"For some time, and including when I spoke at the Republican Convention, I’ve wondered exactly what John Kerry’s approach would be to terrorism and I’ve wondered whether he had the conviction, the determination, and the focus, and the correct worldview to conduct a successful war against terrorism. And his quotations in the New York Times yesterday make it clear that he lacks that kind of committed view of the world. In fact, his comments are kind of extraordinary, particularly since he thinks we used to before September 11 live in a relatively safe world. He says we have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they’re a nuisance.
"I’m wondering exactly when Senator Kerry thought they were just a nuisance. Maybe when they attacked the USS Cole? Or when they attacked the World Trade Center in 1993? Or when they slaughtered the Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972? Or killed Leon Klinghoffer by throwing him overboard? Or the innumerable number of terrorist acts that they committed in the 70s, the 80s and the 90s, leading up to September 11?
"This is so different from the President’s view and my own, which is in those days, when we were fooling ourselves about the danger of terrorism, we were actually in the greatest danger. When you don’t confront correctly and view realistically the danger that you face, that’s when you’re at the greatest risk. When you at least realize the danger and you begin to confront it, then you begin to become safer. And for him to say that in the good old days – I’m assuming he means the 90s and the 80s and the 70s -- they were just a nuisance, this really begins to explain a lot of his inconsistent positions on how to deal with it because he’s not defining it correctly.
"As a former law enforcement person, he says ‘I know we’re never going to end prostitution. We’re never going to end illegal gambling. But we’re going to reduce it.’ This is not illegal gambling; this isn’t prostitution. Having been a former law enforcement person for a lot longer than John Kerry ever was, I don’t understand his confusion. Even when he says ‘organized crime to a level where it isn’t not on the rise,’ it was not the goal of the Justice Department to just reduce organized crime. It was the goal of the Justice Department to eliminate organized crime. Was there some acceptable level of organized crime: two families, instead of five, or they can control one union but not the other?
The idea that you can have an acceptable level of terrorism is frightening. How do you explain that to the people who are beheaded or the innocent people that are killed, that we’re going to tolerate a certain acceptable [level] of terrorism, and that acceptable level will exist and then we’ll stop thinking about it? This is an extraordinary statement. I think it is not a statement that in any way is ancillary. I think this is the core of John Kerry’s thinking. This does create some consistency in his thinking.
"It is consistent with his views on Vietnam: that we should have left and abandoned Vietnam. It is consistent with his view of Nicaragua and the Sandinistas. It is consistent with his view of opposing Ronald Reagan at every step of the way in the arms buildup that was necessary to destroy communism. It is consistent with his view of not supporting the Persian Gulf War, which was another extraordinary step. Whatever John Kerry’s global test is, the Persian Gulf War certainly would pass anyone’s global test. If it were up to John Kerry, Saddam Hussein would not only still be in power, but he’d still be controlling Kuwait.
"Finally, what he did after the World Trade Center bombing in 1993, where I guess at that point terrorism was still just a nuisance. He must have thought that because that’s why he proposed seriously reducing our intelligence budget, when you would think someone who was really sensitive to the problem of terrorism would have done just the opposite. I think that rather than being some aberrational comment, it is the core of the John Kerry philosophy: that terrorism is no different than domestic law enforcement problems, and that the best we’re ever going to be able to do is reduce it, so why not follow the more European approach of compromising with it the way Europeans did in the 70s and the 80s and the 90s?
"This is so totally different than what I think was the major advance that President Bush made – significant advance that he made in the Bush Doctrine on September 20, 2001, when he said we’re going to face up to terrorism and we’re going to do everything we can to defeat it, completely. There’s no reason why we have to tolerate global terrorism, just like there’s no reason to tolerate organized crime.
"So I think this is a seminal issue, this is one that explains or ties together a lot of things that we’ve talked about. Even this notion that the Kerry campaign was so upset that the Vice President and others were saying that he doesn’t understand the threat of terrorism; that he thinks it’s just a law enforcement action. It turns out the Vice President was right. He does and maybe this is a difference, maybe this is an honest difference that we really should debate straight out. He thinks that the threat is not as great as at least the President does, and I do, and the Vice President does."