Friday, June 30, 2006

Lessons from a Larger-than-Life President By Karl Rove


Theodore Roosevelt is one of the most remarkable figures in America's story. Adventurous, brave, opinionated, a larger-than-life personality, he was a man of action, energy and motion. T.R. loved what he called "the literature of history"--and wanted to be a key actor in America's great drama.

Roosevelt was not perfect by any means--but he was an extraordinary man by any reasonable measure. He was among our most consequential Presidents, changing America in deep and lasting ways. A century after he served as President, he still has many things to teach us. Among them:

1. It is every American's responsibility to be active in our civic life. "The first duty of an American citizen, then," Roosevelt said, "is that he shall work in politics." T.R. took the title of citizen seriously. He believed freedom could not be preserved without Americans "striving and suffering for it" by defending the nation and participating in the practical work of democracy.

2. Politics should be animated by large, important ideas. For a man who said "I like big things," politics was about precisely that. T.R. was not interested so much in management or budgeting matters; he wanted to grapple with big issues like America's role in the world, social justice and fairness in competition. Whether it was waging war or waging peace--T.R. was the first American to win the Nobel Peace Prize--he shaped the future of the nation and the course of human events. In doing so, he helped invent the modern American presidency.

3. The United States, while not flawless, is a profound force for good in the world. Theodore Roosevelt led a reluctant nation, largely indifferent to world affairs, onto the global stage. On his watch, America became a great world power. "There comes a time in the life of a nation, as in the life of an individual, when it must face great responsibilities, whether it will or no," he said in 1898. "We have now reached that time. We cannot avoid facing the fact that we occupy a new place among the people of the world ... Our flag is a proud flag, and it stands for liberty and civilization. Where it has once floated, there must be no return to tyranny."

4. Leadership matters. Confident in his own powers of judgment and persuasion, Roosevelt believed in "immediate and rigorous executive action" in times of crisis. And whether they agreed with him or not, Americans knew where this human dynamo stood on the great issues of his time. Driven by a fervent belief in the Declaration of Independence, he drew strength from his faith that all Americans "stand on the same footing," as human beings worthy of respect. And like all great leaders, he inspired those he led, turning his convictions into theirs.

5. A spirited clash of ideas is not only inevitable in politics, but helpful. T.R. didn't just love ideas, he loved to debate them as long as it was fair and straight. The "healthy combativeness" of politics clarified differences and choices. The rough-and-tumble of the political arena didn't bother him. "If a man has a very decided character, has a strongly accentuated career," Roosevelt said, "it is normally the case of course that he makes ardent friends and bitter enemies." T.R. had both. So did F.D.R. So did Lincoln. So did Reagan. So do all consequential leaders.

6. There can be great joy in politics. At the age of 28 and on the verge of losing the New York City mayor's race, he still wrote a friend, "I have had first class fun ..." He relished the thrust and parry of politics, its give and take, the highs and lows. And he knew politics was a noble profession. "Aggressive fighting for the right is the noblest sport the world affords," he famously said. No man loved being President more than T.R.--or missed being President as much.

7. Character matters. Roosevelt was a man of extraordinary self-will. Encouraged by his father, he turned himself from a sickly child to a powerful, hardy young man. He overcame common human fears and became a man of great courage. He chose "the strenuous life" over comfort and ease. He was a loyal friend and faithful husband--and reveled in the company of his children. He encountered heartbreaking losses-- the sudden passing of his beloved first wife and his mother on the same day in the same house and, later, the death in combat of his son Quentin--yet his life was characterized by passion and zest and a drive to achieve great things.

Roosevelt's fellow citizens loved him, in large measure because they knew how deeply he loved his country. At the start of "a new century big with the fate of many nations," he said America was the "young giant of the West." He strived with all his considerable power to conserve, strengthen, direct and ennoble it. He did all that and more, which is why Theodore Roosevelt holds a special place in the American imagination. รข€¢

Karl Rove, a history buff, is assistant to the President, deputy chief of staff and senior adviser

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Monday, June 26, 2006

National Review Wants SWIFT Investigation of New York Times


Stop the Leaks

By The Editors

Every passing week, it becomes more apparent that disgruntled leftists in the intelligence community and antiwar crusaders in the mainstream media, annealed in their disdain for the Bush administration, are undermining our ability to win the War on Terror. Their latest body blow to the war effort is the exposure, principally by the New York Times, of the Treasury Department’s top-secret program to monitor terror funding.

President Bush, who said on Monday morning that the exposure "does great harm to the United States of America," must demand that the New York Times pay a price for its costly, arrogant defiance. The administration should withdraw the newspaper’s White House press credentials because this privilege has been so egregiously abused, and an aggressive investigation should be undertaken to identify and prosecute, at a minimum, the government officials who have leaked national-defense information.

The Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (TFTP) was initiated soon after the 9/11 attacks. It ingeniously focuses on the hub of interlocking systems that facilitate global money transfers. The steward of that hub, centered in Brussels, is the Society of Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or “SWIFT.” SWIFT is an organization of the world’s financial giants, including the national banks of Belgium, England, and Japan, the European Central Bank, and the U.S. Federal Reserve. SWIFT, however, is not a bank. It’s a clearinghouse that manages message traffic pursuant to international transfers of funds.

Intelligence about those communications implicates no legally recognized privacy interests. To begin with, they are predominantly foreign, and international. To the extent the U.S. Constitution might be thought to apply, the Supreme Court held nearly 30 years ago that records in the hands of third parties — including financial records maintained by banks — are not private, and thus not protected by the Fourth Amendment. Moreover, to the extent Congress later supplemented privacy protections by statute, those laws regulated disclosures by financial institutions. SWIFT is not a financial institution.

Despite this legal daylight, the Bush administration has gone out of its way to defer to privacy concerns. Assuming that American law applied, it obtained SWIFT information by administrative subpoena. It carefully narrowed its scrutiny to those transacting with suspected terrorists. It concurred with its international partners that the resulting intelligence should be used only for counterterrorism and security purposes—not for prosecutions of ordinary crimes (even though such prosecutions would be legal under American law). And it agreed to subject the TFTP to independent auditing to ensure that the effort was trained on terrorists.

By all accounts, the program has been a ringing success. The administration maintains that the TFTP has been central to mapping terror cells and their tentacles, and to shutting off their funding spigot. It has resulted in at least one major domestic prosecution for providing material support to al Qaeda. It has also led to the apprehension of one of the jihad’s most insulated and ruthless operatives, Jemaah Islamiya’s Riduan Isamuddin, who is tied to the 2002 Bali bombing.

But as has happened with other crucial counterterrorism tools — such as the NSA’s program to monitor the enemy’s international communications, which the New York Times exposed, and the CIA’s arrangements for our allies to detain high-level Qaeda operatives, which the Washington Post compromised — the TFTP’s existence was disclosed to the Times and other newspapers by anonymous government officials, in violation of their legal obligation to maintain secrecy. The Bush administration pleaded with the newspapers not to publish what they had learned. But these requests, rooted in the national-security interests of the United States, were rebuffed. The Times, along with the Los Angeles Times (which also rejected a government request not to publish) and the Wall Street Journal, ran stories exposing the program. Yes, the public was being protected. Yes, terrorists trying to kill Americans were being brought to heel. Yes, it appears the program is legal. And yes, it appears the Bush administration made various accommodations out of respect for international opinion and privacy concerns. Despite all that, New York Times executive editor Bill Keller concluded that "the administration’s extraordinary access to this vast repository of international financial data, however carefully targeted use of it may be, is a matter of public interest."

It is a matter of interest mainly to al Qaeda. The terrorists will now adapt. They will find new ways of transferring funds, and precious lines of intelligence will be lost. Murderers will get the resources they need to carry out their grisly business. As for the real public interest, it lies primarily in safety — and what the Times has ensured is that the public today is less safe.

Success in defeating the terrorists at war with us is dependent on good intelligence. Without obtaining it and keeping it secret, the government can’t even find the dots, much less connect them. If the compromising of our national-security secrets continues, terrorists will thrive and Americans will die. It has to be stopped.

The New York Times is a recidivist offender in what has become a relentless effort to undermine the intelligence-gathering without which a war against embedded terrorists cannot be won. And it is an unrepentant offender. In a letter published over the weekend, Keller once again defended the newspaper's editorial decision to run its TFTP story. Without any trace of perceiving the danger inherent in public officials’ compromising of national-security information (a matter that the Times frothed over when it came to the comparative trifle of Valerie Plame's status as a CIA employee), Keller indicated that the Times would continue revealing such matters whenever it unilaterally decided that doing so was in the public interest.

The president should match this morning’s tough talk with concrete action. Publications such as the Times, which act irresponsibly when given access to secrets on which national security depends, should have their access to government reduced. Their press credentials should be withdrawn. Reporting is surely a right, but press credentials are a privilege. This kind of conduct ought not be rewarded with privileged access.

Moreover, the Justice Department must be more aggressive than it has been in investigating national-security leaks. While prosecution of the press for publishing information helpful to the enemy in wartime would be controversial, pursuit of the government officials who leak it is not. At the very least, members of the media who report such information must be made to understand that the government will no longer regard them as immune from questioning when it investigates the leakers. They should be compelled to reveal their sources, on pain of contempt.


They're Just More Important Than You Are
Are any secrets more important than the New York Times's sources?

By Andrew C. McCarthy

The echo trails off the last defiantly gleeful chorus of "We Are the World." Reality stubbornly dawns on you: There really are bad people out there. They are the world, too. And they want to kill you.

They refuse to be reasoned with. They can afford to. They’re not a country. They don't have to worry about defending a territory. They are seeped into places that can't be bombed into submission. They are the world, after all. They are the children — or at least hidden among them. No "Mutually Assured Destruction" here.

No, you have only one defense: Intelligence. Superpower power is useless. What are you gonna do? Hit them where they live? Bomb Hamburg? Bomb London? Bomb New York?

Not an option. Your nukes, stealth fighters, carpet bombers … they’re largely irrelevant. This is not about killing an advancing brigade. It's about killing cells. A handful of operatives here and there, nestled among millions of innocents.

The real challenge is not how to kill them — or at least capture them. It’s how to find them. How to identify them from among the hordes they dress like, sound like, and even act like … right up until the moment they board a plane. Or wave cheerily alongside a naval destroyer. Or park their nondescript van in the catacombs of a mighty skyscraper.

The only way to prevent terrorist attacks is to gather intelligence. It is to collect the information that reveals who the jihadists are, who is backing them with money and resources, and where they are likely to strike. There is nothing else.

How do you get such intelligence? Your options are few. The terrorists you capture, you squeeze until they break. Since your laws and protocols forbid physical coercion, you must employ psychological pressure — relentless detachment and loneliness that may render a battle-hard, hate-obsessed detainee hopeless enough and dependent enough on his interrogators to tell you the deepest, deadliest secrets. So you move your captives to places where they will be isolated, and forlorn, and … eventually — maybe after a very long time — moved to tell you what they know about their fellow savages.

Otherwise, you use your technological wizardry to penetrate their communications. You use your mastery of the global web that is modern finance to find the money and follow it — until you can pierce the veiled charities and masked philanthropists behind the terror dollars. Until you strangle the supply lines that convert hatred into action.

All the while, you never underestimate your enemies. You know they are clever, resourceful, and adaptive. You know they study you, just as you are studying them. More effectively, in fact. After all, when you find their vulnerabilities, there is still due process. When they find yours, there is murder. Mass murder.

Life or death. Which one it will be turns solely on intelligence and secrecy. Can you find out how they next intend to kill you, can you stop them, and can you prevent them from knowing how you know … so you can stop them again?

Simple as that. Modernity has changed many things, but it hasn't changed that. In command of the first American military forces, and facing a deadly enemy, George Washington himself observed that the "necessity of procuring good intelligence is apparent and need not be further urged…. [U]pon Secrecy, Success depends in Most Enterprises ... and for want of it, they are generally defeated."

What on earth would George Washington have made of Bill Keller, executive editor of the New York Times, and his comrades in today’s American media?

What would he have made of transparently politicized free-speech zealots who inform for the enemy and have the nerve to call it "patriotism."

Who say, "If you try to isolate barbarians to make them hand up the other barbarians, we will expose it."

"If you try to intercept enemy communications — as victorious militaries have done in every war ever fought — we will tell all the world, including the enemy, exactly what you’re up to."

"If you track the enemy's finances, we will blow you out of the water. We’ll disclose just what you're doing and just how you're doing it. Even if it’s saving innocent lives."

And why this last? Remember five years ago, back when they figured "you're not doing enough" was the best way to bash the Bush administration? Remember the Times and its ilk — disdainful of aggressive military responses — tut-tutting about how the disruption of money flows was the key to thwarting international terrorists. So why compromise that?

Is there some illegality going on in the government’s Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (exposed by the Times and other news outlets Friday)? No, no laws have been broken. Is there some abuse of power? No, there seem to have been extraordinary steps taken to inform relevant officials and win international cooperation. Why then? Why take action that can only aid and comfort the enemy in wartime?

Because, Keller haughtily pronounced, American methods of monitoring enemy money transfers are "a matter of public interest."

Really? The Times prattles on about what it claims is a dearth of checks and balances, but what are the checks and balances on Bill Keller? Can it be that our security hinges on whether the editor of an antiwar, for-profit journal thinks some defense measure might be interesting?

Well, here’s something truly interesting: There are people in the U.S. intelligence community who are revealing the nation's most precious secrets.

The media aspire to be the public's watchdog? Ever on the prowl to promote good government? Okay, here we have public officials endangering American lives. Public officials whose violation of a solemn oath to protect national defense information is both a profound offense against honor and a serious crime.

What about the public interest in that? What about the public interest in rooting out those who betray their country in wartime?

Not on your life.

National-security secrets? All fair game. If it’s about how we detain, or infiltrate, or defang the monsters pledged to kill us, the New York Times reserves the right to derail us any time it finds such matters … interesting.

But the media's own sources? That, and that alone, is sacrosanct. Worth protecting above all else.

National-security secrets, after all, are merely the public treasure that keeps us alive. Press informants are the private preserve of the media.

And they’re just more important than you are.

Andrew C. McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor, is a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.