Comments Clarified

Oct. 13, 2003

Pat Robertson clarifies comments on the State Department on The 700 Club.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va., October 13, 2003--

PAT ROBERTSON: A couple of weeks ago I had guest on with me named Joel Mowbray. He'd written a book called Dangerous Diplomacy. It was so scathing about the State Department that I characterized it in rather graphic terms, and I want to issue a correction to the State Department. I mentioned the question of nuking the State Department. Mr. Mowbray did not use the term "nuke," he said it should be gutted, and I think we ought to make that clear. Well here's a look at that sound bite.

PAT ROBERTSON: I read your book. When you get through, you say, "If I could just get a nuclear device inside of Foggy Bottom, I think that's the answer." I mean you get through this, and you say, "We've got to blow that thing up." I mean, is it as bad as you say?

JOEL MOWBRAY: It is. Everything I read in the book, sadly is true.

PAT ROBERTSON: Well, the State Department called those remarks "despicable." That was a characteristic of Mr. Mowbray's book, "despicable." Joining us today is the man who was with us on that interview. Joel, you're the author of Dangerous Diplomacy. I was trying to characterize the rather negative tone in your book in a laughing fashion. What's your opinion of this amazing controversy?

JOEL MOWBRAY: You know, Pat, I've got to say, I wrote a column about this weekend. I obviously would not have chosen the same words you did, and probably if you had to think about it, you might not as well. But it's amazing to me that they reacted as they did, because they never want to criticize, at least if you're a foreign dictatorship. Consider back in late 1988, back when Saddam Hussein killed 100,000 of his own people in a single month with the largest use of chemical weapons the world has seen since the end of the first world war, and the State Department's reaction was to fiercely fight any efforts to even issue a criticism of Saddam for killing 100,000 of his own people. And then in January of the following year, they wanted to hold a human rights conference in Baghdad to allow one of their people to hold hands and sing "Kumbayah" with Saddam five months after he had just killed 100,000 of his own people, and, of course, it didn't happen, because the person they wanted to send who was a political appointee, not part of the career culture, he said, "absolutely not," because he wasn't going to be used as a prop.

PAT ROBERTSON: Joel, in your book, in the latter part of it, you're talking about the Reagan Administration, and said they went around the cabinet table, and it was pretty much universal that they used the term "gutted." It's in your book, page about 231. What does that mean, to gut it? I think I know from a fishing experience, but what does that mean to you?

JOEL MOWBRAY: Well, what gutted means is you have to go in and you have to grab hold of the culture, and you have to challenge it and change it. But to paraphrase Ronald Reagan, personnel is culture. So you have to change the people of the State Department. It's not just good enough to try to work with them, because that's what George Schultz did, because he was very constrained and limited in his ability to change people, as are all secretaries of state. So what you have to do is try to bring in outside leadership, fresh blood and infuse the place with a different mind set, one that does not have this dual emphasis on stability and making friends. And you have to take the Ronald Reagan mind set of being able to look evil in the eye, called it for what it is, and then sit down at the negotiating table. The State Department thinks that you have to make nice with countries like North Korea and Iran, so they can hold hands and be friends with the Iranian Mullahs and the Syrian dictatorship. They don't like these people, but they think they need to be nice with them in order to have agreements with them. Whereas Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union "the evil empire," and he still sat down and had more agreements with them than any other president before him.

PAT ROBERTSON: In this pervasive culture, again reading your book and seeing the comments that Newt Gingrich and others have made about it and my own personal feelings from observation all around the world, there's a pervasive mind set that - when you talk about gutting, eviscerated, cleaning it out, it's almost like a top to bottom overhaul with a major portion of the current personnel gone and somebody else taking their place.

JOEL MOWBRAY: Well, you have to have that and even if it takes awhile, Congress is going to have to change the laws, because right now the Secretary of State doesn't even have the authority to fire a convicted felon, never mind the other people. He only has power over the very top tier of politically appointed positions. But Pat, just put this thing into perspective for you. Look how they reacted to your comments. Now consider this. Back in the year 2000, there was a Jordanian. This is a story I talk about in Dangerous Diplomacy. A Jordanian who came to the United States, having had a visa issued a few years before that. He was turned back by custom officials, and this is because in the time after getting his visa before coming to the US, he had been added to the terrorist watch list. Now this happened because there was a fax that had threatened to kill Americans and terrorist attacks that was sent from his office fax machine, and when the US Ambassador to Jordan, William Burns, heard about this, he raced over to this Jordanian's office and he said, "I'm sorry," and he issued a new visa.

PAT ROBERTSON: To a terrorist whose fax machine had been used to advocate the killing of Americans. Is that what you just said?

JOEL MOWBRAY: Yes. Obviously, it might not have been him, but there was certainly enough evidence to suggest we don't need to take the chance of having him in here, and Burns made sure he apologized and gave a new visa. It's one of many stories of that ilk that is in the book, Dangerous Diplomacy. And you know where William Burns is today?

PAT ROBERTSON: Where is that?

JOEL MOWBRAY: He's the head of the Near Eastern Affairs Bureau which means he oversees all of the Middle East, which means he's one of the most powerful people at the State Department, so people of that mind set get promoted and rise to the top.

PAT ROBERTSON: He's the one we crossed swords with relation to his statement that Christians didn't understand what was going on in Israel, and most of the Israeli conservatives didn't either. And then having been called on it, the State Department vehemently denied, the same press officer that came after me, he said this didn't happen, but we had the transcript from the actual meeting when he said those things in Jerusalem.

JOEL MOWBRAY: Pat, I had the same experience last year. Remember, I broke those stories about the Visa Express program in Saudi Arabia. It was not about credit cards. It's about giving visas to p people in the country that sent us 15 of 19 September 11th terrorists, where all those residents had to do was go to private Saudi travel agents even after 3000 Americans died in a single day. And I also got a hold of the visa application forms in the 9/11 terrorists. And remember what I found out after giving these to six different current and former counsel officers, not one of those visas should have been issued under the law, they did not qualify. Yet the State Department gave them anyway. People, by the way, don't need to take my word for it. There's a documents appendix in the back of Dangerous Diplomacy where they can see with their own eyes in black and white that these forms were so bad, they couldn't have gotten Block Buster cards to rent videos, yet they were given visas to come to the United States. But how did the State Department react to that? They gave the people in charge of Consuler Affairs, the division, they gave these people these visas to the terrorists and put these policies into place that made these happen. They gave them large cash bonuses of 10 to 15,000 dollars each for outstanding performance in the 12-month period that included September 11th. So not only did the State Department didn't think that their people didn't do anything wrong in getting visas that never should have been issued under the law to the 9/11 terrorists, but they rewarded them for it, 10 to 15,000 dollars each.

PAT ROBERTSON: Joel, you're one of the few that has issued some penetrating analysis of what's going on there. The book, ladies and gentlemen, is Dangerous Diplomacy. It's still available in the book stores of America, or you can get it on our web site. Joel Mowbray is a journalist who's been covering this field for awhile, and I appreciate his being here. And once again, I want to correct my remarks. Joel did not say "Nuke the State Department," so we've changed. We're not going to nuke it, we're going to gut it.