President Bush Job Approval

RCP Average
Send to a Friend | Print Article

Libya Gives Up Its WMDs; Gen. Hayden Gets Grilled

The Journal Editorial Report

Paul Gigot: This week on "The Journal Editorial Report," from adversary to ally, why strongman Moammar Gadhafi backed away from the nuclear precipice, Reporter Judith Miller is here with an exclusive look at the story behind the surrender of Libya's WMDs.

Plus the Hayden hearings. Bush's pick to head the CIA is grilled on Capitol Hill as issues of secrecy and civil liberties take cater stage. Those topics and our weekly "Hits and Misses," but first these headlines.

Gigot: Welcome to "The Journal Editorial Report." I'm Paul Gigot. The State Department announced a full restoration of diplomatic ties with Libya this week, after a quarter century of economic and political isolation. The moves follows Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's announcement in late 2003 that he would dismantle his government's WMD programs and allow British and U.S. inspectors to oversee the process. As the Bush administration struggles to stop Iran and North Korea from acquiring nuclear weapons, my guest this week says there are lessons to be learned from the Libyan success. Former New York Times reporter Judith Miller joins me now in the studio. Judy, welcome.

Miller: Thank you.

Gigot: Fascinating account of Gadhafi's decision. Why do you think he decided to give up his WMD?

Miller: I really think it was a combination of factors, Paul. There's no doubt that, as the Libyans themselves told me, on the record, the world had changed. The Soviet Union was gone; the old revolutionary rhetoric just wasn't cutting it. Sanctions were really cutting into their ability to export oil, but they knew that they had to get on the right side of the United States. And as Saif al-Islam al-Gadhafi, the leader's son, told me, is that we knew that we had to do something beyond just renouncing terrorism. We knew that you were going into Iraq because of concern about WMD, we also knew you weren't going to find any WMD in Iraq, but you could find it Libya, so we decided to play that card.

The administration will tell you it was all--all--the invasion of Iraq that got Gadhafi change his mind. My reporting did not substantiate that.

Gigot: But, would it have happened if we had not gone in to knock out the Taliban, and had we not been massing to go take out Saddam Hussein and therefore at least the threat of force was very real to Gadhafi?

Miller: Absolutely, and that was clearly a factor, but it was not dispositive. I mean, I think that after 9/11, Gadhafi figured out that, as he told fellow foreign leaders, he might be next. He didn't want to come as the next target after the Taliban. So he decided to make his move then. But with Gadhafi, it's two steps forward, three steps backwards, and it took a while to persuade him. I think two things were critical: the interception of the BBC China, which was a ship that was bound for Libya loaded with centrifuges; and the second thing that I disclosed in The Wall Street Journal was the intercept of a conversation between A.Q. Khan, his nuclear supplier, and the head of his nuclear program, discussing weapons. So Gadhafi could no longer claim that his program was peaceful as Iran is doing.

Gigot: Well, the CIA's come in for an enormous amount of criticism for a lot of their misjudgments in recent years, but this seems to be a genuine success. What did they get right this time?

Miller: They got a lot right. I mean, first of all they got the intercept. This intercept was of a conversation that took place in 2002. So for a whole year they sat on this conversation knowing that one day it might be relevant. Steve Kappes, who is the man slated to be the No. 2 at the CIA, did a fantastic job getting into Libya after they were invited in, to look at all the facilities and figure out what they had. In fact, it was Steve Kappes who first learned about the existence of the engineering blueprints that actually showed the Libyans how to design the warhead and compress and miniaturize material for a warhead. And that's the most sensitive and difficult part of making a nuclear weapon.

Gigot: And when Gadhafi made his decision, he opened up everything for the United States, Kappes and his team, to go in there and they brought back enormous amounts of materials to the United States. It also allowed us to find things about other proliferation, nuclear programs, about the A.Q. Khan network, did it not?

Miller: Yes.

Gigot: Well, how important was this decision to our nonproliferation strategy?

Miller: I think it really enabled us, in cooperation with Britain and the IAEA, the international inspectors, to expose and shut down parts of the network that had been monitored and surveilled for a very long time. This was finally the kind of smoking gun. And after that, Pakistan could no longer claim that A.Q. Khan was not a problem or that he was just providing a little assistance. It was a real intelligence coup.

Gigot: But on the other hand, we also were surprised when we went in there, were we not, about just how far along Gadhafi was, not just on his nuclear program, but also on chemical programs?

Miller: Well, no, we learned a few things, I think, that were surprising, according to what my sources said. We learned, for example, that Gadhafi claimed not to have, and there was no evidence of, a biological warfare program. We also found out that he had not made binary chemical weapons, in which the two agents come together and become lethal only when a bomb explodes. That he had only made mustard gas, but he had made a lot of it, and he had stored a lot of it. I think the other thing that the inspectors told me was that--the American inspectors--was that they wouldn't have been able to find a lot of the installations, the place where Gadhafi was either making chemicals or planning to put up his centrifuges, unless he had cooperated. I think--one inspector said to me, you know, this was a really humbling experience and that as good as we think our intelligence is, you know what you don't know unless the country's cooperating, and I think that's a cautionary, too.

Gigot: Judy, you also argue that the Bush administration should have done more to reward Gadhafi in the wake of this decision. This week they did finally recognize him and take him off the terror sponsor list. What else should the Bush administration have done, or what else should it do now?

Miller: Well, I think that the administration itself said it was going to make a quote, "model" out of Libya from the beginning. And I didn't see Gadhafi wandering around Iran or North Korea saying look at all that I got for giving up WMD. Only now is that becoming possible. I think the administration kind of got distracted by other things after all of the sensitive equipment and material were taken out of the country: Oh, OK, check the box, that's done, that's over, now let's move on. They kind of forgot about Libya. So, when I got there in the end of February, beginning of March, the Libyans were extremely unhappy, saying what about us? We gave up everything. We've jeopardized our national security and what have we gotten to show? I think now the administration is finally taken a step that the Libyans wanted taken.

On the other hand, Gadhafi is very difficult to deal with. He still has some egregious human-rights abuses, but the issue is, how does the United States and Libya--how do these two countries resolve these differences? The Libyans said it was best to resolve the problems in the context of a full diplomatic relationship. We'll see.

Gigot: Well, and that's going ahead now. OK, Thank you Judy Miller. Thanks for being here.

Miller: Thank you very much.

Gigot: When we come back, Libya sheds its status as a rogue nation amid accusations of continuing human-rights abuses. Does Gadhafi's decision undermine America's democracy agenda in the Arab world?

Plus the Hayden hearings. If confirmed, the four-star general will be the fourth person since September 11 to lead an agency battered by leaks, intelligence failures and internal fighting. Is Michael Hayden the right choice to reform the CIA? Our panel weighs in those topics and our hits and misses of the week when "The Journal Editorial Report" continues.

Bert Ammerman, lost brother on Pan Am 103: What President Bush has said today is that you can massacre Americans at 31,000 feet and because of oil and big business I'll find a way to normalize relationships. This is truly unacceptable.

Gigot: Not everyone is praising the president's plan to normalize relations with Libya. A charter member of State Department's sponsors-of-terror list, that country has been implicated in numerous atrocities, including the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. Today continuing human rights abuses have critics asking whether re-establishing ties with Tripoli sends the wrong message to the rest of the Arab world.

Joining the panel this week: Wall Street Journal columnist and editorial page deputy editor Dan Henninger, deputy editor Melanie Kirkpatrick, and editorial board member Rob Pollock. Melanie, you heard Judy Miller. Do you think the Stated Department did the right thing this week in recognizing Gadhafi's regime?

Kirkpatrick: Yes, I do. Gadhafi's a nasty piece of work, and Libya has been a malevolent force in the world for many years. But it gave up WMD, it has renounced terrorism as best we can tell, and it deserves a reward for that. Our highest national priority has to be thwarting the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction among rogue nations, and this is a step that helps to achieve that goal.

Gigot: Rob, let me quote for you, a quote from Mohamed Eljahmi, who's the brother of a political prisoner in Libya, and he wrote this week that "what despots here is that lip service will obviate the need to reform or respect human rights out of this decision this week." Why is he wrong?

Pollock: Look I have a lot of respect for what Mr. Eljahmi had to say, and I'm not sure that he is entirely wrong. But I think, as Melanie said we cannot afford to send the signal to dictators around the world that we're not going to give them an inch unless they're perfect. And I don't think it's true that restoring diplomatic relations when a country sends the signal that everything's A-OK on the human-rights front. I mean, that certainly wasn't true with the Soviet Union. We had an embassy in the Soviet Union, and yet we were still able to put substantial pressure on them for human rights through things like the Helsinki process.

Gigot: Interesting.

Henninger: I think it's also true that the human rights/democracy movement is still a partner to this process as well. I mean, the fact is that, as Judith Miller was pointing out, Libya was able to do this because of the existence of the A.Q. Khan Pakistani nuclear materials network. Iran has used this network. It is thought that he was feeding material to North Korea. The biggest problem in the world is that this technology is becoming commoditized. And the idea is that if you democratize these nations--I mean, I think it's going to happen eventually. They're going to get this stuff over time. But if you democratize, you're less likely to use it against a neighbor than a pure dictatorship. So that effort will not stop.

Gigot: Dan, this week, Secretary of State Rice said that the Libyan experience is a model for Iran and North Korea. Do you really think it is a precedent for these regimes?

Henninger: Yeah, I think there was one aspect which didn't come up the interview, and that was that the sanctions impose on Libya, apparently did have a significant deterrent effect in slowing their ability to acquire the materials necessary. And in Iran, one of the big problems there is that the Europeans and the Russians apparently have been reluctant to impose those sanctions. I think they ought to them on as quickly as possible.

Gigot: Yeah.

Kirkpatrick: I might add that in North Korea--North Korea has two very strong sponsors, and that is China and South Korea. They both say they don't want North Korea to continue with its nuclear program, but their actions suggest otherwise.

Gigot: The world is not as united against North Korea, is what you're saying, as it was against Libya. Rob, this is different, though, than this deal with Libya than we had in 1994, the so-called agreed framework with North Korea. Much different. They had to keep their--they were allowed to keep their plutonium; we only got to inspect one plant. This is very different, isn't it?

Pollock: Oh, it's night and day. I mean, we basically went and gave North Korea a bunch of stuff for absolutely nothing. From Libya we got verifiable disarmament. I mean, we have their stuff sitting in a warehouse in the United States. Night and day.

Gigot: Do you there's much chance that Iran and North Korea are going to look at this as precedent and say, you know what, Gadhafi got enough out of it, we think this is the way to go?

Henninger: You know, Paul, I think the Iranian case is the important one, and that's a lot different. Gadhafi is in fact kind of a loopy person, and Libya was a strange country. The Iranians are in the big time, they're playing higher stakes than Libya ever was. They want nuclear capability so they can impose their will on the rest of the Middle East. And I kind of doubt that they're as susceptible to this incentive as the Libyans were.

Gigot: And without a credible use of force from the United States I think none of these countries are really going to make that kind of decision. All right, thank you all.

Coming up: Plugging the leaks at the CIA. President Bush says loose lips in America's spy agency are putting the war on terror in jeopardy and must be stopped. Is Gen. Michael Hayden the man of the job? Our panel weighs in when "The Journal Editorial Report" continues.

Hayden: I will draw a clear line between what we owe the American public by way of openness and what must remain secret in order for us to continue to do our job. CIA needs to get out of the news, as source or subject, and focus on protecting the American people.

Gigot: President Bush's pick to head the CIA faced a grilling on Capitol Hill this week, with Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden lamenting that intelligence gathering in the post-Sept. 11 world had become a political football.

Nothing more political than a confirmation hearing, Dan. But two weeks ago it looked like he might not be confirmed, or at least some people thought so--and yet yesterday's hearing, or this week's hearing, were not so contentious.

Henninger: Well, I think the reason for that is that Congress currently is living in an alternative universe. Two weeks ago or so we had this overblown USA Today story that there is this telephone intelligence and surveillance going on in the United States. Every time one of these stories breaks, Congress seems to feel it has to run out in front of the cameras and go, I'm shocked, shocked to hear that the NSA and so forth would actually be trying to confront terrorism.

Two weeks later, you have a hearing like this, and we say, oh, we actually do need a CIA director, I think we have to get serious about the issue. And the question is whether Gen. Hayden can actually, with all the king's horses, can put the Humpty-Dumpty of the CIA back together again. That's the larger question.

Pollock: Paul, I think it maybe wasn't so contentious because the Democrats are realizing that maybe Hayden is their kind of guy. Look, I was prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt going into these hearings, but hearing him, for example, disavow Dough Feith in trying, like the agency ha,s to shift blame onto the Pentagon--

Gigot: This is the former secretary of defense who was working for Donald Rumsfeld in the pre-Iraq war era.

Pollock: That's right. And he set up his own office to analyze Iraq intelligence. And look, it turns out Feith was more right than the CIA about a lot of things--about Saddam's links to al Qaeda, about the shape of postwar politics in Iraq. And here comes Hayden saying, well, I'm uncomfortable with what Feith was doing. What does that mean? Come on, that's silly.

Gigot: Well, he paid the Congress the compliment of agreeing with them. They love it. He distanced himself from Donald Rumsfeld; they don't like Donald Rumsfeld these days--and he's also a world-class briefer, and he said I'll come up here and brief you like crazy. Congress loves to be in on the action. They love to be told--massaged. So I mean, he's really a pretty good politician.

Pollock: Sure.

Kirkpatrick: Well, let me say a word in defense of Gen. Hayden. I didn't like his dissing of Doug Feith too--either, but you know, the guy has a dazzling résumé. And basically, there is nobody else who is willing to take the job who would be any better. And he understands what the problems are, and he understands the programs. So I'm not confident that he is going to reform the place--in fact, I think it's highly unlikely--but I'm not sure there is anybody else out there who can kind of even do what he is going to be able to do.

Pollock: Well, Melanie, he also made a pledge to Dianne Feinstein to make his senior-level staff "intelligence professionals." What does that mean? That means I'm not going to bring in new blood from outside the agency. I am going to stick with the same kind of people who have been doing a bad job for us all along.

Kirkpatrick: I don't know, he brought--Stephen Kappes is his No. 2, whom Judy Miller mentioned earlier, and he's the guy who was responsible in part for the Libya success. So Kappes is a pretty good sign.

Henninger: Well, Kappes is apparently an expert in human intelligence, which I understand, I'm told the White House and Negroponte and Hayden want to emphasize over the simple analysts.

Gigot: And Hayden made that point in his hearings, that he is going to focus on human intelligence, and he used the phrase risk-taking, which is not the culture of Congress, let's face it. Their culture is second-guessing, so if he can get the CIA to do that, that'll be important.

Henninger: But it's not the culture of any bureaucracy either, and CIA is fundamentally a bureaucracy.

Gigot: What about this issue of leaks, Dan? Can he do anything to control--get those under control? Because it's very clear that a lot of--an element within the CIA has been at war with Bush administration policy for a long time.

Henninger: You know, I have my doubts about that. Fifty percent of the analysts in the CIA have under five years' experience. Which is to say they are younger, and I think there is a philosophical difference here. In the old days, it was dishonorable to leak to the press. I think that situation has been reversed, and a lot of the younger people there think they have a moral obligation, kind of like an act of civil disobedience in the 1960s, to publicly oppose governmental policies they find morally reprehensible. I have a hard time seeing how Gen. Hayden and Kappes are going to get on top of that.

Gigot: I'm afraid I think you are right, Dan. All right.

We have to take one more break. When we come back, our "Hits and Misses" of the week.

Gigot: Winners and loses, picks and pans, "Hits and Misses." It's our way of calling attention to the best and the worst of the week. Item one, "The Da Vinci Code" hits the big screen this weekend amid continuing protests from Christian groups. But is there the a lesson to be learned here, Dan?

Henninger: I think so. It hits the screen having sold 60 million copies with a plot that purports that Jesus impregnated Mary Magdalene and she had a baby and that there were 80 gospels, not four, and so forth. This book has had a good effect. It has created an outpouring of really strong books refuting and correcting the history of the early church. But I think there's a lesson in there. That history is a stirring and wonderful drama that most young people are totally unaware of. They simply have not been taught, and I think "The Da Vinci Code," with all of its superstitions, has been a wake-up call to the churches to get on the job and teach people the history of their own church.

Gigot: All right, thanks, Dan. Next some good news for all of those recent college grads. Melanie?

Kirkpatrick: About 1.4 million students are going to graduate from college this year, and the good news is there are a whole lot of jobs out there. Even better, the starting salaries are very high. A computer engineer with a bachelor's degree gets an average starting salary of $54,000, which seems pretty amazing to me. It's a function of the booming economy, but it's also a really good lesson for kids who are thinking that, you know, maybe the value of a college education isn't so high, when they're actually in the process of doing it. But I love this phrase from the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, which says, "The more you learn, the more you earn." It's a good lesson.

Gigot: Rob was thinking about changing his career to computer analysis. OK, thank you.

Finally, not too many people would be ashamed to make Forbes magazine richest list. But one man is. and for good reason. Rob?

Pollock: Yes, Paul, our shamed near-billionaire is none other than Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, who of course could fairly be said to own that entire island prison of his. But using an admittedly imperfect methodology, Forbes magazine has estimated his worth at about $900 million--some of it stashed in Swill bank accounts, some of it taking account of money he gets from Cuban state enterprises. Well, this has Castro up in arms. He went on state television this week to say it makes him sick. He called in his central bank governor to say this is impossible. You know, everyone knows Fidel is model of rectitude. Well, look, hogwash. All I have to say to all the Fidel admirers out there and all the Che Guevara apologists is, "¡Viva la revolución!" [Holds up $20 bill.] "¡Viva la revolución!"

All right, Rob, thank you. It's not good for the Marxist image.

That's it for this week's edition of "The Journal Editorial Report." Thanks to Dan Henninger, Melanie Kirkpatrick and Rob Pollock. I'm Paul Gigot. Thanks for watching. We hope to see you all next week.

Email Friend | Print | RSS | Add to Del.icio.us | Add to Digg
Sponsored Links