Why are Democrats Putting Morons in High Places?Posted: December 12, 2006
During the run-up to the 2000 election campaign season Andy Hiller, a political reporter for WHDH-TV in Boston, ambushed George W. Bush with a now famous pop-quiz in which Bush was only able to name 1 out of 4 foreign leaders. Despite the fact that 9 out of 10 voters could not name even a single leader, the liberal media and prominent Democratic leaders used this as an occasion to draw Bush’s intelligence into question. For example, Al Gore’s campaign had this to say of Bush after the news broke:
“I guess we know that ‘C’ at Yale was a gentleman’s ‘C,”‘ said Gore spokesman Chris Lehane.
CQ National Security Editor, Jeff Stein, interviewed U.S. Representative Silvestre Reyes, D-TX, the incoming chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and turned up some surprising revelations on the competence of Reyes. He has been hand selected by incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and has served on this committee since before the 9/11 attacks. So what conclusion did Stein reach after his interview?
That’s because, like a number of his colleagues and top counter terrorism officials that I’ve interviewed over the past several months, Reyes can’t answer some fundamental questions about the powerful forces arrayed against us in the Middle East.
It begs the question, of course: How can the Intelligence Committee do effective oversight of U.S. spy agencies when its leaders don’t know basics about the battlefield?
Reyes stumbled when I asked him a simple question about al Qaeda at the end of a 40-minute interview in his office last week. Members of the Intelligence Committee, mind you, are paid $165,200 a year to know more than basic facts about our foes in the Middle East.
We warmed up with a long discussion about intelligence issues and Iraq. And then we veered into terrorism’s major players[:]
Al Qaeda is what, I asked, Sunni or Shia?
“Al Qaeda, they have both,” Reyes said. “You’re talking about predominately?”
“Sure,” I said, not knowing what else to say.
“Predominantly — probably Shiite,” he ventured.
He couldn’t have been more wrong.
Al Qaeda is profoundly Sunni. If a Shiite showed up at an al Qaeda club house, they’d slice off his head and use it for a soccer ball.
That’s because the extremist Sunnis who make up a l Qaeda consider all Shiites to be heretics.
Al Qaeda’s Sunni roots account for its very existence. Osama bin Laden and his followers believe the Saudi Royal family besmirched the true faith through their corruption and alliance with the United States, particularly allowing U.S. troops on Saudi soil.
It’s been five years since these Muslim extremists flew hijacked airliners into the World Trade Center.
Is it too much to ask that our intelligence overseers know who they are?
And Hezbollah? I asked him. What are they?
“Hezbollah. Uh, Hezbollah…”
He laughed again, shifting in his seat.
“Why do you ask me these questions at five o’clock? Can I answer in Spanish? Do you speak Spanish?”
“Poquito,” I said—a little.
“Poquito?! “ He laughed again.
“Go ahead,” I said, talk to me about Sunnis and Shia in Spanish.
Reyes: “Well, I, uh….”
I apologized for putting him “on the spot a little.” But I reminded him that the people who have killed thousands of Americans on U.S. soil and in the Middle East have been front page news for a long time now.
It’s been 23 years since a Hezbollah suicide bomber killed over 200 U.S. military personnel in Beirut, mostly Marines.
Hezbollah, a creature of Iran, is close to taking over in Lebanon. Reports say they are helping train Iraqi Shiites to kill Sunnis in the spiralling civil war.
“Yeah,” Reyes said, rightly observing, “but . . . it’s not like the Hatfields and the McCoys. It’s a heck of a lot more complex.
“And I agree with you — we ought to expend some effort into understanding them. But speaking only for myself, it’s hard to keep things in perspective and in the categories.”
This exchange is illustrative and disturbing on multiple levels:
First, Reyes has been a member of the House Intelligence Committee since before 9/11 so it is hard to make excuses for him not knowing basic information about Al Qaeda and Hezbollah. I mean all of this information must have been in front of him for over 5 years as part of the committee and there is little question that much of it has been headline news for that entire time as well. How long does he need to grasp some of it? Most people would have absorbed some of it through sheer repetition if nothing else. So what are we to think? He’s a moron. A buffoon. A simpleton. He’s somehow intellectually challenged. Pick your favorite epithet.
Second, how is it possible that someone in this position, with access to the level of information that must be available to him, could be utterly clueless as to who Hezbollah is? This is especially appalling given the recent Israel/Lebanon war that captivated the news cycle for weeks.
Third, what was that exchange about wanting to answer in Spanish about? Was that an attempt on Reye’s part to change the subject and put Stein on the defensive? Or was it an indication that Reyes’ has trouble answering difficult questions in English? Either way it is a cause for concern considering the importance of the position to which he will be appointed.
Finally, the Democrats want us to believe that this “Congressional Oversight” campaign of theirs is not about a vendetta against the Republicans, but as Stein points out “How can the Intelligence Committee do effective oversight of U.S. spy agencies when its leaders don’t know basics about the battlefield?”
The answer, of course, is obvious: “Oversight” is just the new liberal code word for “witch hunt”. Experience, intelligence, basic knowledge of our enemies? These are not needed to conduct a witch hunt, so Reyes ought to be an ideal candidate to lead the effort since he won’t be distracted by all those facts about al Qeada and Hezbollah. At least that’s how the Democrats seem to view it.