Congressman Gary Condit is on the House Intelligence Committee. Since
the disappearance of his lover, Chandra Levy, Condit’s secret sexual life has
become a favorite public bone in the dog days of summer. We watch as the
media dogs chew and gnaw at the bone. We watch as the whole nation enjoys
the flavor of scandal.

But nothing is ever digested. No nutrients are absorbed.

For the last two years this column has argued that America is wide
open to foreign spies. It should be obvious by now that the United States
has poor security. As a nation we cannot keep anything secret. We are open
to penetration and subversion on many levels. Our war plans are sitting in
Moscow and Beijing. Our best military technologies have been stolen and
replicated by the People’s Liberation Army.

Gary Condit’s position on the Intelligence Committee is significant in
this context. The country’s non-reaction to Condit’s misbehavior is also
significant. As with previous security breaches and scandals the danger will
be ignored, future abuses will continue, the rotten and leaky machinery of
state will lumber forward to certain disaster.

Our nation’s enemies rub their hands. It is easy to operate against
the “stupid Americans.” The keys to Congress are up for the taking – found in the sexual licentiousness of House and Senate members. “Find out if the
senator has a girl friend,” the Chinese intelligence boss says to his
lieutenants. “Find out if the senator likes little boys.”

“Find the skeletons in the closet,” say the spy chiefs in various
hostile countries. It is the standard order given to all intelligence
services. It is an order that echoes through the capitals of Iraq, Iran,
Libya, North Korea, Syria, Cuba, Vietnam, China and Russia.

Do you imagine that thousands of spies from dozens of countries never
get anywhere?

Many predators live in Washington aside from Gary Condit. In the hunt
for information and to recruit “agents of influence,” these predators seek
out reporters, politicians, business leaders, intelligence bureaucrats,
lobbyists, and members of Congress. If any of these show the slightest
weakness the predator will pounce.

You think this is a joke?

The intelligence services of Russia and China are no joke. They are
highly efficient at stealing information. They also manipulate our leaders,
our media and the direction of political debate in this country. Look, for
example, at the non-debate on issue after issue pertaining to Russia and
China. The Chinese communists shoot, torture and starve their citizens.
They prepare for war against America and their leaders openly state that war
is inevitable. But this doesn’t register in Washington.

Do you ever wonder why?

There has been no meaningful discussion in this country regarding the
Russian-Chinese threat. Far too many columnists in leading papers say it is
too early to speak of a Russian-Chinese alliance. Absurdities are repeated
again and again on television, in magazines, in newspapers day after day. It
is a steady drumbeat. We discuss President Bush’s drive for National Missile
Defense without discussing Russia’s longstanding missile defense program with
its thousands of dual purpose SAM/ABMs. We discuss arms control without
hardly mentioning Russia’s inability to comply with treaties long assumed to
be in effect. Facts vital to the national interest are consistently left in
the lurch.

Who is behind so many bungled thoughts?

The machinery of espionage, influence and subversion set up during the
Cold War did not evaporate in 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The old machinery is still there, operating on more advanced principles,
using new and improved disinformation. Just look at Russia’s KGB president,
Vladimir Putin.

A few dishonest assertions, a few damaging rumors, a little lie here
and there and intelligent discussion regarding Putin’s strategy comes to an
end. Look at any chat board on the Internet; a single disruptive person can
move a discussion off topic. Imagine what a chorus of disruptors can do – especially in Washington, D.C. Do you imagine that the Russians know nothing
of such games?

By recruiting agents through blackmail and bribery the Russians have
built a highway of misdirection. They can divert U.S. policy from its proper
path, forestall U.S. military programs, open the way to dangerous arms
control negotiations or treaties. Men with targets painted on them – men
like Gary Condit – are all too common in Washington. The spies of China and
Russia take aim. How can they miss their mark?

And now, last Sunday, our nation’s leading senator admitted all of
this on “Meet the Press.” When asked about the potential for blackmail
against Gary Condit, Sen. Tom Daschle replied that yes, Condit might be
vulnerable, “But there are probably others that are subject to blackmail as

Daschle understands the situation. Of course, he is not going to do
anything about it. In fact, Daschle doesn’t think this vulnerability to
blackmail is an issue at all. “The real issue,” said Daschle, “is how do you
find some solution to this tragedy. And the best way is to keep the focus
… on Chandra Levy.”

The main question is ignored. The senator doesn’t want an examination
of the blackmail issue. Don’t open that can of worms, he says. Let us
concentrate on finding the missing girl.

A state that will not defend itself against foreign spies, that will
not correct significant security weaknesses, is headed for serious trouble.
Our unwillingness to correct the blackmail problem in Congress reveals the
depth of our weakness. We have become a nation of self-deceivers. We cling
to our illusions, even as they are exploded before our eyes.

The republic is undefended.

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