'Clinton did not have the will to respond'

"'Clinton did not have the will to respond'" Continued...

Issue: "Sciavo: Saved by the bill," Nov. 1, 2003

WORLD: Why, when the subject of the book is the failings of the Clinton administration to deal with the bin Laden threat, do you treat Mr. Ijaz, a bona fide friend of President Clinton and one of his largest campaign contributors, as a premium source?

RM: When writing a book that gives the first detailed inside account of the failure of Mr. Clinton's war on terror, the best sources were naturally those friends of Bill and top Clinton administration officials who knew exactly what went on. That's why I interviewed Mr. Ijaz and other campaign contributors as well as both of Clinton's national security advisors, Tony Lake and Sandy Berger; Bruce Lindsey, his lawyer and advisor; the president's pollster, Dick Morris; Richard Clarke, his counterterrorism czar; and others. There is simply no better way to document what went on than to interview the players. It is simply a fact of the Clinton administration that campaign contributors were players.

Of course, like any good reporter, I treated my Clinton sources the same way Ronald Reagan treated Gorbachev: "Trust but verify."

WORLD: You do a good job of documenting the very un-Islamic lifestyles of Mr. bin Laden's followers. But to what should we attribute their devotion, if not to radical Islam? Is it a cult of bin Laden?

RM: True religion is about submitting yourself to the will of God, not letting your private demons and worldly temptations drive your behavior. I question whether Mr. bin Laden's followers have any religion at all, based on their willingness to murder innocents, to steal to finance their terrorist cells, to attend strip shows and pay for sex, and to kill themselves in the hopes of having their way with 72 virgins in the afterlife.

The ideology of radical Islam owes a huge debt to the communist and Nazi ideologies. The writings of Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda's No. 2 man, cite Iranian and other communist parties. Even al-Qaeda's facile anti-Americanism is based on the propaganda generated by various Soviet-backed front groups in the Middle East in the 1960s and 1970s. While they are perhaps not as godless as the communists, their behavior, rhetoric, and ideology are virtually indistinguishable from Marxist revolutionaries.

Is there a "cult of bin Laden"? In one Arabic-language newspaper report I saw, one of bin Laden's discontented followers said that bin Laden considered himself to be a prophet of God. In traditional Islam, this is heresy. And bin Laden and his top lieutenants routinely give their followers permission to break Islam's oldest laws-something only a cult leader can do.

WORLD: Having seen what President Clinton did wrong, what is President Bush doing right? Is bureaucratic bungling truly being worked out of the system or just being papered over?

RM: Unlike Mr. Clinton, Mr. Bush is decisive. He takes action and measures results. While Mr. Clinton was Hamlet, Mr. Bush is Fortinbras. While too many bureaucratic restrictions remain, the president and his men have been very active in forcing the CIA and FBI to work together overseas and in coordinating law-enforcement efforts to hold terrorists at bay at home.


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