James Woolsey and Richard Perle were testifying yesterday before the House Intelligence Committee. They both seem to be thriving despite a mountain of evidence that both are inappropriately financially profiting from America’s “war on terror.”
Woolsey is parroting a line that runs in the groove recently carved out by Peter Beinart’s article “A Fighting Faith: An Argument for a New Liberalism” that says that the way forward for progressives on foreign policy is to make everything (from feminism to racial politics) about fighting Islamic fundamentalism. Woolsey is with Beinart on this — or maybe, rather, Beinart is with Woolsey on this.
Here are the opening grafs of Shaun Waterman’s good piece yesterday on Woolsey and Perle:
Woosley: Cold War approach to new threats
By Shaun Waterman
UPI Homeland and National Security Editor
WASHINGTON, Feb. 2 (UPI) — Former CIA Director James Woolsey told a congressional panel Wednesday that the U.S. government should treat the ideological bedfellows of Islamic terrorism the same way it treated Communists and their supporters during the Cold War.
Drawing parallels between what he said were two totalitarian ideologies, Communism and Islamic extremism, Woolsey noted that even at the height of the struggle with the Soviet Union, “We could not make it illegal to be a member of the American Communist Party.
“Congress tried and the Supreme Court struck it down,” he told a hearing of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
But, he added, lawmakers were able to make “American Communists’ lives very complicated and very difficult by making them register, by all sorts of steps.”
Woolsey’s suggestion was greeted with horror by one student of the period.
Sam Walker, a professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and author of a history of the ACLU, said that the registration scheme introduced in the 1954 Communist Control Act had “done nothing to improve national security.”
“On the contrary it may have damaged national security, by inhibiting an open debate about U.S. foreign policy,” he told United Press International. He said it “resulted in the serious harassment of people for simply expressing a political viewpoint.”
Walker said that groups that had nothing to do with Communism — the peace movement and even civil-rights activists — “were labeled wholesale.”
“It was guilt by association,” he said.
I am attending the monthly Left & Right Luncheon organized by Ruy Teixeira and hosted by the Century Foundation and Hoover Institution today — and the instigators of debate this afternoon will be Peter Beinart and the American Prospect‘s Michael Tomasky.
The big question Teixeira poses for discussion is:
Must liberals abandon “the unity-at-all-costs ethos that governed American liberalism in 2004” and wage “a sustained battle to wrest the Democratic Party from the heirs of Henry Wallace” such as Michael Moore and MoveOn?
Should be an interesting debate — but I plan to raise with Beinart and others there the PNAC letter many of them signed as well as Woolsey’s suggestion that we need to set up a new registration system for those Islamists and Islamist-like people in America, and maybe those who just raise questions about the legitimacy of the government compiling such enemies lists again.
Bill Clinton made a huge mistake appointing Woolsey as CIA Director — but I do understand why Clinton never really wanted to spend time with the guy.
— Steve Clemons