NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Morris Critiques Clinton's Anti-Terrorism Policy

February 8, 2002

During the Clinton administration's two terms in office, terrorism was treated primarily as a criminal justice problem and was not allowed to get in the way of the "real" foreign policy issues -- relations with Russia and China and the dynamics of the western alliance, according to former Clinton aide Dick Morris. Morris says the administration opposed almost every proposal for toughening measures against terrorism. For example:

  • When legislation was proposed to cripple Iranian funding of terrorism by mandating U.S. retaliation against companies that aided its oil industry, the administration first threatened to veto it unless the president were allowed to waive sanctions, then blocked sanctions in virtually every case after the legislation was passed.
  • When Clinton was advised to pass a law requiring that driver's licenses for aliens expire when their visas do (so that a routine traffic stop could trigger the deportation process), the White House rejected the idea on the grounds that it would constitute racial profiling.
  • Clinton refused to establish a "president's list" of seemingly charitable groups that were in fact fund-raising fronts for terrorists.
  • Despite staff recommendations that he require baggage X-ray screening at airports, federalization of air security and restoration of air marshals to commercial flights, Mr. Clinton did nothing to implement any of these proposals.
  • When advisers proposed an oil embargo against Iran, the president did nothing, despite evidence that the 1998 Khobar Towers bombing in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, had Iranian backing.

If Clinton had any personal stamp on foreign policy, Morris says, it was the subordination of military and security issues to economic concerns.

Source: Dick Morris, "While Clinton Fiddled: A Story of Fecklessness in the Face of Terror," Wall Street Journal, Tuesday, February 5, 2002.

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