Mr. Clarke Goes to Washington





Mr. Toth is editor of H-Levant, an online discussion network dealing with the Arab east. He is also the proud spouse of a Federal government employee.

Only in Washington D.C. could you conceive of a former bureaucrat having groupies.

But here I was, playing hooky from a looming journal article deadline, forsaking a gloriously sunny spring day, walking eagerly toward the Hart Senate Office Building just to see one of my heroes, Richard Clarke, testify before the 9/11 Commission on March 24. Even before his book, Against all Enemies, came out recently, creating a stir because of its frank and often critical appraisal of the Bush I-Clinton-Bush II “war on terror,” I knew that Clarke was a dedicated, intelligent and honest civil servant. As the country's top counter-terrorism official for many years he was known for working tirelessly and in relative obscurity trying to move an often sluggish bureaucracy into urgent action against a new and growing threat.

While I wanted to see Clarke in person, I admit that I also was eager to plant myself in the midst of a quintessentially Washington moment. All the ingredients for high drama were there: an upstart paper-pusher able to reveal the truth at last; “bi-partisan” commission members ready either to praise the star witness, or to bury him; the usual media mob; and the family members of the victims, watching over the commission they created, like a somber conscience.

As an historian, I was intrigued as well with the concept of one person making a large difference. In the nineteenth century, the Scottish historian Thomas Carlyle said, “No great man lives in vain. The history of the world is but the biography of great men.” Of course, the “great man” theory of history is as fashionable today as a tight corset. When I was starting out as a historian, it was the “new social history” that was all the rage, looking at the “little people,” examining societies from “the bottom up.” Nowadays there is an overflowing clothes rack of historical fashions, from empiricism, micro history and psychohistory to studies using gender, race, language and the environment as a frame of reference. Even so, from everyday life and in the historical sources we can see much evidence that “great people,” or at least exceptional ones, play large roles in shifting the currents of history. So if the butterfly in chaos theory could produce a tornado an ocean away with the flapping of its wings, what would a condor be capable of? Looking back on Clarke's testimony, would future historians see it as a turning point in the Bush re-election effort? I wanted to see for myself.

The morning witnesses were CIA Director George Tenet and former National Security Advisor Samuel Berger. The atmosphere was routine as they droned their predictable, cautious and often vague answers. After a short break for lunch the hearing room began to buzz as the 9/11 family members took their reserved seats in first four rows behind the witness table, the rest of the gallery filled to standing-room, and dozens of camera lenses waited for Clarke. After he sat down, he raised his right hand to be sworn in by commission chairman Thomas H. Kean. The only sound beside “Do you solemnly swear…” was the soft fluttering of camera shutters, sounding like a sudden spring shower. With his opening words, Clarke signaled that this would not be a routine hearing, that he was not your garden-variety government official.

I welcome these hearings because of the opportunity that they provide to the American people to better understand why the tragedy of 9-11 happened, and what we must do to prevent a re-occurrence.

I also welcome the hearings because it is finally a forum where I can apologize to the loved ones of the victims of 9-11.

To those who are here in the room, to those who are watching on television, your government failed you, those entrusted with protecting you failed you, and I failed you. We tried hard, but that doesn't matter because we failed.

And for that failure, I would ask -- once all the facts are out -- for your understanding and for your forgiveness.

My jaw dropped; I gasped quietly. Who could have believed it? A high official, taking blame, accepting responsibility, asking forgiveness ! This was not the cynical and self-serving Washington official most Americans have come to know and dislike. This was something out of a hokey Hollywood movie: “Mr. Clarke Goes to Washington .”

It took some time for the honest and heartfelt statement to sink in among the commission members: politicians normally don't do “sincere.” But about 45 minutes later, after Clarke had talked about George W. Bush's lack of urgency before 9/11 in dealing the mounting al-Qaeda threat, commission member Richard Ben-Veniste interrupted his own line of questioning to tell Clarke: “I want to express my appreciation for the fact that you have come before this commission and stated in front of the world your apology for what went wrong. To my knowledge, you are the first to do that.” And out of nowhere, there came a loud burst of applause, mostly from the family members. Like the rest of the country, they craved honesty, openness, and accountability. Clarke was the one who gave this simple gift to them. I was clapping, too.

It was as if the family members and other Americans had a moment of relief from the frustration and anger brought on by the Bush administration's handling of the 9/11 inquiry. When family members proposed the idea of a commission, the White House initially refused. Then the commission was packed with what many family members saw as safe, Washington insiders who would not pursue rigorous lines of inquiry. When the commission asked for an extension on its mandate so that it could properly complete its work, again, Bush and company balked at first. When one 9/11 families' group protested the Bush campaign ad featuring scenes of the destroyed Twin Towers, Republican mouthpieces called them partisans, and worse. Even on this day, one subtext of the hearings was the absence of National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice, who refused the invitation to testify in public. (She had already been interviewed behind closed doors.) As one family member said during a break, “She owed us this [testifying in person]. She owed the 3,000 who died and the American people an explanation.”

While Clarke's candor was a breath of fresh air, as the hearing progressed politics-as-usual returned with the slithering questions of the Republican commission members. Some queries were pointed and dripping poison, like those of James R. Thompson and Fred F. Fielding, and others were cloaked in chummy smiles, like those of John F. Lehman. Lehman seemed to be befuddled by the contrast between Clarke's previous testimony to the commission and the contents of his book, which Lehman said amounted to a “rounding, devastating attack” on Bush.

Clarke addressed all queries and veiled implications with calm and precision, explaining, at one point, that part of the problem was that while he was working for Bush, he was asked to put the best face on policies he thought were faulty. But his voice filled with conviction and rose in volume as he said the reason his views in the book contrasted so much with his previous testimony was because none of the commissioners had asked him about Iraq .

In the 15 hours of testimony, no one asked me what I thought about the president's invasion of Iraq . And the reason I am strident in my criticism of the president of the United States is because by invading Iraq -- something I was not asked about by the commission, it's something I chose write about a lot in the book -- by invading Iraq the president of the United States has greatly undermined the war on terrorism.

For one second, then another, then another, dead silence. No Republican commission member was going to ask about Iraq today, either.

When the questioning ended, and the chairman thanked Clarke for his testimony, again there was applause. And not only that, but the family members rushed to Clarke as he rose from his chair. Some hugged him, others shook his hand, and still others watched off to the side, smiling.

Amidst the crowd milling outside the hearing room, I saw one of the first family members who had approached Clarke, a woman with blonde hair and striking eyes. It was Beverly Eckert, one of the most active of her group, who was in fact on the Family Steering Committee for the 9/11 Commission.

“What did you say to Mr. Clarke after the hearing?” I asked.

She paused, emotion starting to cloud her clear eyes. “I told him that I forgave him.” She took a breath. My vision was suddenly fuzzy: “And what did he say?” Her voice broke slightly: “He said that it meant a lot, coming from me.”

In the minutes that followed, words flowed, carrying the pent-up emotions, from her and from me. I told her of my wonder at Clarke's apology, and she said how much courage it took for him to make it. She told of how people attacked the families' groups for pressing this inquiry, and for criticizing the Bush 9/11 commercial. “You would not believe the kinds of things people said…. They said all we wanted was revenge. We're not here for vengeance. We're here for accountability, so that we can learn from past mistakes and this won't happen again.” She told me about the Steering Committee's web site and the list of questions the family members would like answered.

Eckert's husband was Sean Rooney. They had been married for twenty-one years, and she first started dating him when she was sixteen. Then on Sept. 11, 2001, she spoke to him for the last time on the telephone. He told her of the fire and confusion, and then there was a loud crash. The deep love Eckert shared with her husband has fueled a dizzying range of action. Thanks to her and her fellow family members, airliner cockpit doors have been strengthened, future high-rises will be safer, and big chunks of the truth about 9/11 are being uncovered by the commission, often under duress.

As I walked across Capitol Hill that afternoon toward my subway station, I had to admit that while fashions change in history, there is still room to write about – and wonder at – the power and courage of a great man, or a great woman.



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Tim Fisher - 7/19/2004

Condoleeza Rice might not have got into the White House by 'cutting in front of the line' but you can't deny that your hero George W Bush did. You are picking on Hillary Clinton for only being in power because of who her husband is but ignoring the fact that someone with an even more important and powerful position only has the job because his daddy was president too and he still has a lot of powerful contacts.


Kevin Shanks - 4/14/2004

"I'm sure something will pop into my head here." Presidential press conference, 13 April, 2004.


Steve Brody - 4/8/2004

1. “Clinton had asked for what Clarke's team called a "Pol-Mil" plan on Al Qaida. The Clinton administration had used such plans in Haiti and afterward in Bosnia and Serbia to cover every conceivable military and post-conflict contingency. That there was such a plan drawn up in 1998 is part of Clarke's testimony and no doubt the documents still exist and were probably the documents turned over at transition.”

Paul, you can speculate all you want about “a plan”. The problem is that Clarke says there was “no plan” multiple times in his backgrounder. He says there was a “description of an existing strategy” and “things that had been looked at over the course of two years” that had never been acted upon. This was not a “plan”.

Fast-forward to Clarke’s 9-11 commission testimony:

JAMIE GORELICK, COMMISSION MEMBER: When Dr. Rice writes in the Washington Post, "No al Qaeda plan was turned over to the new administration," is that true?

CLARKE: No.

In other words, Clarke was asked if Rice was telling the truth when she said there was no plan and Clarke replied that she was not. You call it “gross conjecture” on my part to say that Clarke called Rice a liar. Huh? What other possible interpretation could there be? Do you suggest that what Clarke actually meant was that Rice was telling the truth?

2. “The existence of a plan is NOT in question,”

I agree. What Clarke tried to palm off as a plan during his 9-11 testimony was clearly not a plan and even Clarke realized that when he was giving his backgrounder. It wasn’t until people starting asking questions about what Clarke had been doing for eight years that the two documents suddenly became “a plan”.

3. “..to insinuate that your snips of testimony have exposed Clarke's denial of the very operational plan that he wrote and that guided the Clinton administration for two years is too far-fetched to discuss”

“Guided the Clinton Administration for two years”? Are you serious? Even Clarke admits that the Clinton Administration DID NOTHING with his strategy for two years. Remember “… those things which had been looked at over the course of two years, and which were still on the table.”? They were “still on the table”, Paul. They hadn’t been acted on.

4. “What was made available to the Bush administration were the two documents that constituted the old plan..”

“Apparently Rice didn't view them as a plan either. It is clear, however, that something was transmitted because the commission staff has attested to the fact”

Why do you continue to call the documents plans. Clarke insisted that they were not plans. Even you concede that Rice didn’t consider them “plans” That “something was transmitted” isn’t at issue. Since neither Clarke nor Rice considered them plans, I guess that leaves you insisting that there was a “plan” even though neither Rice nor Clarke considered them so.


Richard Henry Morgan - 4/7/2004

Clarke said Bush had set back the war on terrorism. But here it looks like it lit a fire under the Euros:

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/04/07/international/europe/07TERR.html


Richard Henry Morgan - 4/6/2004

It may yet prove to be a mistake to have gone into Iraq -- or at least expensive. But being expensive may not prove it was wrong-headed. Bin Laden says he was inspired by the attack on the Marine Barracks in Beirut -- which led to an immediate withdrawal. And as the 9/11 Commission has pointed out, we knew from signal intercepts that the order for that attack came directly from the Iranian Ambassador to Syria -- and Reagan did nothing.

Similarly, not much of anything resulted from attacks on our embassies in Africa, and the attack on the Cole. In both the barracks case and the Cole, for reasons of political correctness, the forces present did not take adequate protective steps. In Somalia, the enemy were downcast, but took heart when Clinton ran. Al Qaeda and other groups were growing and spreading before we went into Iraq, and the idea that we were degrading them before Bush is just so much nonsense. They were growing by means of propaganda of the deed. They are now a problem to all of Europe, instead of just recruiting and staging there. Good. Maybe now the Euros will treat it as a problem, rather than buying them off, as the French and the Germans did with the PLO, and as the French had done with the Barbary Pirates. Better to fight them now, in my book, than 10 or 20 years from now, when they are even stronger.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 4/6/2004

Mr. Heuisler, Mr. Morgan,
Time will tell which is us is right, but I appreciated both of your insights into the situation. You are right about many things but the decision to go into Iraq, I believe, is not one of them. Perhaps our disagreements are simply partisan, perhaps they are philosophical. Either way, I am sure that this will not be the last time we talk about Clarke. In the meantime, take care and I will see you both at the next debate!


Richard Henry Morgan - 4/6/2004

Instapundit is reporting that Clinton's final security report listed missile defense as its top priority, not terrorism. Al Qaeda isn't mentioned at all, though Bin Laden is mentioned four times. Color me astounded.


Richard Henry Morgan - 4/6/2004

I would simply point out that Bush did not make an Iraqi connection to 9/11, nor make it the crux of his argument for taking on Iraq. Certainly Iraq had connections to terrorism. Abu Abbas was found in Baghdad. So too one of the '93 tower bombers. Saddam subsidized terrorists in Israel. Mukhabarat files show connections to al Qaeda, and there were both al Qaeda and iraqi connections to the Sudan plant. But Iraqi connections to 9/11? Unproven.

No, Bush made the more radical point that given Saddam's past use of WMD, and his non-compliance with UN mandates to prove lack of WMD, and his connections to terrorism, prudence demanded that we address Iraq directly -- or so Bush maintained.

I think the motive was also more strategic. We were degrading our military equipment, and losing re-enlistments, maintaining the no-fly zones, while certain European countries were profiting both from the embargo, and from its end via post-embargo contracts -- those countries simply had no incentive to demand compliance. They were profiting, and we were losing. Bush thought he could kill more birds with the one stone of taking on Iraq directly. My only problem is with Powell's characterization that Iraq was a growing threat. It could only be called such by a tenuous argument: the terrorists were getting more bold, and Iraq had the motivation and the means to support them. As a conventional threat, Iraq was not growing, it was degrading.

The reason I bring up these points is I just saw on C-Span yesterday the Berkeley conference to which Rosen earlier referred. And there was Robert Scheer proclaiming to applause facts that were not facts -- that Bush had declared Saddam an imminent threat, and that he had laid responsibility for 9/11 at the feet of Iraq. Bush never did. Then again, Scheer has never been exactly wedded to the truth. This was a guy who ran a Berkeley commune called the Red Family that stockpiled weapons and studied the "philosophy" of Kim Il Sung for a war on America. Whatever may be wrong with Horowitz, he certainly has Scheer's measure -- he should know, since they edited Ramparts together.


Bill Heuisler - 4/6/2004

Adam,
We've reached tentative agreement to disagree on motive - both Clarke's and the President's.
One last piece of interesting info I read today changes the fact picture considerably, however. You will recall that Clarke was Clinton's "terrorism czar", but the Clinton administration's last national security document never mentions al Qaeda. So much for Clarke's basic thesis. What's so important to an author now in "blame time" was apparently not important enough to mention in a 40,000 report his office authored just three years ago.
Bill Heuisler


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 4/6/2004

1) "Stupid mistake or typo, this is the crux. Clarke's basic disagreement with the Bush Administration is the Iraq connection to 9/11. This particular mistake conveniently explains his momentary focus on Iraq - his momentary agreement with Bush.”

I disagree. I honestly don’t see how the dates affect the argument in any way. Two months later or that same month, I just don’t think it makes any difference. Certainly, he should have gotten his facts straight but to me, this is simply nitpicky (just me opinion).

2) “Rice stressed her concern with Al Qaeda in a public interview that was narrowly dispersed in the media. This was Clarke's specialty - his chosen area - and again goes directly to his second major criticism of the Bush Administration's lack of focus on terror pre-9/11.”

Thus far, this one line has been more a media creation than anything else. Neither Clarke in his testimony, nor the book, dwells on this issue. I think it was a stupid line to include, but I cannot fault Clarke for reading up on every interview Rice or other members of the administration have made. He admitted that the administration thought al Qaeda was an important issue before 9/11 so obviously he was aware they knew about it.

3) “I'm surprised you don't realize your inconsistancy here; you give Clarke the benefit of every doubt, but indict President Bush for every allegation.”

I indict Bush for one allegation: Invading Iraq under false pretenses.

I indict Clarke for many, including his comment about Rice, and his chronological mistakes. It just so happens that what I suspect has been validated by many other people, within the international community, within the intelligence community, by ex-members of the administration, and now by Clarke. So yes, I am more likely to take his opinion on Iraq seriously, not because I am a huge fan of the man, but because what he is saying is corroborating what others have said. This is why I tend to look more favorably over that aspect of his argument, because he has not been the only one saying it.


Bill Heuisler - 4/6/2004

Adam,
You brush aside two Clarke misstatements that involve the heart of his accusations and directly embrace his areas of expertise and background. Coincidence? Come on.
Look up the dates of the WT bombing and the assassination attempt. Common knowledge; particularly when you're charged with National Security. Stupid mistake or typo, this is the crux. Clarke's basic disagreement with the Bush Administration is the Iraq connection to 9/11. This particular mistake conveniently explains his momentary focus on Iraq - his momentary agreement with Bush.

Rice stressed her concern with Al Qaeda in a public interview that was narrowly dispersed in the media. This was Clarke's specialty - his chosen area - and again goes directly to his second major criticism of the Bush Administration's lack of focus on terror pre-9/11. You say he was unaware of her (his bosses) concerns about the part of his job/life that he repeats over and over formed his major authority and proficiency. Again, convenient.

I'm surprised you don't realize your inconsistancy here; you give Clarke the benefit of every doubt, but indict President Bush for every allegation.
Bill Heuisler


Josh S Narins - 4/6/2004

I've quoted Pilger in my life... on the subject of Australia.

One Pakistani intelligence official says the Afghan war plan existan beforan eleventhan Septemberan, and that means it is true?

We have "plans" to invade most every country, lying around. Don't you think? To be prepared, wouldn't we at least have to consider what it might take to handle what the last President said was a real bad place?

Maybe Bush's reaction to Clinton's warning was "Hey, let's update up on our Afghanistan plan."

Then our revised plan was developed.

It's amazingly weird how innocuous that all seems now.


Josh S Narins - 4/6/2004

UNOCAL has always pushed for the invasion, so they could set up the pipeline.

The assumption of Rall, and you allege Pilger, is that this was the primary force behind the war.

Can you blame them? We all know that the main claim the adminstration made was complete bullshit. There would have been no way on Earth for the administration to be that ignorant and not know the weapons claims were lies. The anthrax, the tubes, the al-samoud II issue, the nuclear issue and the liar Khidir Hamza, the suppression of the evidence of the real head of Iraq's WMD programs.

Pilger and Rall think, reasonably, if they main reasons were all lies, the secondary reasons were probably monetary related, and the biggest money in Afghanistan is the oil-pipeline.

You probably think all those corporations give money to congrespeople so that government is better.


Josh S Narins - 4/6/2004

I used to be a Democrat. I'm basically a Republican now.

If you look right past the leadership of the Republicans in the House, you will find more competent people on their side.

I'm very interested in Foreign Relations. Henry Hyde is a killer, Jim Leach of Iowa(Republican, 2nd in the Committee) is a pretty great man.

Tom Lantos, on the Democrat side, is a killer. You have to go down to the 5th rank, Don Payne of New Jersey, to find a decent Democrat.

Throw these killers out.


Richard Henry Morgan - 4/5/2004

Seems to me that what we have here is a case where Clarke had the ear of President Clinton for his own theory that al Qaeda was a stand alone outfit. This no doubt pleased Clinton, for he wouldn't have to actually do much in that case.

Bush came in, saying he no longer wanted to swat flies, and asked for a comprehensive review of strategy. His advisors were such that they believed you couldn't treat al Qaeda as a new phemomenon that existed without state backing. Clarke was no longer briefing the principals, his view was on the outs, his star had been eclipsed.

Now he is of two views. He said if Bush had immediately addressed al Qaeda, 9/11 might have been prevented. He also says that all the hijackers and the plan were in the country by January 2001, and that bombing al Qaeda wouldn't have stopped it. He has also decided to rewrite the past, casting the Clinton administration as the halcyon days when terrorism was the top priority. But then he admits that the mideast peace, and domestic politics were greater priorities to Clinton, and Clinton actually gave clemency to FALN terrorists. He seems contradictory, but on one issue he is consistent (of late) -- he really doesn't like the approach of taking on Iraq, and this has colored his whole rewriting of history.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 4/5/2004

Bill,
A fair and honest point. I take you on your word regarding the chronological mistake. If you would like to challenge Clarke’s competency for it, that is your right to do so.

For me however, I am content to see it as simply a clumsy error and one which has no real bearing on the argument (does it matter whether it was the same month or 2 months later?). I have seen more than enough text books and history books that contain such minor factual inconsistencies to write anything off for it. To me, this is the equivalent of a grammatical error. Similar mistakes, I posit, would be found in any book as highly scrutinized.

As for Ms. Mylroie, I do not distrust her at all, nor do I harbor any negative feelings towards her. In fact, I know very little about her other than her theory about Iraq and the 1993 attack on the WTC. While I am not familiar with her case enough to make a point by point argument (I have never read her book), the only thing I can say for certain is that US intelligence (including the FBI, CIA, and DIA) have unanimously rejected her theory, and I assume that Bush has as well (he has never once used her argument to justify war with Iraq, or cited it as evidence- not once). Given my limited knowledge of her evidence, I am force to choose whose word I am inclined to believe: the weight of the entire US intelligence-gathering community, or Mylroie. From what I can tell, it remains a conspiracy theory kept alive by a relatively small minority of Washington insiders. That is my impression, in any event, I could be wrong.

http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=33705


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 4/5/2004

Bill,
1) “Clarke said Rice didn't know about Al Qaeda, yet we have recorded proof she not only knew, but was publicly concerned.”

Let us be clear. Clarke never said that Rice never heard of al Qaeda. He said that when he briefed her about the Qaeda threat at a January 2001 meeting, "her facial expression gave me the impression she had never heard the term before.” The difference is pivotal. You claim he made a factual assertion that was incorrect. What I suggest is that Clarke expressed his impression and that his impression was wrong. This is not, as you say, “a misstatement of a fact,” unless of course you can prove that Clarke did not really think that.

2) “Clarke's misstatement was either deliberate, incompetant or careless. In any case, fatal to his Iraq-policy case and - if deliberate - to his veracity. He is, at the most basic, a very poor witness.”

I disagree, at least, based on that impression alone. It is possible that Clarke and Rice never discussed the issue of al Qaeada by name (as opposed to the more generic issue of international terrorism). The claim very-well may have been careless, just as press secretaries will often say something contrary to what their boss thinks and then must recant it (although obviously Clarke has not and in unlikely to), Clarke may have written the line without serious considerations for its implications.

3) “imagine a major prosecution witness whose basic assertion was so wrong and then imagine the defense attorney's witness impeachment.”

That would be damaging indeed if Rice’s intelligence was his basic assertion in his book. In fact, Clarke chronicles the rise of al Qaeda and the governments actions and reactions to the growing threat. From what I have read (I am not finished yet) the infamous comment about Rice was relatively obscure. That is to say, the book is in no way simply a diatribe against Rice.

Your trial analogy more closely resembles a witness testifying against a defendant, saying that he (the witness) had the impression that the defendant’s friend was in an unhappy mood before the crime, when said friend was actually quite happy. Such a discrepancy of perception would hardly impeach everything else the witness had to say, especially when the testimony was corroborated by several other witnesses.

4) “Imputing motives to Clarke is common sense. Can you explain such a basic mistake made in such a public way by an otherwise knowledgable person?”

Allow me to answer your question through comparison. As I have said before, I believe that Bush lied to the American people many times regarding the threat Iraq posed to the United States. Bush supporters however, contend that each and every misstatement was either technically accurate (even if misleading) or that Bush himself was lied to (or that there was no deception and in time, all will be revealed).

In any event, Clarke’s misreading of Rice’s expression, or even his flagrant dislike for her, does not impeach his major arguments: That Bush’s war against Iraq hurt the war on terror and that defeating al Qaeada was not his number one concern before 9/11.

In truth, I don’t know Clarke’s motivation but only one would convince me that everything he says is wrong and that is if his motivation was to make Bush look bad at the expense of his own potential ruin (which would undoubtedly be the case if his book was demonstrated to be factually deceitful). Clearly Clarke is no ally of Bush’s, but what came first? Did Clarke decide to write a book first and then, since he did not like Bush, decide to lie about him (as conservatives contend) OR did Clarke disagree with Bush’s policies and then decide to write the book?

The point is that neither his partisan affiliation, nor his personal animosity towards Rice necessarily negates a distinguished 30 year career fighting terrorism.


Bill Heuisler - 4/5/2004

Adam,
Another rather egregious written misstatement from Clarke that casts his professional expertise into serious doubt is a memo submitted to the 9/11 Commission and referenced in his book referring to the first World Trade Tower bombing. He wrote that, "...he "focused on Iraq as the possible culprit because of Iraqi involvement in the attempted assassination of President Bush in Kuwait in the same month." But Iraq's assassination attempt was two months after the Trade Center bombing. Clumsy? Self serving in light of his disdain for W's war on Iraq? Why did he focus on Iraq, I wonder?

Why do you distrust the Milroi(sp) woman so much? She was a Clinton appointee. Can you specify misstakes of hers?
Bill Heuisler


Bill Heuisler - 4/5/2004

Adam,
Re: Clarke, you accuse me of, "...simply dismissing him out of hand for disagreeing with “our guy” and then trying to smear his name and assume malicious motives."

Malice? Of course. Clarke does not merely disagree with the President, he calls him a liar and a war monger while accusing his Security Advisor of incompetance. He does this during the 9/11 Committee's hearings and he does this during a carefully coordinated (S&S Viacom CBS) book promotion. Lets settle on where we agree. Clarke said Rice didn't know about Al Qaeda, yet we have recorded proof she not only knew, but was publicly concerned.

A major premise flat wrong. And nobody asked Clarke to write his precedent-shattering book with such haste.
Just because this is politics doesn't reduce importance or factual requirements. One misstatement of a fact as central to his thesis as the Rice misstatement calls the whole Clarke presentation into question for two reasons.
Rice was the instrument of his leaving and Rice was his boss whose general knowledge would've been transparent to the high-level Clarke. Clarke's misstatement was either deliberate, incompetant or careless. In any case, fatal to his Iraq-policy case and - if deliberate - to his veracity. He is, at the most basic, a very poor witness.

Setting aside all the other contradictions from press briefing to book, imagine a major prosecution witness whose basic assertion was so wrong and then imagine the defense attorney's witness impeachment. My dismissal of Mr. Clarke is due to his mistakes and contradictions. Imputing motives to Clarke is common sense. Can you explain such a basic mistake made in such a public way by an otherwise knowledgable person? If not, then what are Clarke's motives in your opinion?
Bill Heuisler


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 4/5/2004

Richard,
I appreciated your answer, although must say that the only people in this debate who has engaged in the so-called “Clarke debate” is conservatives so intent on destroying this mans character that they must destroy everything, not just some things, he ever said.

Indeed, his party affiliation may have been some fabrication of the media (which is their own fault for not investigating his claim in more detail). As for Clarke’s so-called dishonesty, you are right, it is a rather misleading answer. Like many statements I have heard almost every government operative make, Clarke chose to go on the defensive regarding the claim of partisanship, and decided not to confess that he gave money to Democrats (probably correctly predicting that this fact would somehow make any claim he says untrue in the eyes of some conservatives).

I am not saying that we will not find anything wrong with every statement the man has ever said, as every word he ever made is now under immense scrutiny. In fact, there is a great deal that Clarke has said that I fully disagree with (his claim that Rice did not look like she knew about al Qeada, for example, is simply incorrect in my view, as I have stated before).

Nevertheless, I can think of no witness, author, government employee, whistleblower, administration official, even president whose statements are judged only by the validity of everything they have ever said. I have stated elsewhere, I believe that Bush lied to the American people about Iraq, a position I know you disagree with and that is fine. This does not mean I think he is a terrible president or that he has done nothing right, or that he has lied about everything. I feel no need to dichotomize the world so simply.

Clarke was a high level official who is echoing much of what has been said by others. Does this mean he is perfect, perhaps born without sin? Of course not. As far as I am concerned, he is an arrogant bureaucrat that has become very defensive about his partisan loyalties. As such, I don’t take everything he said as gospel. However, I also believe that some of what he has said, particularly about decisions to go to war with another country, must be taken seriously. If he is simply lying, or fabricating things that never took place (as some conservatives argue), then the truth will come out and he will be discredited. However, if he is telling the truth, and just validating what others have said, this is a grave concern that should upset as many Republicans as it does Democrats.


Richard Henry Morgan - 4/5/2004

Adam, to a certain extent you are right -- I'm merely mirroring the Clarke technique, since the major news media has gone out of its way not to subject his claims to critical examination. A quick check of the web will suffice to show that Mylroie is right about the Iraqi who Clarke claims was imprisoned -- he was given a house and a job by Saddam. Clearly, Judge Duffy did not buy the Clinton argument about Yousef. And just as clearly, the Bush administration has yet to endorse mylroie's view of massive Iraqi involvement -- we are not faced with deciding between the two, as neither may have sufficient evidence.

It may indeed be to the best of your knowledge that Clarke is a Republican, since the NY Times and the WaPo told you so. Here's a bit with Clarke and Salon's Joe "I can't figure out why Hillary Clinton lied about cattle futures" Conason:

"Conason:
Is it true that you're a registered Republican, as someone told me yesterday?

Clarke:
Well, I vote in Virginia, and you can't register as a Republican or a Democrat in Virginia. The only way that anybody ever knows your party affiliation in Virginia is when you vote in a primary, because you have to ask for either a Republican or a Democratic ballot. And in the year 2000, I voted in the Republican presidential primary. That's the only record in the state of Virginia of my interest or allegiance.

---------

This is close to the same artful answer he gave in televised interviews -- except, of course, about there not being registration requirements for primary voting. As far as I can tell from the web, he has donated only to Democrat candidates. Note, he could have simply answered the question -- it is not illegal to belong to one party rather than another, or to any party whatsoever. There is simply no state law requirement to be registered as a party member in order to vote in a primary. Instead, Clarke recast the question into terms of what other people can know. You decide if that is honest.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 4/5/2004

Richard,
Citing an article by Laurie Mylorie has no more credibility than if I were to cite an article by Clarke himself (I was disappointed to see your question, “Can't Clarke get anything right?” suffering from the same dismissive attack strategy that many conservatives feel they must resort to).

Why would you believe a person whom the administration you support does not (neither, by the way, does the FBI, CIA, and the 9/11 investigation, all of which have completely rejected her theory)?

http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=33705

Also, to the best of my knowledge, Clarke is a registered Republican. The fact that he gave money to Democrats does not change his registration, and thus the claim is not wrong at all (although misleading, certainly).

Bill,
Maybe I missed something, how did Clarke interfere with a Republican primary? Also, how did he confess to deception? As for wondering why his defenders can be so blind, allow me to posit the reason is that his defenders (at least this one) listen to what he actually has to say, and then decide which statements warrant careful consideration. I recognize that this is a very different strategy than simply dismissing him out of hand for disagreeing with “our guy” and then trying to smear his name and assume malicious motives.

You claim that Democrats (I assume that is who you meant) “think oceans of words replace argument.” Huh? Isn’t that exactly what an argument is, words? You also accuse Democrats of referencing “the opinions of others on lists of websites and Lefty articles” as evidence. I include editorials on occasion, certainly. Why not? I wonder if you would include some of your fellow conservatives on this post with the same disdain for posting editorials?

You end your one post with this: “Your detailed arguments and calm restraint must be constant reproach and humiliation to them since their responses seem to get longer and longer.”

I am not sure, but I think you are trying to accuse liberals of writing detailed and thorough arguments. If that is the case, I take that charge with gratitude.

“Coddling criminals and terrorists is a Democrat fetish.”
No comment on this one, nor does it warrant none. I merely repost it here to remind everyone how vitriolic and pathological partisanship can descend to.

You say “And Clarke must've pardoned those Saudi royal family members he released after 9/11.” HE released? How many Americans knew about Clarke before the past few weeks and yet he alone is given the unilateral authority to allow a flight on 9/13? If what you are saying is true, why does President Bush have no control over his own personnel? Why were Condi Rice, Rumsfeld, Cheney and others left out of the loop? Why wasn't Clarke immediately dismissed unless the administration approved/authorized it?

(Of course, no need to answer these questions since I believe you are wrong in implying that sole blame lies with Clarke for letting the Saudis leave, and I speculate you would have denied the event at all just a few months ago, who knows?).

By the way, why is Clarke responsible for the 9/13 flight (not Bush), and yet Clinton is blamed for Waco (not the FBI) and Gonzalez (not Reno)?

Finally (this is rich) you bring up Clinton's pardons. President H.W. Bush's pardons include a Watergate felon, a Cuban exile terrorist and a Pakistani heroin smuggler. You wouldn't hold Republicans to another standard because you happen to agree with their policy, would you?


Bill Heuisler - 4/5/2004

Mr Morgan,
Imagine that.
Coddling criminals and terrorists is a Democrat fetish.
And FALN aren't just pussycats. They're terrorists who tried to shoot President Truman and, in 1954, machine-gunned Congress, killing five lawmakers and some police. True to form, Jimmy Carter pardoned four of them - even one who shot at President Truman.

Clinton pardoned billionaires, Rich and Green, a Weather Underground member linked to killing two policemen and SLA gun moll, Patty Hearst. He pardoned the Puerto Rican FALN cop-killers, but he couldn't find it in his heart to let those Waco women and children live or to allow Elian Gonzalez to remain free from Castro's Police State.

And Clarke must've pardoned those Saudi royal family members he released after 9/11 - an extra-judicial perk. Wonder if there was quid for quo? Talk about chutzpah.
Bill Heuisler


Paul Newsom - 4/4/2004

"Inconsistencies that far exceed mere matters of “emphasis and tone” as Clarke so pathetically attempted to explain. "

While your Clarke references leave unanswered questions, in the light of other evidence -- briefings, meetings, documents, Clarke's book -- there is nothing inexplicable in what you've asserted to be glaring inconsistencies.

Clinton had asked for what Clarke's team called a "Pol-Mil" plan on Al Qaida. The Clinton administration had used such plans in Haiti and afterward in Bosnia and Serbia to cover every conceivable military and post-conflict contingency. That there was such a plan drawn up in 1998 is part of Clarke's testimony and no doubt the documents still exist and were probably the documents turned over at transition.

After the election of 2000, Clarke was asked to "update" the "Pol-Mil" plan for the transition, and in his book he mentions that he added strategic considerations, such as the need to support the Northern Alliance, but he is clear that the "update" wasn't something that was reviewed or approved as a "new plan." In the spring he indicates that he undertook revisions to the "old Pol-Mil" plan.

You write, "He is clearly calling Rice a liar and implying that the “two documents” represent a “plan." The "liar" is gross conjecture. The "plan" conjecture is less gross.

The existence of a plan is NOT in question, and to insinuate that your snips of testimony have exposed Clarke's denial of the very operational plan that he wrote and that guided the Clinton administration for two years is too far-fetched to discuss. There is a more reasonable, less-glamorous explanation.

What was made available to the Bush administration were the two documents that constituted the old plan with Clarke's own unapproved "updating" that he had added for the purposes of the transition. Rice's statement is incorrect because it implies that nothing was given, and Clarke corrects the implication in the response to the first question. Clarke doesn't appear to think that his altered, unapproved documents constitute the original Clinton working plan, and of course if they were extensively altered, following the instructions he had been given, they wouldn't be. It would have been disingenuous to represent them as such. Apparently Rice didn't view them as a plan either. It is clear, however, that something was transmitted because the commission staff has attested to the fact.

Later Clarke did update the plan for Bush's signature, adding the need to "eliminate Al Qaida" which language he was told to change to "degrade" -- but even after his update, the Bush administration did not consider it to be THEIR working plan.


John Stephen Kipper - 4/4/2004

Just as a question, how does Clark justify his apologies for the entire government? His own apology may well be sincere, but by what authority can he apologize for everyone elses' responsibility? And how far back does his apology cover? Does he, for instance, apologize for the Church committee that gutted the CIA thirty years ago? Does he apologize for for various votes of Congress that limited human intelligence assets? You can see my point, no need to list further examples.

In my opinion, the apology was nothoing more than a greandstand play to the emotions of the families of the deceased, perhaps sincere, but surely calculated to ellicit an emotional response. He succeeded in this, but to what use?


Richard Henry Morgan - 4/3/2004

Maybe you, or maybe Kevin Shanks can explain to me how Clinton's giving clemency to FALN terrorists demonstrated that (to borrow a phrase from Richard Clarke) Clinton had no higher priority than fighting terrorism? Just wondering. I just did a search of Clarke's 9/11 testimony, and I couldn't find one mention of the FALN. Imagine that.


Bill Heuisler - 4/3/2004

Mr. Morgan,
I noticed. What Clarke really confessed to was deception; he interfered in a Republican Primary so as to affect the General Election favorably for a Liberal Democrat. His name is on many Dem. donor lists for a decade prior to the partisan duplicity. His 9/11 Committee exhibition of bathos-as-apology reminded me of Clinton and Carter - two men who reflexively substitute emotion for authenticity. His fake guilt was as much insult as R.S. McNamara's and makes me wonder how his defenders can be so blind.

But these are people who think oceans of words replace argument, who think references to the opinions of others on lists of websites and Lefty articles will bestow gravitas on their poorly stated, insipid prejudices.
Your detailed arguments and calm restraint must be constant reproach and humiliation to them since their responses seem to get longer and longer. Wonderful.
Bill Heuisler


Richard Henry Morgan - 4/3/2004

Did anybody else out there notice how Clarke tried to dissipate responsibility for releasing the planeload of Saudis following 9/11? He says it was cleared with the FBI, and the decision was made. Turns out ... you guessed it ... it was Clarke who made the decision. His book has him in command, heroically making executive decisions, and then when it comes to the Saudi plane ...

Did anyone else notice his artful assertion of partisan orientation -- so artful that the NY Times and the Washington Post both wrongly asserted that he was a registered Republican?


Richard Henry Morgan - 4/3/2004

Can't Clarke get anything right?

http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110004906


Richard Henry Morgan - 4/3/2004

Actually, it would have been cheaper, faster, and easier to fully fund an opposition to the Taliban -- as it has been shown, warlords in the area come cheap.


Melissa Ann Macauley - 4/3/2004

Mr. Steve Brody, the Canadian border story is only a small part of the complicated series of attacks which we call the "millennial attacks." It was about 20% of the story. Please inform yourself about these events before responding to my postings. Thank you.


Richard Henry Morgan - 4/2/2004

Pilger is from the vulgar, high school-educated wing of the Marxist camp. He believes there has always been a plan to invade Afghanistan in order to set up a pipeline. Just why Bin Laden couldn't have figured that out and moved elsewhere is never explained. Being without shame, Pilger said his trip to Kabul after the deposing of the Taliban reminded him of Cambodia Year Zero. In any case, I think that is why Pilger latched onto this story -- I've detailed my own Tim Blairite reasons for mentioning Pilger.

I think Kevin is right that at least the wider objectives may have been saber-rattling, or at least couldn't have been accomplished by mid-October.

BTW, Pilger has taken to denying that the bombing in Bali had anything to do with Australia's intervention in Timor -- an intervention for which he himself tirelessly lobbied.


Richard Henry Morgan - 4/2/2004

You may be right about saber-rattling, though the mere killing or capturing of Bin Laden and Omar would not require invasion. Or was it half-and-half? Certainly the "wider objective" couldn't be accomplished without an invasion, and just as certainly it must have been obvious that that could not be accomplished by mid-October.

Then again I contemplate the Ranger airborne assault to Omar's home base, complete with a convenient airbase nearby. Who knows? You're certainly right though, that a wider objective was threatened, and by wider means, and any intimation on my part that only a snatch and grab was threatened was wrong -- though it certainly, in contrast to the wider objective, have been carried out by mid-October.

One thing is for sure. Like Tim Blair I find it humorous that an anti-American twit like Pilger can be mobilized to oppose Clarke.


Kevin Shanks - 4/2/2004

This is for all our fair-minded readers questing for the truth. (Not Mr. You-Know-Who here; I've given up on him.)

Here is the pertinent passage from the BBC article:

Mr Naik told the BBC that at the meeting the US representatives told him that unless Bin Laden was handed over swiftly America would take military action to kill or capture both Bin Laden and the Taleban leader, Mullah Omar.

The wider objective, according to Mr Naik, would be to topple the Taleban regime and install a transitional government of moderate Afghans in its place - possibly under the leadership of the former Afghan King Zahir Shah.

Mr Naik was told that Washington would launch its operation from bases in Tajikistan, where American advisers were already in place.

He was told that Uzbekistan would also participate in the operation and that 17,000 Russian troops were on standby.

[end of quote]

1) This "wider objective" could not be accomplished merely by killing or capturing Bin Laden and Omar. Do you think the Taliban and al-Qaeda would fold after such a decapitation? Please. Therefore, this meant a full-blown invasion.

"Install a transitional government"? Full-blown invasion.

"17,000 Russian troops on standy"? Full-blown invasion.

"American advisors?" Not if it's a special-ops hit. Advisors are to prepare the ground for a... you guessed it: full-blown invasion.

Plus, the issue of Rumsfeld not mentioning *any* operation of *any* size still stands.

My vote is with the sabre-rattling scenario. That is where all the evidence points.


Bill Heuisler - 4/2/2004

Mr. Shanks,
Thanks for your advice on reading. Let me quote the part of your eminently readable post that was so difficult to grasp. You wrote, "...they "got it" when it came to the al-Qaeda threat, while the dilletante lightweight Rice, and the hard-bitten ideologues Wolfowitz and Cheney, did not. End of story."

"They" are obviously your good guys. Who are the "dogs"? Earlier you described hounds of attack dogs, so I quite naturally leaped to the conclusion you were referring to Rice, Wolfy and Chaney - since you never named anyone else. While begging your pardon for naivete', I must also beg you to name the persons in the Bush Administration you were referring to as hounds of dogs.

My charge was that you quoted and then misquoted. Sorry to be so complex. More simply, you grossly misinterpreted Secretary Powell and based a conclusion on your mistake. Is that a little easier to understand? "Not the complete story" and "one point of view" are terms a politician uses when trying to be polite and diplomatic while disagreeing. A concept you might consider.
Bill Heuisler


Richard Henry Morgan - 4/2/2004

Actually, Kevin, your reading skills haven't improved much since your casting of Powell's comment as an expression of trust in Clarke. Even the BBC article you cite describes a threatened operation to kill or capture Bin Laden and Omar, not an invasion. All that typing for nothing.


Kevin Shanks - 4/2/2004

Danged technology!


Kevin Shanks - 4/2/2004

Some people might find it problematic and inconsistent to hold someone up as worthy of listening to, and then say that the you don't "hold a brief" for him. To me, that does not add to the discussion.

In any event, Mr. Morgan might have spared himself the ickiness (you can see how worked up he got) of "using" Mr. Pilger if he had simply referred to the BBC story which I believe originated the claim:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/1550366.stm

Until there is a more substantial source than a former Pakistani official, the issue of whether there was an operational military plan to invade Afghanistan by October will not be resolved.

However I doubt there was anything in the works:

1) Mounting such an invasion (as we learned *after* Sept. 11) requires a massive mobilization of manpower, a significant and highly visible pre-positioning of military assets, and extensive political preparations. If indeed all of this was going on in the summer before the attacks: a) someone would have noticed; b) *the attack would actually have been carried out in September*!! and c) Mr. Rumsfeld would certainly have been bound by oath to mention it in his 9/11 testimony (he didn't; check for yourself), since he was asked directly by the commission: What did DoD do vis-a-vis counterterrorism between Bush's inauguration and Sept. 11?

If we take the former Pakistani foreign secretary at his word, then the U.S. officials were probably engaging in what is known in the trade as "sabre-rattling." This is a time honored tactic, and is entirely plausible. But threatening an adversary through the diplomatic grapevine is not the same thing as going over and popping a cap in his sorry behind.

In the same way, declaring that "major hostilities" are ended in Iraq is not the same as actually pacifying the country. Ask the families of the contractors killed in Falluja as well as all the others who died or were maimed after our president's decalaration.


Richard Henry Morgan - 4/2/2004

PS

Of course, if your point is that John Pilger is a serial liar, and shouldn't be trusted on any issue, then by all means make that argument. I hold no brief for the man. I just found it amusing that so rabidly anti-American a half-witted and uneducated man as Pilger should end up providing evidence for Bush. You don't think, do you, that Pilger invented his stuff as an attack on American involvement in Afghanistan? Imagine the irony.


Richard Henry Morgan - 4/2/2004

That's right. John Pilger, an anti-American poor man's version of Wilfred Burchett, graduate of Sydney High, and the beneficiary of a Frank Rhodes professorship at Cornell (along with that other famous academic, the anti-semite airhead, Cynthia McKinney).

So I'm quoting somebody who is not an American flack, in support of the notion that the US was working on disposing of al Qaeda pre-9/11 -- in contradiction to Clarke's assertion. Curiously, I have also been known to quote Kruschev's denunciation of Stalin, though I've never shared a bed with Kruschev. I simply find it more effective when you quote the left-winger to support a right-wing assertion (in this case, the Bush Administration's assertion is supported by Pilger). Do you have anything intelligent to add to this discussion?


Kevin Shanks - 4/2/2004

Umm, Mr. Morgan is putting forward John Pilger in his tireless effort to show George (WMD)Bush is more credible than Richard Clarke.

FYI:

http://timblair.spleenville.com/archives/006163.php

TONY JONES: Can you approve in that context the killing of American, British or Australian troops who are in the occupying forces?
JOHN PILGER: Well yes, they're legitimate targets. They're illegally occupying a country. And I would have thought from an Iraqi's point of view they are legitimate targets, they'd have to be, sure.
++++++++++++++++++++++

Whoops! Why Mr. Morgan, what strange bedfellows!


Richard Henry Morgan - 4/2/2004

Check the dates. Pilger claims there was a plan in the works to into Afghanistan by mid-October. Last time I looked, September comes before October.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 4/2/2004

Richard,
If your source is correct, I do not know why Colin Powell testified under oath that going into Afghanistan before 9/11 would have been "impossible" or why
Rumsfeld said, under oath, that he knew of "no actionable intelligence" after Bush took office "that would have allowed the United States to capture or kill bin Laden."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/ A17097-2004Mar23.html


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 4/2/2004

1) "I suggest that Clarke’s policy and strategy was a failure. It failed to stop even one terrorist attack."

The counter argument, and one that Clarke and others have made, was the Clarke's policy simply was not suggested and he blames both Clinton and Bush for that.

2) "If a “Drug Czar” had the responsibility for reducing the amount of drugs on the street in this country and failed to produce any results, he WOULD BE blamed for poor performance and properly so."

If only it were true. In fact, the number of drugs in America remains a huge problem. Some people blame a lack of resources (which is Congress' job), some blame a lack of national attention, but I have never heard ANY pundit blame the Drug Tsar.

2) "If government officials are not responsible for their own poor results, then how can you hold anyone in government responsible for anything?"

An excellent point and if it were demonstrated that Clarke did a poor job, he should be held accountable unlike, I must take this opportunity to say, ANYONE in the intelligence community for mistakenly telling the president that Iraq had WMD when he really didn't. As for accountability, I see none in either Bush or Clinton administration for much of anything.

3) "But my original post concerns Clarke’s “apology” and subsequent blaming of everyone but himself for the failures that led up to 9-11. I don’t think that took much courage on his part."

You are mistaken. In fact, he did assume responsibility. "Your government has failed you," Clarke said to the victims families, "and I have failed you." He then went on to ask forgiveness for his failure. It might not have meant much to you or I or other political aficionados, so full of cynicism, but every family member of a 9/11 victim they have interviewed said they were touched that someone finally took some responsibility. Indeed, many went to hug Mr. Clarke after his testimony. This is all documented.

4) "It now seems clear that the Clinton Administration policy of limited cruise missile attacks on aspirin factories and vacant training camps, as a response to terrorist incidents was a complete failure. Clarke had the responsibility for knowing this. Why won’t he admit that?"

I don’t recall him denying that. However, both Powell and Albright testified that a full attack on Afghanistan would have been politically and practically impossible before 9/11. Finally, Clarke's role in government was counter-terrorism. The president has intelligence advisors, national security advisors, military advisors, and diplomatic advisors that all play a part in policy.

Do you have any reason to believe that Clarke did NOT suggest doing more and those suggestions were not implemented by the president? In fact, that is exactly what Clarke has charged.

http://www.cnn.com/2004/ALLPOLITICS/03/23/911.commission.strikes.ap/index.html


Richard Henry Morgan - 4/2/2004

from Tim Blair's website:

PILGER TRUMPS CLARKE

In comments, blogger For Now uncovers a Richard Clarke-smiting article written by John Pilger in December 2001:

The twin towers attacks provided Bush's Washington with both a trigger and a remarkable coincidence. Pakistan's former foreign minister Niaz Naik has revealed that he was told by senior American officials in mid-July that military action against Afghanistan would go ahead by the middle of October. The US secretary of state, Colin Powell, was then travelling in central Asia, already gathering support for an anti-Afghanistan war "coalition".


What does this mean? For Now explains:

Pilger has evidence that the Bush Administration was MOVING BEFORE 9/11/01 TO ACT AGAINST THE TALIBAN. Pilger, without knowing it, counters Clarke’s charges that the Bush Administration didn’t take Al Qaeda seriously enough!


Steve Brody - 4/2/2004

Melissa, as I posted elsewhere, the “Millennium attacks” were thwarted by a heads up, female Customs Inspector, who caught Ahmed Ressam sneaking bomb making materials into this country from Canada. I thought it particularly despicable of Clarke to take credit for her hard work. Notice how he never explained exactly how he deserved the credit for Ressam’s arrest.

As for all Clarke’s talk about the “meetings” about the “vague looming crisis”, it was the Millennium, for Chris sake. Everyone was meeting about a “looming crisis” as the Millennium approached. Don’t you remember all the dooms day predictions about the Millennium? It would have been shocking if they hadn’t been meeting.

You claim that Clarke “has his story straight”, but he really doesn’t. According to Clarke, the Clinton Administration did leave the Bush Administration a plan for dealing with Al Qaeda or they did not leave a plan. Take your pick; he’s made both claims.

He claims that the Bush Administration was “fixated on Iraq” but admits that after 9-11 Bush quickly implemented a plan to invade Afghanistan. Some “fixation”.

He says that war in Iraq has “undermined the war on terror”, but he never explains how. Have there been any terror attacks in this country since 9-11? Nope. Just how has the war in Iraq “undermined “ the war on terror?

He claims that the Bush Administration considered the threat from Al Qaeda “important, but not urgent”. Is that what the argument is about? What adjectives Clarke chooses to describe the Bush Administration’s collective thoughts about Al Qaeda.

He claims Condi Rice didn’t know what Al Qaeda was when he briefed her in 2001. But then there was that pesky video of Condi demonstrating consummate knowledge of Al Qaeda. In 2000.

He claims that the Clinton Administration “gave him everything he asked for” when it comes to Al Qaeda. He just can’t explain why Clinton rejected his request to bomb Al Qaeda and Taliban infra structure in Afghanistan. Plus, if the Clinton Administration gave him “everything he asked for” in the fight against Afghanistan, he never explains why there was never any credible response to the Al Qaeda terrorist attacks until Bush took over.

Incidentally, Melissa, YOU need to get YOUR story straight. Contrary to your assertion, Clarke never said that Bush told him to “find an Iraqi link to 9-11”. Clarke said specifically that Bush never told him to find such a link.


Steve Brody - 4/2/2004

Actually, Adam, Clarke’s job was to craft a strategy and policy that would prevent terrorist attacks. I suggest that Clarke’s policy and strategy was a failure. It failed to stop even one terrorist attack.

You claim that it is unfair to blame Clarke for this failure. You suggest that it would be like blaming the “Drug Czar” for the presence of drugs. Be honest. If a “Drug Czar” had the responsibility for reducing the amount of drugs on the street in this country and failed to produce any results, he WOULD BE blamed for poor performance and properly so.

If government officials are not responsible for their own poor results, then how can you hold anyone in government responsible for anything?

Now I know that the responsibility is not Clarke’s alone. Bush and Clinton and various members of their respective administrations have some responsibility also. But my original post concerns Clarke’s “apology” and subsequent blaming of everyone but himself for the failures that led up to 9-11. I don’t think that took much courage on his part.

It now seems clear that the Clinton Administration policy of limited cruise missile attacks on aspirin factories and vacant training camps, as a response to terrorist incidents was a complete failure. Clarke had the responsibility for knowing this. Why won’t he admit that?


Melissa Ann Macauley - 4/2/2004

Actually, Clarke did help thwart terrorist attacks, the series of thwarted attacks in the US, East Asia, and the Middle East we call the "millennial attacks" of late 1999. They are not famous because they were thwarted, and people paid more attention to a blue-stained dress. But he gives credit where it is due: not to himself but to Sandy Berger's daily attention to the vague, looming, crisis; Clinton's articulation of government policy with regard to Al Qaeda; to our many allies; and to luck. It's all in the book.

[I posted the following in the wrong place, so I'm presumptuously posting this again. Thanks for your patience and feel free to ignore it if you already read it]:

Actually, Clarke has his basic story straight: 1. unlike the Clinton administration, the Bush administration felt the threat from Al Qaeda was "important, but not urgent;" 2. Prior to 9/11, and even afterward, Wolfowitz, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al. were stuck in a Cold War frame of reference in which terrorism can only be a threat when it is "state sponsored;" 3. the Bush administration was fixated on Iraq; 4. the Iraqi War has undermined the "war on terrorism." Agree or disagree, but stay focused on what the man is saying.

It is the Bush administration that has been inconsistent throughout: e.g. 1. initially they said the conversation between Bush and Clarke in the situation room on 9/12 (in which Bush instructed him to find an Iraqi link to 9/11) never happened (Hadley); then they changed their minds; it did happen (Rice). e.g. 2. At first they claimed that Clarke was out of the loop and didn't know what the administration was doing (Cheney); then, after critics noted that it was contradictory for them to claim to have taken counterterrorism seriously before 9/11, but all along kept their counterterrorism Special Assistant "out of the loop," they declared that, oh, Clarke was "in the loop, of course" (Rice). Incidentally, in spite of repeated requests, Clarke was never permitted to brief Bush on terrorism issues.

The inability of the Bush administration to stay on message throughout all of this tells us one thing: they were completely caught off guard about this. But how could the administration have been caught off guard when the White House security people had vetted the book last year? Ahh, could it be that the security people never told the political people at the White House that this one was coming down the pike? That would mean the security folks are very, very angry with the political folks. Pick your reason (mine: revenge for the politicos' outing of a CIA operative involved in WMD work). Just a theory.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 4/2/2004

Steve,
Perhaps you have misunderstood Clarke’s position and function within the administration to blame him for the terrorist attacks. He is a terrorist specialist who advises policymakers and even the editorial posted by Richard attests to his repeated concerns for terrorism. Blaming Clarke for terrorist attacks is like blaming the drug tsar for illegal drugs in the country. Does the chief executive officer, or his other advisors get no blame at all? How about intelligence agencies like the FBI and the CIA?

If you honestly believe that the lack of terrorism in Clarke’s absence proves he is somehow a link to its occurrence, I have a great whistle that I will sell you that keeps the Soviet Union away. Ever since I got it in 1989, there has been no Soviet Union. Impressive, huh?


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 4/2/2004

Richard,
You are right, the piece is fascinating, and I think the author makes some excellent critiques of Clarke's book. However, the one thing that I tend to be skeptical about of the piece, and indeed a persistent theme among those who want more than anything to be right about going into Iraq, is the insistence of a link to al-Qeada (although I agree with the author, Clarke could have taken a page or so to address them).

Those who opposed this war were wrong to emphatically deny ANY relationship between Iraq and bin Laden. However, those who support the war are equally wrong to flaunt it as if it were fact. Indeed, almost all of the evidence that suggests a relationship has been either discredited, circumstantial, or flat out weak. Much that has been cited here and elsewhere is viewed with suspicion among specialists, and even those who accept them all on their face are forced to acknowledge the much greater connection between bin Laden and Pakistan, or Saudi Arabia, or Yemen, or many others who fall well before Iraq on the list of candidates for regime change.

In sum, I believe some relationship between the 2 groups has been adequately demonstrated. However, the level of connection that would justify using it as evidence for invading Iraq is simply not compelling, to say the least.

It has often been said that only Nixon could go to China, since he had the anti-communist credentials to avoid sever scrutiny. I think it would be equally correct to say that only Bush could go into Iraq. If Bush were a Democrat, there is little doubt in my mind what the reaction would be. He would be denounced far and wide as a liar and impeached for it. The decision would be questioned as to why Iraq, why then, and why the lies, and the whole operation would be dismissed as another failed nation-building exercise by liberals who want America to be the world’s police officer and is more concerned about Iraqis than Americans. That is my speculation, anyway, who can say?

Take your pick in outlet, there are many more that say the same thing:
http://www.time.com/time/columnist/karon/article/0,9565,472023,00.html?cnn=yes
http://www.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/meast/03/11/Iraq.Qaeda.link/
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,91848,00.htmlhttp://msnbc.msn.com/id/3909150/
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/2727471.stm


Steve Brody - 4/2/2004

During Richard Clarke’s eight-year tenure as “Terrorism Czar”, this country was subjected to numerous terrorist attacks that took thousands of American lives. No credible response was ever mounted by Clarke. In fact, Clark failed to stop even one attack.

Did anyone notice that since the Bush Administration eased Clarke out of the job we have not had any more terror attacks?

Hmmm...


Kevin Shanks - 4/1/2004

Mr. Heuisler:

1) I did not "misquote" Powell (unless the PBS transcript is in error). I clipped his words verbatim. I,like any reasonable, non-partisan person would, deduced that Powell trusts and respects Clarke from Powell's quote in the interview, from his past statements, and his past and present behavior. In "Against All Enemies," it is clear that Clarke respects Powell's assesment of al-Qaeda's role in the Sept. 11 attacks, in stark contrast to the "almost a sharp physical pain" that Clarke said he felt when he realized that Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz "were going to try to take advantage of this national tragedy to promote their agenda about Iraq." (p. 30) I would happily wager that if asked whether he respected Clarke, Powell would answer in the affirmative, and vice versa.

2) I never called Dr. Rice an "attack dog." By claiming that I did, you cast serious doubt on your ability to read plain English. Talk about sloppy.

3) Which part of "I have known him for many, many years. He is a very smart guy. He served his nation very, very well. He's an expert in these matters" did you not understand? This is a ringing endorsement of Clarke's competence. Despite the opening offered by Lehrer's question, Powell refused to characterize Clarke's book in anything but neutral language, and Clarke himself in glowing terms. That took guts, when much of the rest of the administration and its supporters were all but calling Clarke a liar. In short, Powell had nothing to lose (except, perhaps a valued professional relationship) and everything to gain by trashing Clarke and his book. By choosing to praise Clarke and remain neutral on the book, Powell spoke volumes.

4) The purpose of my post was to show how the comments of an important administration official buttress Clarke's case. Since I did not set out to "explain Clarke's contradictions," how can you accuse me of failing at that task?

5) I did not consider the expression "attack dogs" an insult. In fact, there is an office in the Bush White House (under the supervision of Karl Rove(r)), called Special Assistant to the President for Slime, Sleaze and Character-Assasination. Bearing this in mind, I thought "attack dog" was mild. But I was feeling generous today.


Richard Henry Morgan - 4/1/2004

Fascinating piece on the changing tune of Clarke's orchestration:

http://opinionjournal.com/la/?id=110004893


Bill Heuisler - 4/1/2004

Mr. Shanks,
You quote Secretary Powell and then proceed to misquote him: "Two points: 1) He pointedly chose not be become part of the administration's baying hound of attack dogs because he respects Clarke and trusts him.

Nowhere does General Powell say he respects or trusts Clarke. In fact, his careful wording leaves exactly the opposite impression. He further says Clarke's book is not the whole story and only one point of view. Were this a credibility witness in a courtroom, the testimony would be considered hostile to the person described because it undermines the book by refusing to agree or endorse any of the writer's opinions or the book's content.

BYW, "hound of attack dogs" shows sloppy bias.
Condi Rice is not an attack dog if her words have merit. Explain what distinguishes a member of an administration who leaves and immediately criticizes sensitive decisions from a member of that administration who defends those decisions? How does defending become attacking? Or has defending President Bush become improper in your world?
Your haste to insult and failure to explain Clarke's contradictions exposes more about you than you realize.
Bill Heuisler


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 4/1/2004

Be careful David, in your heated post about how much you hate the Clinton's, you almost included some interesting points about the actual topic at hand.

You seem to assume that really smart people cannot lie, or that all of this is a charge against Rice's intelligence. You are incorrect on both counts. Rice's intelligence is not in question.


David C Battle - 4/1/2004

They picked the wrong battle, and ultimately this victory will cost them the war they are waging to win back the White House.

Unlike a certain junior senator from New York, Condoleezza Rice didn't get to the White House by marrying some slick, skirt-chasing sleaze-ball, who had to redefine "sexual relations" and "is" just to hold onto some semblance of respectability. She doesn't have to stand by an unfaithful man in order to keep her position of power. She doesn't have to lose her billing records or memory to cover up past misdeeds, nor does she have to acquire illegal FBI files to keep others in check.

Condi is the real deal. She is a self-made woman. She didn't achieve her success by cutting in the front of the line or cleaver manipulation. She climbed up the ladder to the very pinnacle of power in this country by hard work and determination. Not only is Dr. Rice a Russian linguist and foreign-policy expert, she plays classical music just to relax.

She doesn't have to look over her shoulder or remember exactly what she said to every person with whom she interacts. She says what she thinks based on the best information available and she doesn't have to color it or spin it in order to survive – nor does she have to apologize or make excuses.

Watch, this will turn into a Democrat route before it's over.


Richard Henry Morgan - 4/1/2004

Powell on Clarke:
"He is very aggressive in pursuing his ideas and pursuing his points of view, and the book is the book, and you can read it and make your own judgment as to whether it's accurate or not, but I would say it is not the complete story."

Has ever a velvet glove better covered an iron fist?


Kevin Shanks - 4/1/2004

I direct your attention to the Jim Lehrer interview with Colin Powell: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/white_house/jan-june04/powell_03-26.html

Although Powell is obviously still serving at the behest of Bush, so his "spin" on terrorism and Iraq and such policy matters is similar to that which Clarke was bound to deliver when he was a member of the administration, he is a reliable source on other matters.

For example, Powell and Clarke have had a longstanding professional relationship, and thus Powell is an excellent source on Clarke's "credibility" and his motivations. Here is Powell's reply when Lehrer asked him about the matter:

SECRETARY POWELL: I know Mr. Clarke. I have known him for many, many years. He is a very smart guy. He served his nation very, very well. He's an expert in these matters. He is very aggressive in pursuing his ideas and pursuing his points of view, and the book is the book, and you can read it and make your own judgment as to whether it's accurate or not, but I would say it is not the complete story.
I'd say it is important for the commission to listen to all of the witnesses and not just focus on one witness who has written a book that happened to come out right now. I'm not attributing any bad motives to it. I'm just saying his book and his point of view is one point of view.
[end of quote]

Two points: 1) He pointedly chose not be become part of the administration's baying hound of attack dogs because he respects Clarke and trusts him. Note well: he did not call Clarke unreliable or even a liar, merely pointing out the obvious -- that Clarke's book was "one point of view." (No one disputes that.) He didn't even say he disagreed with Clarke!

2) Powell also stressed the need for the commission and its attempt to find out what mistakes were made so that they would not be repeated.

Powell and Tenet are not attacking Clarke, because they "got it" when it came to the al-Qaeda threat, while the dilletante lightweight Rice, and the hard-bitten ideologues Wolfowitz and Cheney, did not. End of story.


Richard Henry Morgan - 4/1/2004

Dennis "the Menace" Kucinich? The guy who bankrupted Cleveland? The guy who thinks it is safer to keep nuclear waste in over 100 locations not designed for safety or security, rather than transport it to the Utah desert? The guy who was pimping for Serbia's right to genocide? Are we talking about the same guy?


Richard Henry Morgan - 4/1/2004

Well, now you understand my frustration too. I'm not here to defend Bush's failures, or highlight Clinton's. I'm here to dispute Clarke's assertions that Clinton had no higher priority than terrorism, and Bush didn't care. Clarke, like most liars, can't seem to keep his story straight, for he twice contradicts himself -- once when he admitted that Clinton didn't strike back in order to preserve "the peace process" in the Middle East, and once when he admitted that Clinton put domestic political considerations ahead of counter-terrorism. By my reckoning, that puts counter-terorism in, at best, third priority -- but give Clarke time though, and I'm sure he can cite other areas that Clinton set as a higher priority than terrorism.


Kevin Shanks - 4/1/2004

Rational criteria may hold great attraction for people who read this list (a population self-selected as having a certain desire for reasoned and informed discourse), but for the majority of the U.S. population this does not hold. Instead, how someone looks and sounds on television, basically, plays a large part in deciding how "popular" a president is these days. How else to explain the lack of presidential success for the likes of Dole, McCain, Kucinich, et. al., who are intelligent and pursuasive, but are not as telegenic as the less-well-endowed (so to speak) Bush II?

One can only hope, in these tense times, that Bush will shoot himself in the foot politically by revealing to the public one too many frat-boy smirks.

Just my two bits...


Steve Brody - 4/1/2004

Derek, let me say out the outset that I don’t care what you think, point blank. Frankly, I think you’re pretty arrogant to question my word that I listened to Clarke’s testimony, since you have no possible evidence to base your doubts on. You apparently form your opinions about things using a very low standard of evidence. I suppose that may say something about you’re belief in Clarke’s testimony.

All that aside, I did listen to every word (yes, Derek, every word) of Clarke’s self-serving testimony to the 9-11 Commission. From his cynical apology to the family members of the 9-11 victims, through his dodging of any responsibility for his own eight year failure to effectively stop one terrorist attack, including the part where he called Condi Rice a liar when she wrote that the Clinton Administration had left no plan for dealing with Al Qaeda.

What Clarke did is referred to as “buck passing” and it is a long and honored tradition in the Federal Government and is generally employed by Governmental officials when someone starts asking too many questions about how something went very wrong.

People have posted that 9-11 happened on “Bush’s Watch” and that’s technically true. But it also happened on Clarke’s watch. But instead of taking any responsibility for his failure, Clarke chose to use the “ I told them, but they wouldn’t listen to me” defense. That’s why I have contempt for Clarke.

You know, Derek, in many ways 9-11 was the culmination of an 8-year war that Al Qaeda declared on this country back in 1993. Clinton was president for seven-and-a-half and Bush for just over one half of those years. There were only two high level White House officials who were there for the entire 8 years—Richard Clark and Rand Beers. But somehow, in their model of the Universe, it was the Johnny-come–lately Bush Administration who was to blame.

Doesn’t Clarke have any responsibility for failing to recognize the growing threat, during the Clinton Administration? Doesn’t he have any responsibility for his failure to see that his strategy of lobbing a few Cruise missiles at an aspirin factory and some training camps was unlikely to deter Al Qaeda?

In a very real sense, many of Clarke’s charges against Bush lack gravity: the difference between “important” and “urgent”, Clarke’s characterization of his opinion or impression about how someone “felt” or what they knew, what Clarke thought someone might have meant by something that appears fairly innocuous. In some ways it’s akin to how Gertrude Stein described her hometown of Oakland, California: “there’s no there, there”.

Clarke’s defenders somehow think that confronting Clarke with his prior inconsistent statements amounts to some kind of unfair personal attack. Confronting a witness with prior inconsistencies is a common method to test credibility. There is nothing unfair or unusual about it.

I’ve read every word (yes, Derek, every word) of Clarke’s background briefing to the press in 2002. I have to tell you, Derek, that there are serious inconsistencies between what he said then and what he is saying now. Inconsistencies that far exceed mere matters of “emphasis and tone” as Clarke so pathetically attempted to explain.

One glaring example is Clarke’s statement concerning the “plan” for dealing with Al Qaeda that the Clinton Administration supposedly turned over to the Bush administration.

During his Commission testimony, Clarke testified thusly:


JAMIE GORELICK, COMMISSION MEMBER: When Dr. Rice writes in the Washington Post, "No al Qaeda plan was turned over to the new administration," is that true?

CLARKE: No. I think what is true is what your staff found by going through the documents and what your staff briefing says, which is that early in the administration, within days of the Bush administration coming into office, that we gave them two documents. In fact, I briefed Dr. Rice on this even before they came into office.

He is clearly calling Rice a liar and implying that the “two documents” represent a “plan”.

Yet in his “backgrounder”, these exchanges take place:

QUESTION: Were all of those issues part of alleged plan that was late December and the Clinton team decided not to pursue because it was too close to ...

CLARKE: There was never a plan, Andrea. What there was was these two things: One, a description of the existing strategy, which included a description of the threat. And two, those things which had been looked at over the course of two years, and which were still on the table.

And this:

QUESTION: So there was nothing that developed, no documents or no new plan of any sort?

CLARKE: There was no new plan.


And this:

CLARKE: What happened at the end of December was that the Clinton administration NSC principals committee met and once again looked at the strategy, and once again looked at the issues that they had brought, decided in the past to add to the strategy. But they did not at that point make any recommendations.

QUESTIONS: Had those issues evolved at all from October of '98 'til December of 2000?

CLARKE: Had they evolved? Um, not appreciably.

And this:

ANGLE: So, just to finish up if we could then, so what you're saying is that there was no — one, there was no plan; two, there was no delay; and that actually the first changes since October of '98 were made in the spring months just after the administration came into office?

CLARKE: You got it. That's right.

It is ridiculous to pass off these inconsistencies by claiming that they are difference of “emphasis and tone”.

Some have justified these inconsistencies by claiming that Clarke worked for Bush and had to “shade the truth”. But if Clarke would “shade the truth” to protect his job, why wouldn’t he shade the truth to sell books? The real question is how do we tell when Clarke is telling the truth and when he is “shading the truth”?

Derek, you claim that Clarke’s testimony is overflowing with “reason and nuance”. If you really believe that, why don’t you identify the three most reasoned and the three most nuanced portions of Clarke’s testimony?

And will you exhibit some of the courage you claim Clarke exhibited and withdraw your implication that I lied when I said that I had listened to Clarke’s testimony?


Michael Meo - 4/1/2004

Others may take issue with your text, Mr Battle; I am intrigued by your title.

Would you not expect that the country should have some form of hearings on 9/11 ? A surprise attack; the simplest possible weapons; the Pentagon (for heavens sakes!) damaged and thousands killed--is not that enough to have investigatory hearings? If not, what would you require?


Michael Meo - 4/1/2004

There are plenty of rational arguments supporting opposition to the present President's policies (among them, Mssrs O'Neal's and Clarke's); the advantage of the use of rational argument is its persuasive power.

Your intuitional reason for suspecting the validity of the President's speeches may be sincere, but because it is not rational it does not persuade.


Ken Melvin - 4/1/2004

2nd Lt. Godlike Wonderful didn't comport himself at all well on 9/11 (seems some guy named Clarke had to kinda take charge back in DC). Seems Lt. G.W. does best in stage-managed or posed situations such as the ones at Mt. Rushmore, aboard the USS Lincoln, etc. (skateboarders call such people posers). Oliver Sacs speaks of human's primal ability to detect whether someone is telling the truth by watching the speaker's forehead and how this facility is often one of few retained following severe brain damage. He tells how stroke victims with such brain damage in a nursing home cracked up laughing when shown clips of Reagan's speeches. A friend once told me of finding her younger sisters cracking up watching Jerry Falwell on TV. When I, and many another, see G.W, we see a televangelist. Does this mean that we are brain damaged or that we see something that some others are blocking out?


Dan A Fox - 4/1/2004

I agree with you 100 percent. I stated earlier that I did not believe we should be on a witch-hunt for blame. I also said we needed to look at our failures so this would not happen again. What I am trying to get to is Bush is attacking everyone who is now questioning his intent on both terrorism and Iraq - Clinton is not.
I am not a Bush supporter, but I do not hold Bush to blame for the terrorist attacks. It took a large number of failures for us to miss the warning signs. This however does not give Bush free reign to attack anyone who disagrees with him.


Richard Henry Morgan - 4/1/2004

"... but if Bush was so fired up about terrorism, and if they had terrorism as a key priority, how did Bush miss the threat? You cannot be that alert and then miss the attacks."

That equally applies to Clinton, doesn't it? If Clinton had terrorism as a key priority, how did Clinton miss the threat to our African embassies, and to the Cole? You cannot be that alert and then miss the attacks (I think I heard that somewhere).


Dan A Fox - 4/1/2004

Is Clarke a liar? I don't know. But it's worth finding out, wouldn't you agree?
I agree
I would ask the same thing about Bush? Is Bush a liar?


Dan A Fox - 4/1/2004

You still have not answered my question. You guys keep dodging the issue. Is Bush not accountable for what happens on his watch? Do not change my words or the issue. A simple yes or no will do.


David C Battle - 4/1/2004

Oh, now I have to "read the book". And using "capital letters" is bad, and my "bad grammar" is now under scrutiny. You're on your high horse again.

Derek, no, I didn't read to the book. But it doesn't matter. The words that are strangling Clarke aren't in his book. They are in the testimony he gave in August 2002. It differs radically from his current testimony. So don't pretent that someone who hasn't "read the book" can't comment on this. I recognize when somebody is trying to pull rank, and it only makes you look desperate. Do a simple google search, or I'll do it for you if you like.

Now, shall we address the topic?

Regarding Bush's card. It is a non-issue. Explain to me why Bush should not have given Clarke a friendly card? Bush had no reason NOT to. For all intents and purposes, Clarke and Bush were buddies. Little did Bush know what Clarke had up his sleeve!

But Clarke had every reason not to write that apparently phony letter, given his stated dissatisfaction with his boss. When does the phoniness end with that guy? There is no double standard here.

You want to know what the book's timing has to do with it? You actually think no-name government beaurocrats write best-sellers every day? You bought his book didn't you?


David C Battle - 4/1/2004

Is Bush accountable, you ask? If Bush is accountable, then let him be accountable for what he REALLY did or did NOT do--not for something that a witness with no credibility says he did. Is Clarke a liar? I don't know. But it's worth finding out, wouldn't you agree? Will you at the very least admit that he is suspect? Why don't you admit that?

So the issue remains CLARKE and his veracity. THEN, and only then, can we get to the bottom of what Bush IS or ISN'T accountable for.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 4/1/2004

All very well said, Melissa.


Dan A Fox - 4/1/2004

You keep dodging the question. Is Bush not accountable for actions that take place during his term in office? Your response above is typical of all the accusations against Clarke, me, and the democrats. You ignore all of the issues, but the ones you think you can argue your way out of, and you try to change the subject to attack. Is the how you debate? My soul has not even come into question. I wonder if you are concerned with my soul? It seems to me that the methods you guys use to try to prove you point is the very thing we are fighting for in the Middle East. They also get attacked for voicing a view that differs than the current regime.
How can you even defend a point if you do not know both sides of the issue. Have you really looked at all of the evidence, or are you just defending Bush because of your views? You refer to Clarke's accusations, what about all of the character attacks by the Bush administration - are all democrats or everyone that disagrees with Bush wrong? Is Bush perfect? I thought he was human.
Back to the question that you keep ignoring - Is Bush not accountable for actions that take place during his term in office?


Derek Charles Catsam - 4/1/2004

David --
Ahhh, yes, there you go. Other people's defenses using stuff, like, you know, evidence, is sad. You writing grammatically skewed sentences in all capital letters is not. We see where you are coming from. Of course it is quite clear you have not read the book -- Clinton does not come off great, though better than Bush. The book as a whole is certainly not a smear against Bush -- indeed, the last 40 pages are the most controversial part -- and the administration had a chance to vet the book! Meanwhile, what of the effusive card Bush sent in response to Clarke's departure? Why is it that critics of Clarke are holding Clarke to a different standard of saying one thing and doing another than the person who stands to lose the most politically from Clarke's testimony standing? Yes, David, it is all a big scam, thew whole thing. Nothing in thirty years under Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and Bush gives Clarke any credibility with David Battle. And that really is what is important.
Further, could someone please explain to me what the book's timing has anything to do with anything? The arguments are more or less valid based on when the book comes out? the book that the administration saw before it came out is invalid, apparently, because it is critical of Bush and the rest of the administration. When would it have been better for the book to have come out? I'd vote for October. Funny how there are all of these guys who worked in the White House, whose work was celebrated, and who, as soon as they leave and criticize the President, become worthless characters. I suppose this speaks to the President's judgment at one point or another.
dc


David C Battle - 4/1/2004

Did you buy his book? I suppose the timing of it's publication, and his accusations, had nothing to do with it, right?

It's all a big scam, and you're defending it with your very soul. Sad.


Dan A Fox - 4/1/2004

Apparently anyone who disagress with you or Bush is simply a hack, and by the way I do have my story straight. Have you even read Clarke's book? Do you even know what he wrote, or are you just spitting up what the republican machine has been preaching? It is interesting that you ask em to stick to the topic - well you never answered my question - is Bush accountable for what happens when he is president? Why the outrage against somewho who has the temerity to have a point of view that differs your yours or Bush's?
In your world I guess no one has a right to voice views that differs from yours.


Melissa Ann Macauley - 4/1/2004

Actually, Clarke has his story straight: 1. unlike the Clinton administration, the Bush administration felt the threat from Al Qaeda was "important, but not urgent;" 2. Prior to 9/11, and even afterward, Wolfowitz, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al. were stuck in a Cold War frame of reference in which terrorism can only be a threat when it is "state sponsored;" 3. the Bush administration was fixated on Iraq; 4. the Iraqi War has undermined the "war on terrorism." Agree or disagree, but stay focused on what the man is saying.

It is the Bush administration that has been inconsistent throughout: e.g. 1. initially they said the conversation between Bush and Clarke in the situation room on 9/12 (in which Bush instructed him to find an Iraqi link to 9/11) never happened (Hadley); then they changed their minds; it did happen (Rice). e.g. 2. At first they claimed that Clarke was out of the loop and didn't know what the administration was doing (Cheney); then, after critics noted that it was contradictory for them to claim to have taken counterterrorism seriously before 9/11, but all along kept their counterterrorism Special Assistant "out of the loop," they declared that, oh, Clarke was "in the loop, of course" (Rice). Incidentally, in spite of repeated requests, Clarke was never permitted to brief Bush on terrorism issues.

The inability of the Bush administration to stay on message throughout all of this tells us one thing: they were completely caught off guard about this. But how could the administration have been caught off guard when the White House security people had vetted the book last year? Ahh, could it be that the security people never told the political people at the White House that this one was coming down the pike? That would mean the security folks are very, very angry with the political folks. Pick your reason (mine: revenge for the politicos' outing of a CIA operative involved in WMD work). Just a theory.


Nancy Tann - 4/1/2004

I am a "yellow-dog" democrat. However, I do respect Dr. Rice and look forward to hearing her testimony. A chance to respond to Mr. Clarke is in order, because his charges are serious. I think Americans of goodwill just want to be reassured that our leaders of whatever party have reasonably good judgment and have done their best in this awful situation.


David C Battle - 4/1/2004

How convenient for you. The commission is "hand-picked" in order to "cover-up". And if she does well, you've already decided it was "perjury".

You've created a perfect little world for yourself. Is it nice and cozy in there?


David C Battle - 4/1/2004

Honestly, your outrage can only be a put on. Otherwise I can't explain it. What is happenning to Clarke is not something that wouldn't happen in any courtroom in this country. You HAVE TO GET YOU STORY STRAIGHT, it's that simple.

And don't worry about what the Democrats did to me, it has nothing to do with my argument.

Is Bush accountable you ask? If Bush is accountable for 8 months in office, then Clinton AND Clarke are accountable for 8 YEARS of letting the situation ripen to the point that it hatched on Bush's "watch."

But that's a diversion on your part. Let's get back to the part about Clarke not being able to get his story straight. WHY, given this inability to tell the truth, should he NOT be questioned? Please answer me that? THAT is what I find so outrageous.


Dan A Fox - 4/1/2004

I am completely astounded at your attacks, outrage, and anger. Have the democrats done something to you in another life? Just once I would like to see you engage in an honest debate over issues rather than attack those who differ with your points of view. In a big way, and I guess without realizing it, you are justifying my comments.
You are ignoring the years service that clarke has given this country. Is Bush not accountable for anyting that happens on his watch?


David C Battle - 4/1/2004

Sacrificed? poor colin powell? what if she corroborates Clarke? You must still be in bed sleeping because you're in a dreamstate.


David C Battle - 4/1/2004

Enough of this faux outrage over Clarke being picked on. When someone make a series of contradictory statements, for no apparent reason, that person is going to get called out on it. If Clarke can't get his story straight, he loses the right to whine about his character being questioned, and his motives. That's not character assassination. That's the Bush administration exercising it's friggin right to defend itself against contradictory, and therefore scurillous, accusations.

Come to think of it, it was CLARKE, not Bush, who is engaged in character assassination here. At least Bush has one story that he sticks to.


Ken Melvin - 4/1/2004

Surely Condaleeza Rice, Ph.D, is smart enough to realize that she is to be sacrificed. Witness poor Colin Powell many times over. So, why shouldn't she step into that box and tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth? What if she corroborates Clarke?


Dan A Fox - 3/31/2004

Why is it every time someone criticizes Bush, they suffer a character attack. Look at Clarke. It seems to me that he is stating what everyone knows: we were asleep when 9/11 hit. I do not believe any one person or group is responsible for the terrorist attacks. If you recall we were all in a state of shock about what happened. Is it not natural for us to try to determine where the failing was so it will not happen again?
I am not a Bush supporter, and Clarke is rather hard on Bush. But it did happen on his watch – is he not somewhat responsible? Should he not take some of the blame – not all? I would say the same regardless of who is president. Yes, so Clarke is hard on Bush, but if Bush was so fired up about terrorism, and if they had terrorism as a key priority, how did Bush miss the threat? You cannot be that alert and then miss the attacks.
A number of people in the Bush administration have stepped down and brought up some good points that Bush may have missed. Instead of dealing with the issues, the Bush administration has set out on a character assassination on each of the individuals.
This is really getting out of hand. Apparently we cannot disagree with President Bush without retribution. Clarke seems to be believable. He served under four presidents, and knew what he was doing.
I believe we owe it to those who were killed and injured to continue, so we can fix the problems, and not go on a head-hunt. This is where I have the biggest problem with Bush. If you disagree with him, you are bad and it is open season on you. Lines are drawn between democrats and republicans, and the republicans seem to be the worst offenders in these attacks. This can only get worse, and no one will benefit.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 3/31/2004

1) “Based on his Rice "impression", I think it time to stop according any credence to his view that Bush was pressuring him. Unfortunately, Clarke has taken the other tack -- with the passage of time, his description of the situation room confrontation has grown more florid, as though he were trying to raise its credibility by hypeing it.”


Thus far, I have only heard Clarke say the following: “The following is what Clarke has said: "The president dragged me into a room with a couple of other people, shut the door, and said, 'I want you to find whether Iraq did this.' Now he never said, 'Make it up.' But the entire conversation left me in absolutely no doubt that George Bush wanted me to come back with a report that said Iraq did this.”

Even from his own words, he is simply saying that this is what he perceived, not that Bush said anything to that extent. Is he lying? Possibly. Since I do believe his impression of Rice was incorrect, I don’t find his case compelling that he was pressured and I don’t give it much weight. However, I cannot yet go so far as to say that he simply made the whole thing up.

2) “Certainly Clarke asserted, and Clinton acted upon the assertion, that Iraq was related to al Qaeda through the al Shafra "pharmaceutical" plant.”

I don’t dispute that, nor do I dispute the claim that Iraq and al-Qeada had some connection. However, so did many countries (including many of our allies like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia). Where we part ways is the signaling out of Iraq as a major ally of al Qeada (which I dispute) and the idea that invading Iraq will somehow adversely affect al-Qeada. In fact, I can think of nothing that has aided to the popularity of the organization and many others like it than the invasion of Iraq, which has now provided al Qeada with the perfect battleground to fight Americans.

3) “The mere possible existence of WMD, combined with the mere existence of al Qaeda, is sufficient for him to act -- to wait for an attack, in his view, is iresponsible. That's radical, and it's been lost in the misunderstanding that Bush had asserted an Iraqi-al Qaeda link in 9/11.”

Bush’s policy of preemption is indeed radical, but in the wrong way, in my opinion. Preemptive attacks have always been understood and almost universally recognized, as when Israel went into Egypt in 1967.

What truly makes Bush’s preemption policy radical is that it allows attacking, not just threats that could harm you, but also potential threats (presumably, in other words, everyone). There was no evidence that Iraq was prepared to attack the United States, and the evidence suggesting that it even had the potential was inconclusive, by any measurement. Certainly, Iraq was no more a threat than many of its neighbors (including Iran for WMD, and Saudi Arabia for its real links to terrorism).


Bill Heuisler - 3/31/2004

Adam,
The exact statement from 9/17/03:
"We have no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the September 11th" attacks," Bush said in a brief encounter with reporters after a meeting with members of Congress. Bush added, "There's no question that Saddam Hussein had al-Qaeda ties."
No evidence that Saddam was involved is a far cry from your implication that Iraq or Saddam wasn't culpable. He said they can't prove a connection, but also that Saddam had Al Qaeda ties. There was no evidence Hirohito was dierectly involved in Pearl Harbor either, but Japan was.

As to Madam Albright's statement about the Cole suspects. She either lied or was out of the FBI loop. The FBI was negotiating with Yemen for access to the Cole suspects before the November 2000 elections as the following AP excerpts will attest.

December 13, 2000 AP
Yemen Names Suspects in Cole Bombing
Investigators in Yemen say they hold six suspects in the bombing of the USS Cole. The main suspect was identified as Jamal al-Badawi. Two of the suspects, Walid al-Sourouri and Fatha Abdul Rahman, were police officials from the town of Lahej. The other three suspects, named as Yasser al-Azzani, Jamal Ba Khosh and Ahmad al-Shinni. Ba Khosh may have been recruited to videotape the attack, although the tape was apparently never made.

According to the Yemeni Interior Minister, one of the bombers had been arrested for plotting a terrorist attack in Yemen in 1999, shortly after he returned from a visit to Afghanistan. The Yemeni government announced that it intends to try the suspects it holds in January. However FBI officials and the American Embassy in Sana'a have appealed to Yemen to delay the trial. The Americans fear the Yemenis will close the investigation without following up all the evidence.

American investigators say that the Yemeni authorities have been less than totally cooperative in sharing the results of the investigation with their American colleagues. The FBI only won the right to sit in on interrogations and pose questions of their own on November 29. The FBI says that cooperation has since improved.

There is little chance that any of the suspects will be extradited to the United States, as the Yemeni constitution prohibits such extraditions.

Bin Ladin link suspected, but unconfirmed
The planning and execution of the bombing of the USS Cole appears similar to previous attacks linked to Osama bin Ladin's network. In particular, the use of small compartmentalized cells, who receive their instructions from persons unknown to them is typical of al-Qaidah's mode of operation. Al-Badawi told his interrogators that he was given the impression by al-Harazi that the money for the attack was coming from bin Ladin. The Associated Press reported that a composite sketch of one of the suicide bombers appears to match that of a man wanted for questioning in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. If the identification is proved this will support, but not confirm, the involvement of bin Ladin in the bombing of the USS Cole."

Ms Albright would have us believe all this occurred after November 4th, but before December 13th?
Clarke needs better backup.
Bill Heuisler


Richard Henry Morgan - 3/31/2004

Two points.

First, the more florid descriptions I mention above is not a reference to the distinction between what he said when working for Bush, speaking for Bush, and later. It is a reference to his repeated depiction of his situation room "confrontation" with Bush where he again deploys his "impression" that Bush wanted him to cook the books on possible Iraqi involvement. Based on his Rice "impression", I think it time to stop according any credence to his view that Bush was pressuring him. Unfortunately, Clarke has taken the other tack -- with the passage of time, his description of the situation room confrontation has grown more florid, as though he were trying to raise its credibility by hypeing it.

I agree there is no hard evidence linking Iraq to bin Laden in reference to 9/11. In fact (and this is often misunderstood), Bush never asserted that there was. He merely asserted that the conjunction of international terrorists of bin Laden's stripe, and WMD (which he and others believed Iraq had), would be intolerable given Iraq's past use, its past behaviour, and its well-earned enmity to the US. It may well turn out that Iraq was related to al Qaeda through Salman Pak -- or that it wasn't. Certainly Clarke asserted, and Clinton acted upon the assertion, that Iraq was related to al Qaeda through the al Shafra "pharmaceutical" plant.

People haven't realized just how radical has been Bush's re-orientation of policy since 9/11. His view is that we won't wait for an attack by an Iraq, or a Libya, or through terrorist intermediaries. The mere possible existence of WMD, combined with the mere existence of al Qaeda, is sufficient for him to act -- to wait for an attack, in his view, is iresponsible. That's radical, and it's been lost in the misunderstanding that Bush had asserted an Iraqi-al Qaeda link in 9/11.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 3/31/2004

"If Bush was against it, then the Dems were for it; that's about as far as they thought it through. That was their reasoning. And they will rue the day."

You might want to be careful when you assume what people are thinking or what their motivation is. I think there are a whole lot of families of 9/11 victims that might disagree with your partisan cynicism.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 3/31/2004

Richard,

First I want to say that my previous post about the personal attacks against Clarke does not apply to your message, which is trying to make sense of Clarke’s statements. It is a legitimate tactic and I will address each concern as I see it.



1) “With the passage of time, his description of his encounter with Bush has grown more florid.



As I have said in the past, I find it perfectly natural that Clarke would sing a different tune when he is working for Bush than when he is finished. The same is also true of O’Neil or Wilson (although Wilson did not work for Bush, to my knowledge, his criticism came only after he heard Bush use intelligence data that he had discredited).



2) “Secondly, his "impression" that Rice had never heard of al Qaeda turns out to be not accurate at all -- she had a record of referring to al Qaeda in print and speeches before Clarke's talk with her (so much for his impressions).”



It is hard to argue with someone’s impression. I never thought for a second that Rice had never heard of bin Laden… especially since the outgoing Clinton administration briefed her when Bush took office. Rice is a brilliant and noted scholar, so I never thought Clarke’s perception was accurate. Nevertheless, his perception on Rice’s reaction does not negate his decades of experience fighting terrorism.



3) “Clarke also says that the Clinton administration had no higher priority than anti-terrorism.”



I don’t know why Clarke made this often repeated phrase, perhaps since he was the terrorism “tzar” under Clinton and did not know what else Clinton was doing at the time, who knows? In any event, in his book, Clarke doers criticize Clinton for not doing more than he did although undeniably, he saves his full wrath for Bush.



4) “Clarke also admits that had Bush attacked al Qaeda camps when he came into office, it most likely would not have stopped 9/11 -- the implication being that if such attacks were to succeed in stopping 9/11, they would have had to occur during Clinton's tenure.”



A fair implication, I would say, with a caveat: Albright and other have testified that it was not confirmed that Bin Laden was responsible for the bombing of the Cole until after the 2000 election. Here, Clarke is speaking as an analyst, not a politician. Both members of the Bush and the Clinton administration (most notably Colin Powell and Madaline Albright) testified that it would have been politically and practically impossible to launch a full scale attack on Afghanistan before 9/11.

Clarke’s major claim to fame was being against the war in Iraq. Clarke’s belief (as with others) is that Iraq was not connected to 9/11 (which Bush has corroborated) and that it has hurt the war on terrorism and is unconnected to it. I agree with that 100%. There is no conclusive evidence linking bin Laden's organization to Iraq, only circumstancial facts that remain under suspicion and even if true are not enough to implicate the country in my mind.


Anthony William State - 3/31/2004

Only if she perjures herself, and that may be very dangerous, even in front of this hand-picked cover-up commission. Too many have testified before her. Documents can be obtained by subpoena, and most of Clarke's recollection has already been verified by former secretary O'Neil. If she does tell the truth it has to sink in that the administration was asleep at the switch on 9/11/01.


David C Battle - 3/31/2004

Be careful what you ask for, you may get it. The Dems got what they asked for--Condi's testimony to the American people. If Bush was against it, then the Dems were for it; that's about as far as they thought it through. That was their reasoning. And they will rue the day.

Condoleeza is no marble mouth, and she's very likable and eloquent. She's probably the most competent person in Bush's administration. I predict her performance at the hearings will propel her to the top of the GOP. She'll be able to write her own ticket after this. And it will be a small disaster for the Dems, and Clarke will dissapear into oblivion.


David C Battle - 3/31/2004

Clarke "apologized" for his "failure". It takes a "great" man to do that. And what was his "failure"? Why, it was in not being able to convince Condi and Bush to do it Clarke's way. That was his "failure", and that's what he "apologized" for.

It took real "courage" to "apologize."


Richard Henry Morgan - 3/31/2004

There is a great link at instapundit.com to writings of Clarke, and to transcripts of his many appearances of late on TV.

Several things stand out. With the passage of time, his description of his encounter with Bush has grown more florid. Secondly, his "impression" that Rice had never heard of al Qaeda turns out to be not accurate at all -- she had a record of referring to al Qaeda in print and speeches before Clarke's talk with her (so much for his impressions). Clarke also says that the Clinton administration had no higher priority than anti-terrorism. But then he admits that people at higher grades within the Clinton administration nixed his proposals for attacks on al Qaeda camps out of concern it would upset Clinton's quest for a Middle East accord between Israel and the Palestinians -- an ufortunate use of priorities, since Arafat would never have signed on without signing his own death warrant (Hamas has convincingly threatened to kill him if he agrees to anything substantive that would tend to move toward peace and a recognition of Israel). Clarke also admits that had Bush attacked al Qaeda camps when he came into office, it most likely would not have stopped 9/11 -- the implication being that if such attacks were to succeed in stopping 9/11, they would have had to occur during Clinton's tenure.

Here are the links:

http://justoneminute.typepad.com/main/2004/03/richard_clarke_.html

Consider the CNN interview, where Clarke says that politics were a factor in Clinton not bombing all the camps (apparently politics trumps counterterrorism after all, though he had said counterterrorism had no higher priority). He also says on CNN that Iraq had nothing to do with the war on terorism. Then compare that with his previous statements that Iraq was up to its armpits in the chemical plant in Sudan. Also compare it with Perle's outright assertion that al Qaeda was trained by Iraq at Salman Pak.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 3/31/2004

The tremendous cynicism and, if I may observe, hatred towards Mr. Clarke has been amazing to see and hear from talk shows and pundits. I know Wilson was equally butchered and attacked, but I have heard far less about O'Neil or Bob Woodward, both of home were given inside access to the inner workings of the administration and both of whom said the same thing as Clarke, though perhaps less abrasively.

Maybe Clarke is a lying, partisan, perjurer, but thus far, the only thing conservatives have is the fact that when Clarke worked directly under Bush, he was not critical, and now that he no longer works for Bush, he is critical. Is this really a smoking gun? Isn’t that what all insiders or whistleblowers, if you will, do? One example: When Bernard Goldberg wrote Arrogance about the so-called bias in CBS (?), the conservatives hailed him as a great man, yet no one pointed out how silent he was when he actually worked for CBS.

The point: Clarke is a 30 year veteran of terrorism, who has served directly under 4 presidents, one of whom selected him, one of whom promoted him, and the other two retained him!

He may be self-serving, he may be arrogant, and he may have changed his tone from when he was on the payroll of the President. But the almost pathological disdain conservatives have shown him and the degree of personal attack on his character is rather striking, even for a liberal like me.


Ken Melvin - 3/31/2004

If your king is a half witted twit, so will he be after any amount of bowing and scraping. Far better to view the world standing erect with eyes open.


Richard Henry Morgan - 3/31/2004

"It took some time for the honest and heartfelt statement to sink in among the commission members"

Wow!! What an ability to read minds. I wish you had been working in intel -- then 9/11 never would have happened. I'm just glad that such "honesty" will be be so greatly rewarded in book sales. But explain just one thing to me -- in just what does his taking "responsibility" consist? Will he personally compensate the family members with his proceeds? Just wondering.


Derek Charles Catsam - 3/30/2004

Steve --
I do not believe you when you say you listened to all of the testimony, point blank. It wass not all self serving. Much of it eas reasonad and nuanced. yes, he has his own motives, but you, whose whole post that started this strain of conversation, have not yet made an argument. You, like so many of Clarke's other detractors went right for the character assassination. There may be a case to be made against some of what Clarke has said. You have not made it. Further, those who have instantly personalized things have gone right for his character ignoring other realities that make this more complex than the surface gloss would appear. You can say that what Clarke did took no courage. I think you are wrong. Further, Clarke's dredentials are not easily impugned. certainly not by an administration that claims it kept its terrorism czar out of the loop and who sent people to testify against the book who had not, you know, read the book. Courage, indeed. Or is the word chutzpah?
dc


Steve Brody - 3/30/2004

Well, Kevin, if your last post is your idea of "reasoned debate", I'm not surprised that you don't recognize it when you hear it.


Kevin Shanks - 3/30/2004

Instead of reasoned debate, all I hear is "Arf, arf, arf..."


Steve Brody - 3/30/2004

Yes, Kevin, I listened to his self-serving testimony.

By “attack dogs” you must mean those awful people who point out Clarke’s prior inconsistent statements.


Steve Brody - 3/30/2004

Yes, Kevin, I listened to his self-serving testimony.

By “attack dogs” you must mean those awful people who point out Clarke’s prior inconsistent statements.


Kevin Shanks - 3/30/2004

Actually, Clarke answered the questions of the commission with honesty and candor. He did not place blame; he gave his accounting of what went wrong during the Clinton and Bush years. Did you actually *listen* to the testimony? Your post sounds like the frightened baying of one of Bush's attack dogs.


Steve Brody - 3/30/2004

Yes, Clarke apologized and then spent the next two hours blaming everyone else for the tragedy.

Boy, that took guts.

Where did he find the courage?

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