Hillary Clinton’s book Living History has captivated much of the mainstream media. Meanwhile, former Clinton intimate Dick Morris has recently published a book that describes Bill Clinton’s disastrous management of national security and the grave foreign policy challenges he bequeathed to President George Bush. Morris describes Clinton’s failures to confront North Korea and Iraq in detail and writes that, in both cases, Clinton was willing to settle for vague or misleading promises. But nowhere is Clinton’s “sorry record of weakness” clearer than on terrorism.
Clinton’s main problem, according to Morris, is that he is a “moral relativist,” who can’t separate good from evil. In a recent speech, writes Morris, Clinton spoke about “American terrorism,” citing the slave trade and the Indian wars to show that “We were not all good, so they could not be all evil.” ” They” in this case being Islamic terrorists and al Qaeda.
Morris reveals that on those few occasions Clinton seemed willing to take on terrorists, he was inevitably opposed by his foreign policy advisors, his Attorney General Janet Reno, and White House advisor George Stephanopoulos. Morris claims that on those rare occasions, these advisors would blackmail him into inaction by threatening to leak to the press that the former president was “demagoguing” the issue.
By way of example, Morris cites Clinton’s refusal to move against illegal immigration. He claims to have recommended to Clinton that motor-vehicle enforcement agencies be used to combat violations of immigrants’ visas. Morris proposed to tie drivers’ licenses to visas, so that when an immigrant’s driver’s license expired, so too would his visa. In this way, Morris writes, a system would have been created that provided for “the automatic referral from motor-vehicle agencies to the Immigration and Naturalization Service.” Routine traffic stops in which immigrants were found to be driving on expired licenses would help the INS target illegals for deportation.
According to him, 150,000 foreigners overstay their visa annually, but only about 600 were deported in the mid-1990s. But Clinton rejected Morris’ proposal after Stephanopoulos raised objections about the “potential harm to ‘our Hispanic base.'” Harold Ickes told him that the INS couldn’t deport the people they were already finding. Ickes concluded, “If we expand the list of deportees without being able to act against them, the result would be a major scandal.”
Three of the 9/11 hijackers were stopped for traffic violations in the months before the World Trade Center attack. In particular, ringleader Mohamed Atta’s visa had expired in January 2001. Had Morris’ plan been implemented, Atta could have been arrested and handed over to the INS for deportation. Given what we now know about the sharing of terrorist-related information inside the government, Morris is probably overstating the viability of his proposal. Morris’ book has collected a few reviews, but don’t expect the kind of front-page coverage accorded Hillary’s memoirs.