An interview with Tom Clancy : LUSENET : Unk's Wild Wild West : One Thread,2933,34807,00.html

BILL O'REILLY, HOST: Thanks for staying with us. I'm Bill O'Reilly. In the second "Personal Story" segment tonight, mega-selling author Tom Clancy. In his novel Debt of Honor, Mr. Clancy wrote of a terrorist attack on the president and Congress by a fanatic in a jet plane. Tom Clancy joins us now from Owings Mills, Maryland.

You know, I thought of you, as I told you in the break, about an hour after that happened, because I'm a big fan, and I have Debt of Honor, the passage, right here.

It is so close to what really happened. And my question in my mind was, if Tom Clancy can write about this and put forth a very plausible scenario, and I know all the intelligence guys in the United States read your books, why weren't they more -- why wasn't there more urgency to make it more difficult to do what happened?

TOM CLANCY, AUTHOR: Bill, that's the price you pay for living in a free society, as we have today. If you want to go be like the Soviet Union, where it was illegal, for example, to take a photograph of a train station, just -- you know, you can restrict our civil liberties that far, but you end up being like the Soviet Union was, and that was a failure.

O'REILLY: But the airline security situation was abysmal, and now we're going to change it, and now we'll have impenetrable doors, and better screening devices. But, you know, in your book, you made it -- you laid it out, how this could happen, and unfortunately it happened. Now...

CLANCY: Well, it was a very different -- it was a very different scenario in my book. It had very little to do with this and I rather doubt Usama bin Laden is a Tom Clancy fan.

O'REILLY: But you must know that the way you laid it out was pretty eerie.

Now, when you researched your book, and you research all your books, and that's why people read them, because they're very realistic and you get into the nuts and bolts of everything -- did you see, did you see weaknesses that terrorists could exploit in this country?

CLANCY: No, in my case the terrorist in question was an airline pilot who worked the air traffic control system. These guys just evaded that completely. And, in fact, on the continental air defense side of this, the F-15, one or two F-15's out of Otis Air Force Base on Cape Cod actually rolled off into the air when the first of the towers was hit and was about 70 miles away from New York when the second tower was hit.

So, the Air Force was on the case about as well as they could possibly have been, given the circumstances.

O'REILLY: Do you believe that our defenses against terrorism were weak?

CLANCY: You can't mount surface to air missile batteries on office buildings. You just can't do it, Bill.

O'REILLY: But compared to El Al, for example, our security on the airlines is nowhere near what theirs was.

CLANCY: Yeah, but do we want to emulate Israel in everything we do? I don't think so. You just had a fellow on talking about the Mossad and how great they are. Well, maybe so. The Mossad's been whacking people for 30 years and they're still at war. So, their tactic is ineffective in achieving the goal, which is a happy and peaceful state of affairs for the state of Israel. It just hasn't happened. We do not want to emulate Mossad.

O'REILLY: All right, now, the intelligence agencies have been criticized here...

CLANCY: No, they're all -- Bill, intelligence agencies are always criticized by the people who cripple them to begin with.

O'REILLY: All right, but are they crippled? That was my question. Do you believe they're crippled?

CLANCY: They were crippled in the 1970's when Senator Frank Church held his hearings about the CIA attempts to kill Castro, which he didn't say was run by Robert F. Kennedy. I mean, you have to remember, only good things came out of Camelot, so you can't say the Kennedy's were trying to do this.

O'REILLY: So, as far back as the '70's, you believe that the capability of U.S. intelligence was being impaired by the politicians.

CLANCY: The CIA's directorate of operations, which generates what we call human intelligence, and the D.O., the director of operations, they're the actual field spooks who actually go out into the field and talk to people and get human intelligence information, they were gutted. First, as a result of the Church Committee hearings and secondly by Stansfield Turner, who was appointed by Jimmy Carter in the late '70's.

That capability, Bill, has never been reestablished, and it takes 10 years to build it up.

O'REILLY: Was there a reason that Turner and Carter -- was their a reason why Turner and Carter wanted a weaker intelligence?

CLANCY: It's politically correct.

O'REILLY: Simple as that?

CLANCY: I think so. The political left is, you know, they deal in symbols rather than reality. The general difference between conservatives and liberals is liberals like pretty pictures and conservatives like to build bridges that people can drive across.

And conservatives are indeed conservative because if the bridge falls down, people die. Where as the liberals figure, oh, we can always build a nice memorial to them and make people forget it happened and it was our fault. They're very good at making people forget it was their fault, all right.

The CIA was gutted by people on the political left who don't like intelligence operations, and as a result of that, as an indirect result of that, we've lost 5,000 citizens last week.

O'REILLY: How about the FBI? They don't seem to be nearly as efficient and effective as they used to be. Same situation?

CLANCY: Disagree. The FBI is one of our premier agencies and they've developed a whole lot of information in this case already. They're probably the best police agency in the whole world. But, you know, a police agency by its very nature is reactive rather than proactive. It's not an intelligence gathering organization. It reacts to crimes. It investigates crimes.

O'REILLY: Yeah, but one of the charges of the FBI is to protect us from internal terrorism, as you know, and...

CLANCY: They're awfully good.

O'REILLY: Well, they were clueless this time. And then they had the big spy, you know, that was operating for 15 years for Russia and they had all the problems in the agency with Mr. Clinton and you couldn't get a straight answer out of them. I don't know, I'm not there.

CLANCY: OK, Bill. Hang on. How perfect is the news media?

O'REILLY: Not perfect at all, but see, our charge is not to protect anybody.

CLANCY: The trouble with -- the trouble with any human institution is it's vulnerable to imperfections. There aren't too many perfect people in the world.

O'REILLY: So, you are confident that the FBI is up to protecting us internally?

CLANCY: Oh, they're the best in the world.


CLANCY: Without a doubt.

O'REILLY: Now, I've been banging this drum for more than a year, and I did a "Talking Points" tonight on it, is that the borders are so chaotic and they're not secured, and we're very vulnerable from both Canada and Mexico for people who want to bring stuff in and come in here, and the INS can't control it. Am I wrong there?

CLANCY: No, it's one of the problems of, you know, one of the consequences of living in a free and open society. You know, the Statue of Liberty invites people in. She's not holding a machine gun to keep people away.

O'REILLY: But it's a changing world now. It's not what it was by the turn of the century. It's now, people want to hurt us.

CLANCY: Bill, if we change our society because of what some lunatics do to us, then the lunatics win. The object of a terrorist is to create political change in the society which he targets. If we change, the terrorist wins. If we keep to our principles and we remember that we are the United States of America, we win.

O'REILLY: But what if we improve, Mr. Clancy? You wrote a book on drug trafficking. I'm telling you, if you put the military on the southern border, you'd stop a lot of that drug trafficking. It might go somewhere else, but you'd also stop a lot of the chaos down there. There's no will to do that. And I don't think that infringes on any Americans right at all.

CLANCY: Our border with Mexico is, what, about 2,000 miles? Because of all the convolutions? How many troops is it going to take to secure this?

O'REILLY: You know, I don't know, but you can, you can do a better job than they're doing, which is a terrible job. And it's not their fault. Border patrol is out-manned. They can't do it. INS can't do it. You see what I'm saying? If we can improve because of this...

CLANCY: But Bill -- Bill, when you have the military perform a police function, what you get is a disaster.

O'REILLY: Well, we're doing it in three countries now, Kosovo, Bosnia and Korea. We're guarding their borders.

CLANCY: Korea is a war -- is a true military function. You don't use soldiers to be cops because soldiers don't know how to be cops. You have policemen to be policemen, you have soldiers to be soldiers. There are different function.

The Brits tried to do that in Northern Ireland using the British Army in a police capacity, and it was a disaster.

O'REILLY: Yeah, but most nations have military presence on their borders, as you know, and I think we could train our soldiers to go down there and do that job. Not to take it over, but just to be a presence down there to help the border patrol.

CLANCY: Do you want American soldiers killing Mexicans who are just coming to America because they want to work?

O'REILLY: No. I want them stopping them from coming in. If they come in, round them up and send them right back. And I want them to stop the drug traffic.

CLANCY: Soldiers don't -- Bill, soldiers don't arrest people, soldiers kill people. That's their function.

O'REILLY: All right, well, we can change that, though. There are peace-keeping missions, you know. I mean, you're kind of a black and white guy, Tom, and I like that a little bit, but I'm saying, we got a big problem with the border here and if we don't solve it, we're going to have more terrorist stuff, because they're going to come in through the poorest borders.

CLANCY: Maybe, OK. But if you can master that, figure out how a gal could be half-pregnant, because it just doesn't work that way. It's never worked that way.

O'REILLY: So, you don't see anything we can do with the borders at all?

CLANCY: As a practical matter, no. The way you close off the border with Mexico is make Mexico more prosperous so Americans go down there to work.

O'REILLY: Yeah, we can't make Mexico more prosperous. That's up to Mexico. But I -- see, I'm not as fatalistic as you are.

Do you expect more terrorist activity in the United States?

CLANCY: Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised. I'm -- I am not entirely convinced that there were only four aircraft targeted last week. There may well have been one or two more that were targeted for additional suicide missions.

O'REILLY: Yeah, it looks like they grabbed some guys in Detroit that were backup guys that were supposed to do something, but -- so, you wouldn't be surprised if something else happens here?

CLANCY: No. We're up against a formidable adversary. I don't know if Usama bin Laden is the spark plug behind this, but whoever planned these operations was pretty effective at it. I mean, look, we got hit hard and we got hit hard because the guys knew what the hell they were doing.

O'REILLY: Yeah, there's no question about that. And we've got to hit hard back.

Tom, we appreciate it very much. I was going to call you Mr. Clancy, but you told me to call you Tom, so I will. We appreciate it.

CLANCY: My pleasure, Bill, you have a good one.

O'REILLY: All right, a pleasure.

-- Maria (, September 21, 2001


O'REILLY: Now, I've been banging this drum for more than a year, and I did a "Talking Points" tonight on it, is that the borders are so chaotic and they're not secured, and we're very vulnerable from both Canada and Mexico for people who want to bring stuff in and come in here, and the INS can't control it. Am I wrong there?

CLANCY: No, it's one of the problems of, you know, one of the consequences of living in a free and open society. You know, the Statue of Liberty invites people in. She's not holding a machine gun to keep people away.

That last line is most telling, especially when I see and read reports of recent Arab Immagrants being the target of hate crimes in this country..... The people who commit these hate crimes are the scum of the Earth on the same level as the terrorist who attacked NYC! Also, why are people sooo worried about the Mexico border? The first attack on the WTC back in '93, the people came in thru Canada, just as the terrorist did on 9/11. The millenium attack planned for Seattle was foiled by agents on the Canadian frontier. Not once, have agents of terror come in from the south, it is the Canadian border which needs protection and an army patrol.

-- Gary (, September 21, 2001.

The Canadians allow people to enter their country who would not be allowed to enter ours. Their own control must be improved. For their own sake as well for ours.

-- Lars (, September 21, 2001. 0109210008sep21.story?coll=chi%2Dleisure%2Dhed

Rick Kupke

Ex-Iranian hostage, banker in Indiana

Kupke, 54, was a U.S. State Department worker in Tehran, where he was held hostage by extremists for 444 days before being freed Jan. 20, 1981.

"From what I see and understand, the cells (of the terrorists) are here and in place and waiting until there's a false sense of security. Something may not happen for five or six years, or longer, because that's not an unreasonable amount of time for terrorists. We have to do a better job of securing our borders with Canada and Mexico and we have to think about a national ID card, although I'd hate to see it come to that.

"I missed the frenzy that went on in this country during the hostage crisis, but I certainly became aware of it when I returned. I remember going to the White House just a few days after we were released and saying to one of the other hostages, `Can you believe we're standing here?' That glow lasted for a few weeks. The gas prices start to stabilize and everything sort of goes back to normal.

"If you'd taken a poll of the hostages, we would've been 90 percent in favor of . . . bombing Tehran even though we were being held there. I know that would probably mean I wouldn't be here today . . . but it probably would've also meant there wouldn't have been two airliners crashing into the World Trade Center."

-- flora (***@__._), September 21, 2001.

It's not Canadians manning US borders - we check people comming into Canada, you check people entering the US. Obviously, though, both countries need to do some tightening of who they let in.

-- The Toner (, September 21, 2001.

Relax toner, I wasn't trying to slam Canada, just the few yanks like Buchanan (sp?) who are so afraid of different looking people that he wants to build a new *Berlin Wall* with my neighbors to the south, but is totally ignoring our open frontier with Canada.... If I was hell bent on doing some serious damage to the USA, I'd come across the northern border too as it is so wide open and unprotected, unlike the Arizona border with Mexico. Btw, CBC (The National) has been on c-span the last few nights and thye've done a couple of great investigative stories on how these terrorist took advantage of loop holes to gain entry into Canada and then the US. Most of the terrorist caught coming into the US were indeed caught by the Canadian authorities at the border. Both our countries need (have) to do a better job at our entry points to avoid days like 9/11 again....

-- Gary (, September 22, 2001.

Clancy has strong loyalties, which is a good thing, but I think he lets intelligence off too easy. The fact that an agency has been 'crippled' or 'hamstrung,' and therefore should be excused of failures, does not cut it. The agency exists and has a job and accepts money from taxpayers. If it cannot do it, it should disband itself, and quit. Its job is either to provide intelligence to maintain security, or failing that, point out its inability to decision makers...

But to continue to exist and go through the motions, knowing they have been 'crippled,' is what gives a false sense of security, and is indefensible. Now, I surely don't know the whole story, and I'm sure there is more than meets the eye, but for Clancy to say that the agencies are OK despite- to use his own analogy- their being useless and powerless, is somehow not good enough.

-- SummerWind (Stepping@Stone.not), September 22, 2001.

Summer Wind,
In principle, I agree with you, but I have yet to witness an institution whose primary motive is not its own preservation.

-- David L (, September 22, 2001.

If you think about it, the terrorists could have done just as much damage hijacking a flight from any one of a number of places. Canadian airports, vacationing tourist flights from the Carribean or Mexico, Pacific originating flights that refuel in Hawaii, etc.

And if they are so determined to start attacks from a US destination then why limit themselves to CanadA/Mexico border routes? Why not go the Chinese smuggling route via container ships or sail directly into NY harbor on a transatlantic cruise ship?

-- The Toner (, September 22, 2001.

Well I'm glad to see changes are starting already...

Ottawa working on cross-border issues of visas and perimeter security

Updated: Sat, Sep 22 6:17 PM EDT

OTTAWA (CP) - Canada is already working on making changes to help solve cross-border issues, officials said Saturday.

Senior U.S. officials are pressing Canada to start high-powered talks aimed at implementing sweeping changes to cross-border issues, with published reports suggesting a common visa policy for immigrants and visitors is one aspect of those changes. Prime Minister Jean Chretien is scheduled to meet with U.S. President George W. Bush on Monday in Washington, but an official in the Prime Minister's Office wouldn't comment on whether that specific issue would be raised.

"I don't want to presuppose what they are going to talk about," said Thoren Hudyma.

Chretien made clear this week that Canada does not want to compromise on such core values as the Charter of Rights and the key elements of Canada's refugee determination system.

According to the published report, Washington will push seven priorities, including Ottawa agreeing to introduce a landed immigrant card - modelled after the U.S. "green card" for foreign workers.

That would mean co-ordinating immigrant and refugee policies, so the security screen is set at continental shores, rather than along the Canada-U.S. border.

While no official requests have been made, a spokesman for Immigration Minister Elinor Caplan said many of the suggestions have been part of ongoing discussions with the United States.

"Our officials are always talking," said press secretary Derik Hodgson. "I know that Sept. 11 has put pressure on everybody to look at what we can do to make it better.

"All suggestions are welcomed."

Caplan already has legislation before Parliament to toughen screening of immigrants and refugee claimants and to streamline the deportation process if they are judged to be security threats.

A bill to modernize the customs process was presented in the Senate back in the spring.

Hodgson said Canada already has a network of 50 immigration control officers overseas that stopped about 6,000 people without proper documentation from boarding planes to Canada last year.

"They are forming a perimeter around Canada now and North America," he said. "The perimeter strategy is not in place of our border strategy; it's along with it."


-- The Toner (, September 23, 2001.

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