Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

'Our Enemy Is Not Terrorism'
The U.S. Naval Institute 130th Annual Meeting and Annapolis Naval History Symposium (2004 | 1 July 2004 | John Lehman, Former Secretary of the Navy

Posted on 07/01/2004 11:06:42 AM PDT by NavySEAL F-16

'Our Enemy Is Not Terrorism'

The U.S. Naval Institute 130th Annual Meeting and Annapolis Naval History Symposium (2004)

Address by Former Secretary of the Navy John Lehman

We are at a juncture today that really is more of a threshold, even more of a watershed, than the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was in 1941. We are currently in a war, but it is not a war on terrorism. In fact, that has been a great confusion, and the sooner we drop that term, the better. This would be like President Franklin Roosevelt saying in World War II, "We are engaged in a war against kamikazes and blitzkrieg." Like them, terrorism is a method, a tool, a weapon that has been used against us. And part of the reason we suffered such a horrific attack is that we were not prepared. Let's not kid ourselves. Some very smart people defeated every single defense this country had, and defeated them easily, with confidence and arrogance. There are many lessons we must learn from this.

We were not prepared intellectually. Those of us in the national security field still carried the baggage of the Cold War. We thought in concepts of coalition warfare and the Warsaw Pact. When we thought of terrorism, we thought only of state-sponsored terrorism, which is why the immediate reaction of many in our government agencies after 9/11 was: Which state did it? Saddam, it must have been Saddam. We had failed to grasp, for a variety of reasons, the new phenomenon that had emerged in the world. This was not state-sponsored terrorism. This was religious war.

This was the emergence of a transnational enemy driven by religious fervor and fanaticism. Our enemy is not terrorism. Our enemy is violent, Islamic fundamentalism. None of our government institutions was set up with receptors, or even vocabulary, to deal with this. So we left ourselves completely vulnerable to a concerted attack.

Where are we today? I'd like to say we have fixed these problems, but we haven't. We have very real vulnerabilities. We have not diminished in any way the fervor and ideology of our enemy. We are fighting them in many areas of the world, and I must say with much better awareness of the issues and their nature. We're fighting with better tools. But I cannot say we are now safe from the kind of attack we saw on 9/11. I think we are much safer than we were on 9/11; the ability of our enemies to launch a concerted, sophisticated attack is much less than it was then. Still, we're totally vulnerable to the kinds of attacks we've seen in Madrid, for instance. We face a very sophisticated and intelligent enemy who has been trained, in many cases, in our universities and gone to school on our methods, learned from their mistakes, and continued to use the very nature of our free society and its aversion to intrusion in privacy and discrimination to their benefit.

For example, today it is still a prohibited offense for an airline to have two people of the same ethnic background interviewed at one time, because that is discrimination. Our airline security is still full of holes. Our ability to carry out covert operations abroad is only marginally better than it was at the time of 9/11. A huge amount of fundamental cultural and institutional change must be carried out in the United States before we can effectively deal with the nature of the threat. Today, probably 50 or more states have schools that are teaching jihad, preaching, recruiting, and training. We have absolutely no successful programs even begun to remediate against those efforts.

It's very important that people understand the complexity of this threat. We have had to institute new approaches to protecting our civil liberties-the way we authorize surveillance, the way we conduct our immigration and naturalization policies, and the way we issue passports. That's only the beginning. The beginning of wisdom is to recognize the problem, to recognize that for every jihadist we kill or capture-as we carry out an aggressive and positive policy in Afghanistan and elsewhere-another 50 are being trained in schools and mosques around the world.

This problem goes back a long way. We have been asleep. Just by chance about six months ago, I picked up a book by V. S. Naipaul, one of the great English prose writers. I love to read his short stories and travelogues. The book was titled Among the Believers (New York: Vintage, 1982) and was an account of his travels in Indonesia, where he found that Saudi-funded schools and mosques were transforming Indonesian society from a very relaxed, syncretist Islam to a jihadist fundamentalist fanatical society, all paid for with Saudi Arabian funding. Nobody paid attention. Presidents in four administrations put their arms around Saudi ambassadors, ignored the Wahhabi jihadism, and said these are our eternal friends.

We have seen throughout the last 20 years a kind of head-in-the-sand approach to national security in the Pentagon. We were comfortable with the existing concept of what the threat was, what threat analysis was, and how we derived our requirements, still using the same old tools we all grew up with. We paid no attention to the real nature of this emerging threat, even though there were warning signs.

Many will recall with pain what we went through in the Reagan administration in 1983, when the Marine barracks were bombed in Beirut-241 Marines and Navy corpsmen were killed. We immediately got an intercept from NSA [National Security Agency], a total smoking gun from the foreign ministry of Iran, ordering the murder of our Marines. Nothing was done to retaliate. Instead, we did exactly what the terrorists wanted us to do, which was to withdraw. Osama bin Laden has cited this as one of his dawning moments. The vaunted United States is a paper tiger; Americans are afraid of casualties; they run like cowards when attacked; and they don't even bother to take their dead with them. This was a seminal moment for Osama.

After that, we had our CIA station chief kidnapped and tortured to death. Nothing was done. Then, we had our Marine Colonel [William R.] Higgins kidnapped and publicly hanged. Nothing was done We fueled and made these people aware of the tremendous effectiveness of terrorism as a tool of jihad. It worked. They chased us out of one place after another, because we would not retaliate.

The Secretary of Defense at the time has said he never received those intercepts That's an example of one of the huge problems our commission has uncovered. We have allowed the intelligence community to evolve into a bureaucratic archipelago of baronies in the Defense Department, the CIA, and 95 other different intelligence units in our government. None of them talked to one another in the same computerized system. There was no systemic sharing. Some will recall the Phoenix memo and the fact that there were people in the FBI saying, "Hey, there are young Arabs learning to fly and they don't want to learn how to take off or land. Maybe we should look into them." It went nowhere.

We had watch lists with 65,000 terrorists' names on them, created by a very sophisticated system in the State Department called Tip-Off. That existed before 9/11, but nobody in the FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] bothered to look at it. The FAA had 12 names on its no-fly list. The State Department had a guy on its list named Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. He was already under indictment for his role in planning the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center. The State Department issued him a visa. I could go on and on.

Two big lessons glare out from what our investigations have discovered so far. Number one, in our government bureaucracy today there is no accountability. Since 9/11-the greatest failure of American defenses in the history of our country, at least since the burning of Washington in 1814-only one person has been fired. He is a hero, in my judgment: [retired Vice] Admiral John Poindexter. He got fired because of an excessive zeal to catch these bastards. But he was the only one fired. Not any of the 19 officers lost their jobs at Immigration for allowing the 19 terrorists-9 who presented grossly falsified passports-to enter the country. One Customs Service officer stopped the 20th terrorist, at risk to his own career. Do you think he's been promoted? Not a chance.

That is the culture we've allowed to develop, except in the Navy. We've all felt the pain over the last year of the number of skippers who have been relieved in the U.S. Navy: two on one cruiser in one year. That's a problem for us. It's also something we should be mightily proud of, because it stands out in stark contrast to the rest of the U.S. government. In the United States Navy, we still have accountability. It's bred into our culture And what we stand for here has to be respread into our government and our nation.

Actions have consequences, and people must be held accountable. Customs officer Jose Melendez-Perez stopped the 20th terrorist, who was supposed to be on Flight 93 that crashed in Pennsylvania. Probably because of the shorthanded muscle on that team, the passengers were able to overcome the terrorists. Melendez-Perez did this at great personal risk, because his colleagues and his supervisors told him, "You can't do this. This guy is an Arab ethnic. You're racially profiling. You're going to get in real trouble, because it's against Department of Transportation policy to racially profile" He said, "I don't care. This guy's a bad guy. I can see it in his eyes." As he sent this guy back out of the United States, the guy turned around to him and said, "I'll be back." You know, he is back. He's in Guantanamo. We captured him in Afghanistan. Do you think Melendez-Perez got a promotion? Do you think he got any recognition? Do you think he is doing any better than the 19 of his time-serving, unaccountable colleagues? Don't think any bit of it. We have no accountability, but we're going to restore it.

The other glaring lack that has been discovered throughout the investigation is in leadership. Leadership is the willingness to accept the burdens and the risks, the potential embarrassment, and the occasional failure of leading men and women. It is saying: We will do it this way. I won't let that guy in. I will do this and I'll take the consequences. That's what we stand for here. That's what the crucible of the U.S. Naval Academy has carried on now since 1845, and what the U.S. Naval Institute has carried on for 130 years and hasn't compromised We all should be very proud of it. We need leadership now more than ever. We need to respread this culture, which is so rare today, into the way we conduct our government business, let alone our private business.

Having said all this, I'm very optimistic. We have seen come forward in this investigation people from every part of our bureaucracy to say they screwed up and to tell what went wrong and what we've got to do to change it. We have an agenda for change. I think we're going to see a very fundamental shift in the culture of our government as a result of this. I certainly hope so.

This should be a true wake-up call. We cannot let this be swept under the rug, put on the shelf like one more of the hundreds of other commissions that have gone right into the memory hole. This time, I truly believe it's going to be different.

TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: aliens; enemy; globaljihad; jihadinamerica; johnlehman; mojosayshi; racialprofiling; usn; zionist
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first previous 1-2021-4041-6061-80 ... 161-179 next last

I agree, those may be Bin Ladens' goals, but I don't believe they are the goals of Islam...perhaps, if he was it's leader, he would say they were.

I think one of the reasons that Muslims are quiet, is that they believe all that happens is the will of God...and who are they to question the will of God? I may very well be wrong, as I am not a Muslim, but this is the way it looks to me.

I really don't think there is such a thing as a religious war, as religions are created by man. These wars, that are referred to as religious wars, are waged by men that want something, and one of their weapons is religious zealotry.

21 posted on 07/01/2004 11:49:36 AM PDT by stuartcr
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: NavySEAL F-16
Go Navy!

BTW, been meaning to ask you...why the F-16?

Also, thanks for your "special" contribution. I was TDY at Coronado for a while and observed some of your training up close. I would have been ringing the bell after the first day.

My Tagline may have some interest for you.

22 posted on 07/01/2004 11:55:42 AM PDT by A Navy Vet (Veterans for Constitutional Restoration -
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Slings and Arrows

"Bush is practicing the fine art of saying "nice doggie" until he can find a big enough rock."

And I am so anxious to find out how big of a rock he is going to use on the doggie!

23 posted on 07/01/2004 11:56:02 AM PDT by Esther Ruth (As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people from this time forth & FOREVER)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: NavySEAL F-16

Very good, but what the article fails to point out is that the Islamic Fundamentalists are following the Koran to the letter. The fundies are the real Muslims. Islam, according to the Koran, is at war with all non Muslims.


24 posted on 07/01/2004 11:56:06 AM PDT by broadsword (Liberalism is the societal AIDS virus that thwarts our national defense.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: stuartcr
You might want to read the Koran and the Hadiths. You will see what Islam teaches.
25 posted on 07/01/2004 11:57:30 AM PDT by NavySEAL F-16 ("proud to be a Reagan Republican")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: stuartcr
...but I don't believe they are the goals of Islam...

That statement shows you to be either ignorant of Islam and the Koran or a trojan horse for those who have declared war on human civilization.
26 posted on 07/01/2004 11:58:18 AM PDT by broadsword (Liberalism is the societal AIDS virus that thwarts our national defense.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: NavySEAL F-16

It would seem that if this were true, then all Muslims would be this way, but they are not. I believe it is in the interpretation of the it is in all religious writings.

27 posted on 07/01/2004 11:59:11 AM PDT by stuartcr
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 25 | View Replies]

To: broadsword

Why then, don't all Muslims follow this thinking?

28 posted on 07/01/2004 12:01:05 PM PDT by stuartcr
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 26 | View Replies]

To: stuartcr

Our war is against jihadists and those that harbor them. There's no denying it. All Muslims are not jihadists but almost every terrorist act committed against Americans in the past 30 years has been perpetrated by jihadists.

29 posted on 07/01/2004 12:06:58 PM PDT by jwalsh07
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 27 | View Replies]


"We need a NEW category and description of malefactor to describe these creatures."

The decision by the USSC leaves this option: "Take no prisoners"

Perhaps detain for a very limited time, interview very agressively, bang, and presto - - no prisoners taken.

30 posted on 07/01/2004 12:08:53 PM PDT by truth_seeker
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: stuartcr
...these individuals are using their interpretation of the Islamic faith,...

To say we are engaged in a "war on terror" is to give the impression that we are fighting against some relatively small ragtag band of crazy religious zealots. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The Islamic-jihadists have networks throughout the world and their followers may well number into the millions. We are fighting World War III, and I wish somebody in our government would say so.

The Islamists have declared a holy war on us and they are prepared to fight us to the death no matter how many years it takes. Any yet there are many Americans who still believe we can somehow negotiate with them or treat them as though they are just a few misguided criminals or zealots who, somehow, have misintrepreted the Koran.

As one political pundit has so clearly put it, "How can we expect to win when they're willing to die for their cause — but we are not willing to even kill for our survival?"

Consider this: "Those who were brought in alive [having surrendered] were ordered beheaded, after which a tower of skulls was erected in the camp." [The Baburnama -Memoirs of Babur, Prince and Emperor, translated and edited by Wheeler M. Thacktson, Oxford University Press,1996, p. 188.]

Please. Your naivete astounds! You need to do some reading.

31 posted on 07/01/2004 12:10:03 PM PDT by JesseHousman (Execute Mumia Abu-Jamal)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: NavySEAL F-16
So we left ourselves completely vulnerable to a concerted attack.

We left ourselves completely vulnerable to a concerted attack because we let the government deny us the right to keep and bear arms. Now, this same government is asking for our support in their effort to fight a Fourth Generation war with a Second Generation military.

And in the meantime, not one federal gun law has been repealed.

32 posted on 07/01/2004 12:15:38 PM PDT by sheltonmac ("Duty is ours; consequences are God's." -Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: stuartcr
I think one of the reasons that Muslims are quiet, is that they believe all that happens is the will of God...and who are they to question the will of God? I may very well be wrong, as I am not a Muslim, but this is the way it looks to me.

I agree completely with that, which is why bin Laden's task is so much easier than it ought to be. Remember, all political change comes from activists, not the quiet majority. He has the goal of an greater Islamic empire, and he has the means to do so as long as we refuse to admit two things. One, all Muslims are not terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims. Second, the critical states in this game are Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, all of which are very weak internally. The West must recognize this and understand that Iraq is the key in this game of dominoes and must be stabilized at any cost.

33 posted on 07/01/2004 12:27:21 PM PDT by MACVSOG68
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: NavySEAL F-16

We have not ignored them. I'll repost what someone did some time ago.


 The list below presents specific incidents of U.S. policy.

It minimizes the grievances against the U.S. because it excludes long-standing policies, such as U.S. backing for authoritarian regimes (arming Saudi Arabia, training the secret police in Iran under the Shah, providing arms and aid to Turkey as it attacked Kurdish villages, etc.).

The list also excludes actions of Israel in which the U.S. is indirectly implicated because Israel has been the leading or second ranking  recipient of U.S. aid for many years and has received U.S. weapons and benefited from U.S. veto in the Security Council.


CIA backs military coup deposing elected government of Syria.


CIA helps overthrow the democratically elected Mossadeq government in

Iran (which had nationalized the British oil company) leading to a

quarter-century of dictatorial rule by the Shah, Mohammed Reza



U.S. cuts off promised funding for Aswan Dam in Egypt after Egypt

receives Eastern bloc arms.


Israel, Britain, and France invade Egypt.

U.S. does not support invasion, but the involvement of NATO allies

severely diminishes Washington's reputation in the region.


U.S. troops land in Lebanon to preserve "stability."

1960s (early):

U.S. unsuccessfully attempts assassination of Iraqi leader, Abdul Karim Qassim.


U.S. reported to give Iraqi Ba'ath party (soon to be headed by Saddam

Hussein) names of communists to murder, which they do with vigor.


U.S. blocks any effort in the Security Council to enforce SC

Resolution 244, calling for Israeli withdrawal from territories

occupied in the 1967 war.


Civil war between Jordan and PLO. Israel and U.S. prepare to

intervene on side of Jordan if Syria backs PLO.


U.S. blocks Sadats efforts to reach a peace agreement with Egypt.


U.S. military aid enables Israel to turn the tide in war with Syria and Egypt.


U.S. supports Kurdish rebels in Iraq.

When Iran reaches an agreement with Iraq in 1975 and seals the

border, Iraq slaughters Kurds and U.S. denies them refuge.

Kissinger secretly explains that "covert action should not be

confused with missionary work."


Iranians begin demonstrations against the Shah.

U.S. tells Shah it supports him "without reservation" and urges him

to act forcefully.

Until the last minute, U.S. tries to organize military coup to save

the Shah, but to no avail.


U.S. begins covert aid to Mujahideen in Afghanistan six months before

Soviet invasion.

Over the next decade U.S. provides more than $3 billion in arms and aid.


Iran-Iraq war.

When Iraq invades Iran, the U.S. opposes any Security Council action

to condemn the invasion.

U.S. removes Iraq from its list of nations supporting terrorism and

allows U.S. arms to be transferred to Iraq.

U.S. lets Israel provide arms to Iran and in 1985 U.S. provides arms

directly (though secretly) to Iran.

U.S. provides intelligence information to Iraq.


Iraq uses chemical weapons.

U.S. restores diplomatic relations with Iraq.


U.S. sends its navy into the Persian Gulf, taking Iraq's side.


An aggressive U.S. ship shoots down an Iranian civilian airliner, killing 290.


U.S. holds military maneuvers off the coast of Libya with the clear

purpose of provoking Qaddafi.


A Libyan plane fires a missile and two Libyan planes were

subsequently shot down.


Libya fires missiles that land far from any target and U.S. attacks

Libyan patrol boats, killing 72, and shore installations.

When a bomb goes off in a Berlin nightclub, killing two, the U.S.

charges that Qaddafi was behind it (possibly true) and conducts major

bombing raids in Libya, killing dozens of civilians, including

Qaddafi's adopted daughter. (Give me a break!)


U.S. gives "green light" to Israeli invasion of Lebanon, where more

than 10,000 civilians were killed.

U.S. chooses not to invoke its laws prohibiting Israeli use of U.S.

weapons except in self-defense.


U.S. troops sent to Lebanon as part of a multinational peacekeeping

force; intervene on one side of a civil war.

Withdraw after suicide bombing of Marine barracks.


U.S.-backed rebels in Afghanistan fire on civilian airliner.


Saddam Hussein kills many thousands of his own Kurdish population and

uses chemical weapons against them.

The U.S. increases its economic ties to Iraq.


U.S. rejects diplomatic settlement of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait

(Rebuffing any attempt to link the two regional occupations, of

Kuwait and Palestine).

U.S. leads international coalition in war against Iraq.

Civilian infrastructure targeted.

To promote "stability" U.S. refuses to aid uprisings by Shi'ites in

the south and Kurds in the north, denying the rebels access to

captured Iraqi weapons and refusing to prohibit Iraqi helicopter



Devastating economic sanctions are imposed on Iraq.

U.S. and Britain block all attempts to lift them.

Hundreds of thousands die.

Though Security Council stated sanctions were to be lifted once

Hussein's programs to develop weapons of mass destruction were ended,

Washington makes it known that the sanctions would remain as long as

Saddam remains in power.

Sanctions strengthen Saddam's position.


U.S. launches missile attack on Iraq, claiming self defense against

an alleged assassination attempt on former president Bush two months



U.S. and U.K. bomb Iraq over weapons inspections, even though

Security Council is just then meeting to discuss the matter.


U.S. destroys factory producing half of Sudan's pharmaceutical

supply, claiming retaliation for attacks on U.S. embassies in

Tanzania and Kenya and that factory was involved in chemical warfare.

U.S. later acknowledges there is no evidence for the chemical warfare charge.


34 posted on 07/01/2004 12:32:42 PM PDT by ex-snook ("Above all Things Truth Beareth Away the Victory")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: NavySEAL F-16


35 posted on 07/01/2004 12:36:54 PM PDT by varon (Allegiance to the constitution, always. Allegiance to a political party, never.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: stuartcr

By their own definition, they are infidels. Just think of how the 9/11 hijackers assimilated into American society before their "big day". Just read their "handbook". I suggest you also read Stephen Emerson's book. He has a map of where all the cells are located in the U.S. I don't think they broadcast their intentions on the radio or on the street corner.

36 posted on 07/01/2004 12:37:33 PM PDT by NavySEAL F-16 ("proud to be a Reagan Republican")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 28 | View Replies]

To: NavySEAL F-16

John had a great speech.

Thanks for posting it.

I have a new tagline for awhile, and it will be recycled

37 posted on 07/01/2004 12:39:57 PM PDT by Grampa Dave (Our enemy is violent, Islamic fundamentalism, which directs acts of Islamo terrorism!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: jwalsh07

That doesn't make it a war against Islam...just against those individuals and their followers.

38 posted on 07/01/2004 12:41:41 PM PDT by stuartcr
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 29 | View Replies]

To: stuartcr

Yup, thats what I said.

39 posted on 07/01/2004 12:42:38 PM PDT by jwalsh07
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 38 | View Replies]

To: stuartcr

You can't be a Muslim unless you follow the Koran. Read what Bin Laden and all the Mullah's have to say. Muslim is not an ethnicity -- you are only a Muslim if you follow the Koran. That's their definition, not mine.

40 posted on 07/01/2004 12:46:49 PM PDT by NavySEAL F-16 ("proud to be a Reagan Republican")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 38 | View Replies]

Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first previous 1-2021-4041-6061-80 ... 161-179 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson