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April 6, 2004
Clinton Report: Identifying the Threats

During the day today, I will be reviewing the national-security report that the outgoing Clinton administration submitted to Congress in December 2000, when certain members of his team claim that they handed the incoming Bush administration a comprehensive strategy to deal with terrorism. In fact, their report belies the notion that anyone took al-Qaeda as a specific threat, and it demonstrates that they focused on state-on-state threats much more seriously -- as could reasonably be expected, under the circumstances.

For instance, in the first section of the report, under the subheading Responding to Threats and Crises, the report addresses the major themes of international threats against the United States, and its first statement regards unfriendly states:

The persistence of major interstate conflict has required us to maintain the means for countering potential regional aggressors. Long-standing tensions and territorial division on the Korean peninsula and territorial ambitions in the Persian Gulf currently define the main tenets of this requirement. For the foreseeable future, the United States, preferably in concert with allies, must have the capability to deter -- and if that fails, to defeat -- large-scale, cross-border aggression in two distant theaters in overlapping time frames.

In fact, international terrorism isn't specified until the third paragraph of this subsection. What gets better billing than terrorism? Interestingly enough, national missile defense -- an initiative that Democrats now deride as a distraction and a provocation to "allies" like Russia:

As a result, defense of the homeland against WMD terrorism has taken on a new importance, making coordinated Federal, state, and local government efforts imperative. The Domestic Preparedness Program has received significant resources to address immediate threats to our security. Ongoing efforts on National Missile Defense are developing the capability to defend the fifty states against a limited missile attack from states that threaten international peace and security. Prevention remains our first line of defense to lessen the availability of weapons of mass destruction being sought by such aggressor nations. To that end, we continue to work with Russia to control possible leakage of former Soviet nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons materials and expertise to proliferant states.

We are also vigorously pursuing a strengthening of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions, the Missile Technology Control Regime, and entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty at the earliest possible time. Other persistent threats to our security in peacetime include international terrorism, drug trafficking, other organized crime, and environmental degradation. The United States has made great strides in restructuring its national security apparatus to address new threats with diplomatic, economic, and military tools.

Also note that the Clinton administration saw no potential dissonance between pursuing missile defense as a national-security policy and maintaining a strategic relationship with Russia. Also, the report calls for a coordination between law-enforcement and intelligence services that the Patriot Act finally enabled -- and yet, the broadsides against the Patriot Act continue to be fired by the same people who claim that the Bush administration fumbled the grand strategy left to them by the preceding administration.

More to come ...

UPDATE: Welcome, all Instapundit readers! I've updated the second block-quote to include the paragraph for better context. Keep checking back today and tomorrow as I will continue to post about this subject.

UPDATE II: Welcome to Best of the Web readers as well. I've written more about this report here and here, and will be adding more this evening.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 6, 2004 8:00 AM

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