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Woolsey: Cold War approach to new threats (UPI) VIA-WASHINGTON TIMES) By Shaun Waterman - Washington, DC 02/03/05)Source: http://www.washingtontimes.com/upi-breaking/20050202-071739-5067r.htm UPI} UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL UPI} UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
Washington, DC, Feb. 2 (UPI) -- Former CIA Director James Woolsey told a congressional panel Wednesday that the U.S. government should treat the ideological bedfellows of Islamic terrorism the same way it treated Communists and their supporters during the Cold War.

Drawing parallels between what he said were two totalitarian ideologies, Communism and Islamic extremism, Woolsey noted that even at the height of the struggle with the Soviet Union, "We could not make it illegal to be a member of the American Communist Party.

"Congress tried and the Supreme Court struck it down," he told a hearing of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

But, he added, lawmakers were able to make "American Communists´ lives very complicated and very difficult by making them register, by all sorts of steps."

Woolsey´s suggestion was greeted with horror by one student of the period.

Sam Walker, a professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and author of a history of the ACLU, said that the registration scheme introduced in the 1954 Communist Control Act had "done nothing to improve national security."

"On the contrary it may have damaged national security, by inhibiting an open debate about U.S. foreign policy," he told United Press International. He said it "resulted in the serious harassment of people for simply expressing a political viewpoint."

Walker said that groups that had nothing to do with Communism -- the peace movement and even civil-rights activists -- "were labeled wholesale."

"It was guilt by association," he said.

Wednesday´s hearing of the Intelligence Committee -- its first in the new Congress -- heard from Woolsey as part of a panel of experts discussing developing global threats to the United States.

Chairman Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich., said that the session was the first in a series over the next two years designed to add up to a "comprehensive and fundamental review of the potential threats facing the United States in the coming years."

He said the hearings -- some of which would necessarily be closed -- would avoid "the hot topics of the day," focusing instead on "how we can best anticipate, detect and react to the threats we anticipate five or 10 years in the future."

One intelligence official told UPI that the hearings appeared designed to counter what some believe is an overly myopic focus by U.S. intelligence agencies on counter-terrorism.

"They have learned the tactical lesson (of Sept. 11), the danger of transnational Islamic terrorism," said the official of U.S. intelligence agencies, "at the expense of the strategic lesson, which is don´t let yourself get caught off guard by unexpected threats."

Ranking Democrat Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., pointed out that the United States was no longer threatened by tank columns or inter- continental ballistic missiles.

"In an era of terrorism and WMD proliferation, the threats emanate from the shadows," she said.

The discussion was led off by the businessman and neoconservative eminence grise, Richard Perle, who said that the United States would continue to face threats from state-sponsored terrorism, although he said it would be "driven underground" as U.S. policy raised the cost of being seen as supportive of terrorist activities.

In focusing on the danger of state-sponsored terrorism, Perle was staking out terrain in a long-running debate amongst those who study terrorist groups.

Many experts currently take a contrary position, arguing that the most important danger to the United States comes from unaffiliated terror networks like al-Qaida.

Perle said that one constraint on the effectiveness of U.S. intelligence against such targets was their unwillingness to work with what he called "revolutionary organizations."

"They don´t like to work with people who are trying to change the regime," he said of U.S. intelligence agencies. "They like to work with people inside the regime. They hope and live to recruit the colonel who will replace the general who´s running the place."

But, he said, "recruiting one SOB to deal with another SOB" was not a viable strategy.

Woolsey -- employing an allusion beloved of neoconservatives -- said that there were strong parallels between the totalitarian ideology of Communism and the school of Islamic thought called Wahhabism, which he said was promoted in mosques and religious schools called madrasas all over the world, mainly by Saudi-based charitable organizations.

He called it "an extraordinarily angry, hostile ideology."

"It teaches hatred of Christians, hatred of Jews, hatred of women, hatred of modernity, hatred of music," and hatred of other brands of Islam, he told the committee, adding that it was "about as far from the generally just and decent religion of Islam as it is possible to get."

"Not all Wahhabis become Islamist terrorists," he conceded, "but that is the soil in which Islamist terrorism, such as al-Qaida, grows."

Woolsey predicted that investigating the relationship between Wahhabism and Islamic terrorism would be "one of the major frontiers of intelligence and intelligence collection and understanding our enemy in the months and years to come." (Copyright 2005 United Press International 02/03/05)

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