Fumbling the War on Terror

The Washington Post has an absolutely amazing article today about a fellow named Rand Beers. Until a few months ago — right before the shooting started in Iraq — Beers was serving on the National Security Council as a special assistant to the President for combating terrorism. He’d been at NSC since the Reagan Administration; but what he saw in the run-up to the war made him so concerned that we were making the wrong choices that he decided not just to leave NSC, but to actually volunteer for John Kerry’s Presidential campaign as a national security advisor!

Reading the article, it’s not hard to see why Beers felt he had to do more than just resign:

“The administration wasn’t matching its deeds to its words in the war on terrorism. They’re making us less secure, not more secure,” said Beers, who until now has remained largely silent about leaving his National Security Council job as special assistant to the president for combating terrorism. “As an insider, I saw the things that weren’t being done. And the longer I sat and watched, the more concerned I became, until I got up and walked out.”…

Much of what he knows is classified and cannot be discussed. Nevertheless, Beers will say that the administration is “underestimating the enemy.” It has failed to address the root causes of terror, he said. “The difficult, long-term issues both at home and abroad have been avoided, neglected or shortchanged and generally underfunded.”

The focus on Iraq has robbed domestic security of manpower, brainpower and money, he said. The Iraq war created fissures in the United States’ counterterrorism alliances, he said, and could breed a new generation of al Qaeda recruits…

“The first day, I came in fresh and eager,” he said. “On the last day, I came home tired and burned out. And it only took seven months.”

Part of that stemmed from his frustration with the culture of the White House. He was loath to discuss it. His wife, Bonnie, a school administrator, was not: “It’s a very closed, small, controlled group. This is an administration that determines what it thinks and then sets about to prove it. There’s almost a religious kind of certainty. There’s no curiosity about opposing points of view. It’s very scary. There’s kind of a ghost agenda.”

Much of what he knows, Beers can’t say publicly, which makes his dramatic move from NSC insider to opposition strategist even more interesting. Just how bad is the situation we face today regarding terrorism? Apparently, Rand Beers thinks it’s pretty bad, and getting worse; and from all accounts he’s someone worth listening to. [Thanks to Talking Points Memo for the pointer.]