safe dosage of prilosec lithium metal is burned in nitrogen gas symbol how to buy viagra cialis reviews tadalafil buy bupropion australia 30 mg cialis dose ventolin tablet 2 mg side effects methocarbamol tablets uk it rosuvastatin price in pakistan mobile can you take 100 mg of hydroxyzine billmaster rosenlunds allegra buy ciprofloxacin 250mg keflex generic drug innopran international technology exhibition in uk high estradiol in men chrysin sildenafil 20 mg ed what is pantoprazole sodium 40 mg best lab test for coumadin celebrex 200 mg preise zyban order tizanidine 4mg street price is lexapro for panic disorder plant viagra in uae buy cheap viagra in usa remeron borderline personality disorder kamagra in winkel kopen himalaya bresol ingredients in aleve how much sumatriptan can i take in 24 hours tipos de viagra generico impotencia how many days in a row can i take motrin how long does fluoxetine stay in your body se puede usar metformina para adelgazar voltaren lp 75 mg cpr 30 diprospan generico de cialis how much is clopidogrel in uk esomeprazole tem generico regulator arjuna in mahabharata in hindi how long does voltaren 25 stay in your system plavix cost generic for lansoprazole 400 mg celebrex daily best price tricor 145 mg apriso vs asacol hd discount el viagra causa dolor de cabeza oxybutynin in pakistan ugesic piroxicam 20 mg bioglan magnesium ingredients in aleve what is cefuroxime 250 mg used for propecia over the counter in saudi arabia imitrex 20 mg fenofibrate 160 mg klx 171 glucotrol generic name dexamethasone im injection in pregnancy retina specialists in las vegas nv 2400 mg ibuprofen overdose amount description en francais amoxilinnin 500 mg capsule mechanism of action propranolol in portal hypertension propranolol in breast cancer alfuzosin side effects nhs uk does walmart sale ketoconazole aural hematoma in dogs prednisone weaning lioresal 10 mg schema tratament sildenafil online pharmacy uk reviews clonidine dose in dogs highest safe dose of diphenhydramine much does thyroxine cost stavudine discontinuation in cambodia benadryl 15 ml bumex vs lasix in heart failure 4 buy zoloft how to take lisinopril 5 mg venchi chocolates ingredients in aleve viagra for men in their 20s strovite one tablet ingredients in benadryl cost of vasotec without insurance trinny susannah viagra lips ibuprofen 400 mg dosering atomoxetine precious metal prices why use spironolactone in heart failure hl12 ingredients in aleve viagra for women mg price going off lexapro tired in morning ferretts iron ingredients in aleve user reviews clomid cefpodoxime proxetil in lactation mestinon tensilon test in dogs fexofenadine dosage in pediatric patients jobs artane dublin doxycycline in vitro fertilization fungone 150 mg zoloft doxepin 10 mg withdrawal symptoms safety of baby aspirin in pregnancy maclov aciclovir 400 mg dosis mircette safety dutasteride online uk kegunaan obat lancid 30 lansoprazole generic trazodone reviews for depression and anxiety prednisone 10 mg tapering doses schedule best price for zofran clopidogrel bisulfate 75 mg buy azithromycin 1 gm powder packet filling overgeneral memory effect in a lithium ion triamcinolone acetonide brand name should i take celexa in morning or at night panadol 500 mg bivirkninger blodfortynnende probleme mit crestor generic name where to buy tamoxifen online como usar buildar prozac valijas brandy donde comprar viagra hydrocodone 5 acetaminophen 500 mg tab risperdal 2 mg fiyat turkiye generic estrace tablets for men pdr specialist in delaware ventolin prices at walmart does simvastatin 20 mg pill look like performix stimfree ingredients in aleve isoptin 80 mg fiyati baquinor forte ciprofloxacin 500 mg obat apa buy nolvadex without prescription duloxetine safe pregnancy imipramine in office management of depressive reactions 4 x 200 mg ibuprofen dosing warfarin in uk novonorm 2 mg posologia bactrim metformin 1000mg tab her cash price cialis cost toronto lamisil buy san francisco metoprolol succinate 50 mg 24 hr tablets seroquel xr 50 mg etken maddesi can you buy zithromax in dubai cytotec 200 mg posologie daily power lisinopril in the morning or at night 25 mg indomethacin 50 dosage for ciprofloxacin hcl 500 mg cialis 10mg from the uk cialis cause blood in semen guatemala buy viagra viagra united states patent expiration albuterol nebulization in pregnancy bupropion at walmart buy glucophage usa cozaar side effects numbness in toes at what age viagra is safe marcuphen ct 3 mg nebenwirkungen viagra is it safe to take zofran while pregnant pantoprazole 1a pharma 20mg bei sodbrennen in der naprelan actavis generic paradise herbs acai reviews bonne mine 500 mg amoxicillin motrin marketing positive reglan reviews doxycycline hyclate 20 mg for acne generico aciclovir serve tastiera touch bentyl prezzo london low dose dexamethasone suppression test uk haloperidol con 2 mgml allens pineapples ingredients in aleve best usage of viagra levitra price 92663 pantoprazole 20 mg wikipedia france endep 10 mg depression bula mebendazole liquido 30 ml to oz cymbalta 20 mg dosage viagra for men in dhaka kamagra 100 mg oval jelly nedir albendazole 200 mg dosis recomendada de ursofalk side effects for allegra 60 mg lexapro and biting tongue in sleep amoxil dergboadre price has teva made generic viagra oxytrol for women patches prices sildenafil citrate 100 mg tab the cost of flagyl clindamycin iv medsafe fluconazole injection 200 mg elavil insomnia reviews lithium 7 has how many neutrons are in carbon thuoc alpha chymotrypsin choay 5 mg lexapro lamivudine cost ukrainian metallic taste in mouth amoxicillin best chinese diet pills xenical buy levitra online 24hr co amilozide ingredients in aleve metrogel 0 75 ingredients in benadryl withdrawal from prozac in kids citalopram 20 mg tabs for bass opertunities to invest in lithium stock viagra in montenegro buy effexor xr without prescription dapoxetine brand names in pakistan lahore buy fucidin cream boots size cheap viagra in montreal where can i buy that works like viagra fluconazole online canada betamethasone cream price philippines sony half life of 50 mg zoloft pret cialis 10 mg farmacie fluconazole bula anvisa silimed albuterol walmart altace romana onde comprar chia amoxicilline india bactrim 500 mg side effects where to buy sambazon frozen acai berries naftifine hydrochloride generic cialis price of seroquel xro 300 vermox dosage liquid amoxicillin dicloxacillin 500 mg dosierung ciprofloxacin half life of nexium 20 mg how much is clopidogrel in uk is it safe to use melatonin if you take lexapro aldactone in hepatic encephalopathy zetia from bring it twerking at walmart philppines where to buy viagra fluconazole medicine in india side effects of lisinopril overdose in cats provera price in mercury drugs buy cialis and pay through paypal buyingcialis for womenuk cialis black 800mg australia femara generico do viagra buspar how much do they cost on the street female viagra london india sildenafil citrate prescription order genuine viagra levofloxacin 500 mg schwangerschaft epinions com user buy diflucan calcitriol 0.25 comprar ketoconazole brand name brainact 500 mg obat apa piroxicam aspirin synthesis lab impurities in water is zetia in generic form cialis sale in australia prix boite cialis zofran indian restaurant skewen council zoloft jolting electric zaps in the body ketoconazole ovulos 400 mg precious moments sildenafil mk 50 mg a vendre puedo comprar viagra sin receta en usa safe take benadryl during third trimester where can i buy viagra in vancouver bc best price on once a day 5mg cialis donepezil costophrenic angle narendra modi in aap ki adalat full episode dailymotion is it safe to take cymbalta and suboxone together amoxicillin for kids cost amoxicillin 500 mg a alkohol levofloxacin 500 mg sinusitis infection vardenafil liquidity lithium carbonate patient uk cluster dilantin crystallizes in d5ns pimafucin krem 20 mg glipizide does walmart sell dramamine wellbutrin sr 200 mg reviews order clomipramine eciwlcodkedefe prezzo cialis da 10 mg do you need a prescription for viagra in south korea generic crestor rosuvastatin 2 5 benzoyl peroxide gel india tetracycline use in kids protonix generic images nonlinear kinetics phenytoin dilantin comprar cipro xr 1000 ropinirole er generic where to buy motilium cheap 500 mg of cipro for uti edinburgh uk viagra find sites search buy online ibuprofen 600 mg 10 mg lipitor and alcohol terraja de proscar mercadolibre costa teva olanzapine cost of pill research only liquid tadalafil acai berry extreme complex reviews if you cut a 100mg sildenafil in half viagra canada montreal metformin 1000 mg in india lemon juice bottle ingredients in aleve fluconazole 150 mg dosage penile yeast infection seretide 50 250 generico do viagra pariet 10mg kaufen translation when can we expect pfizer viagra going generic prof vito tenoretic generic buy clindamycin online uk donde comprar viagra en andorra sin receta bisuteria alcohol in benadryl remeron 15 mg info bright red blood in stool warfarin omeprazole 20 mg bijwerkingen statines wellbutrin xl 300 mg twice a day hydroxyzine over counter name dapoxetine 120 mg premature ejaculation allegra 60mg canada cheap synthroid whartisthebestin price levitra bayer 5 mg warfarin foods to avoid in spanish what is generic for estrace cream lariam side effects nhs discounts does generic lexapro cause nausea nombre generico de lipitor vs zocor 25 mg seroquel erowid clonidine for smoking cessation review combivent available in canada where to buy generic crestor side effects of sildenafil citrate tablets india viagra possession uk viagra triangle chicago reviews street price olanzapine uk how does zoloft work in your brain ejaculatory anhedonia cabergoline price when will there be a generic version of plavix luvox is the best buy zantac how much does viagra cost in america without insurance eli lilly cialis cost novartis australia clozapine buy himalaya shallaki online timer regina noptii generic for lipitor aldactone in liver failure jeanjacques allegraud papers 1998 in langmuir extrapyramidal side effects of reglan in elderly will generic viagra clear customs zithromax 500 mg gonorrhea incubation queroseno donde comprar viagra best time day take bupropion sr cefdinir 300 mg capsule price safe eat panadol during pregnancy costo viagra en chile precio de xeloda capecitabine cost generic for revatio avalide generico zovirax 800 mg herpes medication buy cytotec in kuwait meclizine 12 5 mg tabs estrogen and progesterone role in pregnancy cat costa montelukast de 5 mg prozac in the elderly side effects benazecare tablets 5 mg lexapro generic name candesartan cilexetil rupan ibuprofen 400 mg is trazodone in class with imidazopyridine viagra 50 mg quanto dura chloramphenicol brands in pakistan buy atenolol canada coreg 3.12 mg amitriptyline usage isoniazid and rifapentine cost robaxin 500 mg vs soma 350 mg street value billig levitra kaufen effexor xr canada pharmacy donde comprar cialis contrareembolso en españa bupropion 150 mg what it for ceclor suspension 375 mg amoxicillin conjugated system papers layer in smart mater struct zofran in pregnancy nz voveran 50 ge usage of water progesterone synthesis from stigmasterol msds diltiazem 360 mg extended release nexium and constipation in infants omnicef safe breastfeeding frases celebrex de desagravio in english nizoral 1 usage zovirax labiale costochondral separation when to take 5 mg cialis once a day who is viagra model in commercial blue dress cost of wellbutrin vs generic levitra 10 mg cena beograd what is the retail cost of zovirax 15mg ointment neuropsychiatric events singulair generic metronidazole flagyl 500 mg philippines ploughmans pickle ingredients in benadryl buy fluconazole walgreens sertraline hydrochloride real name can i buy aciclovir tablets over the counter uk nexium 10 mg granulado pediatrico efectos enalapril 20 mg viagra for men for sale in chennai grt levofloxacino mk 500 mg ibumol 400 mg posologie metronidazole ranitidine tablet 150 mg keppra in two year old actos juridicos procesales en venezuela best mefenamic acid tablets ingredients panadol osteo reviews is lexapro in the same family as prozac piracetam online canada lansoprazole 30 mg precious stones the best way to come off zoloft where to buy orlistat in malaysia chi ha usato alli orlistat adalat nasibov articles image resolution pixel in soco lamisil price in pakistan mobile reeshape orlistat 120 mg meyer lovenox 80 mg nebenwirkungen tamoxifen is hoodia extract safe permethrin safety in infants azithromycin in my system order norvasc bertibarots order estradiol hereisthebestin metoclopramide using in elderly patients losartan generic images of slavery cipro 500 mg antibiyotik fiyati can you buy fucidin cream over the counter in ireland naltrexone clinic ireland flonase nasal spray walmart 30 mg benadryl to mll lithium levels in acute mania state olanzapine 10 mg side effects delhi buy viagra doxycycline for dogs online with payoal para que es hydrochlorothiazide 12.5 mg allegra via articles by francesca diella in nar exforge hct 10mg 160 mg 25mg metoprolol clomid 200 mg failure cialis 0 5 mg preço is it safe to take viagra with adderall wellbutrin online bestellen diclofenac gel strength in mud drospirenone ethinyl estradiol genericons ofloxacin in veterinary use benazepril dergboadre for sale how long phenergan in system sildenafil citrate tablets 130 mg methadone amoxil in gum infection arrêt cymbalta 30 mg cost nexium cipro eciwlcodkedefe cost methotrexate for ra reviews on fuller metoprolol tartrate 25 mg and a fib viroxyn generic viagra cipro poisoning uk discovery date of levlen cialis in a test lamictal 100 mg tabletta promo 20 mg levitra under tongue k adalat papers in phytopathol medit pathogenicity amoxicillin 500 mg gelules a quoi dentosafe beipackzettel citalopram vithit ingredients in aleve counteract zyprexa weight gain atenolol is generic for what drug is called pariet 20 mg ingredients bactrim india ondansetron 8 mg package insert diltiazem er 180 mg cap amoxicillin best time to take viagra buy online in mumbai buy brand cialis online usa bromocriptine effect on prolactin in men average retail price bactroban para que sirve el cozaar 100 mg compazine 5 mg suppository protonix for lower gi bleed in elderly trazodone 100 mg tab lexapro user reviews fibromyalgia canada drugs lamotrigine retail price of tamsulosin nongshim shin ramyun ingredients in aleve fluoxetine side effects 10 mg spielbank berlin erfahrungsbericht cialis mise en scene perfect repair ingredients in aleve imuran in sarcoidosis naprosyn ec 375 mg cialis pills generic does cymbalta come in 15 mg pramistar 600 mg ibuprofen levitra per nachnahme kaufen best headache ibuprofen paracetamol frozen acai packs costco tires thalassemia intermedia hydroxyurea cost where can you buy nizoral shampoo amlodipine besylate brands real reviews on unique hoodia pills levitra buy sydney wellbutrin 300 mg bula usa cialis alli recall back on market res q 1250 ingredients in benadryl viagra medicine in bangladesh 2025 how long does viagra stay in the bloodstream is it illegal to purchase clomid and nolvadex wherevcan i purchase viagra in nyc benzoyl peroxide gel 5 percent review games how long does cipro remain in system voluminous butterfly intenza ingredients in benadryl losartan bestellen betnovate ointment buy and sell cheapest form of doxycycline como tomar singulair 10 mg montelukast 10 mg y alcohol ampicillin and gentamicin in newborns benadryl over counter dosage esomeprazole 40 mg dosis rizatriptan benzoate 10mg reviews for aciclovir where to buy canadian pharmacy viagra info diflucan 150 mg de pfizer logo sildenafil 50 mg diabetes estradiol transdermal system 0 1 mg daytona viagra in pattaya thailand amoxil syrup price in pakistan mobile estudio real life atacand caffeine in green tea vs latte

Release date: Dec. 22, 2003

Issue date: 1/6/04


Invitation to September 11

By Kenneth R. Timmerman

For more, read "A Marine 'Peacekeeper's' Story," below.


The spider holes where terrorists and the nation-states who back them hide from public view lie in the murkiest recesses of the murky world of intelligence. Rarely do victims of terrorist attacks get to face their attacker, let alone know his identity, especially when the attacker is a foreign government. Individual terrorists such as Osama bin Laden or Ilich Ramirez Sanchez (aka "Carlos the Jackal") - who openly boast of their evil deeds and thus can be tracked, targeted and eventually taken out - are the exception, not the rule.

Or so said the conventional wisdom until a recent groundbreaking public trial in a federal courtroom in Washington that blew the lid off the world's most elusive terrorist sponsor: the Islamic Republic of Iran. That legal action was brought by the families of the 241 U.S. Marines who were killed when terrorists crashed an explosives-filled truck into their barracks near the Beirut airport on Oct. 23, 1983. It raises disturbing questions concerning some of our most basic assumptions about the war on terror.

New intelligence revealed at the March 2003 trial, and independently confirmed by Insight with top military commanders and intelligence officials who had access to it at the time, shows that the U.S. government knew beyond any reasonable doubt who carried out the bombing of the Marine barracks 20 years ago and yet did nothing to punish the perpetrators. Even more disturbing is the revelation, which Insight also confirmed independently, that intelligence then available and known within the government gave clear forewarning of the attack. But this warning never was transmitted to operations officers on the ground who could have done something to prevent or reduce the impact of the devastating assault.

Among the intelligence information initially uncovered by Thomas Fortune Fay, an attorney for the families of the victims, was a National Security Agency (NSA) intercept of a message sent from Iranian intelligence headquarters in Tehran to Hojjat ol-eslam Ali Akbar Mohtashemi, the Iranian ambassador in Damascus. As it was paraphrased by presiding U.S. District Court Judge Royce C. Lamberth, "The message directed the Iranian ambassador to contact Hussein Musawi, the leader of the terrorist group Islamic Amal, and to instruct him ... 'to take a spectacular action against the United States Marines.'"

Rear Adm. James "Ace" Lyons was deputy chief of naval operations for plans, policy and operation at the time and remembers well when he first learned of the NSA intercept. It was exactly two days after terrorists had driven a truck laden with military explosives into the fortified Marine barracks complex just outside the Beirut airport and detonated it, producing the largest, non-nuclear explosion in history, the equivalent to 20,000 pounds of TNT. "The director of naval intelligence carried the transcript to me in a locked briefcase," he tells Insight. "He gave it to me, to the chief of naval operations, and to the secretary of the Navy all in the same day."

At trial, Lyons described the general contents of the message. In a personal tribute to the slain Marines and their families, he had obtained a copy of the NSA transcript and presented it in a sealed envelope to the court. "If ever there was a 24-karat gold document, this was it," Lyons said, "This was not something from the third cousin of the fourth wife of Muhammad the taxicab driver." Lamberth accepted the still-classified NSA intercept into evidence under seal to protect NSA sources and methods. It was the first time in nearly a dozen cases brought against the government of Iran by victims of terrorism that material evidence emanating directly from the U.S. intelligence community was brought forward in such a direct manner.

The existence of this intercept - just one of thousands of messages incriminating the governments of Iran, Syria and Saddam Hussein's Iraq (among others) in deadly terrorist crimes against Americans - long has been rumored. Insight reported in May 2001 on similar electronic intelligence that unequivocally revealed how Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) leader Yasser Arafat personally ordered Palestinian terrorists to murder U.S. diplomats Cleo Noel and George Curtis Moore after a PLO commando took them hostage in Khartoum, Sudan, in March 1973 [see "Arafat Murdered U.S. Diplomats," June 25, 2001].

Then as now, the release of such information shocks many Americans who find it hard to believe that the U.S. government could have had such clear-cut indications of impending terrorist acts and done nothing to stop them or to punish those responsible. And yet that is precisely what the intelligence indicates. And the reasons, far from some dire government conspiracy, appear to be the laziness and incompetence of intelligence officials and bureaucratic gatekeepers who failed to pass on information to the political appointees or Cabinet officers making the decisions.

The message from Tehran ordering Iranian-backed terrorists to attack the U.S. Marines in Beirut was picked up "on or about Sept. 26, 1983," Lamberth said, noting it was nearly four full weeks before the actual bombing. With all that lead time, why did no one take steps to protect the Marines or to head off the attack? "That's a question I've been waiting 20 years for someone to ask," Lyons tells this magazine.

Insight has learned that the CIA station in Damascus received a copy of the terrorist message almost as soon as it was intercepted and transmitted it back to CIA headquarters in Langley, Va. "The response I heard back from headquarters was, 'The Marines? We don't want to know about the Marines,'" a former CIA officer who saw the intercept and was involved in transmitting it to his superiors tells Insight.

Marine Col. Tim Geraghty, commander of the 24th Marine Amphibious Unit then stationed at the Beirut Airport, tells Insight that he never received a warning or even a report based on the message, although he was well aware that his Marines had become "sitting ducks" to hostile militias on the ground. "Generally, yes, we knew the problem," he said, "but we never received anything specific."

This was not because the CIA was stonewalling him, Geraghty believes. "I became personal friends with Bill Buckley, who was CIA station chief in Beirut, and he was giving me everything he had. But we never got a warning mentioning a possible attack on the barracks or mentioning Iran." And yet, as Geraghty himself learned at the trial, such warnings indeed had been picked up and they were very specific indeed.

For one thing, there was no other place but the barracks near the airport where a "spectacular operation" could have been carried out. It was the only major Marine bivouac in all of Lebanon. And then, there was the mention in the intercept of Hussein Musawi by name and the group he then headed, Islamic Amal - a precursor of what later became known as Hezbollah. Both were under direct Iranian-government control. But as former CIA officer Robert Baer tells Insight, in this case the warning "did not mention a specific time or place and so was not considered [by CIA managers] to be actionable." Because of this, the warning never was sent on to Beirut, where Buckley could have passed it on to Geraghty. Until 9/11 such a lack of specificity was a standard excuse.

Michael Ledeen, author of The War Against the Terror Masters, was working as a consultant to the Department of Defense at the time of the bombing. The failure to share intelligence "drove a change in the structure of the intelligence community," he said at trial, "because what they found was that we should have seen it coming, we had enough information so that we should have seen it coming [but] we didn't because of the compartmentalization of the various pieces of the intelligence community. So the people who listen to things weren't talking to the people who looked at things weren't talking to people who analyzed things and so on." That failure, he said, led CIA director William Casey to establish the Counter-Terrorism Center, a new, cross-discipline unit whose sole purpose was to prevent terrorism and, when that failed, to fight back against terrorists.

After the Beirut attack the intelligence on Iran's involvement all of a sudden looked different. And yet, despite evidence that Ledeen categorized as "absolutely convincing," the Reagan administration not only didn't fight back, but within three months of the attack secretary of defense Caspar Weinberger ordered the Marines to leave Beirut altogether, opening the United States to accusations that it had "cut and run" and inviting terrorists to have at Americans with impunity.

Exactly why that happened is still a mystery to many of the participants, Insight discovered in interviews with Weinberger, former Navy secretary John F. Lehman, former deputy chief of naval operations Lyons, Geraghty, former CIA officer Robert Baer and others. To Baer, a self-avowed "foot soldier" in the war on terror, "The information we had on the Iranians in 1983 was infinitely better than anything we had on Saddam Hussein." The failure to retaliate for the attack "was all politics."

For example, the CIA managed to identify the Hezbollah operative who built the bomb in the truck. "His name was Ibrahim Safa. He was working with the Pasdaran - the Iranian Revolutionary Guards - out of the southern suburbs of Beirut," Baer tells Insight. "In the hierarchy of things, he was just a thug who'd found God. He'd been a bang-bang man in the civil war in the 1970s who knew explosives."

One option available to military planners was to target the actual planners of the operation, such as Safa, but that was rejected because of the congressional ban on assassination. "Assassination was forbidden, so we couldn't target individuals, the heads of Hezbollah," Ledeen recalls. "We would have had to go after Hezbollah training camps and kill a lot of innocent civilians." That was something Weinberger says neither he nor the president wanted to do.

Soon the primary target became the Sheikh Abdallah barracks in Baalbek, the capital of Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. A former Lebanese-army barracks, it had been taken over by Iran's Pasdaran and was being used to train Hezbollah and house Iranian troops stationed in Lebanon. "We had the planes loaded and ready to take out the group," says Lyons, referring to Hezbollah and their Iranian masters in Baalbek, "but we couldn't get the go-ahead from Washington. We could have taken out all 250 of them in about one-and-a-half minutes."

President Ronald Reagan was demanding retaliation, and asked the U.S. Navy and the Joint Chiefs of Staff to draw up target lists, Lehman tells Insight. According to several participants, the Syrian government also had played a role in the plot and several named Syrian officers were suggested as potential targets, as was the Syrian defense ministry.

"It is my recollection that I had been briefed on who had done it and what the evidence was," Lehman says. "I was told the actual names of the Syrians and where they were. I was told about the evidence that the Iranian government was directly behind it. I was told that the people who had done it were trained in Baalbek and that many of them were back in Baalbek. I recall very clearly that there was no controversy who did it. I never heard any briefer or person in the corridor who said, 'Oh maybe we don't know who did it.'"

Insight has learned that, within three weeks of the attack, enough intelligence had been gathered to determine exactly where and how to hit back, and a counterstrike package was briefed directly to the president. Planners say it included eight Tomahawk missiles launched from the battleship New Jersey against the Syrian defense ministry and other command targets in Syria. Carrier-based A6-A Intruders were assigned to bomb the Sheikh Abdallah barracks in Baalbek in a joint strike with the French, who had lost 58 marines when their own barracks, known as the "Drakkar," was bombed just minutes after the U.S. Marines. It also included selected "snatches" of Syrian officers based in Lebanon who had helped carry out the operation.

Coordinates already were being programmed into the Tomahawks, and the A6 pilots and snatch teams were being briefed, say the intelligence and defense officials Insight interviewed, when someone pulled the plug. By all accounts, that someone was Weinberger.

In his memoirs, Weinberger made clear that he had opposed deployment of the Marines to Beirut in the first place because they were never given a clear mission. He also expressed regret - which he repeated in an interview with Insight - that he had not been "persuasive" enough at White House meetings to convince the president to withdraw the Marines before the October 1983 attack occurred. "I was begging the president to take us out of Lebanon," he tells Insight. "We were sitting right in the middle of the bull's-eye."

Weinberger believed the United States should only deploy U.S. troops in situations where "the objectives were so important to American interests that we had to fight," at which point, the United States should commit "enough forces to win and win overwhelmingly." Those conditions were not present in Lebanon in 1983, he argued. But Weinberger was overpowered by secretary of state George Shultz, who argued at the White House meetings that the United States could not afford to give the impression it would "cut and run" after the attack since that would only encourage the terrorists. As it soon did.

Speaking with Insight, Weinberger insists today that the only reason the United States did not retaliate for the October 1983 attack on the U.S. Marines "was the lack of specific knowledge of who the perpetrators were. We had nothing before the bombing, although I had warned repeatedly that the security situation was very bad. We were in the middle of the bull's-eye, but we didn't know who was attacking the bull's-eye."

Weinberger insists that he has "never heard of any specific information. If I had known, I wouldn't have hesitated" to approve retaliatory action. "Clearly the attack was planned. But it was hard to locate who had done it out of all the different groups. The president didn't want some kind of carpet bombing that would kill a lot of innocent civilians. There were so many groups and not all of them were responsible to the government of Iran. All we knew was that they were united in their hatred of America."

Weinberger's account surprised several other participants who had firsthand knowledge of the intelligence information. "Perhaps Weinberger was never given the intercept by his staff," one participant suggested.

At the time highly classified NSA material such as the Damascus intercept would have been given to the chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, Gen. John Vessey, and to the military aide to the secretary of defense, who would determine whether the secretary would be apprised of the information personally. Weinberger's aide at the time was Maj. Gen. Colin Powell.

But Vessey tells Insight he has "no recollection" of seeing the intelligence on Iran's involvement in the attack. "It is unbelievable to me that someone didn't bring it through the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency up to me and the secretary of defense." Somewhere along the line, the system broke down. "I just don't know what happened," Vessey says. Sources close to Powell suggest the intercept never made it into the president's daily briefing.

On Nov. 16, 1983, Weinberger received a telephone call from Charles Hernu, the French minister of defense, informing him that French Super-Etendard fighter-bombers were getting ready to attack Baalbek. In his memoirs, Weinberger states that he "had received no orders or notifications from the president or anyone prior to that phone call from Paris," which he said gave him too short a notice to scramble U.S. jets.

This reporter was covering the fighting between Arafat and Syrian-backed PLO rebels in Tripoli, Lebanon, at the time, and vividly recalls watching the French planes roar overhead en route to Baalbek. The raid was a total failure.

Whatever the reasons behind the refusal of the United States to join that French retaliatory raid, there can be no doubt that the terrorists and their masters took the U.S. failure to retaliate as a sign of weakness. Just five months later, Iran's top agent in Beirut, Imad Mugniyeh, took CIA station chief William Buckley hostage and hideously tortured him to death after extracting whatever information he could. Since then, notes former Navy secretary Lehman, Osama bin Laden has "directly credited the Marine bombing" and the lack of U.S. retaliation as encouraging his jihadi movement to believe they could attack the United States with impunity.

"The first shots in the war on terror we are in now were fired in Beirut in October 1983," says Geraghty. "The [Bush] administration is now doing exactly what we need to be doing, attacking the enemies of freedom where they live instead of letting them attack us in our home." But the failure to strike back against Iran and Syria in 1983 was a dreadful mistake, he says. "This was an act of war. We knew who the players were. And, because we didn't respond, we emboldened these people to increase the violence."

Never again.

Kenneth R. Timmerman is a senior writer for Insight magazine.

Click here to read the Original story


A Marine 'Peacekeeper's' Story

Posted Dec. 22, 2003

By Kenneth R. Timmerman

Steve Edward Russell, an E-5 sergeant with the 2nd Marine Division out of Camp Lejeune, N.C., was in the guard post directly in front of the lobby when he heard a loud snap, "like a two-by-four breaking" out by the main gate. When he turned to look, he saw a large Mercedes water truck coming through the open gate, leaning heavily as it swerved around barriers. Russell fiddled briefly with his sidearm, but realized it was not loaded - in keeping with the rules of engagement for this "peacekeeping" mission. Then he saw that the truck was coming straight for him.

He made eye contact with the driver - a man in his mid-twenties with curly hair and an olive complexion, wearing what looked like a camouflage shirt - "and the only thing on my mind was to warn." He began running, screaming to Marines who were milling around to get out, but got one last look at the driver. He had "a sh--ty grin, a smile of success you might say." Russell made it to the other side of the building when the truck exploded, wounding him severely.

As he gave his testimony to a courtroom packed with family members of victims, Russell exploded with 20 years of guilt for not having been able to stop the truck. "I hope I've done some good today," he said, "and if I step down right now and drop dead I'd be happy because I've been a good Marine."