Out of the Loop, Six Years Too Late

At last, Steve Hadley is out of the loop. Yes, he's the national security adviser, but now he's not responsible for what goes on in Iraq and Afghanistan. But even when he was in the loop he was out of the loop.

Senator Jack Reed wondered yesterday, during a confirmation hearing for Hadley's de facto replacement, Lieutenant General Doug Lute, why Hadley shouldn't just be fired:

"He should be fired, because, frankly, if he's not capable of being the individual responsible for those duties and they pass it on to someone else, then why is he there?" Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) said.

Lute said Hadley would not be cut out of the loop: "I see my role as Steve Hadley's teammate on Iraq and Afghanistan," he said.

But firing Hadley would be six years too late, Jack. As I noted in November 2005, the 9/11 Commission Report revealed Hadley as incompetent in the crucial months before the planes rained down on us. The report concluded:

There was a clear disparity in the levels of response to foreign versus domestic threats. Numerous actions were taken overseas to disrupt possible attacks — enlisting foreign partners to upset terrorist plans, closing embassies, moving military assets out of the way of possible harm. Far less was done domestically . . .

At the time, Condi Rice was national security adviser, and Hadley was her chief deputy. In fact, Clinton's outgoing national-security aide Richard Clarke briefed Hadley and Rice on January 3, 2001, before the inauguration, on Al Qaeda. As the 9/11 Commission Report noted:

Clarke mentioned to National Security Advisor Rice at least twice that al Qaeda sleeper cells were likely in the United States. In January 2001, Clarke forwarded a strategy paper to Rice warning that al Qaeda had a presence in the United States. He noted that two key al Qaeda members in the Jordanian cell involved in the millennium plot were naturalized U.S. citizens and that one jihadist suspected in the East Africa bombings had "informed the FBI that an extensive network of al Qida 'sleeper agents' currently exists in the US."

Hadley explained to the commission — on page 263, in the chapter "The System Was Blinking Red" — how he and Rice reacted to this:

Hadley told us that before 9/11, he and Rice did not feel they had the job of coordinating domestic agencies.

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Guess that task didn't fit in with the job description of "national security adviser."

Now Hadley is responsible for everything that's not Iraq and Afghanistan. That means he's responsible for our security, here in the U.S.? Good luck with that.

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