Rush Limbaugh: Clarke's Got His History Wrong

Roundup: Media's Take

From the Rush Limbaugh Show, transcript by Limbaugh (March 22, 2004):

RUSH: Now, I'm not going to use any video of Clarke from 60 Minutes, but he was on Good Morning, America today, and here's just a couple, maybe three sound bites. Charlie Gibson says,"So, you deal with the exigencies of the day on September 11th. You come in September 12th ready to plot what response we take to Al-Qaeda. Let me talk about the response that you got from top administration officials. On that day, what did the president say to you?"

CLARKE: Well, the president wanted us to look to see if Iraq was involved. Now, the White House is trying to say he very calmly asked me to do due diligence and see who might have done it to look at all the possibilities. That wasn't it, and the White House is also saying maybe the meeting didn't take place, and there are witnesses who have said the meeting took place. The president in a very intimidating way left us, me and my staff, with the clear indication that he wanted us to come back with the word that there was an Iraqi hand behind 9-11, because they had been planning to do something about Iraq from before the time they came into office.

RUSH: You know, all this would really be powerful if the first thing we had done is go into Iraq. But my memory tells me, my friends, that the first thing we didn't do was go to Iraq, that we went to Afghanistan. You know, and plus, Mr. Clarke, this is an opinion. He’s indulging here in opinion, what he thinks of what the president wanted, what he thinks was on the president's mind. The president was faking him out, the president, look, I want you to come back here, I don't care what you find, it better say Iraq. Well, the president didn't get what he wanted, apparently, and so how can that be? If the president had his mind made up and wanted to see Iraq in this report, and it wasn't there, then what would we logically expect the president to do, fire the people who didn't do what he wanted to do and then launch a salvo on Iraq the next day?

By the way, you know, folks, I want to take you back, if you care to traverse back to September 12th, 2001, when this first happened, who did you think it might be? Who was it that you thought it might be? I tell you what, my first thought was Saddam Hussein. Here's Bush's kid, Bush 41's son in the White House, who is still steaming over the Gulf War. That was my first thought, and a lot of other people's first thoughts as well. The administration was mum. The administration didn't say anything, and we were wondering why. We didn't know what they were thinking. This idea that Richard Clarke is sitting here on the inside, he was a holdover from the Clinton years. And it's obvious there were people keeping him at arm's length even though he was on board. The next sound bite, Richard Clarke answers Charlie's question on Good Morning, America, today. Did Bush ask about any other nations other than Iraq?

CLARKE: Oh, no, no. No. Not at all. It was Iraq, Saddam, fight find out, get back to me.

GIBSON: And were his questions more about Iraq than about Al-Qaeda?

CLARKE: Absolutely. Absolutely. He didn't ask me about Al-Qaeda. I think they had an"idee fixe," a plan from day one, that they wanted to do something about Iraq, while the World Trade Center was still smoldering, while they were still digging bodies out, the people in the White House were thinking, ah, this gives us the opportunity we've been looking for to go after Iraq.

RUSH: Yeah, while the bodies were being dug out and the World Trade Center was still smoldering the administration trying to concoct and arrange a scenario to allow them to go into Iraq no matter what? Well, the only problem here, uh, Mr. Clarke is that Bush didn't go into Iraq no matter what. Once we knew it was Al-Qaeda we went to Afghanistan, not Iraq. I mean, it's one thing for you to go out and say all this and offer these opinions but history doesn't bear him out. History doesn't bear him out. Well, he's claiming he was in on the big meetings but he obviously wasn't in on the big meetings. We'll get to that in just a second. So Gibson says,"All right, you write in the book.." And, by the way, there's no challenge to anything this guy said on 60 Minutes, there's very little challenge to what he said on Good Morning, America today. Oh, you say this, okay, well what do you say about this, what do you say about that? He wasn't challenged on much of anything. Gibson says,"You write in the book no doubt the U.S. could have brought true stability to Afghanistan with a larger force, could have made the return of the Taliban and the terrorists virtually impossible. Instead, the larger force was held back for Iraq?"

CLARKE: That's right. And to this day Afghanistan is not stable. To this day we're hunting down Osama bin Laden. We should have put U.S. special forces in immediately, not many weeks later. U.S. special forces didn't get into the area where bin Laden was for two months and we tried to have the Afghans do it. You know, basically the president botched the response to 9-11. He should have done right after Afghanistan, right after bin Laden, and then he made the whole war on terrorism so much worse by invading Iraq.

RUSH: You know, this is just the amazing thing. How many times had Al-Qaeda via bin Laden acted when Richard Clarke meant something in the counterterrorism force, and we never once went after bin Laden. In fact, bin Laden was offered to us at least twice from Sudan, recall? When Richard Clarke was there. And we said no, the Clinton administration said no because there are lawyers in the justice department, i.e., Janet Reno advised against it,"we don't have enough evidence to hold him" or some other concoction. All this talk, you should have done this, you should have done that - he was in the White House for nine months when all this happened, you guys were in there eight years, Mr. Clarke, with event after event after event, terrorist attack after terrorist attack after terrorist attack, and you are the ones that strengthened bin Laden by not pursuing him, by not retaliating and in fact by caving to him in Somalia.

And then there's this line again,"made the whole war on terrorism so much worse by invading Iraq." Oh, yeah, the terrorists really got mad then, that's going to really make 'em mad. As though we did go to Afghanistan, whether our special forces got there when he wants them there or not we did go to Afghanistan, we blew up Tora Bora, we have imprisoned terrorists of al-Qaeda down at G'itmo. What do you mean, we're going to make 'em mad? He is espousing here, espousing a recipe for not pursuing these people, because"he's only going to get mad, they're only going to get mad." I mean, let me ask you a question. During the Clinton administration was there ever a war on terrorism? Did they ever mount a war on terrorism? I don't recall one! I don't recall terrorism being a big focus of the Clinton administration.

I do recall after the embassy bombings, Madeleine Albright saying,"We're declaring war on terrorism," and that's when they launched the salvo at the aspirin factory in Sudan and the missiles at the empty terrorist camp in Afghanistan and the missiles in Baghdad and that's all they did and those events happened to coincide with key grand jury testimony of people, witnesses, in the Monica Lewinsky case, which led at an impeachment case. You know, they had a terrorism summit somewhere on some island off of Egypt somewhere, a Clinton photo op. What war on terrorism did this administration fight? I've got a piece here on Richard Clarke written a year ago -- I have to double-check where it is, it's in the stack here in just a second, but this piece is written by an expert in the field who said that Clarke when he was in the Clinton administration running around warning everybody of the dangers posed by electronic warfare and terrorism, that the Internet was going to be the focal point of it. He couldn't have been more wrong. The only war that the Clinton administration fought, ladies and gentlemen, was on Ken Starr, and now they're mounting a war on George W. Bush as they seek to protect their own keisters. That would be rear ends for those of you in Rio Linda.

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