Well, I just got back from the opening act in my university’s (Drew University) Forum series, where they bring in three speakers across the year (not counting whoever they get for graduation). This year Tom Kean, our University President, former NJ state governor, and Co-chair of the 9/11 commission was the first speaker. He gave a one to 1:15 minute long lecture followed by fifteen to 30 minutes of Q&A.
He covered, for the most part, the 9/11 commission, and focused on the intelligence community. Foreign policy came in second place for the amount of time spent on a subject. Some of what he said in the speech has already been said by him or in the report, so I’ll stick to things I thought were unique.
Some highlights from what he said:
-he said that the “wag the dog” accusations, in light of the movie of the same name and the Monica Lewinsky scandal, against Clinton after he launched two cruise missiles in an attempt to kill Bin Laden ('98, I think it was) cowed that administration into not pursuing the problem more fully.
-(this next one was big)No one who knew the history of Iraq would have been surprised by what happened after we invaded.
-(a little off topic, this was the answer to a question)Some parts of the No Child Left Behind Act are good, but after a couple years in action it needs to be reexamined, and to be effective it has to be funded properly.
-The government overclassifies information. He said that half of the documents he read contained nothing that the public already didn’t know. He said that he knew what the government spent on intelligence, but that if he told us directly he would be violating the law. So, to get around that, with a wink and a nod (figuratively, literally it was with a slight squint and his unidentifiable accent) he said that the New York Times reported that the government spends $40 billion on intelligence. He also said that most of it is wasted.
-He refused to endorse a candidate, citing the comission members’ agreement to concentrate on pushing the recommendations for reform they came up with.