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Chuck DeVore- Contributor

Assemblyman Chuck DeVore represents 450,000 residents of Orange County California’s 70th Assembly District.. He served as a Reagan White House appointee in the Pentagon from 1986 to 1988 and was Senior Assistant to Cong. Chris Cox. He is a lieutenant colonel in the Army National Guard. Chuck’s novel, CHINA ATTACKS, sells internationally and has been translated into Chinese for sales in Taiwan. [go to DeVore index]

Kerry’s Intelligence Problem
An underwhelming record

[Chuck DeVore] 8/19/04

Intelligence – the kind used to learn about America’s enemies – is very difficult to develop. Gathering the raw information that may be turned into intelligence takes persistence and skill. Molding that information into intelligence requires brains and training. Protecting that intelligence necessitates, above all, discipline.

That Senator John Kerry has been critical of President Bush over the issue of intelligence, the 9/11 Commission recommendations and the CIA begs the question – what sort of record does Mr. Kerry have on the issue? Is his background one that engenders confidence in his ability to inspire intelligence professionals and to effectively use intelligence?

The record says, “No!”

According to Mr. Kerry, his first foray into intelligence matters came in 1968, when, as he said on the floor of the U.S. Senate in 1986, “I remember Christmas of 1968 sitting on a gunboat in Cambodia… I have that memory which is seared – seared – in me..." He later intimated that the beat-up hat he carries in his briefcase for good luck was from a CIA operative that he carried into Cambodia on that mission.

The problem with all of this talk is that it is just that, talk. Mr. Kerry was never in Cambodia in 1968 and he has backed off his earlier bravado.

Candor is a key attribute of intelligence – telling like it is per your most current understanding of the facts.

A few years later, on May 8, 1995, Mr. Kerry waxed eloquent in the Senate in praise of Mr. John Deutch, the man President Bill Clinton had nominated to be the Director of Central Intelligence. In praise of Mr. Deutch, Mr. Kerry said, “I described him publicly, not long ago, as `superb and first rate', and I reiterate that description today, without hesitation and with renewed respect and continued confidence in his extraordinary ability.”

Fairly typical boilerplate Senatespeak.

The problem with Mr. Kerry’s high praise of Mr. Deutch is that it was misplaced. Mr. Deutch was CIA chief for a little more than a year-and-a-half. On his last day in the Oval Office, President Clinton pardoned Deutch for mishandling hundreds of highly classified documents on unsecured home computers linked to the internet. The day before the pardon, Deutch admitted to the crime of mishandling classified information.

Closer examination of Mr. Deutch’s time in office shows he had a spectacular disregard for safeguarding intelligence. As Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) chairman of the intelligence committee, said, "Deutch essentially walked away from what is one of the most egregious cases of mishandling classified information that I have ever seen short of espionage." Among other breaches, Mr. Deutch: took diskettes of classified information home – then lost them; gave his old home computer away to a school – investigators later discovered its hard drive full of information from the Pentagon; carried classified information around in his shirt pocket; and denied a request from security officers to install security systems at his residence.

Discernment is an important component of effective intelligence – Mr. Kerry’s high confidence in Mr. Deutch shows a weakness here.

Compounding this error, Mr. Kerry’s recently resigned foreign-policy adviser, Samuel (Sandy) Berger, a leading candidate for secretary of State in a Kerry administration, was found taking classified documents home from the National Archives – unlike Mr. Deutch who used his shirt pocket, Mr. Berger stuffed the secret material in his socks.

There appears to be a developing pattern with Mr. Kerry’s friends and advisors and their cavalier treatment of America’s secrets.

This week we discover that Mr. Kerry’s campaign has repeatedly cited his service as vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence as justification for his readiness to remake our intelligence services to face the threat of terrorism, the problem is, Kerry never served in that position – his former Senate colleague, Bob Kerrey (D-NE) did.

In one of Campaign 2004’s best statements to date Republican National Committee spokeswoman Christine Iverson said, “It's difficult to take John Kerry's claims about his intelligence experience seriously when one of his credentials is completely made up. If he had shown up for Intelligence Committee hearings he would notice he wasn't vice chairman.” Mr. Kerry missed three-fourths of the committee's public hearings.

Knowing the chain of command is another requirement for effective intelligence.

Mr. Kerry’s assertion that he was in charge when he didn’t even show up for the Intelligence Committee meetings, his trusted colleagues’ pattern of disregard for protecting classified information, and his bar talk fable about Christmas in Cambodia with the CIA all show a complete lack of credibility in the business of intelligence. tRO

copyright 2004 Chuck DeVore




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