April 15, 2004 | Broadcast
Lou Dobbs Tonight
Joining me is former CIA director James Woolsey.
James good to have you with us.
JAMES WOOLSEY, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Good to be with you, Lou.
DOBBS: As you watch the excruciation in many cases of the CIA for lapses in pre-9/11 as this commission hearings continue, what’s your reaction?
WOOLSEY: I think there’s too much finger pointing. People need to tie specific solutions to specific problems. Maybe they will do that. Maybe they’re beginning to, but there’s been an awful lot of posturing for the cameras.
DOBBS: A lot of rear-view mirror, unquestionably necessary for all of us to understand what should be done going forward, but to hear CIA Director George Tenet say it will be another five years before what he calls an effective clandestine force, isn’t that somewhat chilling?
WOOLSEY: I don’t think he meant it was going to be completely ineffective before then. I think he meant the way he wants it will be five years. It takes a long time to built a capability of a number of people to speak a language and be immersed in a culture. We tried on my watch in ’93 and ’94 to get substantially increased funds for Arabic interpreters and translators and instruction in fatwa for Iran and so forth, and the Senate Intelligence Committee fought it hard. Senator (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the chairman. The other committees were in favor, but we failed, we didn’t get the money we needed.
DOBBS: You know, I can remember 40 years ago, if I may say, Jim, when the CIA funded centers, research centers and academic centers, not only in the United States, but all around Europe, and parts of Asia, where they assembled speakers and cultural experts and that funding was clandestine, certainly covert.
Why in the world would we not bed doing that, and availing the resources rather than being so linear in the thinking?
WOOLSEY: An awful lot of that could be done, a lot more than is, could be done overtly. There’s a lot of things we could do to win the war — the so-called soft-power war of influence. I think it’s amazing that in Iraq still the principal broadcasters are either Arabic language from Iran, which are very hostile to is, or Al Jazeera. We invented mass media, we invented radio for Europe and we’re not doing nearly as well as we should in those areas.
DOBBS: Speaking of mass media, Al Jazeera, the Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld today lashed out at Al Jazeera. Effectively calling it a tool of the Islamists and Sunni Ba’athist loyalists in Iraq.
What should be done?
WOOLSEY: I think there’s a lot to that. Occasionally they’ll put somebody on with a different point of view. I’ve been on there once or twice and other people are occasionally, but generally speaking, it really is a propaganda organ for the Islamists, that is I think the totalitarian point of view.
DOBBS: Well, help me out. Al Jazeera is owned by the government of Qatar, which are allies, at least presumptively of the United States.
Why in the world should that be going on as if the United States were indifferent in that relationship?
WOOLSEY: Because some rulers like to have it both ways.
DOBBS: But it’s our choice, is it not? This president said he wanted democratization in the Middle East.
Why not be straightforward and insist upon it?
WOOLSEY: I would think particularly given how bad it’s gotten, pointing out rather forcefully for the government of Qatar what a service it is doing for terrorism. By the way Al Jazeera broadcasts would be something the United States government should have done some time ago, but certainly should do now.
DOBBS: Turning back to the 9/11 Commission, there’s been little discussion of who the enemy actually is by this commission, none at all in the staff reports a couple questions and answers within it, in which Senator Bob Kerrey referred to radical Islamist terrorist. Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton asked Condoleezza Rice at one point who the enemy was, referring to radical extreme Muslim terrorists. You have focused on who the enemy is, writing in a paper that was published by Aspen, what, last month?
WOOLSEY: Probably last month. I wrote it last August.
DOBBS: What has been the reaction?
WOOLSEY: Well, not a great deal. I say the same thing in speeches and so forth. I get head nodding from people who agree with me. I think there are three movements that we’re at war with and they’ve been at war with us in the Middle East and they’ve been at war with us for sometime. First of all there are the fascists, those are the Ba’athists and a few similar Arab nationalist movements that really model themselves after the fascist parties of the ’30s, the Ba’athist in particular. Then the two other groups of totalitarians, Islamists from the Shiite side of division. And by Islamist, I mean a totalitarian movement masking as a religion. The Mullahs in Texan and Hezbollah and so on. And Islamists from the Sunni side of the divide within Islam, such as al Qaeda, and to a great extent, many of the Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia that support them and provide kind of the ideological underpinning.
These are all three totalitarian movements essentially. And the Shiites Islamists have been at war with us since 1979, since they seized our hostages. The Sunnis for a decade or so, and the fascist — the Ba’athists maybe 12, 14 years. So, they’ve been at war with us for a long time, but we didn’t notice.
DOBBS: And for some reason, there is a reticence in Washington to even acknowledge who the enemy is even in broader terms.
WOOLSEY: People have a terribly naive idea that they don’t work together. Just because they hate each other, and the insult each other and kill each other from time to time doesn’t mean they won’t cooperate against with us. And that gives rise to the denial that the Sunni Islamist, al Qaeda ever worked with Iraq, for example. George Tenet wrote it clearly in early October of 2002, the Iraqi intelligence, trained al Qaeda in “poison gases and conventional explosives” And had senior-level contacts going back a decade. And the Islamists from the Sunni side, from the al Qaeda, work with people like Hezbollah. They’re perfectly happy to work together against us. It’s sort of like three Mafia families, but they insult each other, but can still cooperate.
DOBBS: In point in fact, today we learned from the French journalist who was held hostage and released today, that there was a conglomeration of interests and factions among his captures, including cooperation between Sunnis and Shiites there.
WOOLSEY: Well, I don’t think it’s real Sunnis and real Shiites. I think it’s Islamists totalitarian masquerading as part of a religion. Certainly if anybody in the intelligence community is surprised by this, the really surprising thing would be that they are really surprised. Some of them have had a idea fix for a long time, that al Qaeda would never work with the Ba’athist and the Shiite Islamist would never work with the Sunni. It’s just nuts. They work together on important things. It’s not that one necessarily controls the other. It’s not sort of like state sponsorship, but cooperation, support here and there against us, sure, they’ve been doing it for years and years and years.
DOBBS: Thank you very much, James Woolsey, we thank you.
WOOLSEY: Good to be with you, Lou.