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March 29, 2004


Paul Zrimsek

This guy's starting to make David "Trust me, I lied" Brock look like credibility itself.


Exactly... the more the likes of Brock and Clarke are shown to be liars, the more the left insists they are truth-tellers.


Come on. Look at what introduces the quote that you've bolded: "But I don't think everyone came to the understanding that it was an existential threat. The question was..." He's clearly and obviously describing the views of other people.

Brett S

Regarding the first quote:

Clarke says that not "everyone came to the understanding that it was an existential threat", which to me implies that it wasn't everyone who disagreed with him, but some peoplem, he doesn't say who. "Not everyone agrees with me," means that it's not unanimous, not that everyone does not agree with me. This select group are the people who think that "it's not the number one priority", not then entire Clinton admin. Also, This was a 2002 interview, referencing the period after 1998, which does not eliminate the Bush admin as part of this group that he's complaining about.

All of these quotes are at first glance contradictory, but if actually analyzed, surprisingly accurate. I'm impressed that you did the research to be able to present these, but you'll have to do a little more work- It only took me one read to figure out it was BS. Good luck.

Bill Peschel

Ogged, look at what he contrasts that with:

"My impression was that fighting terrorism, in general, and fighting Al Qaida, in particular, were an extraordinarily high priority in the Clinton administration -- certainly no higher priority."

So in the first statement, he says that they're saying "it's not the number one priority." In the second, it was "an extraordinarily high priority."

So which is it?

Bill Peschel

Brett: Clarke says specificially that this is "Certainly after the embassy bombing in Africa in 1998" which puts it back in Clinton's court.

Given that the A1 analysis in the Washington Post a few days ago states that Clinton and Bush's approach to fighting al-Qaida were similar, I would believe that Clarke, in the first statement was talking about both presidents. Clarke and O'Neill saw the threat as large, but they couldn't convince anyone higher-up. After all, what else could "everyone" mean in the sentence: "But I don't think everyone came to the understanding that it was an existential threat" if he wasn't referring to both Clinton and Bush?


Here's the thing. In the first quote Clarke is speaking from the viewpoint of another person or another group. And because the quote doesn't say who he believed to hold that position, (if anyone, as it is a bit rhetorical) you haven't proved an inconsistency on Clarke's part.

If he was talking about the Clinton admin as a whole, or the position that was dominant within the administration at the time, it would be different. But since that's not the case presented here, it's impossible to say.


All this strikes me as hairsplitting; to date, the vast majority of "glaring contradictions" noted in Clarke's statements can be reasonably explained by the fact that, as an employee of the Bush admin, he had an obligation to put a good spin on whatever was happening; now, unconstrained by obligations to his boss, he can be more opinionated. He's a free agent; he can talk about the coach.

And as for the WaPo article noted above, while it may be correct that the Bush & Clinton admins adopted substantively similar policies regarding terrorism, remember that Clarke's main concern is not the stated policy but the vigorousness with which that policy was pursued. His basic problem with the Bushies is they didn't push their AQ policy hard enough to overcome bureaucratic inertia and make something happen.

And remember, it is the President himself who has invited scrutiny of his AQ policies by campaigning as a great anti-terrorist President. It's not that important to figure out whether Bush fights terrorism better or worse than Clinton. It's important to figure out whether Bush has fought terrorism as well as he SAYS he has.


Brett S

Your rebuttal is lacking.

1) Not only did "not everyone" come to understand the level of threat posed by AQ, the only reasonable interpretation of Clarke's words is that the group who missed the boat was of sufficient number and influence to negatively impact the anti-terror policy of the Clinton admin. How influential must this group be? More influential than Clark himself, otherwise his recommendations would have been implemented. And who has more authority over anti-terror policy than the anti-terror czar himself? Only the top dogs in the administration.

2) Yes, this was after the attacks in 1998, which left the entire period between the bombings and the swearing in of Bush for Clinton to act. He didn't. That period itself was LONGER than was the entire Bush presidency up to till 9-11. But of course, Bush has to be at fault AT LEAST as much as Clinton, right?

3) You then appear to dismiss the rest of the quotes as "apparently contradictory, but really accurate". But don't you see that they can be BOTH contradictory AND accurate? They are accurate AND they contradict his later story.


Beetroot nails it -- it was how the policies were pursued. In the Clinton white house there were daily meetings on new terrorist info and threats to the U.S. These were critical in getting the word out to agencies and stopping several terrorist attacks on the U.S. around the time of the millenium celebrations. These meetings were discontinued in the Bush white house and the increasing evidence of some kind of terrorist attack in the offing did not get enough top level attention to make it urgent.

The stuff Clarke is saying is very straightforward and most of the factual content has already been admitted to by the Bush white house. You can find Clarke as a White House employee spinning a different interpretation of those facts to the press than he now communicates as a free private citizen. But that is not a lie; it is just him being an employee.

The major thing you guys are showing here is that your partisan loyalty to the Bush white house outweighs your concern as a citizen about the war on terror. Didn't 9/11 change everything for you?

Steven Den Beste

The first post I made about the attack on September 11, 2001, I wrote that I thought Osama bin Laden was behind it. It wasn't too difficult to figure out, even though I don't have any access to classified information. Why is there any surprise that the White House rapidly reached the same conclusion?


This is all wonderful hindsight. You are all so certain that the unknown was knowable. The nature of islamist terror is that it is diffuse and contrary to western culture. If the whole truth were available to be reassembled it is likely that there were just as many indications that there would be a major attack when none occured, and many indications that the information suggesting the 9/11 attack was unreliable or ambiguous. This is the nature of the intelligence failure. We had no reliable source of information other than hi tech evesdropping. We didn't want to and could not infiltrate radical groups or even get close enough to make good judgements. How failed was the intelligence? John Walker Lindh managed to gain access in about 6 months. The colossus of our intelligence apparatus may still be struggling with the issue. Richard Clarke is part of the problem and he only magnifies it now through his partisanship. What has Clarke really done in or out of office to solve the problem?


Beetroot, MQ... y'all have got to be kidding:

while it may be correct that the Bush & Clinton admins adopted substantively similar policies regarding terrorism, remember that Clarke's main concern is not the stated policy but the vigorousness with which that policy was pursued. His basic problem with the Bushies is they didn't push their AQ policy hard enough to overcome bureaucratic inertia and make something happen.

So what you're saying is that although the Clinton admin didn't actually DO anything, Clarke was impressed enough by all those fruitless meetings that he is giving Clinton a complete pass?

And it's quite a stretch to claim that the alert airport worker who foiled the millenium plot was a victory of a different meeting scheme at the Executive level. People seem to be laboring under the misconception that Bush just didn't have meetings about terrorism. That's just not true.

No, the real reason Clarke is upset, and he's admitted that his strident tone can be traced to this, is because he opposes the invasion of Iraq. He's criticizing Bush's pre 9-11 anti-terror policy because he thinks Bush is making a mistake in Iraq.


Yes, this was after the attacks in 1998, which left the entire period between the bombings and the swearing in of Bush for Clinton to act. He didn't. That period itself was LONGER than was the entire Bush presidency up to till 9-11. But of course, Bush has to be at fault AT LEAST as much as Clinton, right?
The partisan response to this often expressed sentiment is that while Clinton was in office for longer (and obviously should have dealt with OBL earlier and more effectively), 9/11 did happen on Bush's watch. Clinton stopped terrorist attacks on Dec. 1999. He is not able to stop attacks that happen 8 months after he leaves office.

Robert Crawford

"These meetings were discontinued in the Bush white house"

No, Clarke just didn't give the briefings anymore. Clarke may see that as being less committed, or the briefings being "discontinued", but the rest of us shouldn't buy into his solipsism.



Those meetings didn't stop the Millennium Bomb Plot. Alert customs agents did. They stopped Ressam after he crossed the Canadian border, and while they searched his car, Ressam fled. It was in his car that they found bomb materials and maps with the targets circled in red.

Clinton's policies had zero to do with preventing the success of that attack.

Of course, what might have prevented 9-11, greater sharing of information among the intelligence agencies, has been implemented. But you probably know it by it's demonized name: The Patriot Act.


Clarke has saiid things that are totally contradictory - that is, if either of them is true, the other can not be true.


Clinton gave terrorism a vry high (the higheest) priority, while Bush ignored terrorism.
Bush did not discontinue any of Clinton's programs and in fact increased the budget for them by a factor of 5.

Clarke said both of those. They cannot possibly both be true.

Why do we lay 9/11 at Clinton's feet? Here's why:

9/11 committee guy: If Bush had done everything you recommended be done and more in January 2001, is there any chance that it would have stopped 9/11?

Clarke: No.

So, when could we have done something about it? Before January 2001... Who was in office then? If you trust Clarke, then you must not trust Clarke, since his own words condemn him.


The dueling Clarke quotes, and purported explanations/syntheses of such quotes, are irrelevant. Bush and his team, with eight months in power, no doubt could have done more to prevent 9/11. Clinton and his team, with eight years in power, could have done much more.

Even Bush haters, however, have to be suspicious of Clarke. The three most obvious reasons for his reversal are: (1) monetary gain; (2) exculpation/preserve legacy; and (3) revenge. He settled scores with Bush/Condi for demoting him and pushing him aside while simultaneously making a bundle off Bush haters. Virtually any high-ranking administration official who has suffered a slight, whether real or imagined, will have the same opportunity. Some, undoubtedly, will take it.

What matters today, therefore, is not the bleatings of an insincere maniuplator. What matters is how the next administration, whether Bush or Kerry, will address the threat of further terrorism.

Any component of a US response to terrorism has to include a very substantial deterrent. Future incidents -- and there will be more -- should be at least forceful as Bush's response. State sponsors of terrorism, such as Syria, Iran, or Palestine, should be extremely concerned that we will attack them next.


The three most obvious reasons for his reversal are: (1) monetary gain; (2) exculpation/preserve legacy; and (3) revenge.
This reminds me of left-wing conspiracy theories about why Bush invaded Iraq. Why do people have to attribute bad motives? Maybe Clarke just wanted to write a book about his experience in gov't from his point of view. Others have done it too.

Greg D

Ok, let's get back to the real world, here.

I know I've seen the quote, would appreciate a link if anyone has one, but Clarke claimed that the reason why Clinton didn't do anything about the USS Cole attack was because he had to "chose" between "solving" the Palestinian problem, and responding to the attack on the Cole, and Clinton didn't think the attack on the Cole was as important.

I'm curious, you Clarke defenders can read, right? You remember something of the last 10 years? Al Qaeda bombed two US Embassies, and Clinton responded by doing a "Wag the Dog" style cruise missile attack, rather than launching a serious response. The World Trade Center was bombed, and Clinton treated in like it was merely a crime. The Khobar Towers were bombed, and no effective response happened.

That's four Al Qaeda attacks on the US in eight years, and Clinton's response was to have more meetings.

Bush has had ONE Al Qaeda attack on the US in four years. His response, in Afghanistan, Iraq, and around the world, has lead to the capture or death of over half the Al Qaeda leadership, the lose of Al Qaeda "safe havens" the world over, the end of Saddam and his terror-supporting regime, Libya ending its support for terror, and helping with the anti-terror fight.

The claim that Clinton made fighting terror, or Al Qaeda, a top priority is so ludicrous it marks its advocates as either simpletons, or liars.

Was fighting Al Qaeda Bush's top priority pre 9/11? Of course not! And the same people who are bitching about that now are the people who would have screamed bloody murder if it HAD been (the country was entering a recession, remember?). But according to the facts claimed by Clarke in his 2002 interview, Bush was doing more than Clinton had done. If those claims of his were false, then he is a liar, and man proved to be willing to say anything to advance his agenda. Trusting him now is stupid.


Greg D- Bravo!

Mike A


Thank you for putting it so clearly. This blame-placing game now going on has only one goal; take attention away from Kerry's weak record and try to rewrite history. To those to truly believe that this next election will determine our national future, I strongly encourage you to continue to point out the lies that the Left and it's running-dog lackey the Press spew daily. How cool is it that I could use the phrase "running-dog lackey" in a post??? I love the english language!!!

Ernest Brown

Let's not forget Clarke's outright lie about Laura Mylroie:



I was loking for a Clinton/Cole/Palestine quote with no luck, but found this even to be even funnier - even after all these years, it's still Bush not having enough meetings to satisfy Clarke. Oddly, though, it was the first Bush *failing* to obsess about Iraq:

Memo Says U.S. Was Lax on Iraq

June 5, 1992

A senior State Department official concluded in a secret memorandum after Iraq invaded Kuwait that "no one was paying attention" to blocking Iraq's purchase of Western equipment for weapons of mass destruction during the previous decade, according to a copy obtained by The Washington Post.

The official, Assistant Secretary of State Richard A. Clarke, made the claim in a memo declassified yesterday and provided to Congress along with 53 other State Department documents concerning U.S.-Iraqi relations that were requested by a congressional committee investigating U.S. policy toward Iraq before the Persian Gulf War.

...One undated memo summarizing U.S. nonproliferation activity aimed at Iraq indicates that the Bush administration moved slowly to constrain Iraq's mass-destruction weapons programs after a Iraqi long-range missile launch in 1989 caught officials by surprise.

The memo states that Clarke sought in an interagency meeting that December "to get at why U.S. intelligence didn't know Iraq had such capabilities beforehand and to galvanize the interagency community into more effective action against the Iraqi missile program."

Unless Clarke is in the meeting, it doesn't count.

Anyway, bonus motive - he got sacked (anyway, re-assigned) by Bush 1. We were told recently (I thought) that it was because he was too friendly to Israel. Obviously, wacking Iraq would count as friendly to Israel, especially if the subject was missiles.


Lots of very articulate comments and analysis here. Pity the topic is a disgruntled former employee's dubious testimony to a politically created and driven inquiry with little chance of any meaningful product.
The real reforms in intelligence sharing have allready taken place (or at least begun). Bush has clearly gotten tough on terrorism. So what's the point of this commission?
I don't recall Gore ever mentioning his policy on terror. I do recall, as I was returning to my unit on 9/11, thanking God that Bush had won.


brett s, it seems that your head is inserted somewhere quite shady and warm. Not the first priority of part of the Clinton admin, but not the whole thing? Geez, does that have to include the janitorial staff?

It's clear that it was not the top priority of Clinton and Berger, otherwise more would have been done. I guess for you it really depends on what your definition of 'is' is...


I still maintain that Clarke is a Rove plant, as Instapundit has suggested. The lameness of the attack on Bush is reflected in the fact that Bush is pulling ahead, among REGISTERED VOTERS no less, a group that always overrepresents Democrat support. So, the verdict is in and Dems lose. You guys cannot respond to the rebuttal of the 'clueless' remark, which is a Bush commercial waiting to air, if needed. Because there is no response.

Bill Sanz

Could of, should have, would have? What is the 9/11 commission focus? We can dissect the past decisions made to limit CIA intelligence in counter terrorism. We can assign blame for failure of fluid communications between the various intelligence communities. We can find people in positions that should have known how to prevent this calamity. Let's look back 60 years and point to the similar failures in communication leading up to December 7, 1941. We can hang scapegoats like Kimmel and Short and this time hang Tennet and Rice. (Kimmel and Short were later exonerated by congress, after their deaths). It seems like the people pointing fingers have just as much responsibility to shoulder as anyone else.
How about a novel approach - Let's blame Al Quaida and the governments that harbor and finance them for attacking us. Let's look at improving the flow of communications between agencies. Let's work on destroying the groups that threaten democracy and sequester decency. Let's focus on working on a plan to make things better. Let Clarke and other partisans who say we could have done better, point out what we can do now to improve the system. Let Clarke shoulder some of the responsibility for being in a position to sound an alarm if there was need to sound one prior to September 11. I don't care if Clarke couldn't convince two presidents that snuffing out Osama and Al Quaida was the right thing to do, today. Even I could write a book about failures in communications, blown plays, and poor execution after the fact, after the whistle is blown to end a game. It is planning for the next game that makes a coach a winner, learning from failure and working to improve for the next time. Losers cry over the failures and point fingers. Leaders learn from the failures and work to improve subsequent systems so that we can make better decisions and execute better.
I can tell you what the commission will report - several lapses in communications could have been better handled, higher priorities should have been given to this threat, with better information from intelligence and a lot of luck, this disaster could have been avoided. Could have, would have...with a lot of luck. Good luck to all of us if we think that we can plan to avoid evil groups from attacking good people in the future. We can keep a vigilance and strengthen our watch of the evil groups that foster hatred. We can weaken these groups by going after them and their finances. However, we are fools if we think we can totally avoid evil deeds through this or any other government. God bless us all!


I think we ought to have an Oklahoma City Bombing Commission and figure out why Bush didn't stop that attack either. He was in the state right next door after all.


If you go back to the page, at the top where the logo is, whoever made the site spelled great like graet. What an idiot.

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