Friday, December 14, 2001
Burn Your Burkas!
Words of Wisdom from a Burning Bush
by Clinton Fein
|The Citadel, Charleston, South Carolina
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all very much. Please be seated. Thank you for that warm welcome. I'm glad to be back here at the Citadel. (Applause.)
I have come to talk about the future security of the moneymen who put me here to begin with, in a place where I took up this subject two years ago when I was candidate for President and killing that upstart John McCain in the polls by playing dirty. Quicker than you could say drunk drinking record, I had Cindy McCain popping Vicodin again. In September 1999, I said here at the Citadel that America was entering a period of consequences that would be defined by the threat of terror, and that we faced a challenge of military transformation. I also mentioned that military morale was so low that we would be useless in the event of a war, pissing off the military brass by linking their performance and readiness to President Bill Clinton. That threat has now revealed itself, and that challenge is now the military and moral necessity of our time, given how inadequately prepared we were to begin with, and how inadequately prepared we still remain. (Applause.)
So, today, I will set forth the commitments essential to con you assholes into giving your future and young lives for my daddy's strategic oil interests in the guise of our war against terror.
I'm grateful that Senator Hollings and members of the South Carolina congressional delegation flew down on Air Force One. I only wish that the senior Senator was on the airplane so I could have wished him a happy 99th birthday. I would have offered him a position in my cabinet. He'd fit right in with Secretary Rumsfeld and Vice President Cheney. Nothing like fresh young blood to strategize a new kind of war. We should send these old guys into the front lines! (Applause.)
But most of all, most of all, I want to say how much I appreciate being in the presence of some of America's finest, the South Carolina Corp of Cadets of Citadel. If I recall, this is where that evildoer -- was it Nancy Mace -- deepened your threat-induced hyper-masculinity. But you guys showed her didn't you. Where's she now? Writing books? To be honest, I'm a bit confused about the role of women. The Taliban went overboard a bit, but they did keep the women in their place. You didn't have Afghani Camille Paglias emasculating the mullas or N.O.W. telling men not to whip their daughter's asses for getting plastered in public. Already we have to spin big time in terms of the Northern Alliance and their treatment of women. You think Laura really cares about those rag heads that are naming their babies Osama?
I believe women would serve our country best by helping Laura burn Afghani burkas from a distance from the White House, not alongside us in combat or our academies and, as Newt Gingrich once said, bleeding unhygienically with us in foxholes. Imagine how women would deal with visits from Camp Lejeune paratroopers punching honorary wings onto their chests. I mean they want to be treated equal right? I'm only kidding. You try pulling that kind of stuff with Karen Hughes next to you. Fighting for Afgahni women's rights is not as much a moral imperative as it is about conning left wing liberals and rich yuppies who were once anti-war hippies, and who are scared shitless by September 11, into supporting the war. (Applause.)
Four days ago, I joined the men and women of the USS Enterprise to mark the 60th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. Lucky I saw the movie this summer and knew what I was talking about. December 7th, 1941 was a decisive day that changed our nation forever. In a single moment, America's "splendid isolation" was ended. And the four years that followed transformed the American way of war. It forced me to rethink my own "not so splendid isolation" plans like ignoring the Middle East, for instance. It was a blessing in disguise though, since people were expecting smart insights on stuff like stem cell research and hedging bets on whether I would side with wingnuts like John Ashcroft or the woman for whom Daddy was once a whipping boy, Nancy Reagan.
The age of battleships gave way to the offensive capability of aircraft carriers. The tank, once used only to protect infantry, now served to cut through enemy lines. At Guadalcanal, and Normandy, and Iwo Jima, amphibious warfare proved its worth. And by war's end, no one would ever again doubt the value of strategic air power. Especially not the refugees we turned away and sent back to Europe or the Japs we interned. That, Mr. Clinton, is how a President deals with internment. (Applause.)
Even more importantly, an American President and his successors shaped a world beyond a war. They rebuilt Europe with the Marshall Plan, formed a great alliance for freedom in NATO, and expressed the hope of collective security in the United Nations. They demonized the Soviet Union and blacklisted communists back home. They funded covert CIA operations by giving money and weapons to the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan and using American tax dollars to spawn the likes of Osama Bin Laden. There was Panama and Granada and Iran Contra and of course the War on Drugs. America took the lead, becoming freedom's defender and assuming responsibilities that only we could bear, since we would never in a million years tolerate such actions from any country on the face of the earth.
September 11th, 2001 -- three months and a long time ago -- set another dividing line in our lives and in the life of our nation. An illusion of immunity was shattered. Along with the selling strategy for our Strategic Missile Defense initiative. A faraway evil became a present danger. And a great cause became clear: We will fight terror and those who sponsor it, to save our children from a future of fear. Unless, of course, they contemplate the future of Social Security. And for those of us who dodged the war by using Daddy's connections to fly planes in Texas, the notion of protecting the homeland is not such an embarrassment anymore. Guess Al Gore won't be able to use his Vietnam photography stint if he's stupid enough to run against me again in the next election. (Applause.)
To win this war, we have to think differently. The enemy who appeared on September 11th seeks to evade our strength and constantly searches for our weaknesses. So America is required once again to change the way our military thinks and fights. And starting on October 7th, the enemy in Afghanistan got the first glimpses of a new American military that cannot, and will not, be evaded. Trust me Bin Laden is no Eric Robert Rudolph and hiding in caves is no match for our resolve. Rudolph's fatal bombing at Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park was inexcusable but the bombing of abortion clinics and gay nightclubs is kind of understandable, no? Compassionate conservatism folks. John Ashcroft probably paid him to do it. (Laughter.) Seriously, don't let our five-year inability to catch this Christian hiding in the mountainous region of a National Forest in western North Carolina mean anything. Especially if you're Yasser Arafat and have been told to act quickly and decisively or else. (Applause.)
When, after I spent the day flying around in a blind panic, I committed U.S. forces to this battle, I had every confidence that they would be up to the task. And they have proven me right. The Taliban and the terrorists set out to dominate a country and intimidate the world. Today, from their caves, it's all looking a little different. And things aren't quite the same from the offices of the International Red Cross in Afghanistan either. (Applause.) And no cave is deep enough to escape the patient justice of the United States of America. Ain't no mountain high enough, ain't no valley low enough to escape the unprecedented increase in the government's surveillance power and ability to eavesdrop on it's citizens, which somehow relates to foreign non-citizens, but specifically how is a classified secret. (Applause.)
We are also beginning to see the possibilities of a world beyond the war on terror. We have a chance, if we take it, to write a hopeful chapter in human history. All at once, a new threat to civilization is erasing old lines of rivalry and resentment between nations. Russia and America are building a new cooperative relationship. India and the United States are increasingly aligned across a range of issues, even as we work closely with Pakistan. Germany and Japan are assuming new military roles, appropriate to their status as great democracies. Everything in South America is just dandy. Asia's fine. Hopefully China will leave Xinjiang, Tibet and Taiwan alone. That damn terrorist Dalai Lama needs to tone things down. Anti-terrorism is in, hegemony is out. Protestants and Catholics in Ireland need to learn to just get along. If we can do it in South Central Los Angeles, they can too. The Middle East is still a problem. I know it's a war and ideology that goes back a long time, but I thought Arafat and Sharon understood when I told them to put it on hold while America fights terrorism. What part of focus on my war did they not understand?
The vast majority of countries are now on the same side of a moral and ideological divide. We're making common cause with every nation that chooses lawful change over chaotic violence -- every nation that values peace and safety and innocent life. It's countries that kill their citizens that are the problem. Ignore my execution record in Texas. Ignore my administration's power grabbing and constitution shredding. Ignore Saudi Arabia's treatment of women. Okay, okay, so a vast majority on the same side of a moral and ideological divide might be pushing it. Give me a break, I was a C student. (Chuckle.) (Applause.)
Staring across this non-existent divide are bands of murderers, supported by outlaw regimes. No, that would not mean my administration's support for faith-based initiatives that would give tax-dollars to organizations like the Army of God. I mean movements defined by their hatreds. They hate progress, like stem cell research to revolutionize medicine, and freedom, such as a right to a fair trial, and choice, such as abortion, assisted suicide and medicinal marijuana, and culture such as funding for the arts, and music, and laughter, and women, and Christians, and Jews, and all Muslims who reject their distorted doctrines. They love only one thing -- they love power. And when they have it, they use it without mercy or restraint at the expense of freedom to give themselves more and more.
The great threat to civilization is not that the terrorists will inspire millions. Only the terrorists themselves, or Jerry Falwell, or Pat Robertson, would want to live in their brutal and joyless world. The great threat to civilization is that a few evil men will multiply their murders, and gain the means to kill on a scale equal to their hatred. We know they have this mad intent, and we're determined to stop them by savagely bombing the hell out of innocent civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq or wherever our infinite crusade takes us next.
Our lives, our way of life, and our every hope for the world depend on a single commitment: Four more years! (Applause.)
America and our friends will meet this threat with every method at our disposal. We will discover and destroy sleeper cells. We will track terrorist movements, trace their communications, disrupt their funding, and take their network apart, piece by piece, just as we are doing with the American constitution, protection by protection, and just as we are tracking civilian movements and tracing their communications.
Above all, we're acting to end the state sponsorship of terror. Rogue states are clearly the most likely sources of chemical and biological and nuclear weapons for terrorists. Every nation now knows that we cannot accept -- and we will not accept -- states that harbor, finance, train, or equip the agents of terror. Who after all, first made anthrax? Who sponsored and financed the Mujahedeen? Which idiots, before September 11, gave assistance to the Taliban in FY2001 that totaled $174 million in food, health care, water/sanitation, and shelter, well aware of their treatment of women and appreciation of art? Or traded arms for hostages with Iran? Those nations that violate this principle will be regarded as hostile regimes. They have been warned, they are being watched, and they will be held to account. (Applause.)
Preventing mass terror will be the responsibilities of Presidents far into the future. And this obligation sets three urgent and enduring priorities for America. The first priority is to speed the transformation of our military by leasing aircraft from Boeing that taxpayers will neither own nor profit from. Special interests are American interests and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
When the Cold War ended, some predicted that the era of direct threats to our nation was over. Some thought our military would be used overseas -- not to win wars, but mainly to police and pacify, to control crowds and contain ethnic conflicts we ourselves had engineered, provoked and financed. They were wrong.
While the threats to America have changed, the need for victory has not. (Applause.) We are fighting shadowy, entrenched enemies -- enemies using the tools of terror and guerrilla war -- yet we are finding new tactics and new weapons to attack and defeat them. That is why John Ashcroft wants to tap your phone lines. That is why Oracle's Larry Ellison and Senator Dianne Feinstein want national ID cards for foreigners. She's only half Jewish or else she wouldn't be so quick to hop on that bandwagon (Chuckle.) This revolution in our military is only beginning, and it promises to change the face of battle, and define my administration and legacy.
Afghanistan has been a proving ground for this new approach. These past two months have shown that an innovative doctrine and high-tech weaponry can shape and then dominate an unconventional conflict. The brave men and women of our military are rewriting the rules of war with new technologies and old values like courage and honor, whether they are combat ready and trained pilots being forced to sit in burkas and veils in the back seats of cars in Saudi Arabia or faggots who we'll boot out dishonorably when the war against terrorism is won. And they have made this nation proud.
Our commanders are gaining a real-time picture of the entire battlefield, and are able to get targeting information from sensor to shooter almost instantly. Our intelligence professionals and special forces have cooperated in battle-friendly -- with battle-friendly Afghan forces -- fighters who know the terrain, who know the Taliban, and who understand the local culture. Basically, we give them money and weapons and they laugh all the way to the bank as they build madrassahs to teach kids about the evil of America to ensure we will be indebted to them forever. Or we kill innocent civilians by dropping food packages on their heads that are the same color as unexploded bombs. And our special forces have the technology to call in precision air strikes -- along with the flexibility to direct those strikes from horseback, in the first cavalry charge of the 21st century. Don Quixote must have been riding one of them, and mistaken the Red Cross headquarters for a windmill. (Applause.)
This combination -- real-time intelligence, local allied forces, special forces, and precision air power -- has really never been used before. The conflict in Afghanistan has taught us more about the future of our military than a decade of blue ribbon panels and think-tank symposiums, which we've all but ignored by rehiring Rumsfeld. But don't let that fool you into thinking Strategic Missile Defense is no longer a priority, despite how alarmingly inadequate the most basic security at our airports remains to this day. In the near future, all of our military will be armed with toenail clippers confiscated from civilians attempting to carry them onto planes.
The need for military transformation was clear before the conflict in Afghanistan, and before September the 11th. Here at the Citadel in 1999, I spoke of keeping the peace by redefining war on our terms. The same recommendation was made in the strategic review that Secretary Rumsfeld briefed me on last August -- a review that I fully endorse and if you do some rudimentary research you see why, and who will make the most money from it. I'll give you a clue. It's not you guys. (Applause.) What's different today's that even though Rumsfeld is still a complete nutcase, he's more respected than Tom Ridge, John Ashcroft and Tommy Thompson combined. The need to build this future force while fighting a present war is critical and pie-in-the-sky technology makes people feel more secure even if they're not, just as untrained National Guard security at airports terrify and intimidate your grandmothers while terrorists can simply plant bombs in unchecked suitcases. Next we'll be deploying the National Guard to patrol post offices. It's not as if it would make a difference to someone posting anthrax. It's to make us think that we're fooling you by telling you we're doing something. It's like taking Ari Fleischer seriously, when his amateur-hour spin is being simultaneously contradicted on the ticker scrolling across the bottom of your TV. Yet we have no other choice.
Our military has a new and essential mission. For states that support terror, it's not enough that the consequences be costly -- they must be devastating. (Applause.) Think in terms of my tax cut and presidency on the economy. The more credible this reality, the more likely that regimes will change their behavior -- making it less likely that America and our friends will need to use overwhelming force against them. But this war will last long because my administration depends on it. In this climate, even the West and East coasts will vote me in to a second term.
To build our future force, the Armed Services must continue to attract America's best people, with good pay and good living conditions. Like Timothy McVeigh. Our military culture must reward new thinking, innovation, and experimentation, just as our role in the Tuskegee syphilis experiment. While that was a little mistake, that former Clinton pathetically apologized for; I want to make sure we don't do anything deeply, profoundly, morally wrong. Why would we use stem cell research to revolutionize medicine to strengthen our prowess in this war when we can have nouveau riche frauds like Steve Forbes and impuissant milquetoasts like Gary Bauer pray for our well being instead? Congress must give defense leaders the freedom to innovate, instead of micromanaging the Defense Department. Liberal columnists can call me 'disengaged' and pop psychologist can suggest I'm 'in denial.' I just don't believe in oversight or checks and balances. Unless the checks are written to me, and the balances are in my account. (Laughter.) And every service and every constituency of our military must be willing to sacrifice some of their own pet projects. Our war on terror cannot be used to justify obsolete bases, obsolete programs, or obsolete weapon systems the way its been used to justify the curtailment of cherished freedoms and democratic principles and the basic rule of law. Every dollar of defense spending must meet a single test: Will it make the people who paid a lot of money to prop me here happy? (Applause.)
Our country is united in supporting a great cause -- and in supporting those who fight for it. We will give our men and women in uniform every resource, every weapon, every tool they need to win the long battle that lies ahead. And if people disagree with the direction we're taking, I'll have them before a military tribunal quicker than you can say "Jenna, that's enough wine honey."
America's next priority to prevent mass terror is to protect against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them. I wish I could report to the American people that this threat does not exist -- that our enemy is content with car bombs and box cutters -- but I cannot. Not that it would make any difference since we were not, and still are not, equipped to deal with box cutters and car bombs were our enemies content with just those. That's why inconsistent, awkwardly orchestrated warnings about heightened states of alert coming from Tom Ridge or John Ashcroft do not include meaningful searches of passengers or luggage at airports or railway stations, or roadblocks at the entrances of bridges and tunnels. It means get ready to block your ears if there's a loud bang.
One former al Qaeda member has testified in court that he was involved in an effort 10 years ago to obtain nuclear materials. And the leader of al Qaeda calls that effort "a religious duty." You don't hear me calling capital punishment a religious duty do you? Abandoned al Qaeda houses in Kabul contained diagrams for crude weapons of mass destruction. And as we all know, terrorists have put anthrax into the U.S. mail, and used sarin gas in a Tokyo subway. And as we all know, we all know very little else. In spite of all the vast new powers we have to use any means at our disposal, liberties be damned, we still have no clue who sent the anthrax, whether it did come from one of our own labs or where to go next in the investigation. Lucky no country is putting any ultimatums on us to act quickly.
And almost every state that actively sponsors terror is known to be seeking weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to deliver them at longer and longer ranges. Their hope is to blackmail the United States into abandoning our war on terror, and forsaking our friends and allies and security commitments around the world. To trick us into stopping the development of chemical agents like anthrax to begin with or keep us trapped in treaties that govern the development and management of weapons of mass destruction. Our enemies are bound for disappointment. America will never be blackmailed, and we will never forsake our commitment to liberty. Even as my cabinet and I daisy cut the constitution and cluster bomb your freedom. (Applause.)
To meet our new threats, I have directed my National Security Advisor and my Homeland Security Director to develop a comprehensive strategy on proliferation. In other words, it's Condi's baby. Working with other countries, we will strengthen nonproliferation treaties and toughen export controls. Together, we must keep the world's most dangerous technologies out of the hands of the world's most dangerous people. But since I don't want you to vote me out of office just yet, I promise to make sure Secretary Rumsfeld does not have access to any red buttons. (Laughter.)
A crucial partner in this effort is Russia -- a nation we are helping to dismantle strategic weapons, reduce nuclear material, and increase security at nuclear sites. Our two countries will expand efforts to provide peaceful employment for scientists who formerly worked in Soviet weapons facilities. The United States will also work with Russia to build a facility to destroy tons of nerve agent. I'll request an over-all increase in funding to support this vital mission. Your tax dollars at work. Perhaps the Russian scientists can work as security guards at airports or as recruiters for unemployed Americans fired from the airline industry who failed us in securing its passengers and our cities, and for which we are paying them obscene amounts of money to continue.
Even as we fight to prevent proliferation, we must prepare for every possibility. At home, we must be better prepared to detect, protect against, and respond to the potential use of weapons of mass destruction. Abroad, our military forces must have the ability to fight and win against enemies who would use such weapons against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory, forever and ever. Amen.
Biodefense has become a major initiative of ours. This year we've already requested nearly $3 billion additional dollars for biodefense, more than doubling the level of funding prior to September the 11th. Watch these guys fill my election cofferswhile Rumsfeld sneers gleefully all the way to his Swiss Bank account.
The attacks on our nation made it even more clear that we need to build limited and effective defenses against a missile attack. (Applause.) Our enemies seek every chance and every means to do harm to our country, our forces, and our friends. And we will not permit it. I'm leading up to why Mr. Putin was smart to demand that I 'put it in writing', and why my 'don't worry, trust us' diplomacy would have proved as fruitful as our participation at the race conference in South Africa.
Suppose the Taliban and the terrorists had been able to strike America or important allies with a ballistic missile. Suppose I had an in-depth knowledge of foreign affairs. Suppose I didn't go to bed at nine each night and actually read the briefs on my desk in the morning. Our coalition still would have become fragile, the stakes in our war much, much higher. We must protect Americans and our friends against all forms of terror, including the terror that could arrive on a missile. Or the terror that could arrive owing to the arrogant, dimwitted mistakes that we seem destined to repeat over and over again until the world goes up in smoke.
Last week we conducted another promising test of our missile defense technology. For the good of peace, we're moving forward with an active program to determine what works and what does not work. In order to do so, we must move beyond the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, a treaty that was written in a different era, for a different enemy. (Applause.)
Yes, it's time for Russia to wake up and guess who the real superpower is. Why should we bound by a dumb treaty that was crafted under the humiliating impression that we were equals. I want to maximize American security. If you think that my abandoning the ABM won't somehow induce Russia to reduce nuclear weapons stockpiles simply to keep busy, you must be supportive of fuzzy math! I know I - and Laura as well - like to refer to the fact that Putin and I have this bond because we both have teenage daughters. But Ari told us to harp on that to avoid addressing the questions about America's intentions. Did I know that we were definitely giving notice to Russia that we were abandoning, as the treaty stipulates, when I was telling him to trust on a handshake our ill-defined, legally useless and non-binding "strategic framework"? The answer is yes. Dick and Rumsfeld had not yet decided what we were going to do, so I wasn't playing the fool, was I?
America and our allies must not be bound to the past. We must be able to build the defenses we need against the enemies of the 21st century. Even if they are primitive Neanderthals that ride on donkeys and live in caves. Ask those tree-hugging terrorists, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, what happens when a B-52H drops a load of M117s on a donkey. (Laughter.}
Our third and final priority in the fight against mass terror is to strengthen the advantage that good intelligence gives our country. I have good intelligence, which means I am intelligent. Every day I make decisions influenced by the intelligence briefing of that morning. To reach decisions, a President needs more than data and information. A President needs real and current knowledge and analysis of the plans, intentions, and capabilities of our enemies. I don't want to read the long, boring details. I want people around me to give me a quick Cliff Notes version while I sit with my feet on my desk and feel important.
Our intelligence services and federal law enforcement agencies must work more closely together, and share timely information with our state and local authorities. The more we know, the more terrorist plans we can prevent and disrupt, and the better we'll be able to protect the American people. Don't ask me how Attorney General Ashcroft's refusal to provide records of gun purchases of suspected terrorists to the FBI on the basis of -- ironically, privacy -- reflects such working closely or sharing of timely information and I'll tell you no lies.
And in all they do, our intelligence agencies must attract the best people -- the best collectors, the best analysts, the best linguists. We will be transformationed by this. We will give them the training they need and the compensation they deserve.
There have been times here in America when our intelligence services were held in suspicion, and even contempt. And it had absolutely nothing to do with Daddy's double dealing whilst heading the CIA either, I might add. Now, when we face this new war, we know how much we need them. And for their dedication and for their service, America so grateful, we feel compelled to shop incessantly to demonstrate it. (Applause.)
We're also grateful to you, the students of the Citadel. Your uniforms symbolize a tradition of honor and sacrifice, renewed in your own lives. Many of you will enter our military -- taking your place in the war against terror. That struggle may continue for many years, and it may bring great costs. But you will have chosen a great calling at a crucial hour for our nation. I regret to inform those of you who joined here because of a commitment to the freedom America represents that times have changed. There were times when servicemembers would bite their tongues as they watched college kids burning flags, aware that tough as it was to watch, such freedom stood at the core of what they had been willing to sacrifice their lives for. No more. Anyone who burns a flag has no respect for America -- is a terrorist or terrorist sympathizer. Never mind that the proper way to get rid of a flag is to burn it. From now on, the only flag desecration we will tolerate - even encourage - is using the flag on shopping bag and in store windows to goad citizens into buying, shopping, buying, shopping. A credit card at WalMart will win us this war.
The course we follow is a matter of profound consequence to many nations. If America declares war on terrorists and uses it to violate every international law ever written and shred every civil liberty ever documented, the world will follow. Already Israel has written off Arafat and the PLO as terrorists. To Pakistan, Indians are terrorists and to India Pakistanis are terrorists. White racists in South Africa are kicking themselves that Apartheid didn't last long enough for them to keep Nelson Mandela in prison as a terrorist for another 25 years. Yep, that's the 'new normalcy' guys. Find your least favorite race, group, class, nation, ethnicity, religion or whatever. Deem them terrorists and declare war on them by doing the most evil, unspeakable things you can imagine to them in the name of your cause. That is the kind of support America is asking for. That is what we mean by with us or against us. That is the kind of support America can expect. If America leads, the world will show its courage. America will never waver. America will lead the world to peace. (Applause.)
Our cause is necessary. Our cause is just. And no matter how long it takes, we will defeat the enemies of freedom by becoming the enemies of freedom ourselves. The war will never be over because every time we point a finger at every conceivable evil across the globe, we seem to forget that we are looking in the mirror. (Applause.)
In all that is to come, I know the graduates of the Citadel will bring credit to America, to the military, and to this great institution. In the words of that guy who wrote Towering Inferno long before September 11 -- hell it was even before the Trade Centers were built -- Dante Alighieri -- or was that Sammy Sosa? "All hope abandon, ye who enter here."
God bless. (Applause.) END
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