mexicans just because they want to work..
O'Reilly: No. I want them stopping them from coming in... if they come in turn them around and send them back.
Clancy: Bill soldiers don't arrest people, soldiers kill people. That's their function.
O'Reilly: Well we can change that though... there are peacekeeping missions...you know, I mean, you're kinda a black & white guy Tom, and I like that a little bit, but I'm saying we got a big problem with the border here, and if we don't solve it we got more terrorist stuff because theyre going to come in, through the border...
Clancy: Maybe but...Ok if you can figure out how a gal can be half pregnant,... it just doesn't work that way, its never worked that way....
O'Reilly: So you don't see anything we can do with the borders ate all?
Clancy: As a practical matter, no...the way you close off the border with Mexico more prosperous so Americans go down there to work.
O'Reilly: Yeah we can't make Mexico more prosperous that's up to Mexico, but I'm not as fatalistic as you are. Do you expect more terrorist activity in the united states?
Clancy: Honestly I wouldn't be surprised, uh I am not entirely convinced that there were only four aircrafts targeted last week. There may well have been one or two more that were targeted for additional uhm suicide missions.
O'Reilly: Yeah looks like they grabbed some guys in Detroit that were back up guys that were supposed to do something but..so you wouldn't be surprised if something else happens here?
Clancy: No we're up against a formidable adversary this I don't know if Osama bin Laden is the spark plug behind this. But whoever planned these operations was pretty effective at it. I mean look we got hit hard and we got hit hard because the guys knew what the hell they were doing.
O'Reilly: Yeah, no question about that and we got to hit hard back. Tom we appreciate very much, I was going to call you Mr. Clancy but you told me to call you Tom so I will. Well we appreciate it. Thank you
Clancy: My pleasure Bill you have a good one.
Clancy is kind of a juggernaut guest. He did a dial-in to the News Hour with Jim Lehrer, or some other PBS newsy show last week. Just totally dominated the panel, which included at least four other people. I loved his descripition of conservatives v liberals. He's apparently very uninformed about the Mexican illegal immigration situation.
oh, i forgot -- tom clancy can't be wrong; never mind.