|L. Paul Bremer|
Bremer was the chairman of the bipartisan National Commission on
Terrorism. In June 2000, the commission published a report that
predicted a terrorist attack on the United States on the scale of Pearl
Harbor. Bremer previously served as ambassador-at-large for
counterterrorism in the Reagan administration from 1986 to 1989 and U.S.
ambassador to the Netherlands from 1983 to 1986. Bremer tells FRONTLINE
that the "progressive degeneration" of American intelligence over the
past 25 years is clear and has created a "risk-averse" culture at the
CIA in terms of fighting terrorism.
Director of NSC Intelligence from 1984 to 1987, Cannistraro went on to
serve as chief of operations for the CIA's Counterterrorism Center and
to lead the CIA's investigation into the bombing of Pan Am 103. In this
interview, he discusses the Reagan administration's response to
terrorism in the 1980s and the factors that shaped its policy; the role
of U.S. intelligence in combating terrorism, then and now; and what
lessons have been learned, both by the U.S. and by terrorists who would
Retired Marine Lt. Col. Bill Cowan, who served three tours of duty in
Vietnam and was awarded the Silver Star for valor in combat, was sent to
Beirut by the Pentagon in 1983. A military intelligence officer at the
time, Cowan was charged with finding out who was responsible for bombing
the U.S. Embassy in April of that year. Cowan says that when the U.S.
military didn't respond to the many terrorist attacks against American
targets during the 1980s, terrorists came to expect no retaliatory
action from the U.S.
Hougan is a former Washington editor of Harper's Magazine and the author
of two books about the intelligence community -- Spooks, about the use
of intelligence agents in private industry, and Secret Agenda, his 1984
book about Watergate. Hougan, who says that the Israeli invasion of
Lebanon had disastrous effects on the U.S. and its military policies,
says the U.S. military should deal with Osama bin Laden with "knives and
spies, not with lawyers."
|Robert C. "Bud" McFarlane|
Robert C. "Bud" McFarlane served as national security adviser to
President Ronald Reagan from 1983 to 1985. During that time, the
administration faced the deadly attack on the U.S. Marine barracks in
Beirut; the abduction of the CIA's Beirut station chief, William
Buckley; the bombing of the U.S. Embassy annex northeast of Beirut; the hijacking
of TWA 847; and the commandeering of the Achille Lauro in the
Mediterranean Sea. Here, McFarlane offers his personal perspective on
how the debates within the Reagan administration shaped the U.S.
response to these events and others, and led to the U.S. policy of arms
sales to Iran in exchange for hostages -- a policy McFarlane was largely
responsible for carrying out.
Melhem is a Lebanese journalist who works as Washington bureau chief for
the Lebanese daily newspaper As-Safir. He also reports for Al-Qabas, a
newspaper based in Kuwait, and for Radio Montecarlo. In this interview,
Melhem reviews the evolution of Arab and Muslim nations' perspective on
U.S. policies and actions in the Middle East, especially during
the U.S. intervention in Lebanon during the 1980s. He also explores how
Osama bin Laden and his contemporaries differ from the militant Islamic
movements such as the Lebanese Hezbollah, which confronted the Reagan
A former U.S. State Department coordinator for counterterrorism during
the 1980s, Oakley also has served as U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, Zaire
and Somalia. The situation with the Taliban and Osama bin Laden in
Afghanistan today, Oakley says, is similar in
many ways to Beirut's landscape in the '80s.
Weinberger was secretary of defense in the Reagan administration from
1981 to 1987, during the U.S. military intervention in Beirut. He tells
FRONTLINE that the lesson he took from the bombing of the Marine
barracks was that the U.S. must only use combat forces in a clearly
defined mission and only as a last resort. In a famous 1984 speech given
to the National Press Club, Weinberger advocated restraint in what
became known as the Weinberger Doctrine, which argued for limiting the
use of combat forces to U.S. national interests. Much has been made over
the years about the debate between Weinberger and Reagan's former
Secretary of State George Shultz over the use of military force versus
diplomacy when dealing with terrorism. In his interview, Weinberger calls the
perceived conflict between himself and Shultz "largely mythological" and
says he was arguing against the "blind use" of military force.
An assistant managing editor of investigative news for The Washington
Post, Woodward is the author of several books on U.S. politics, leaders
and government including, Veil: The Secret Wars of the CIA 1981-1987.
Here, Woodward discusses the "one theme" that informed how the Reagan
White House dealt with terrorism, the deep policy divisions within the
administration, and its overall inconsistency and half-measures in
pursuing a tough counterrorism policy.
lessons from the 1980s +
links & readings +
tapes & transcripts
pbs online +
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