Archive for Monday, September 11, 2006

Roberts delivers insider’s view of the War on Terror

September 11, 2006


U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts was driving to work on Sept. 11, 2001, when he heard radio reports about the attack on the World Trade Center, then saw the burning Pentagon with his own eyes. The Kansas Republican raced to the Capitol.

"I found out later that exactly the same time I was driving behind the Capitol was exactly the same time that Flight 93 would have crashed into the Capitol," Roberts said. "So I owe my life to the heroes of Flight 93 who said, 'Let's roll.'"

Less than two years later, in March 2003, Roberts became chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee - and has spent most of his tenure riding a whirlwind of controversies and debates over the Patriot Act, "warrantless wiretapping," the use of torture and the mistaken evidence used to justify the invasion of Iraq.

Roberts spoke on Thursday to the Journal-World about his insider's view of the War on Terror - the 30-minute interview can be heard below. Some excerpts:

Q: You have spent most of the last half-decade as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. So let's start off with the bottom-line question: Do you think the United States is more or less safe than it was on 9/11?

A: We've achieved a lot more information sharing, we have better human intelligence, we have a better attitude within the intelligence community, no more risk aversion.

Interview with U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts regarding the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and their aftermath


Americans cannot be complacent about the real threats that we face, and we get briefings on that virtually every week. More especially for the second-generation terrorists who may not be guided by Osama bin Laden, but certainly are inspired by him. It's the big problem that Great Britain faces, and certainly homegrown cells are a worry. Yes, we are safer, but are we yet safe to the degree we can say we're not going to have any future challenges? That's just not the case.

Q: After 9/11, your committee reported the intelligence community "did not effectively develop and use human sources to penetrate the Al Qaeda inner circle." Where does the United States now stand in its ability to penetrate terrorist cells with spies and thus see trouble coming before it gets here?

A: I think we're making progress. I can't be too specific about that because that gets into classified material, but I think we're making real progress. I think the agency is much more aggressive. When I go overseas and visit station chiefs, and then I always take time out to talk to personnel. They're young, they're bright, they're aggressive, so I think we're making some progress. Very difficult thing to do.

Q: I think you know the Lawrence City Commission a couple of years ago passed a resolution condemning the Patriot Act. And actually, a couple of months ago, you were quoted saying, basically, that "You have no civil liberties if you're dead." Did you mean to suggest that Americans are going to have to give up some civil liberties to be more secure?

A: No, no. I think you've got to be careful, whatever you do to protect America, that you do not tear at the fabric of what we're all about, and that's our individual freedoms and our privacy and what this country stands for. Nobody that's a fourth-generation Kansan and comes from a newspaper family is going to be anything but square for and very strong for our civil liberties.

It's just that facts are stubborn things, and I know people are concerned ... about the Patriot Act, but we really did not have any violation that appeared, or any egregious problem with the Patriot Act, despite all the criticism. We've come through again with the reauthorization. We've fixed or addressed some of those concerns. So I don't think that's the problem, at least in the minds of the critics, that it used to be.

Q: A few months ago, you were one of just nine senators who voted against the McCain bill that would essentially prohibit torture of terror suspects.

A: My problem was that the McCain field manual will be the first chapter in the Al Qaeda manual. The Al Qaeda terrorist will simply read that and say, "Well, this is what they can do and this is what they cannot do. ... I don't have to worry about anything egregious."

Nobody is for torture. We don't torture people. I think the nightmare of Abu Ghraib was a situation where it was people that were not trained, in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But, on the McCain situation, to say "Here are three techniques, you are limited to that," you are sending a signal to Al Qaeda that they can just sit tight.

Q: We don't do torture, but the president said yesterday that "tough" questioning of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed helped uncover terror plots. We've also heard about the CIA's "extraordinary rendition" programs (under which terror suspects are handed over to countries that allow punishing interrogations). So perhaps coercive techniques have been used? And how useful and necessary are those kind of techniques?

A: I'll pull the Clinton deal and say, "What's the definition of is?" What's the definition of "coercive?" I don't know how we describe that.

But it's not so much the coercive action as: OK, you're a terrorist and all of a sudden in unfamiliar surroundings and you don't know who's doing the questioning and all of a sudden you realize they know more about you than you think they did. That line of questioning keeps going and we see where it takes us.

Q: The last couple of years have raised questions about our ability to collect and interpret intelligence competently. In the case of 9/11, it was that maybe warning signs were ignored. On the other end of the spectrum, a lot of questions remain about the intelligence used to justify the invasion of Iraq. Given all that, why do you think Americans should have any confidence in the intelligence process?

A: We haven't had any attacks in five years.

Q: Pretty simple answer.

A: We have detected and deterred many plots against the United States. And stopped them. But we can't talk about them. The successes far exceed the mistakes, or the terrible tragedies, as evidenced by the plot in London.


Richard Heckler 11 years, 8 months ago

62,006 - the number killed in the 'war on terror

By David Randall and Emily Gosden Published: 10 September 2006 The "war on terror" - and by terrorists - has directly killed a minimum of 62,006 people, created 4.5 million refugees and cost the US more than the sum needed to pay off the debts of every poor nation on earth.

If estimates of other, unquantified, deaths - of insurgents, the Iraq military during the 2003 invasion, those not recorded individually by Western media, and those dying from wounds - are included, then the toll could reach as high as 180,000.

The extraordinary scale of the conflict's impact, claiming lives from New York to Bali and London to Lahore, and the extent of the death tolls in Iraq and Afghanistan, has emerged from an Independent on Sunday survey to mark the fifth anniversary of 11 September. It used new, unpublished data supplied by academics and organisations such as Iraq Body Count and Professor Marc Herold of the University of New Hampshire, plus estimates given by other official studies.

Entire story:

Richard Heckler 11 years, 8 months ago

QUESTIONABLE TIES Tracking bin Laden's money flow leads back to Midland, Texas by Wayne Madsen On September 24, President George W. Bush appeared at a press conference in the White House Rose Garden to announce a crackdown on the financial networks of terrorists and those who support them. "U.S. banks that have assets of these groups or individuals must freeze their accounts," Bush declared. "And U.S. citizens or businesses are prohibited from doing business with them."

But the president hasn't always practiced what he is now preaching: Bush's own businesses were once tied to financial figures in Saudi Arabia who currently support bin Laden.

In 1979, Bush's first business, Arbusto Energy, obtained financing from James Bath, a Houstonian and close family friend. One of many investors, Bath gave Bush $50,000 for a 5 percent stake in Arbusto. At the time, Bath was the sole U.S. business representative for Salem bin Laden, head of the wealthy Saudi Arabian family and a brother (one of 17) to Osama bin Laden. It has long been suspected, but never proven, that the Arbusto money came directly from Salem bin Laden. In a statement issued shortly after the September 11 attacks, the White House vehemently denied the connection, insisting that Bath invested his own money, not Salem bin Laden's, in Arbusto.

In conflicting statements, Bush at first denied ever knowing Bath, then acknowledged his stake in Arbusto and that he was aware Bath represented Saudi interests. In fact, Bath has extensive ties, both to the bin Laden family and major players in the scandal-ridden Bank of Commerce and Credit International (BCCI) who have gone on to fund Osama bin Laden. BCCI defrauded depositors of $10 billion in the '80s in what has been called the "largest bank fraud in world financial history" by former Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau. During the '80s, BCCI also acted as a main conduit for laundering money intended for clandestine CIA activities, ranging from financial support to the Afghan mujahedin to paying intermediaries in the Iran-Contra affair.

Complete story:

ksmattfish 11 years, 8 months ago

"Do you think the United States is more or less safe than it was on 9/11?"

Over 75% of Americans die from disease. 0.7% die from homicide, and the vast majority of those will be killed by someone they know, rather than a terrorist. How many people could we give health care for what we are spending on the War on Terrorism? Lack of affordable health care is what is going to kill me and my children.

Top killers of Americans 1) heart disease 2) cancer 3) stroke 4) emphysema 5) accidents 6) diabetes 7) flu 8) Alzheimer's 9) kidney disease 10) infection 11) suicide 12) liver disease 13) high blood pressure 14) homicide

WilburM 11 years, 8 months ago

Almost without exception, Senator Roberts has endorsed and protected a disastrous George Bush/Dick Cheney set of policies that have made us, long-term, much weaker within the world. Since we're referencing articles here, let me suggest Jon Rauch's balanced but ultimately damning assessment of the costs that the US will have to absorb because of our Iraqi blunders.

And rather than serving as an independent voice of a strong legislative branch, Senator Roberts has been a handmaiden to an ill-conceived, badly executed, and failed adventure in Iraq. This is his legacy, and it is a shameful one.

james bush 11 years, 8 months ago

Thank you Senator Roberts!!!!! I'm so glad that Pelosi, or Reid, or Durbin, or Kennedy, or Kerry, or Shumer are not in charge of security.

kmat 11 years, 8 months ago

Roberts IS such a wackjob that if he said the sky was blue, I would go outside first to check and see. Roberts lies, lies and then lies some more to protect the neo-cons he is in bed with.

After the Nov election, at least we should have some checks and balances back in this joke of a government. We'll never be able to rid ourselves of the likes of Roberts because of the religion voters in rural KS, but at least we can get the committees chaired by dems for a change. Hopefully they can get some action since the republican chairs have had no cohones to stand up for what it right.

james bush 11 years, 8 months ago

Whenever I become unhappy with our Kansas congress people , I compare them to the other party's leadership from other states (such as Kennedy, Pelosi, Reid, Durbin, Dean, Shumer) and feel lucky for a man like Roberts.

james bush 11 years, 8 months ago

PS.....I'm no fan of this president until I consider who we might have had if his opposition had been elected. Anyway I do hope that we get away from the Bushes and the Clintons running this country and find a person we can all support. I'm not referring to Sam!

ASBESTOS 11 years, 8 months ago

"There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear weapons within the next 5 years." Vice Chairman John Rockefeller, Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, September 25, 2002. "When you look at what Saddam Hussein has at his disposal, in terms of chemical, biological, and perhaps even nuclear weapons, we cannot ignore the threat that he poses to the region and the fact that he has fomented terrorism throughout his reign." Senator Dick Durbin, CNN's Larry King Live, "The Hunt for Bin Laden Intensifies; What is to be done with John Walker?," December 21, 2001.

bunnyhawk 11 years, 8 months ago

The only good thing I can think of to say about Pat Roberts is that he is slightly less embarrassing to me as a Kansas native than is his colleague, Sam Brownnose, er Brownback.

ksmoderate 11 years, 8 months ago


What's your point? Everyone was holding false intelligence at that time. Dems and Repubs alike.

ksmoderate 11 years, 8 months ago

YES HGA, but yet Sec. Rice and Cheney still spout the opposite. You'd think Roberts, as a decent american, would tap both of them on the shoulder and whisper "uh, I wouldn't say that if I were you, you know,'s not true."

But he didn't, doesn't, won't.

There are WAY to many politicians who need to be replaced ASAFP.

james bush 11 years, 8 months ago

My apology to everyone for my being "political-minded" on this day which should be one which unites us against common enemies.

RIP to all who died 9/11/2001 and heaven help the rest of us!

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