The Wit and Wisdom of Bernie Kerik

Categories: Terror and War

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Kerik blames Hollywood for the frustration many Americans feel over the war on terror.


Just in time for the sixth anniversary of 9/11, this essay from Bernie Kerik landed in the Runnin' Scared inbox. Without further ado, we present the thoughts of the former NYPD top cop, corrections commissioner, and failed nominee for Homeland Security director, who is presently awaiting a pending federal indictment on income tax invasion.

On Hollywood:

I understand the frustration the American people may have with the war on terror and the battle in Iraq, but I’m stunned by those in our own country that feel the need to portray us as the bad guys. Hollywood is running short on film at the rate they are producing movies and documentaries against our troops and our government. Why isn’t their focus on the radical Islamic movement against the west or the millions of stories behind each one of Saddam Hussein’s murder victims or those he displaced?

Defining our enemies:

The enemy is not the United States or the Muslim religion.

A lot of people confuse radical Islamists with Islam itself, but did anybody need any clarification that the U.S. is not the enemy?

This enemy is using our frustration and our own Constitution against us
How is the Constitution holding up these days?

On winning in Iraq:


I believe that many of our political leaders have given up, or let’s say given in, politically, only emboldening our enemies both here and abroad. They believe it is better to cut and run and act like all is well

Did Kerik do his part in Iraq? Here's what former Washington Post Baghdad bureau chief, Rajiv Chandrasekaran, the author of Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq’s Green Zone, had to say on Democracy Now about Kerik's performance training the Iraqi police force

What did the White House do? It sent just one guy. It sent Bernie Kerik. And when Bernie arrived in Baghdad, his top priority was going on television and saying, 'Things are better than you think they are. Things are improving here.' He really was doing a lot of PR work. And then he would go off on very sort of showy overnight raids to try to bust up some kidnapping gangs, doing some sort of street police work, and he didn't really do a lot of this in collaboration with the military police officers who were assigned to secure Baghdad. So there was always a lot of tension going on there between, you know, the people who were really responsible for security and what Bernie's guys were doing.

But what this really meant, Amy, was that because he was up all night, during the daytime, when the important job of training and vetting the Iraqi police was to happen, he was off in his trailer resting. And, you know, we now can agree that the most important thing that American personnel should be doing in Iraq is helping to train Iraqi security forces to be self-sustaining, to be able to secure that country on its own and to vet and remove the bad apples. It’s something, you know, we're finally starting to do now with focus and intensity. Well, we should have been doing that from the very beginning, and we lost several valuable, crucial months, because Bernie Kerik and some of the people that worked with him did not devote enough attention and resources to this really important job.


Here's Bernie's full 9/11 letter:


At 9:03AM on the morning of September 11th, 2001, I stood in the middle of West Broadway in lower Manhattan, just one block north of the World Trade Center, watching in disbelief as United Airlines Flight 175 exploded through the north side of the tower above me. The only thing more frightening than the massive explosion was the sight of innocent civilians jumping to their death from the two mammoth towers. Over the next 48 hours, I remember the feelings of horror, denial, anger and desire to hunt down those responsible.

Three days later on September 14th, I stood with President George W. Bush and Mayor Rudy Giuliani just yards from what the world would come to know as Ground Zero, the enormous crater caused from the implosion of Towers I and II. As the President thanked the first responders, he promised every one of them that he would never forget; he would do everything in his power to go after those that attacked us and he would try to prevent an attack like this from ever happening again on U.S. soil. In the days, weeks and months that followed, I escorted members of the US House and Senate, heads of state from around the world and international corporate leaders to Ground Zero to see the aftermath of the attacks. During their visits, just about every one of them endorsed and agreed with the President’s promise.

So here we are six years later and it horrifies me to think that with the exception of our President and a few others, there aren’t many left standing by that promise. Granted, it hasn’t been easy… fighting an enemy we can’t see and don’t understand, the battles in Afghanistan and Iraq competing with the battles in the halls of Congress, the lack of international support and an imperfect war against terror that the political pundits use today to fuel fires that will keep the 2008 Presidential race ablaze. At the end of the day, as we approach the 6th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks against our country, I suppose my biggest question is: Do we have the resolve to win this war and defeat an enemy that is by far, the worst this nation has ever seen.

I believe that many of our political leaders have given up, or let’s say given in, politically, only emboldening our enemies both here and abroad. They believe it is better to cut and run and act like all is well… I suppose then we could return to the comfort we all had on the morning of September 10th 2001. We weren’t in Afghanistan or Iraq, we weren’t aggressively pursuing Osama bin Laden and we weren’t doing much at all to combat the terror threat against us, and yet we suffered the most substantial terror attack in world history.

For all those that endorsed and called for the invasion of Iraq only to cower to the intensified fighting that rages on there today, I would remind them that our principal enemy there is Al Qaeda and radical Islamic fundamentalists, who, like those on 9/11, still follow the calling for Jihad by bin Laden and Ayman Al Zawahiri, the same men that masterminded the 2001 attacks against us.

In an attempt to walk a fine political line, many now say that the invasion of Afghanistan was justified but Iraq was not, based on flawed intelligence. They conveniently ignore Saddam’s history of violations with the UN Security Counsel, his funding of terror, and the fact that he used chemical weapons on his own people; atrocities that he was tried, convicted and hanged for.

It’s ironic that many of the critics of the invasion of Iraq today are the same people that are calling for an invasion of Darfur and an end to a regime that is committing atrocities and genocide of hundreds of thousands and the displacement of millions. Saddam Hussein was doing exactly that and yet the critics against Iraq use the intelligence argument as a reason why the invasion was wrong, or as their justification to cut and run. Are Iraqi lives any cheaper than those in the Sudan? I don’t think so but unfortunately for the people dying in the Sudan, these days many of our political leaders don’t have the courage to make a decision without first taking a poll to decide whether they should do the right thing, life or death included.

I understand the frustration the American people may have with the war on terror and the battle in Iraq, but I’m stunned by those in our own country that feel the need to portray us as the bad guys. Hollywood is running short on film at the rate they are producing movies and documentaries against our troops and our government. Why isn’t their focus on the radical Islamic movement against the west or the millions of stories behind each one of Saddam Hussein’s murder victims or those he displaced?

The enemy is not the United States or the Muslim religion. It is not the people in the Arab region or Gulf States, but rather groups of Islamic radical fundamentalists that promote their hatred for the west and those that disagree with their beliefs through a distorted interpretation of the Quran. It is an enemy that has not only attacked the United States and other western targets around the globe, but also their own in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and other predominantly Muslim countries.

This enemy is using our frustration and our own constitution against us, and has proven that they have far more patience than we do as they have demonstrated in the past, dating back to the bombing of the US Embassy in Beirut; the Al Khobar Towers, our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the USS Cole, and the “93” bombing of the World Trade Center. We ignored their threats and their acts and sat patiently by as they planned the September 11th attack.

Today as we reflect on the attacks of 9/11 and the six years that have past, let us remember the patriots we lost on that day… the first responders and the innocents. Let’s not forget the brave men and women of New York City’s Police and Fire Departments, the Port of Authority Police and other first responders who conducted one of the greatest rescue missions in our country’s history. We should also extend our thanks and gratitude to those fighting in this war both here in the United States and around the world and pray for those that have made the ultimate sacrifice and for the families they have left behind.

But most importantly on this sixth anniversary of 9/11, let us use this as a reminder that we are still very much at war in Iraq, Afghanistan and in other parts of the globe with the very same enemy that attacked us on that September morning. Al Qaeda and Islamic radicals continue to call for spectacular attacks against us and for the death and demise of our country. Retreat in this war will only embolden them and give them encouragement and the time they need to plan their next assault.

There has never been a more important time for our political leaders and our country to unite to achieve victory, for without victory in this battle and against this enemy, our country as we know it today will never be the same.


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