ciprofloxacin aristo 500 mg dosierung cialis 25mg canada serve la ricetta per comprare il cialis cialis da 5 ml prezzo 50 mg paxil price keflex 500mg celexa in elderly patients can levitra be cut in half norfloxacin tab. 400 mg quante compresse ci sono in una confezione di augmentin nexium 40mg sole distributor in singapore viagra hk price claritin commercial actress real world carvedilol al 6 25 mg is trazodone a generic 60 mg accutane and alcohol micardis europe safe to drink on augmentin modo de usar el viagra trileptal 150 mg is trazodone used for sleep disorders ic atorvastatin 10 mg buy metronidazole er 750 mg where can i get some viagra in mississippi can you get high off of cetirizine 10 mg buy propranolol india cilostazol pletal price cold sore treatment medicine zovirax generic products clomiphene citrate 100 for sale lexapro buy online cheap ibuprofen atid 200 mg filmtabletten glucophage xr 1000 mg forum does loratadine 10 mg contain sudafed retail price for valtrex where to get generic levitra in hyderabad dexamethasone in palliative care hydroxyzine hcl 10mg cost methocarbamol 750 mg and flexeril finasteride in nogales mexico 342 mg ibuprofen tamoxifen guercmorteo for sale panadol 500 mg alkoholi how to get best results using cialis luvox 300 mg parlodel buy online flagyl 500 mg tablet pregnancy benicar hct tabs cost buy trimox online is metformin 500 mg safe for thin people allegra 120 mg 20 film tablet cost of antivert meclizine liquid form green white capsule nortriptyline dan 25 mg prevacid safety clomiphene brands in india zoloft lexapro best how much would 300 mg gabapentin on the street cialis professional to buy acyclovir costs without insurance acyclovir ointment buy online does anyone sell liquid viagra buy prednisone prescription gpo mox amoxicillin capsules 250 mg clomid hereisthebestin canada viagra canadian online pharmacies buying viagra london use of telmisartan tablets 40 mg can i cut my zoloft pill in half celexa starting dose 10 mg priligy onde comprar brasil ontario canada how to buy viagra hydrochlorothiazide in animals buy amitriptyline hcl cialis how much mg lasix 80 mg ivp chi prende zoloft in gravidanza acheter generique cialis au meilleur prix powered by smf generic viagra without prescription paroxetine cheap como comprar cytotec en chile cialis compresse 5 mg zoloft 100 mg while pregnant does anyone know where to get cialis in uk naproxen 500 prices cialis mit rezept günstig kaufen best price on cialis once a day cheap levitra online next day delivery ibuprofen prices generic tadacip baownbeuv reciprocity in optics is 2.5 mg of cialis effective on an as needed basis cialis generic info is fluoxetine legal in dubai dramamine rite aid brand cialis in aust best way to take meloxicam cefuroxime in chronic kidney disease cialis 5 mg 28 film kapli tablet prospekt?s bilgileri heart rate liquid albuterol cheapest sildenafil in the world diflucan 50 mg pret periactin 4 mg weight gain benefits of intrathecal delivery of baclofen is acyclovir cream over the counter in south africa coumadin 5 mg tabletten celebrex generic brands is cefixime used in typhoid best prices generic cialis super active ciprofloxacin denk sale tizanidine hcl 4 mg drug interactions cheap holidays calan bosch menorca asacol 4800 mg daily losartan generic manufacturer how much time stays in body azithromycin lamisil boots uk neurontin 300 mg prix average price bystolic isotretinoin tablets price voltaren 50 mg compresse gastroresistenti indicazioni lasix 40 mg indication safety of amoxicillin during pregnancy viagra levitra cialis generics indomethacin discovery acetaminophen 300 codeine 30 mg safe to take motrin while breastfeeding is there danger in taking cialis with peyrones carvedilol mechanism of action in hypertension retail cost of effexor can you use viagra more than one time in a day cialis viagra packs cheap fast buy clomid hereisthebestin panadol in flowers cipro usage instructions ventolin en usa nexium alternate brand 10 mg buspar for anxiety equate claritin walmart lexapro 10 mg low dose atorvastatin 80 mg post stroke effexor changes in personality differin lotion online zithromax azithromycin 500 mg dalam bahasa indonesia clindamycin 150 mg toothache legality ordering viagra online warfarin patient information in spanish class action lawsuits canada accutane metoprolol generic c 75 side effects to amoxicillin in a baby is methotrexate effective in curing tumours acheter levitra europe levaquin tablet 750 mg levofloxacin amoxicillin antibiotic for sale real decreto actos naturaleza urbanística viagra tablet for man in belguim how much sildenafil citrate in philippines metoprolol 100 mg extended release panadol extend usage simvastatin thyroid disorders hydrochlorothiazide 25 mg for dogs is lexapro generic safe for pregnancy side effects of atorvastatin calcium 10 mg black 200 mg chinese tadalafil tablets viagra generika genauso gut viagra super active real side effects of accutane 60 mg clonidine in hot flashes comprar cialis original espa?a generic celebrex georgia cwp reciprocal states ibuprofen midol 200 mg lexapro 10 mg uso finasteride in malaysia what is the cost of 5 mg cialis generic propecia erfahrungen generic viagra without subscription walmart seroquel xr 200 mg bijsluiter safeway brand ibuprofen difference in cost between viagra 20 and 50 mlg amlodipine besylate patient reviews cytotec safe dosage sildenafil liquid for women viagra off brand clozapine dispensing australia safe take multivitamin while accutane clomid 500 mg side effects order propecia online usa 50 mg viagra how long before it works finasteride manufacturers europe buy cialis legally canada accutane and growth in teens where to buy propecia online uk seroquel quando si usa phenergan liquid cmi the canadian website for cialis metformin in treating infertility doxycycline 400 mg tabs is it safe to mix mdma and cialis tamoxifen citrate tablets ip 10 mg tratamiento ciprofloxacino 500 mg buy accutane isotretinoin accutane derealization strattera reviews parents colchicine cheap safe take tramadol zoloft accutane generico en mexico prozac brands in india comprar viagra valencia contrareembolso what pharmacy has orlistat in stock in london now safe take ranitidine whilst pregnant should i take effexor in the am or pm fincar in india que consecuencias tiene usar viagra cheap viagra online uk next day delivery 800mg ibuprofen and 1000 mg acetaminophen is neurontin safe to take with nyquil clomipramine for dogs 25 mg nolvadex review pct where can you buy viagra phuket trazodone 100 mg side effects buy cheap strattera flagyl er 500 mg how much cost in thailand kamagra oral jelly price lexapro rite aid metronidazole giardia in dogs what if i take 75 mg of sildenafil changing finasteride brands is it safe to take zantac while nursing black guy in cialis commercials tamoxifen citrate where to buy what drs toget cialis from in hong kong nizoral shampoo generic naproxen vs ibuprofen safety sildenafil generico del viagra cialis 5mg price no prescription definicion actos y condiciones subestandar best time to take claritin d indocin in nicu is zocor still on the market 150 mg fluconazole oral thrush is it safe to quit taking zoloft order celexa online foro anafranil 10 mg is it bad to take two 600 mg ibuprofen over the counter equivalent to voltaren how long does prednisolone last in the fridge colchicine brand name in the philippines 400 mg neurontin ciprofloxacin in ulcerative colitis metoprolol tartrate costs ciprofloxacin brand name in malaysia seroquel in elderly for sleep ampicillin sulbactam in pediatric infections nexium 40 mg venda iv labetalol price is clonidine safe for hot flashes nexium world wide sales accutane 30 mg log zithromax pregnancy uk metronidazole gel brand names is it safe to mix cialis and prednisone divalproex sodium in migraine sildenafil soft tablets 50 mg complaints online viagra why is generic valtrex so expensive is panadol paracetamol safe during pregnancy cruise ship costa allegra adrift of seychelles how many iu in accutane kamagra pills in johannesburg onde comprar viagra em recife olanzapine tab 7.5 mg how to buy viagra in uae viagra canadian women buy generic zoloft 10 mg cialis not enough where i found propecia in pakistan aciphex best price generic cymbalta when reciprocating gun carry states with pa how to get off warfarin safely allegra k review ibuprofen liquid gel dosage best prices bystolic uk drug store that sells cheap metronidazole flagyl buy viagra by post south africa gestante pode usar a pomada aciclovir low price on levitra walmart pharmacy nexium marketing strategy of viagra in india is it safe to mix klonopin and benadryl pravachol canada albuterol inhaler without perscription paypal accepted can you take nexium 40 mg twice a day prochlorperazine buccal safe in pregnancy where can i buy levitra professional 300 mg effexor lot 60 mg professional cialis for sale mometasone online buy valacyclovir online canada liquid omeprazole otc amlodipine and valsartan generic atacand 8 mg effetti collaterali xenical buy in ph nexium 40 mg reacciones adversas minocycline therapy in psoriatic arthritis when will viagra become generic in australia best time of day to take lipitor medication lexapro oral reviews pseudoephedrine hcl 30 mg ibuprofen 200 mg lasix 40 mg cheap metoprolol eciwlcodkedefe canada comprar viagra femenino en chile nortriptyline pamelor 50 mg capsule prix plateau allegra tupperware abilify for conduct disorder dexamethasone salep mata joseph allegra papers software testing in csmr decadron safe dose range find generic form of zovirax cream 5 percent 30 gr zithromax acheter canada amlodipine side effects 5 mg viagra buying in the uk noroxin 400 mg posologia amoxicillin sirup generik 250 mg safe become pregnant after taking accutane esomeprazole 20 mg acid reducer cutting lisinopril in half micardis plus tabletas 80 mg 12.5 mg dose of fluconazole in renal impairment what kost cialis in india order amoxicillin with no prescription is 100 mg zoloft high how much benadryl is safe for a yorkie adalat crono 30 mg ne ilaci comprar finasteride colombia cialis 28 5 mg metformin 1000 mg cost without insurance buy sandoz lisinopril cheap cialis online with prescription viagra buy new zealand digoxin level canada orlistat generic cost malaysia is doxycycline safe after expiration date lamictal in bipolar depression metformin use in type 1 diabetics medicamento generico enalapril viagra price australia viagra price australia furosemide medsafe datasheet lotensin whartisthebestin online why is there no generic for diovan without hczt amoxicillin safe infants dapsone medsafe does cefdinir 300 mg have penicillin buy ranitidine liquid how to buy cialis through paypal only which benadryl is safe during pregnancy cyclophosphamide buy metronidazole 500 mg para que se usa motrin tablets uk can you get high on gabapentin 600 mg abilify use in ocd levitra générique prix is it safe to take allegra with nyquil how long for prevacid to work in newborn ofloxacin eye drop brand name in india maxalt mlt for migraine 15 mg of buspar and 20 mg of adderall furosemide 40 mg plus spironolactone 100 mg cialis edmonton online panadol novum raskausaikana cuanto cuesta el celebrex de 100 mg gabapentin 600 mg anxiety generic replacement for flomax often can you take maxalt mlt 10 mg reviews for celexa for depression buy cialis tadalafil 20mg unbeatable online price generic cialis hydrochlorothiazide liquid form estradiol levels in male rats ampicillin tablets india tretinoin cream is it safe for pregnancy triamcinolone acetonide in eyes when was ethambutol discovered estradiol 1 mg tab barry labs donde comprar xenical en bogota cvs brand for propecia buy cialis soft tabs 30 pills zoloft derealization what is paroxetine hcl 30 mg does zyrtec come in 5mg prilosec in evening role of nimodipine in intracerebral hemorrhage plavix going generic cost generic meds hyzaar lamictal bipolar ii reviews clopidogrel cost mexico kako upotrebiti kamagra 100 mg uputstvo where can buy viagra in brisbane wellbutrin dose 75 mg cuanto cuesta el plavix 75 mg buy clomid now in the uk safe doses of paxil can you od on naproxen 500 mg ciprofloxacino 250 mg para que es atacand 8 mg n3 preis doxycycline hyclate 100 mg and breastfeeding price of augmentin in south africa generic flomax best results from propecia cialis lasts how long review alesse still market albuterol neb pediatric safe dose range domperidone safety for breastfeeding flagyl 800 mg package insert co.za india vardenafil vardenafil vicodin order viagra by telephone is taking 40 milligrams of cialis safe how does lamotrigine work for bipolar disorder tem perigo usar viagra how long for viagra to kick in at at 100 mlg motilium 1 mg pediatrie mebendazole safe for cats 50 mg of strattera buspirone hcl 10 mg and weight loss cost tretinoin costco escitalopram 15 mg opiniones can you take hydrocodone and cialis safe robaxin guercmorteo canada metronidazole benzoate powder price cats there generic prevacid solutab purchase sertraline online tab prazosin dose in scorpion bite albuterol inhaler safety data sheet accutane lawsuit in florida sotalol in afib viagra generika da comprare in ue lisinopril 30 mg manufacturer para comprar cialis precisa receita is there a generic for sildenafil citrate ibuprofen over the counter strength can biaxin cause bad taste in mouth cost of viagra in singapore where can i buy clomid over the counter in johannesburg 2 10 mg lexapro buy nitroglycerin sublingual metformin shortage uk omeprazole 20 mg with alcohol take an extra 5 mg of cialis on same day tadalafil makers in india comprar tadacip azithromycin tab 250 mg price greenstone brand erythromycin ointment order wellbutrin xl 300 mg yorumlar seroquel 50 mg cost propecia treatment cost of cialis at target pharmacy clopidogrel in neurology generic gabapentin vs neurontin 2 month old liquid amoxicillin safe citalopram 10 mg for fibromyalgia price reduce levitra xenical fat blocker co uk cost for ofloxacin glimepiride accord 3 mg ketoconazole 200 mg harga berapa amlodipine lisinopril combination brand name prednisone skin disorder tamsulosin 0.4 mg patient education best time take omeprazole capsules prozac side effects bad taste in mouth levels of thyroxine in hypothyroidism nexium granulado 20 mg cheap discount cialis buying viagra abu dhabi levothyroxine side effects in men states with ccw reciprocity with florida why was mebendazole taken off the market how to treat ibuprofen overdose in dogs review the side effects of lisinopril para que se usa la crema benadryl what is the generic name of zyrtec viagra price in kolkata anafranil generic cost viagra in china patent is valtrex generic who is black actress in viagra tv commercial brand name clomid azithromycin powder reviews safe to take ibuprofen while running losartan prices us prices best anti inflammatory ibuprofen aleve se requiere receta para comprar viagra en chile propranolol in stage fright quetiapine in patients with schizophrenia viagra does it really help safe to take benadryl and zyrtec together how long does 50 mg of cialis last hydroxyurea use in polycythemia vera imuran 25 mg side effects when did allegra become over the counter isotretinoin in nature

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."

 

- KRT

Home