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Oliver North
Oliver North
2 May 2013
Being Presidential

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Boston Massacre

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What Were You Thinking?


WASHINGTON — My dear friend and fellow Marine Joe Foss — a Medal of Honor recipient — would ask me occasionally, "What were you thinking?" The question usually was prompted by my missed shot on a hunt or when he heard me make a confusing comment on radio or television. Given the recent revelations of bad behavior, incompetence, corruption, waste and fraud — and a deluge of mystifying and misleading explanations — the potentates of the press are asking the wrong questions. The American people need to ask our nation's leaders and the masters of the so-called mainstream media, "What were you thinking?" A few recent examples:

—The Secret Service scandal. On April 11, security cameras in Cartagena, Colombia, captured images of 11 Secret Service agents and at least 10 U.S. military personnel in the company of prostitutes. Set aside for a moment the lack of moral judgment by the participants or how an "advance team of experts" for the upcoming Summit of the Americas could be ignorant of security cameras. In the aftermath of this incident and an ongoing investigation, the president and likely GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney — also a Secret Service protectee — both have told reporters repeatedly that they still "have confidence" in Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan. "Why?" That ought to be the next question. But that isn't asked.

Perhaps the most unusual response to this event came from the lips of Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. At an April 16 news conference on the Middle East, the general was asked for his reaction to the caper in Cartagena. His answer was blatantly political: "We let the boss down, because nobody's talking about what went on in Colombia other than this incident." Let "the boss" down? What about potentially catastrophic security breaches, the incredible lack of judgment or even letting down the American people? But those questions aren't asked, either.

—Hillary's high jinks. On the evening of April 14, day one of the two-day, 33-nation summit, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton apparently decided to take the heat off the Secret Service by performing for the cameras herself. Her antics at Cafe Havana nightclub were reminiscent of government bureaucrats on a taxpayer-funded General Services Administration boondoggle or a sorority gal at a frat party.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner dismissed the exhibition, saying: "I can confirm that she did indeed have a very good time and was just enjoying some of the nightlife in Cartagena.

... There's nothing to it." In a subsequent interview on CNN, Clinton laughed and said: "It was a lot of fun. We had a very good time just enjoying beautiful Cartagena."

—Offending allies. At the conclusion of the Cartagena summit, during a joint news conference with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, President Barack Obama was asked by a member of the Latin American press corps about future U.S. policy toward Cuba and the Malvinas. Apparently unwitting to the fact that April marks the 30th anniversary of the bloody fight to retake the Falkland Islands from Argentine invaders, our head of state replied, "In terms of the Maldives or the Falklands — whatever your preferred term — our position on this is that we are going to remain neutral."

This had to disappoint our British allies. President Ronald Reagan backed them in the two-month operation — during which they lost more than 250 soldiers, sailors and airmen. Obama's statement also had to stun any student of geography, because the Maldives are an island chain south of India. There was no follow-up question for our Nobel laureate.

—Afghanistan. The craziness in Cartagena did serve one purpose for the O-Team. It distracted attention from at least seven nearly simultaneous terror attacks April 15 in Kabul, Jalalabad, Gardez and Pul-e-Alam, the capital of Logar province. U.S. and NATO officials praised the effectiveness of Afghan national security forces for their "effective response" and noted that there were no American or NATO casualties. But Afghan President Hamid Karzai said the attacks were proof of an "intelligence failure for us and especially NATO."

Pentagon officials deny this charge but acknowledge there was "very little 'chatter' in advance of the attack." Unfortunately, this admission confirms what nobody seems ready to admit: The fight in the shadows of the Hindu Kush is dogged by inadequate human intelligence. This crucial deficiency will exacerbate the danger to U.S. and NATO troops as they begin their withdrawal from Afghanistan this summer.

By the end of the week, even this story was eclipsed by the publication of 2-year-old photos showing U.S. troops posing with the remains of dead suicide bombers. The reaction to these images by senior government officials, from the commander in chief on down, is to express "shock," apologize and promise "to hold those responsible accountable." But events this week indicate that those "in charge" need to ask themselves, "What were we thinking?" And members of the so-called mainstream media ought to remind them all that leadership begins at the top.

Oliver North is the host of "War Stories" on Fox News Channel, the founder and honorary chairman of Freedom Alliance, and the author of "American Heroes in Special Operations." To find out more about Oliver North and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at



3 Comments | Post Comment
Do you really think it would be different if someone else were in charge. Hillary is a political appointment and wouldn't be there, but the rest of the incidents are non-political positions. There were bad pictures taken with prisoners during Bush's years. It does seem as if the media is lothe to hold their guy accountable while they would attack Bush with fury. But in the end, I really don't see much difference between the parties and funky behavior of the troops.
In the end, it is the response that counts. Strong just leadership would hold people accountable in fact it is important to hold your own to the higher level of accountability to avoid an appearance of favoritism. Again, I really don't see either party steeping up the plate when it comes to accountability of their own.
I don't know what these people were thinking either, it is like they are so filled with arrogance, that don't feel anyone can touch them, they just don't appear to care.
C Moellers
Comment: #1
Posted by: C Moellers
Thu Apr 19, 2012 7:46 PM
Oliver L. North - now a radio talk show host and columnist, he was at the center of the Iran-Contra spotlight as the point man for both covert activities. A Marine serving on the NSC staff, he steadfastly maintained that he received high-level approval for everything he did, and that "the diversion was a diversion." He was found guilty on three counts at a criminal trial but had those verdicts overturned on the grounds that his protected congressional testimony might have influenced his trial. He ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate from Virginia in 1996. (See previous Electronic Briefing Book)

And this yokel was pardoned by "mission accomplished", the selected President: Bush, the Dick Cheney mini-me, "What were they thinking", Ollie, What were you thinking? writing an article criticizing anyone?, you should be doing 50 to life in a military stockade for hmmmmm, just about everything.....

"Conservative" Mantra: I am a hypocrite, I can judge others, when I am in violation of everyone of my militay oaths..
Comment: #2
Posted by: Bloom Hilda
Fri Apr 20, 2012 5:44 AM
Bloom. Maybe that is why he feels he is qualified to ask those questions. It would be very hard indeed for someone who has never made mistakes to recognize and advise others.

You seem ready to judge so that must mean that you have never made mistakes. What in this article could you possibly disagree with?

Oh wait you did not disagree. You simple maligned the writer.
Comment: #3
Posted by: david
Fri Apr 20, 2012 9:58 AM
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