Skip to the content

Kansas State University

 

 

facebook

Join us on facebook

 

Check out K-State on YouTube

 

News Services
Kansas State University
128 Dole Hall
Manhattan, KS 66506
785-532-2535
media@k-state.edu
Information provided by K-State News Services may be reproduced without permission. The marks and names of Kansas State University are protected trademarks and may not be used in any commercial or private endeavor without the approval of the university.

Former Rep. Lee Hamilton
Landon Lecture
March 29, 2005

 

Good morning to all of you. Some years ago we had a speaker of the House of Representatives by the name of John McCormick. He was a great debater. He would step off of the rostrum from time to time and go into the well. Someone on the other side of the aisle would invariably irritate him and he would turn to that person and say, "I hold the gentleman from Iowa in minimum high regard."

As I come here today and see the people and have met so many, I want you to know that I hold you at Kansas State University in maximum high regard. I'm delighted to be here.

Governor, your father and I went to the Congress in 1964; he was one of my very close friends, and it was just a great thrill to me to read a few years ago that you were having a successful political career in Kansas and it's very, very nice of you to be here, and please convey my very best to your father.

I'm here in part, of course, because one of the great public servants of our time, Nancy Kassebaum Baker, urged me to come, and it's very, very hard to turn down Nancy on any request that she makes.

I want to say to Jon and Ruth Ann Wefald how much I have appreciated their hospitality. You have made this Hoosier feel right at home in Kansas and I deeply appreciate not only the hospitality that they extended, but many on their staff.

Chuck Reagan here flew out to Washington to get me yesterday and encountered quite a storm. Jon, I want to say to you how much we appreciate your leadership in higher education, not just in Kansas, but across the country, because you have become one of the preeminent spokesmen in higher education in this country.

Jon mentioned that I'd been in the Congress for 34 years. I made a mistake when I announced my retirement I said that I had been there for 34 years, I'd cast over 16,000 votes, and I went back to my office, I had a call from a constituent and the constituent said, "Lee, I understand you cast over 16,000 votes and you announced your retirement today." I said "That's right." He said, " I want you to know you finally made a decision I agree with." That's why I like these nice introductions that you give me, Jon.

I can say this since I am a former member, but the debate on the floor of the House really gets kind of boring now and then, and I used to sit down and jot down things that amused me. During a debate on the Middle East - we debated that at least every couple of weeks - one member got up and he said, "I don't see why the Arabs and the Israelis cannot settle this thing just like good Christians ought to.

My all time best bumper sticker - we had a Catholic priest by the name of Father Drinon in the Congress. I don't think a Catholic priest can be elected anymore, but back in those days he could. He had - he's from Boston. He had a bumper sticker, "Vote for Father Drinon or go to hell." Governor, when you got that kind of confidence, let me know.

And during a trade debate one member got his metaphors mixed up and said, "If we don't stop shearing the sheep that lays the golden egg we'll pump it dry." So I had a lot of fun and left the Congress with mixed feelings, but have had an opportunity to participate in other activities. And I want to talk to you this morning about my experiences on the 911 Commission, but more importantly on how you put together an effective counter-terrorism policy in this county.

I think almost every national security expert would agree that terrorism is the primary national security challenge confronting the United States today and for a good many years to come. I guess the most important thing to say is that since 911 we have not been attacked here at home, and that's a remarkable achievement, perhaps luck, perhaps skill, perhaps a combination, but the Commission concluded that that does not mean that the threat is fading.

There have been twice as many terrorist attacks since 911 as in the three years prior to 9-11. We know the terrorists want to strike us and every single expert we interviewed believed that they would strike again.

How do you win the war on terrorism? Let me suggest a few steps we should take. I call them the four I's. Identifying the threat, so that the strategy is . designed to confront the enemy. Integrating all of the tools of American power. Third, getting international cooperation, because everything that you do is strengthened and enhanced if you have that cooperation. And fourth, of course, all of us would agree, getting better intelligence.

Let me begin with the first one. How do you identify the threat, or to put it the way it was asked to us again and again, who is the enemy? Are we fighting an enemy that poses a lethal and ongoing threat to Americans, or are we, as the BBC broadcast just two weeks ago, fighting a phantom enemy, vastly overrated, mortally wounded by our assault in Afghanistan? Are we fighting an enemy acting out of hatred for America and its values, freedom and democracy, or are we fighting an enemy acting out of hatred of American policies in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel, and of course our intervention in Iraq?

Are we fighting a single global organization that is uniquely powerful and coordinated by some hidden leadership in Pakistan and Afghanistan, or are we fighting countless organizations around the world, acting on their own, perhaps drawing inspiration from Osama bin Laden?

I for my own amusement the other day picked up a major newspaper and jotted down in one issue of one paper the manner in which the enemy was described, terrorists, insurgents, Saddam loyalists, Al Qaida affiliates, Islamists, Baathists, foreign fighters, Iraqi nationalists, and I quit trying to list more. You can't be all of those things. And so the outgoing deputy Secretary of State, Rich Armitage, came out of a meeting the other day from the White House and put it bluntly. He said, "We can't even agree on who we are fighting." Is somebody who blows up a nightclub in Bali trying to change something in Indonesia, or are they part of a global conspiracy against the United States? And what about the person who sets off the bomb in Istanbul or Madrid or Pakistan or Israel or Chechnya? Now, getting this right is important. We have limited resources. How we define the enemy will govern how we attack the enemy.

If Al Qaida is simply a small group of people over here intent on destroying America, then we can hunt them down and capture them and kill them one by one and remove the threat. If AI Qaida is part of an international consortium of groups with grievances against the United States of all kinds of descriptions, then killing one terrorist may not do much good if another terrorist takes their place.

We spent a lot of time trying to figure this problem out on the Commission, and we finally came to the answer that there are two enemies, one is Al Qaida, the organization you're familiar with, not a large organization, several hundred probably, the inner core relatively small, perhaps a few thousand, maybe not that many, and then the second enemy was a radical ideology that was inspired by Al Qaida and Osama bin Laden, but that spawned terrorist groups across the world.

And then if you think of this thing in terms of concentric circles, you can go even farther out and you come to grips with 1.3 billion Muslims around the world. I'll say more about that in a few minutes. I don't want to be misunderstood here, but I came away with a certain amount of respect for this evil man, Osama bin Laden. He put it all together, he only spent about $500,000. He recruited 19. He didn't miss on one of them. A pretty good judge of men. He trained them, he inspired them, he financed them, he moved them about. Now we think, we hope, we believe that after our invasion of Afghanistan that sanctuary has been removed and much of the infrastructure removed.

But we don't believe today that he's pulling the strings with attacks on Istanbul and Madrid and all the other places. We think that's why the second enemy is so dangerous, and we describe that as a grave and a gathering threat that will menace Americans long after Osama bin Laden has left the scene. And that ideology joins anti-American political grievances with radical Islam. Among the other talents of Osama bin Laden is the skillful ability as a propagandist. He weaves it all together. It's part theology, it's part ideology, it's part grievances against the United States, it's part grievances against Arab governments. He puts it all together. He appeals to a very wide spectrum. He is a very good propagandist.

How do you get someone motivated to kill themselves? Now, I understand it's a different culture, but the instinct for survival as a human is pretty strong. He did it. Pretty good motivator of men, wouldn't you say? So we can't dismiss this fellow. Just because we loath him does not mean we should ignore him, and we must not, as we did for a long time, underestimate him. And so we have to deal with these two enemies, dismantling and destroying the existing Al Qaida network, prevailing over the ideology that gives rise to Islamist terrorism, and, of course, protecting ourselves here at home.

That leads me to the second point, integration. The point here simply is that there isn't any silver bullet that can defeat terrorism. May I respectfully suggest to you that if you think we can do it with covert action alone or military action alone, or diplomacy alone, you simply do not understand the threat. And what is necessary is to integrate all of the tools of American power. It's to have a comprehensive strategy.

You have to have a diplomatic strategy that builds a coalition of nations. You have to have a law enforcement strategy that tracks down and prosecutes terrorists. You have to have military action, of course, from time to time. You have to have covert actions that disrupt and dismantle. You have to have public diplomacy that explains our ideas and our ideals. You have to have foreign aid that brings hope to the hopeless. You have to have an economic policy that spreads prosperity. You have to have financial action that tracks down the terrorists' financing. You have to have border security.

These fellows were jet setters, they moved back and forth across international boundaries. They were in the country, they were out of the country, they were back in the country, they were out of the country, they were back in the country, and every time we had an opportunity to stop them we didn't, we couldn't, we failed. So you have to have order security to intercept terrorists in transit and, of course, you have to have homeland security to secure transportation.

Incidentally, Jon, I'm delighted to see the work being done here on protection of the food chain supply, because it's been one of our real weaknesses.

But the point is, integration is the key. You cannot have a border agent out here who does not know who he's looking to stop. You cannot have a first responder who does not know what attacks might come. You cannot have an aid worker who doesn't know the diplomatic strategy of the country. You cannot have a law enforcement official who doesn't talk to the intelligence people, as was the case for years preceding 9-11. Every action must buttress other actions.

That leads me to the third point. The first one, identify the enemy, second one, you've got to integrate all of the tools of American power, and the third one, of course, is international. Just as you have to integrate your efforts at home you have to integrate your efforts in the intemational community. This is obvious, you cannot secure your skies unless you secure international aviation. You cannot track down terrorists' financing unless you deal with the Saudi bankers.

You cannot get the best intelligence on terrorist in Europe and the Middle East and Southeast Asia without cooperating with intelligence agencies of a number of the countries around the world. You cannot prosecute terrorists in Europe without law enforcement cooperation. You cannot secure borders without international standards for travel documents. You cannot spread markets in prosperity without international assistance and partners. You cannot build secular schools in Pakistan without dealing with the Pakistani educational authorities. You cannot build peace in Afghanistan without help from other nations. And so you have to put together this counter terrorism coalition in all of these issues.

And let me say a word about these 1.3 billion Muslims, if I may. They stretch from Morocco to Indonesia, from European cities to American suburbs. They stretch from the islands of Southeast Asia to the mountains of Pakistan and Afghanistan. And we believed on the Commission that we could not win the war on terrorism unless the United States dealt with this challenge of how you deal with the Islamic world. It's a world we've learned a lot about since 9-11, but I think most of us would acknowledge we don't know enough about today.

You know some of the problems here in trying to reach out to these people. So many parents in this world have no alternative for the education of their children except the Madrosis school, and the Madrosis school is where they learn the hatred of the United States and where they learn a radical Islamic theology.

The unemployment rate in a lot of these countries is 50 percent for young men, and for young women a lot higher than that. And the governments of many of these Muslim countries, including a number of U.S. allies, I might say, are repressive governments. They repress their populations and they deny them political participation. You cannot wage an effective war on terrorism if you do not have some kind of a strategy to deal with this huge population, most of whom, as you know, don't think very highly of the United States. They may not agree with the violent tactics of Osama bin Laden, but they certainly have a lot of sympathy to what he's saying.

And so we have to try to put it all together. We have a lot to offer. The terrorist offers death and destruction and regression, and we can offer life and progress and hope. And so we have to vigorously explain our ideas and our ideals. And then I'm going to tell you a secret that only the politicians in this room know. Every American politician - every American politician is asked by a constituent from time to time to do something that is utterly impossible to do, cannot possibly do it. I do not know of a single American, politician who has succeeded, who says to that person who makes the request, "I cannot help you." You know what you say? In the words of another American politician, "I feel your pain. I'm on your side."

Now, all of this may be a little simplistic, but I don't think it is. What we in the United States have to say to this 1.3 billion people is, "Look, we can't solve all your problems, we're not smart enough, we're not rich enough. It's your responsibility and it's your government's responsibility to improve your life, to give you some hope.

These young people don't have any hope. They can't get a job. Can't marry a partner. Can't expect to have good education or good health care or retirement. Horrendous problems. And we have to show these people that "Look, there are limitations to what we can do," we have to be brutally honest here. "We can help, we'll try to help, but you've got to do it yourself basically."

So we have a program today, for example, that provides several hundred million dollars to Pakistan for their secular school system. Is it a good program? Well, I like it, I think it's a good idea. A lot of people don't like the idea, a little controversy on it, but I think it's the right idea because it says to the Pakistanis, "Look, we can't solve your problems in your school system, but there is an opportunity here to provide an alternative to the Madrosis education. We want you to know we're trying to help. We're on your side. We want for you a decent life. We want for you an agenda of opportunity, and we know if you don't have it we know what you are going to do."

Look, this is not like 10, 20, 30 years ago when I first went to Congress. These young people today in these countries know the kind of life you and I live. They know the kind of opportunities that everybody in this room has had, almost, I'm sure, maybe all - I hope all, and they want it for themselves. They've got e-mail, they've got the Internet, they see the television. That's part of the reasons you see the restiveness today in the Middle East. No quick fixes here. No quick fixes, and so that's why the Commission said this is a generational problem that we confront.

And the other point, of course, is intelligence. I'll not dwell on that because it's so obvious, except to say this, that the best way to prevent terrorism is to have good intelligence. I want to say I believe and all the commissioners believe that we have very good people working in intelligence today. They're capable. They do marvelous things in many ways. But as you know, if you read our report, the tragic 9-11 story is one of the failures to pull all of this intelligence on terrorism together. We failed to coordinate. We failed to share. We failed to analyze. We failed to act on the information. Agencies did not act jointly. People did not have clear direction. Again and again we asked the question, "Who's in charge here? Who is in charge?" And we couldn't get an answer.

We knew about Mossaoui out here, he was in Minneapolis, we knew he was in a flight training school, we knew he was more interested in flying the airplane than landing it and taking' off. We knew a little bit about his background. When I say "we" I say the FBI agents in Minneapolis knew it. You know who did not know it? The director of the FBI. George Tennant knew it at the CIA, he learned it in August. What did he say? He said, "It's none of my business." And he was right. Foreign intelligence is his business, not domestic. You see what the problem is? No sharing of information vertically. No sharing of information horizontally. Stovepiping the information. We got it here, need to know, no need to share.

We knew about those fellows out in San Diego. We had tracked them in Bangkok. We lost track of them for awhile, we knew they'd come to San Diego. Nobody was in charge. Nobody put their feet upon the desk, looked out the window and said - I can put together the attacks on USS Cole. I can put the attacks on the embassies in East Africa. I can put the attacks together on the Trade Center in '93. I know about the FBI investigation of Mossaoui. I know about the investigation of the guys in San Diego. I know about the intelligence chatter that was coming along the lines in the summer of 2001. Nobody put all of that together.

Now, look, you can blame George Bush, you can blame Bill Clinton, you can blame anybody you want to, but let me tell you, we all knew it if you read the newspapers. I knew it, you knew it. Nobody put it together and that's why we recommended the changes that we did, which I'm not going to go into because you've read about them and Jon's getting nervous here and I've got to quit.

Let me address one other question. Are we safer? That's an impossible question to answer in a way, but the one we got over and over again, and the answer is, "Yes, of course we're safer, but not safe." We've done a lot of things right. We've killed or captured a lot of these folks. We've knocked down this wall of separation between intelligence and law enforcement. We've reformed the FBI. I understand Director Mueller was here, is that right, to speak? He's doing I think a marvelous job, very formidable job, trying to change the culture of the FBI. We created the Department of Homeland Security. We've tightened up passenger airline security. I go through those check points all the time like you do. I'm very deferential to those guys.

I was pulled aside the other day and they, you know, took my coat off, took my shoes off, took my belt off, put me behind the screen, patted me down. I turned to the guy and I said, "Look, how am I doing?" He turned to me, he said, "Well, you're okay on the security side, but I hate to tell you, you've got an enlarged prostate." I get a better exam there than I do at my doctor's office.

We've established a border screening system. We've reformed the intelligence community. We've put billions and billions of dollars into security. Let me tell you, security is expensive, it's very expensive. But there's an awful lot more to do. We've still got to get better sharing of information, coordinating these watch lists. Why in the world can't we put together a watch list in this country? Why can't we put all the databases together? We've been working at that for five, six, seven, I don't know how long. We do not have an integrated watch list. That ought not to be beyond the mind of Americans. Let's get all of these databases up to date, in one place, interoperable from agency to agency. We're still passing out money - and this is the fault of the United States Congress - I can criticize them, I'm not running for anything.

You know how they're distributing the money? Just like revenue sharing, on a political basis. Okay, I'm for general revenue sharing, that's okay, but, look, you're talking about the security of the United States here. You're talking about the security of the American people, and you ought to allocate the money for homeland security on the basis of risk, vulnerability, not on the basis of politics.

We've got emergency responders who need to be better equipped and trained. The New York fire and police still cannot communicate with one another, because they can 't get enough radio spectrum. So we've got a ways to go yet. Eighty percent of our transportation security money still goes to passenger aviation.

Well, I'm going to skip over the rest of it. And I conclude simply by saying that, look, we've succeeded by the most important measure, we have not been attacked in this country since 9-11. That's a significant achievement and a blessing for us. But we must not take false comfort. The first attack on the World Trade Center, remember, occurred in 1993. It was eight years later the next attack occurred. It took about four years, we think, to plan 911. These fellows are patient. They're sophisticated. They know our vulnerabilities. They know they could get on that airplane with a 4-inch blade knife, but not a 6-inch blade knife. Now they can't do that anymore.

We may not be able to eliminate terrorism. I hope we can, but maybe that's not achievable. But certainly we can reduce the risk. We can remove the hard core terrorists. We can improve our relations with the Islamic world. We can reduce our vulnerabilities at home. On the 9-11 Commission we felt the weight of 9-11 every single day.

Those stories those families - the surviving members of family tell. You've heard them. They're just heart wrenching. All of these young women whose husbands were doing very, very well in the financial world, raising their children in the American dream, totally changed in a matter of seconds. And we want to prevent more days like that.

It's ultimately this battle against terrorism. It's more than one battle. It's more than one administration. It's really about what kind of America you want, what kind of a world you want. And you and I seek a world where our children are safer, where our children around the world grow up without becoming terrorists. And achieving that kind of a world will require us to draw deeply into the reservoir of American power and American ideals and American resilience.