Condoleeza Rice, Washington Post, "9/11: For The Record"
And a good job by the Hammer, who reassures us that, contra Clarke, Ms. Rice really had heard about al Qaeda prior to taking office.
Dick Cheney interview with Rush Limbaugh ("Out of the loop" seems absurd, BTW)
White House rebuttal to Clarke interview
The 60 Minutes interview with Steve Hadley.
NY Times: Elisabeth Bumiller and Judith Miller. Our fave exculpatory detail:
Mr. Clarke said Mr. Bush pressed him three times to find evidence that Iraq was behind the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The accusation is explosive because no such link has ever been proved.
...Mr. Cressey cast Mr. Bush's instructions to Mr. Clarke less as an order to come up with a link between Mr. Hussein and Sept. 11, and more as a request to "take a look at all options, including Iraq." He backed off Mr. Clarke's suggestion that the president's tone was intimidating. "I'm not going to get into that," Mr. Cressey said. "That is Dick's characterization."
NY Times, Todd Purdum: Our fave troubling detail:
He acknowledges his close friendship with Rand Beers, a foreign service officer who succeeded him at the White House and who now advises Mr. Kerry's campaign on national security.
But his critique can hardly be chalked up to partisan politics as usual. He was a registered Republican in 2000, a career White House civil servant under three presidents, one of the few national security experts held over from the first Bush administration into the Clinton years, and then held over again under the current President Bush.
Clarke's book reads like a typical just-out-of-government memoir, a genre usually premised on the idea that if only the author's advice had been heeded, the world would be better off.
And the always link-rich Memeorandum.
FROM THE TIME VAULT:
A very interesting WaPo story from Jan 19, 2002 detailing the history of the Bush plan to confront al Qaeda.
The prescient Richard Clarke, warning us about cyberterrorism in January 1999; here is a transcript of the press briefing, and we note that the first question was planted by Paul Wolfowitz or George Bush.
Dan Drezner has lots of links and his own sensible view:
There is a deeper policy split at work. Rational Bush opponents are happy to see Saddam gone but do not see any connection between the war in Iraq and the larger war on terror. Rational Bush supporters will acknowledge that at best there was a loose connection between Iraq and Al Qaeda, but that remaking Iraq is a vital part of the war on terror because it will help to remake the Middle East, terrorism's primary source.
Yes, the conversation does seem to occur across that divide. I will add that Bush may have taken from 9/11 the idea that letting the Al Qaueda problem fester had been a mistake he was not going to repeat with Iraq. Better too forceful than too patient; better safe than sorry; the squeaky wheel gets greased; [insert your pithy folk saying here]...
Fred Kaplan says Clarke is telling the truth. He is referring to the book, we presume, and not the 60 Minutes interview.
No post would be complete without mentioning the presumptive Democratic nominee. Since one of the charges against Bush is that he was too focussed on Iraq, let us replay John Kerry from October 2002, who back then would have supported such a linkage:
Later in the year , Congress enacted legislation declaring Iraq in material, unacceptable breach of its disarmament obligations and urging the President to take appropriate action to bring Iraq into compliance. In fact, had we done so, President Bush could well have taken his office, backed by our sense of urgency about holding Saddam Hussein accountable and, with an international United Nations, backed a multilateral stamp of approval record on a clear demand for the disarmament of Saddam Hussein's Iraq. We could have had that and we would not be here debating this today. But the administration missed an opportunity 2 years ago and particularly a year ago after September 11. They regrettably, and even clumsily, complicated their own case. The events of September 11 created new understanding of the terrorist threat and the degree to which every nation is vulnerable. That understanding enabled the administration to form a broad and impressive coalition against terrorism. Had the administration tried then to capitalize on this unity of spirit to build a coalition to disarm Iraq, we would not be here in the pressing days before an election, late in this year, debating this now. The administration's decision to engage on this issue now, rather than a year ago or earlier, and the manner in which it has engaged, has politicized and complicated the national debate and raised questions about the credibility of their case.
Although we are cautious about attempting to read meaning into Kerry's words, this says he would have preferred that Bush target Saddam right after 9/11, or even before then.
A fascinating Gallup poll about international support for military action immediately after 9/11. Globally, folks strongly favored extradition and trial over military action. However, the US attempted an extradition of Osama, and the Taliban would not cooperate. The real question should have been (as with Iraq), what might be considered a failure of diplomacy, and would you support military action if diplomacy "failed".
"One mullah, one ranger". LOL.
CLARKE: ...the first point, I think the overall point is, there was no plan on Al Qaeda that was passed from the Clinton administration to the Bush administration.
...Second point is that the Clinton administration had a strategy in place, effectively dating from 1998. And there were a number of issues on the table since 1998. And they remained on the table when that administration went out of office...
And the third point is the Bush administration decided then, you know, mid-January, to do two things. One, vigorously pursue the existing policy, including all of the lethal covert action findings, which we've now made public to some extent.
...The second thing the administration decided to do is to initiate a process to look at those issues which had been on the table for a couple of years and get them decided.
CLARKE: ...One of the big problems was that Pakistan at the time was aiding the other side, was aiding the Taliban. And so, this would put, if we started aiding the Northern Alliance against the Taliban, this would have put us directly in opposition to the Pakistani government. These are not easy decisions.
ANGLE: And none of that really changed until we were attacked and then it was ...
CLARKE: No, that's not true. In the spring, the Bush administration changed — began to change Pakistani policy, um, by a dialogue that said we would be willing to lift sanctions. So we began to offer carrots, which made it possible for the Pakistanis, I think, to begin to realize that they could go down another path, which was to join us and to break away from the Taliban. So that's really how it started.
Pretty effective push-back then. Where is he now?