FrontPageMagazine.com |September 28, 2006
Rep. Curt Weldon, amoderate Republican who represents the 7th district of Pennsylvania,is in the political fight of his life.
For the first time since he was elected to Congress in 1986, Weldonis facing a well-funded opponent, Vice Admiral (ret) Joseph A.Sestak, who is being backed by the entire Democratic Partyestablishment, from Hillary and Bill Clinton, to moveon.org
What is it that the Clintonistas and the organized Left find sothreatening about Curt Weldon that they are prepared to investsignificant national campaign funds in unseat a moderate Republicanwho was re-elected in 2004 with 59% of the vote?
The answer is simple -- and it's not run-of-the-mill campaign fodderabout an incumbent "out of touch" with his constituents.
If there's one thing Curt Weldon is not, it's out of touch with hisdistrict just southwest of Philadelphia. A volunteer fire chief,local councilman and Mayor, Weldon has worked hard on behalf of hisconstituents, sometimes in unusual ways.
Just ask Gail and Rich Bernstein, the parents of 1LT David Bernstein,a U.S. Military Academy graduate killed in action in Iraq on Oct. 13,2003 who was posthumously awarded the Silver Star.
Lt. Bernstein was 24 when he was hit in the leg by insurgents not farfrom Saddam Hussein's stronghold, Tikrit. Despite the fact he wasbleeding profusely, he instructed his men to care for a group ofnearby civilians before taking him to safety.
Before his men could evacuate him, insurgents shot Lt. Bernstein asecond time, fatally.
Weldon choppered into the area three months later with other membersof Congress, to meet with the commander of the 4th Infantry Division,Maj.Gen. Ray Odierno.
"I asked him about his casualties," Weldon recalls. "He said they hada number of killed in action, including a 24-year old Lieutenant whohad graduated from West Point. And now that you mention it,Congressmen, he's from Pennsylvania," Weldon recalls him saying.
"That must be David Bernstein," Weldon said.
Odierno was floored. "How could you know that? I've got 30,000soldiers in my division. How could you know this soldier's name?"
Weldon explained that he remembered Bernstein well, because he hadgotten the Pennsylvania native his appointment to West Point.
"And in the back pocket of my jeans," he added, "I've got athree-page letter from his parents, talking about how he had alwayswanted to be a soldier. They were hoping I might find someone in Iraqwho knew him."
The anecdote is typical Weldon. I have heard him tell it twice overthe past six months, and each time I have been struck by thesimplicity of the tale. There is no embellishment, no theatrics. CurtWeldon loved that young man and it showed.
"In the end," he told airmen and industry representatives at the AirForce Association annual convention in Washington, DC yesterday, "thereason we do what we do is because ultimately it's all about theDavid Bernsteins."
Over the past twenty years, Weldon has become a leading authority inWashington on defense and security issues.
He knows the defense business well; his job as vice-chair of theHouse Armed Services committee requires it. But while Weldon hasstrongly supported military modernization, and has pressed hard toensure that our troops have the "quality of life they deserve todefend our country," he also realizes today's defense budgets arestretched beyond the breaking point.
In his talk on Wednesday to the Air Force Association, he called onindustry to cut development costs on major weapons systems, and tofocus on "multi-service" platforms, to help cut procurement costs.That was not the talk of an industry shill.
But these are not the reasons the Clintonistas hate him. Nor is itwhy the National Democratic Party recruited and funded Sestak tooppose him, and leaned heavily on the Democrat who opposed him in2004, who had announced his intention to run again this year, to dropout of the race.
It's because Weldon was in the forefront of exposing the Clintonadministration's fraudulent denial of the missile threat to theUnited States in the 1990s, and his relentless exposure of theClinton sell-off of military secrets to Communist China.
Weldon has been attacked relentlessly for his efforts in both theseareas. He was instrumental in getting Congresstoreview NIE 95-19, thecontroversial National Intelligence Estimate that concluded that theUnited States would not face a missile threat from rogue nationsuntil 2010 at the earliest.
Concerned by the Clinton administration's refusal to take nationalsecurity seriously -- "they were holding hands in the White House andsinging kumbaya," he said today -- Weldon introduced an amendment tothe 1997 defense authorization bill that funded a blue ribboncommission to independently study the ballistic missile threat to theUnited States.
Known as the "Rumsfeld commission," after its chairman, DonaldRumsfeld, the panel concludedin July 1998 thatcountries such as Iraq, Iran, or North Korea could deploy ballisticmissiles capable of reaching the United States "within five years ofa decision to proceed," directly contradicting the CIA's 1995estimate.
Just days after Rumsfeld unveiled that conclusion, North Koreasurprised the world (and the CIA) by test-firing a new multi-stagemissile, the Taepo-Dong, which the CIA acknowledged somewhatsheepishly could reach the United States.
Weldon was also instrumental in establishing a Congressional Selectcommittee on U.S. National Security and Military/Commercial Concernswith the People's Republic of China, more commonly known asthe CoxCommittee, and servedas one of its nine members.
Their report concluded that transfers of ballistic missile andnuclear weapons secrets to the PRC during the Clinton administrationhad done "serious harm" to our national security, a conclusion thatthe bi-partisan panel adopted unanimously.
"The Chinese didn't steal our technology," Weldon said. "We auctionedoff our technology to China."
Weldon believes the next serious threat facing the United States isfrom Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP), a powerful burst of energy releasedby a nuclear explosion high in the earth's atmosphere that wouldcripple our electronic, information, and communication systems,"bringing America to her knees."
EMP was well known during the Cold war, "and we know that theIranians are studying this," he said.
A Congressionally-funded commission which Weldon helped establishfour years ago issued aninitial report in 2004,and recently delivered a more detailed, classified report. "Thethreats have not decreased; they have increased," Weldon said.
He also warned on Wednesday about China's efforts to developanti-satellite weapons, which he said in five years would be able todisable U.S. military and intelligence assets in space.
The Clintonistas hate Curt Weldon for exposing their total disregardof our national security. But they fear him the most because of AbleDanger.
Able Danger was an experimental data mining operation run by the LandInformation Warfare Assessment Center (LIWAC) in Fort Belvoir, notfar from the Pentagon.
It was part of an experimental program in the late 1990s to collectintelligence on terrorist networks and on illicit Chinesehigh-technology procurement efforts from open source material.
And that is why the program became such a threat, Weldon believes."The database included information on Chinese procurement in theUnited States and the Clinton people didn't want this coming out,because there were a ton of Clinton names in there," he told me.
And on orders from Clinton-era Pentagon officials, that data wasdestroyed in April 2000, without a backup.
As Ireported last week, theClinton folks and Weldon's opponent are crowing over a recentPentagon Inspector General report that appears to conclude that the2.5 terabytes of data contained nothing of significance, and that nopolitical pressure was applied on the Able Danger team members tokeep their findings quiet and not to meet with the FBI.
A close reading of the report, however, shows that those conclusionswere ambiguous. Weldon accused the IG of having "cherry-pickedtestimony from key witnesses in an effort to minimize the historicalimportance of the Able Danger effort."
Following the leak of the IG report - given to the press before itwas shared with Weldon, who had requested it - an anti-Weldon websiteaccused him of "wild claims and rants" and called Weldon's pursuit ofAble Danger "desparate [sic] fantasies."
Take a look at a listof donors to Weldon'sopponent. Is there any surprise that among them can be foundMadeleine Albright, former NSC advisors Sandy Berger and Tony Lake,former White House political director John Podesta and former CIAdirector John Deutch, not to mention Hillary Clinton's PoliticalAction committee?
Who do you think made the decisions that authorized the auctioning ofAmerica?s military secrets to Communist China during the 1990s?
Real watchdogs of the national interest are rare in Congress. CurtWeldon is one of them.
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