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Getting The Government An Electorate Deserves

When an electorate selects its governmental representatives and leaders, that electorate - without fail - gets the government it deserves. Elections matter.

When the new House Majority Leader nominated for the Chairmanship of the House Intelligence Committee a representative who was previously impeached by a Democrat-controlled Congress as a federal judge for corruption (bribery), so much discontent was voiced from both sides of the political aisle that the nomination had to be withdrawn. But in his place is a nominee who fares little better in perhaps today's most important leadership position within the House of Representatives. Former Marine and Green Beret turned journalist Jack Kelly explains.
If Sun Tzu had met Silvestre Reyes, he'd have understood at once why the United States is faltering in Iraq.

Rep. Reyes, D-Tex, has been chosen by incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi to be chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. He granted an interview last week to Jeff Stein, national security editor for Congressional Quarterly magazine.

Toward the end of a 40 minute interview, Mr. Stein asked Rep. Reyes whether al Qaeda was comprised chiefly of Sunni Muslims, or Shiites. "Predominantly -- probably Shiite," he responded.

The opposite, of course, is true. Al Qaeda is comprised of Sunni extremists who regard Shiite Muslims as heretics who deserve to be killed. Al Qaeda attacks on Shia civilians is what triggered the civil strife in Iraq.

Mr. Reyes has, alas, much company in his abysmal ignorance. Two GOP members of the Intelligence committee, Reps. Jo Ann Davis of Virginia and Terry Everett of Alabama, flunked Mr. Stein's little quiz last summer.

The pressing business of Congressmen (raising money for their re-election campaigns and stuffing earmarks into appropriations bills) takes up a lot of time. But is it too much to ask that members of the intelligence committee -- especially the chairman of the intelligence committee -- know the basic facts about the enemy who attacked us on 9/11?

As Jack notes, this inexcusable ignorance among our elected leaders exists on both sides of the aisle.

We, the American people, must first demand more of ourselves in understanding the situation that history will surely reflect was the conflict that defined at least one entire generation. Only then will the American public demand more of its elected leaders.

Until then, we will not deserve better. We as a nation will continue to get the government we deserve, for better or for worse.

4 Comments

We (the readers and contributors to ThreatsWatch) are among those Americans whose knowledge includes such facts. Do you think that the general American public, the electorate, could actually pass a test on "Know Your Enemy?" Frankly, I don't believe that the majority could pass.

Of course, Cong. Reyes is far from the "only" ignorant party.

Can You Tell a Sunni From a Shiite?

Take Representative Terry Everett, a seven-term Alabama Republican who is vice chairman of the House intelligence subcommittee on technical and tactical intelligence.

“Do you know the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite?” I asked him a few weeks ago.

Mr. Everett responded with a low chuckle. He thought for a moment: “One's in one location, another's in another location. No, to be honest with you, I don't know. I thought it was differences in their religion, different families or something.”

Or how about Representative Jo Ann Davis, a Virginia Republican who heads a House intelligence subcommittee charged with overseeing the C.I.A.'s performance in recruiting Islamic spies and analyzing information, was similarly dumbfounded when I asked her if she knew the difference between Sunnis and Shiites.

“Do I?” she asked me. A look of concentration came over her face. “You know, I should.” She took a stab at it: “It's a difference in their fundamental religious beliefs. The Sunni are more radical than the Shia. Or vice versa.

Stein's final observation: Too many officials in charge of the war on terrorism just don’t care to learn much, if anything, about the enemy we’re fighting. And that’s enough to keep anybody up at night.

To generalize, our Nation's terrorism IQ is probably quite low. That is no excuse for Reyes, who stands as an embarrassment.

It has been alleged that even President Bush didn't know there was a major division of Islam between Sunni and Shiite as well as smaller splinter sects. The Eastern World is still pretty foreign and strange to us with their internal fueds----give me that old time religion anytime. Whoa---wait a minute didn't Early Christianity have problems between The HRCC and the Byzantine Church and didn't Catholics and Protestants have problems too? Oh no, even the Hindus with their caste system had strife and the Shintos created a war empire and didn't Ancient Israel and Judah go to war and didn't Zeus and Chronos have a fight as well as Jupiter and Saturn. Holy crap----will it ever stop!!!

We never hear much about Buddhism---oh forget it that's not a religion as more a way of life---no supreme being except nature.

It appears that where there is belief in a supreme entity, there is trouble----is there a message in this??!!

Perhaps "ThreatsWatch" could render a public service by providing a comprehensive primer on the Sunni/Shiite differences.

Blackspeare - our primer is in the works, as mentioned back in October. It'll be a comprehensive look at both Sunni and Shi'a and the various subsets, splinter groups, etc. that are related to each. Look for it after the coming of the new year.