Or cool. Gawker-wannabe Gary Schmitt, the head of Project for a New American Century, shoots off his mouth in “Meet Larry Johnson,” a snarky sniper piece at The Weekly Standard.

Well, it’s good to see that the former CIA employee is now worried about the war on terror. But it’s a bit late.

Matt Yglesius at TPM Cafe — and astute comments below Yglesius’s piece — make Schmitt look like shit:

Update [2005-7-25 21:45:14 by susanhu]: Below the fold, “JOHNSON versus PRESIDENT BUSH,” a response from Larry Johnson.

Update [2005-7-26 0:13:11 by susanhu]: Salon’s War Room weighs in — below the fold:

Update [2005-7-26 0:13:11 by susanhu]:

The right aims at Larry Johnson — and misses

When presented with information that challenges their narrative, the Bush administration and its allies immediately attempt to discredit the source of the information. It is their default setting. Paul O’Neill was disgruntled and marginal, they said. Richard Clarke had been demoted; therefore he was disgruntled and was not “in the loop.” (Plus, maybe he was a racist.) Joseph Wilson, we’ve been told, is a pathological liar whose career was in the toilet, while his wife Valerie Plame is a limelight-seeking CIA diva.

Now there’s a new target: Larry Johnson, a former CIA analyst and a classmate of Plame’s in 1985 at the agency training facility known as “the Farm.” Johnson has become an outspoken critic of right-wing efforts to paint Plame as a glorified secretary whose identity was not a secret. He and 10 other former CIA analysts wrote a letter to Congress arguing that the identities of all undercover agents — even those with “mere” desk jobs — should be protected. He echoed this sentiment in the Democrats’ weekly radio address on Sunday.

Naturally, it was only a matter of time before someone took a shot at him. The problem, though, is that there isn’t any dirt to throw at Johnson, a registered Republican who entered the CIA with a letter of recommendation from Senator Orin Hatch, R-Utah. So in a new Weekly Standard piece titled “Meet Larry Johnson,” the best that Gary Schmitt, director of the neoconservative Project for a New American Century, could muster was to accuse Johnson of having a “pre-9/11 mindset.” Schmitt points to an Op-Ed that Johnson published in The New York Times on July 10, 2001, called “The Declining Terrorist Threat,” in which he argued that fears of terrorist attacks in the U.S. were overblown.

We read Johnson’s piece and, we’ll admit, it does make him look foolish. But there’s a good reason why Johnson’s argument suffered from a pre-9/11 mindset. Namely, he wrote it before 9/11. To show that Johnson still suffers from a pre-9/11 mindset, what Schmitt needed to do was find an example of Johnson clinging to reactionary views after 9/11. But he was unable to provide one.

It’s worth remembering what The Weekly Standard and the Project for a New American Century were talking about prior to 9/11. It wasn’t the threat posed by Islamic terrorists. It was the need to invade Iraq. Furthermore, no organization had a mindset that was more doggedly pre-9/11 in the year leading up to 9/11 than the Bush administration itself, as sources from Richard Clarke to Bob Woodward have attested.

While Schmitt’s attempt to discredit Johnson is a total non-starter, he did write something that we agree with — “Obviously, the leak of Valerie Plame’s name to the media is not something to be tolerated.” Now that’s a message we hope catches on within the Republican leadership.

Update [2005-7-25 21:45:44 by susanhu]:



Larry C Johnson

With the rightwing smear machine gearing up to try to draw attention from the treasonous behavior of prominent White House officials who participated in the outting of CIA undercover officer, Valerie Plame, it is time to look back and determine who was right on Iraq? Me or the President?

The rightwing is resurrecting an op-ed I wrote in July 2001. I stand by the full article. It is still relevant today. I am accused, incorrectly, of ignoring the threat of terrorism. In fact, I correctly noted that the real threat emanated from Bin Laden and Islamic extremism.

President Bush, for his part, ignored the CIA warning in August of 2001 that Al Qaeda was posed to strike inside the United States.

Reprinted below is the article I wrote in January 2003. My key warning is contained in the second paragraph. I wrote, “In fact there is a serious risk that a U.S. led war against Iraq may crystallize the diffused anger in the Arab and Muslim world–a heretofore unattained goal of bin Laden and his followers–and persuade more Muslim youths to take up the terrorist banner against American and her citizens.”

From Matt Yglesius at TPM Cafe

He can probably speak up for himself, but a few comments seem to be in order in response to the attack on Larry Johnson by Project for a New American Century head Gary Schmitt that’s up on The Weekly Standard website:

Well, it’s good to see that the former CIA employee is now worried about the war on terror. But it’s a bit late. On July 10, 2001–two months before the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon–Johnson wrote an op-ed for the New York Times (“The Declining Terrorist Threat”) in which he argued that Americans were “bedeviled by fantasies about terrorism” and, in truth, had “little to fear” from terrorism. And, in turn, he rebuked his former colleagues in the national security bureaucracy for using the “fiction” of the terrorist threat to pump up their budgets.

Now the relevance of this to Johnson’s writing and speaking on the Plame case utterly escapes me. But of course it doesn’t really escape me. This is “slime and defend” at its best. Joe Wilson said some stuff that was politically inconvenient for the White House. So the White House had to say some mean stuff about him. His wife got him his job. He was unqualified. If that entailed blowing a CIA operative’s cover, that’s no big deal. But now you need to slime his wife. She wasn’t really undercover. The Director of Central Intelligence, the Justice Department, a special prosecutor, and a whole series of federal judges are just confused … Johnson comes along and says the right is making stuff up, so it’s time to go after him. Simple as that. Now everyone’s put on notice — make trouble for the White House and they’ll come gunning for you.

Jul 25, 2005 — 01:51:10 PM EST

(Emphases mine. – susanhu0

Then a TPM visitor, seaflipper, posts this response that Johnson himself says he appreciates:

It would be quite helpful if the Weekly Standard actually honestly looked at the whole case that Johnson made on this whole issue:

Is Terrorism Getting Worse?

This data tells us where we have been, but does not tell us where we are going. Recent hype by President Clinton and Secretary Albright that we are facing a "new terrorist war" is not helpful. You cannot have a "new" war when the "old" war never ended. The United States has been fighting this threat for almost thirty years. Terrorism is not spiraling out of control but neither has it disappeared.

Well well, look at that, critical of Clinton…hmmm..partisan Democrat.  YEP, he sure is.

Additionally, Johnson knows where the USA’s biggest threat lies:

The nature of the threat posed by Bin Ladin is highlighted by my final chart, number 7. Osama Bin Ladin and individuals assoicated with him have killed and wounded more Americans than any other group. This chart also illustrates that groups such as Hamas and the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) prior to 1998 have killed more foreigners in the anti-US terrorist attacks. If we take into account the bombings of the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, Osama’s status as the most lethal terrorist is certain.

Gee, he makes no bones about Osama being a big threat!

Clearly Johnson believes we are simply spending our money in the wrong way and he is critical of governement that just asks for money to support growing a military budget, which is what he says in his 2001 Op-Ed:

Part of the blame can be assigned to 24-hour broadcast news operations too eager to find a dramatic story line in the events of the day and to pundits who repeat myths while ignoring clear empirical data. Politicians of both parties are also guilty. They warn constituents of dire threats and then appropriate money for redundant military installations and new government investigators and agents.

Finally, there are bureaucracies in the military and in intelligence agencies that are desperate to find an enemy to justify budget growth. In the 1980’s, when international terrorism was at its zenith, NATO and the United States European Command pooh-poohed the notion of preparing to fight terrorists. They were too busy preparing to fight the Soviets. With the evil empire gone, they "discovered" terrorism as an important priority.

And even from his 2002 op-ed, it’s clear that Johnson wasn’t a "sit on your hands" kind of guy, which is how the Standard is tyring to portray him:

I am not soft on terrorism; I believe strongly in remaining prepared to confront it. However, when the threat of terrorism is used to justify everything from building a missile defense to violating constitutional rights (as in the case of some Arab-Americans imprisoned without charge), it is time to take a deep breath and reflect on why we are so fearful.

I hope for a world where facts, not fiction, determine our policy. While terrorism is not vanquished, in a world where thousands of nuclear warheads are still aimed across the continents, terrorism is not the biggest security challenge confronting the United States, and it should not be portrayed that way.

No wonder the righties are going to go after Johnson, he actually makes sense! 

We figured this would start, didn’t we. It’s good that Johnson can take them on, and that Yglesius, seaflipper, and us are willing to call the Schmitts of the world on their shit.

Like Haggai’s post:

It’s worth pointing out that Schmitt’s dismissal of Johnson as someone with a “pre-9/11 mindset” consists entirely of quotes gathered from…before 9/11 happened. That’s a heck of an argument! How we can possibly trust someone who exhibited a “pre-9/11 mindset” before 9/11 actually happened?

Yup. Schmitt is full of shit.

Your turn now.

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