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March 26, 2004


Cecil Turner

With 20/20 hindsight, it's not that hard to point out the main policy failures which allowed 9/11:
1) Porous borders and failure to enforce immigration law
2) Intelligence sharing barriers between CIA and FBI
3) Cooperative strategy for dealing with hijackers
4) Treating terrorism as a law enforcement problem

The major foreign policy mistakes (that would encourage a foe to believe an attack might be effective and relatively safe), in chronological order, were:
1979--Iranian embassy (feckless response to an act of war)
1983--Beirut barracks (deployment without a mission, subsequent withdrawal)
1993--Somalia (withdrawal)
1998--Missile strikes after embassy bombings ("cowardly" and ineffectual attack)
1998--Desert Fox (ineffectual attack)
1998-2001--Failure to shut down Al Qaeda in Afghanistan
2000--Non-response to Cole bombing

I'm sure you could add to both lists, but that's most of the low points. If one wanted to play the blame game, there's plenty to go around. (And Clarke was involved in most of it.) Bush can be blamed for perhaps half of the last two--and at least he was in the process of developing an effective strategy. Clarke's attempt to lay the lion's share of the blame on the current administration makes no objective sense. When you factor in the timing and story changes, partisan politics is the only rational explanation. I suspect the months ahead will not be kind to Clarke's credibility, and the ironic result may be to keep the electorate focused on national defense--which will almost certainly redound to Bush's benefit.


Thanks for the links

Kleiman quotes Dunlop:

"In the end, what was unique about George Bush's reaction to terrorism was his selection as an object lesson for potential state sponsors of terrorism, not a country that had been engaging in anti-U.S. terrorism but one that had not been, Iraq. It is hard to imagine another President making that choice."

Let's suppose that in all possible alternate universes all alternative US presidents react by taking down the Taliban in Afghanistan first, then chasing after al Qaida -- with varying amounts of success. Then what?

Quit? No more actions against any other terror groups?

Go after the Irish Republican Army, the Basque's ETA, the rebel Haitians, etc etc?

Join Israel in attacking Hamas and other Palestinian terror organization?

aaaaahh, how 'bout we pick on a convicted international felon with 16 or so outstanding UN warrents against him, and make an example?


It seems to me if Saddam had not existed it would have been necessary to go after Quaddify. Or another Islamifascist dictator with historically demonstrated ties to terrorist groups and unresolved issues (extraditions, civil suit liability payments, etc) to provide a cause for war. The actual case for war would be less important than a demonstration of U.S. intent to drain the swamp of the Middle East.

Those who believe we should not attempt to address the "root cause" would find these alternate universe attacks on Hamas or Libya just as wrong as this reality's attack on Iraq.

I think they'd have been just as right.

That said, I think any half-way competent president would have done the same -- whether Iraq or Libya or Iran. There are plenty of targets.

I do NOT think Al Gore would have done so. But then I have my doubts about his competence.


When you factor in the timing and story changes, partisan politics is the only rational explanation.

I am working on my Unified Clarke Theory, which is roughly:

From a po-psychology perspectivem he must be bearing a heavy load of guilt, anger, and frustration. Is he going to take full responsibility for 3,000 deaths, or spread the blame to (a) Berger/Clinton, who at least listened when he screamed really loud, like Dec 99; (b) Rice/Bush, who stuck him in a lower box on a dull organization chart and played the bureaucratic process while he begged for Action Now?

Clinton made it a top priority/Bush did not: Here, we are talking about two wildly different management styles. Clinton was reactive and ad hoc - for the fifteen minutes that you had his attention, your project was the number one priority of the Administration. This style was useless for grinding a multi-agency long term plan through the bureaucracy (see the dithering non-reaction from Embassy '98 to Cole 2000), but led to great fire drills, such as pre-millenium.

Bush was better at process - he and Condi came up with a plan, by gum, and it took a mere seven months. Unfortunately, Clarke was screaming for a fire drill (not for the first time) and he didn't get it.

So, which style is better? After the fact, the reactive approach would have been better; before the fact, many of us would opt for working it through. College basketball fans will appreciate the difference between a good game coach, and a coach who runs a good program. Last college hoops anaolgy this year (maybe the first ever for me).

That said, the "process" approach creates its own institutional momentum - once the bureaucracy has spent a year working on. e.g., Iraq, it is hard to get them to stop.

Big Finish - Clarke could stick to the facts at hand and articulate a plausible "Bush was too stodgy" case. Maybe. I think he has gone a bit far (his Sep 12 meeting where Bush pressed a gun to his temple and said "I'll write, you type" comes to mind), but I think he could argue it. But he would need to spend a lot more time educating us as to the efficacy of different modes of bureaucratic ju-jitsu.


Paul Zrimsek

One potential problem with the hypothetical "Bush was too stodgy" case is that it collides head-on with the "stovepipe" theory which probably still claims some allegiance among Bush's critics. That theory, for those who like to keep track of them as they go by, holds that Bush is not stodgy enough; that he's been too willing to act directly on hypotheses coming from low levels about things like Nigerien yellowcake, rather than let the proper chain of command chew on them first for a year or three.


Hmm, the Unified Theory creaks a bit. How about a Limited Fast Track exception to the general Bush rule of "process, process, process" - for special priority projects (Iraq, but not terror), he stovepiped.

Or, he learned from experience - realizing he missed key input on terror in 2001, he was more flexible in receiving input on Iraq in 2002! Hey, even in my role as a modified Bushie, I don't find that totally objectionable.

Cecil Turner

After the fact, the reactive approach would have been better; before the fact, many of us would opt for working it through.

I'm not sure what action of the sort Clarke recommended would have helped in the least. Clinton's ad hoc "blast a few camps" approach obviously didn't--the 9/11 plan and most of the players were in place before Bush's inauguration--and there's no reason to expect further strikes would have fared any better. If the goal was to remove Al Qaeda's safe haven in Afghanistan, it required presenting the Taliban with a credible threat of regime change, either by supporting the Northern Alliance or by invasion, neither of which was even proposed. And even that should've been done in 1998 . . . by 2001 it might well have been too late to prevent 9/11.

For a sports analogy, I'd choose a first-rate NFL quarterback: if you can't muster a credible pass rush, he'll eventually pick your secondary apart. Similarly, it's impossible to control Islamist terror by playing defense--you have to put pressure on the state sponsors. The hard-core terrorist sponsors in the mideast were Iraq, Iran, and Syria. You can't attack the latter two without getting Iraq first, since you need a staging area to launch an assault. There was also a ready-made casus belli (or several). Also, after passing the Iraq Liberation Act in 1998, inaction was an admission of a lack of will. ISTM this one's a no brainer, and Clarke is perfectly wrong on his main criticism: the Administration has a credible plan, and he is the one who's distracted.


GORTON: Now, since my yellow light is on, at this point my final question will be this: Assuming that the recommendations that you made on January 25th of 2001, based on Delenda [a 3-5 year plan to seriously degrade Al Qaeda], based on Blue Sky [another anti-AQ plan], including aid to the Northern Alliance, which had been an agenda item at this point for two and a half years without any action, assuming that there had been more Predator reconnaissance missions, assuming that had all been adopted say on January 26th, year 2001, is there the remotest chance that it would have prevented 9/11?


That takes care of the issues under the Commission's purview.

Now we only have to resolve the deeper questions, like whether Condi Rice had heard of Al Qaeda before Clarke told her about it, and how Clarke thought meetings in 2001 would magically melt legal barriers between the FBI & CIA and transform established processes and mission-orientation within the FBI.

The subject's pretty serious, but most of this post-hoc navel-gazing is fairly unintelligent, and the hoopla over Clarke's non-revelations is farcical.


Somewhere, IIRC, Clarke argued that a full fire drill in the summer of 2001, like the fire drill in Dec 1999, might have prompted the different agencies to make connections and (maybe) disrupt the 9/11 plot. Hmm, a link would be appropriate now, wouldn't it? Let me come back to that. [Here we go - PBS interview]

That would be different from his "Delenda" plan, which (I think we all agree) was a longer term proposition.

Now, somewhat on topic, I want to toss in a link to Close-Up: The Mind of George W. Bush, by Richard Brookhiser, and appearing in the Atlantic Monthly, in which he appraises the decision making style of GWB.

Cecil Turner


Thanks, I'd missed that exchange. It's worth pointing out that the most aggressive proposal, Northern Alliance aid, was for funding and low-level covert stuff (as opposed to bombing targets for them). But the bottom line is that Gorton nailed it.

BTW, if you don't mind my asking, do you have a military background? Most of your analyses read like good Proceedings articles.


Tom, I don't think the "full fire drill" in 1999 had anything to do with the INS agent nabbing a nervous and incompetent Ahmed Ressam in Washington state. I'm open to edification on the point, but I think the INS was on a similar alert level in 2001 as it was during the millennium period.

Not only was 1999 not an illustration of his thesis, but we know enough now to know that a direction-less but tense "full fire drill" of principals meeting in August 2001 would have been focusing on overseas threats, and not domestic suicide hijackings -- and it's not plausible that the dots would have been connected in the right way to prevent 9/11. If someone can demonstrate (facts, not assertions) that the connectable dots existed in our system, and that a fret-fest among cabinet secretaries focusing on overseas threats could have plausibly shaken them out and connected them, then Clarke has achieved at most a speculative hypothetical claim.

Any connectable dots were already present in the prior administration, save perhaps the August 2001 entry of the two hijackers linked to the Kuala Lumpur meeting. The public record at least has no other "dots" to connect that weren't years old already. So Clarke is asserting that Rummy and Condi sweating in the Situation Room over threats in the Persian Gulf will somehow change the FBI HQ's qualms over searching Moussaoui's laptop, or magically vault one obscure terrorist threat among many (domestic suicide hijackings) to the fore, and produce effective pre-emptive measures? Yeah, right.

Anyway, once again to return the discussion to what's about -- 9/11, not everything else under the sun -- Clarke's answer to Gorton is dispositive. I'd love for someone to show me how it ain't. It's also speculative and hypothetical, but it's directly on the point: if everything he was recommending had been done, he still thinks it would not have prevented 9/11.

Cecil, your words are too kind. I've never worn the uniform, but worked on defense issues or kindred ones all my life. But mostly I just apply logic and a little substance to these issues -- which is a wrenching contrast with the fallacious, illiterate, and tendentious b.s. that passes for news coverage and most "analysis."

Patrick R. Sullivan

"Clinton made it a top priority/Bush did not: Here, we are talking about two wildly different management styles. "

Conveniently it seems that when Clarke was higher in the pecking order than Geo. Tenet (Clinton) he was happier with the policies than when he was lower (Bush).

But Ice Cold is exactly right. When Clarke answered "no" to Sen. Gorton's question, it's Game, Set, Match. And time to move on to the real reason we failed to prevent 9-11: FISA. For that the apologies should come from people like Frank Church, Otis Pike, Anthony Lewis, and oh, say, John Kerry.


The invaluable Mr. Turner missed that exchange between Gorton amd Clarke? Fortunately for my self-respect, I had posted the AP clip a few days ago:

MORE: From the AP, at the end of the story, we get a bit of balance:

Former Republican Sen. Slade Gorton asked Clarke if there was "the remotest chance" that the attacks could have been prevented if the Bush administration had adopted his aggressive counterterrorism recommendations upon taking office in January 2001.

"No," Clarke said.

Someone on the Rep side did offer their view that the 1999 success was due to hard work by the INS, and not a series of frantic meetings in Washington. But here is Clarke's PBS comment:

MARGARET WARNER: So what more could the president have done if he was paying the kind of attention you feel he should have that might have thwarted the 9/11 attacks?

RICHARD CLARKE: Well, two things. First of all, we could have adopted a policy right away, and a strategy, given presidential authorization, presidential decisions and money, to begin the process of eliminating the al-Qaida sanctuary in Afghanistan. And moreover, if we had had those meetings, chaired by Dr. Rice with the attorney general, with the FBI director, every day or every other day after we received the threat information, they would have gone back to the Justice Department and the FBI, shaken the trees, and out of the trees we now know would have fallen information that was in the FBI that two of the hijackers were in the United States.

Margaret, if we had known the names of those two hijackers, we could have put them on the front page of every paper in the country. We could have rounded up those two hijackers, and then the FBI might have been able to pull the string and find the other members of the al-Qaida cell.

We may disagree, but he is an expert on this stuff. Maybe self-serving and self-promoting, but an expert nonetheless. Now, his "first thing" is shot down by his own statement to Gorton; his second point about the FBI shaking the trees is speculative. I doubt it persuades the IceMan (and maybe not me), but there it is.

I'm in a Kerry-esque position here - I am not trying to say that Clarke is right; I'm just trying to create an interpretation of what he is saying that is defensible.

Anyway, I appreciate the feedback. I'm still hoping to turn this into a new post, although my time management is collapsing around me.

Cecil Turner

The problem wasn't in the data transmission, it was reception error. I tried to watch the proceedings, but my eyes quickly glazed over. I obviously missed that part of your earlier post, and am still having a bit of the same problem with the transcripts. (It's working wonders for my insomnia, though.)

Clarke's "first thing" is more thoroughly debunked by the fact that imminent invasion did not suffice to persuade the Taliban to stop providing safe haven in 2001--there's zero chance the sort of half-measures he proposed would have worked earlier. His second point is also hard to credit, as that sort of interagency communication would not normally be conducted at the cabinet principal level--which tends to support Patrick's FISA point above. (And if one were feeling snide, he might point out that attending meetings chaired by Dr Rice wasn't Clarke's strong suit.)


Clarke's "shaking trees" model is speculative, and doesn't sound right given that the problems in the FBI were (are?) structural and at that time legal. Facts might persuade me otherwise (i.e., that his speculation is not entirely bogus). The Commission could at least examine this contention in light of the actual facts (as could any of us, if we'd bother to dig back through the public record). I don't think Clarke made this contention in the hearing, and we don't know if he did in the private staff interviews.

Logically, if he really believes this, he would have appended something to his "No" to Gorton. Something like "The longer range plan was unlikely to disrupt 9/11, but I think an intensive top-down focus on the situation, including the two eventual hijackers who'd entered the US as reported by the CIA, might have disrupted it." Time will tell, but my bet is that he didn't say anything like this in the context of a hearing where he'd be challenged -- whereas with PBS or other journalists he knew it would just be passed on for its sensational and anti-Bush value.


Pavitt recalled conveying that Bin Ladin was one of the gravest threats to the country. President-elect Bush asked whether killing Bin Ladin would end the problem. Pavitt said he and the DCI answered that killing Bin Ladin would have an impact but not stop the threat. CIA later provided more formal assessments to the White House reiterating that conclusion.

That comes from the 9-11 Commission report - I'm actually very excited to be able to copy from a .pdf file.

It is a side bar, but to me it quashes the question of whether we should have armed the Predator sooner and tried to kill bin Laden over the summer of 2001. The President asked, and was told that it would not be decisive.


More from same:

Some CIA officials expressed frustration about the pace of policymaking during the stressful
summer of 2001. Although Tenet said he thought the policy machinery was working in what he
called a rather orderly fashion, Deputy DCI McLaughlin told us he felt a great tension—
especially in June and July 2001—between the new administration’s need to understand these
issues and his sense that this was a matter of great urgency.

Well, bureaucracies are slow. More importantly, "Delenda" would not have disrupted 9-11 anyway.

Deputy Director for Operations Pavitt told
Commission staff that “doing stuff on the margins” was not the way to get this job done. If the U.S. government was serious about eliminating the al Qaeda threat, it required robust, offensive
engagement across the entire U.S. government.

...But if officers at all levels questioned the effectiveness of the most active strategy the policymakers were employing to defeat the terrorist enemy, the Commission needs to ask why that strategy remained largely unchanged throughout the period leading up to 9/11.

To which the Bushies would respond, just so, and we were changing the strategy. Tenet is cited as saying the policy machinery was working in an orderly fashion. Is that CYA from the CIA? How long should these things take?


Adding to the homework pile - the 9-11 Commission Staff statement Number 8, released March 24, is a must read also.

It has a puzzling hint suggesting that, in Dec 1999, the capture of the bomber atthe border triggered the daily principal's meeting (to find out what else was out ther), and not the other way around:

As 1999 drew to a close, Jordanian intelligence discovered an al Qaeda-connected plot to attack tourists gathering in Jordan for Millennium events. Intelligence revealed links to suspected terrorists who might be in the United States. Meanwhile a Customs agent caught Ahmed
Ressam, an Algerian jihadist, trying to cross with explosives from Canada into the United States.

Both staff and principals were seized with this threat. The CSG met constantly, frequently
getting the assistance of principals to spur particular actions. These actions included pressuring Pakistan to turn over particular suspects and issuing an extraordinary number of domestic surveillance warrants for investigations in the United States. National Security Adviser Berger said that principals convened on a nearly daily basis in the White House Situation Room for
almost a month. The principals communicated their own sense of urgency throughout their agencies.

And the genesis of "Delenda" in 1998:

After the August 1998 military strikes against Afghanistan and Sudan, Clarke turned his
attention to a government-wide strategy for destroying the Bin Ladin threat. His proposed
strategy was Political-Military Plan Delenda, circulated among CSG and Small Group
participants in late August and September 1998. As mentioned yesterday, the term “Delenda” is
from the Latin “to destroy,” evoking the famous Roman vow to erase rival Carthage.

...This strategy was not formally adopted, and Cabinet-level participants in the Small Group have
little or no recollection of it, at least as a formal policy document. The principals decided against the rolling military campaign described in the plan. However, Clarke continued to use the other components of the Delenda plan to guide his efforts.

Cecil Turner

"To which the Bushies would respond, just so, and we were changing the strategy. Tenet is cited as saying the policy machinery was working in an orderly fashion. Is that CYA from the CIA? How long should these things take?"

Most military plans are reviewed annually and updated as necessary. Obviously that cycle would be shortened during an actual war--but a major strategy shift with budget impact is not a quick process, and they had mostly completed it.

ISTM a more telling criticism would be that the strategy to be implemented was still insufficient: "delenda" was a catchy name, but with little actual destruction. The war in Afghanistan has amply demonstrated that covert aid to the Northern Alliance and a few predator missions had no chance of "break[ing] the back" of Al Qaeda. The concept is reminiscent of the failed "surgical bombing" strategy of early VietNam.

We were at war with Afghanistan from the time they provided safe haven to those bombing our embassies in 1998. The Tomahawk strikes were also half-a**ed acts of war. On 9/12 the answers were obvious enough (ultimatum and invasion)--they were just three years overdue. It may have been politically impossible to take effective action in 1998-mid 2001, and that's a discussion worth having. But pretending Clarke's proposals were a panacea, and just adopted too late, is laughable nonsense.


I agree. And my nose for news (aka arcana) is flaring now. A recurring message is "Clinton/Clarke developed a plan after the Cole, but Bush was slow to implement it. We see that in the Kleiman rebuttal above in point (1), and we see it in the discredited TIME story (links here.

Now the Commission is telling us that Delenda was developed after the embassy bombings in 1998, drifted without approval, and was revised/updated after the Cole.

That seems like a big hole in the Clarke/Berger spin. Clarke is saying that terror was the highest priority for Clinton, even though his plan drifted for over two years, and Bush lacked urgency, even though his plan was approved in seven months.

Shorter Berger - we developed a plan after the Cole;

Longer Berger - we developed a strategy after the Embassy bombings but never approved it; we updated it after the Cole but never circulated it. So, subject to the caveat that no one at State, Defense, Justice, Treasury, or the CIA had reviewed, approved, staffed, or funded it, we had a plan.

Cecil Turner

Reading back through that bit just raised my estimation of Clinton a bit. This is a cogent recap: "the military recommended against it. There was a high probability that it wouldn't succeed." (Though I admit a suspicion he was just quoting someone who'd pointed out the obvious flaws in the scheme.)

Restated Berger: "we developed a strategy after the Embassy bombings, but it really wasn't a very good one, and thankfully was never approved."

I can't believe Clarke thinks it was an implementation problem. It's nonsensical, and he's not that stupid. (And demonstrated by his answer to Sen Gorton, he doesn't believe it either.) Politically motivated dissembling to help his buddies and sell books makes perfect sense--and would help explain his inconsistencies and opening histrionics. None of the more charitable explanations hold together nearly as well.

Patrick R. Sullivan

The chronology is as our host surmises regarding the capture of the terrorist, Ressam, in Washington state in 1999. A Customs Agent noticed that he was acting nervous, and sweating. So she began to question him--thinking he was trying to smuggle something without paying duty--he then bolted, but was quickly apprehended. When they searched his car they found the explosives.

Nothing Clarke's group did was responsible for his capture, but we did get his cooperation which turned out to be valuable for unearthing other terrorist plots.


The Gorton-Clarke exchange is clear and dispositive on what many (ignorantly, abetted by the typical media distortion) THINK is the heart of the Clarke hoopla: we had a plan that could have prevented 9/11. Even without Clarke's "no," it's obviously the case that all his proposals would probably not have affected 9/11.

Which makes his not-under-oath assertion about more high-level meetings and preventing 9/11 all the more reason to dismiss him as a serious witness. Unless I missed it, he said nothing of the sort under oath, and the Commission reports so far have no hint of such a claim by anyone.

The Clinton team has gotten a free ride in many respects, partly because the country's been busy looking ahead and fighting a war since 9/11, but it wasn't just in hindsight that it's national security and terrorism performance were unimpressive. I recall clearly in August 1998 discussing with friends, all of them people foreign policy types either then or in the past, how the law-enforcement model was wrong and how the unfitness of the administration (from top to bottom) to deal with serious national security issues was becoming dangerous.

A bit of that was on display at the hearings. Albright saying that detention of enemy combatants at Gitmo may only anger young Muslims and thus help recruit AQ fighters is beyond parody and perfectly illustrative of her cluelessness.

It's clear Clarke doesn't have much to contribute, and that he never did have a very serious understanding of jihadism (either its origins or ways to defeat it). But just for fun, wouldn't someone please ask him point blank how it is that Bush was obsessed with Iraq and yet invaded Afghanistan? Even more than his preposterous "Rice didn't know what AQ was" or his bizarre mommy mommy help the President intimidated me" "revelations" in his book, this is the one big-picture absurdity that he should be forced to explain publicly.


This looks like the relevant Commission section on summer 2001:

On July 2, the FBI issued a national threat advisory. Rice recalls asking Clarke on July 5 to
bring additional law enforcement and domestic agencies into the CSG threat discussions. That
afternoon, officials from a number of these agencies met at the White House, following up with
alerts of their own, including FBI and FAA warnings. The next day, the CIA told CSG
participants that al Qaeda members “believe the upcoming attack will be a ‘spectacular,’
qualitatively different from anything they have done to date.” On July 27 Clarke reported to
Rice and Hadley that the spike in intelligence indicating a near-term attack appeared to have
ceased, but he urged them to keep readiness high; intelligence indicated that an attack had been
postponed for a few months.

In early August, the CIA prepared an article for the president’s daily intelligence brief on
whether or how terrorists might attack the United States. Neither the White House nor the CSG
received specific, credible information about any threatened attacks in the United States. Neither
Clarke nor the CSG were informed about the August 2001 investigations that produced the
discovery of suspected al Qaeda operatives in the United States. Nor did the group learn about
the arrest or FBI investigation of Zacarias Moussaoui in Minnesota.

Now, Clarke called the stand-down in late July. OTOH, how could Clarke NOT have been told about the August news? (Ooops - not in the loop). I can read between the lines and see where he might have a beef.

Oh, I had a chance to flip through the Clarke book - I picked out three great stories in about ten pages. I'll never buy it, of course...

Cecil Turner

I read this exchange as an implied claim by Clarke that his plan would have at least helped:

ROEMER: You then wrote a memo on September 4th to Dr. Rice expressing some of these frustrations several months later, if you say the time frame is May or June when you decided to resign. A memo comes out that we have seen on September the 4th. You are blunt in blasting DOD for not willingly using the force and the power. You blast the CIA for blocking Predator. You urge policy-makers to imagine a day after hundreds of Americans lay dead at home or abroad after a terrorist attack and ask themselves what else they could have done. You write this on September the 4th, seven days before September 11th.

CLARKE: That's right.

ROEMER: What else could have been done, Mr. Clarke?

CLARKE: Well, all of the things that we recommended in the plan or strategy -- there's a lot of debate about whether it's a plan or a strategy or a series of options.

CLARKE: But all of the things we recommended back in January were those things on the table in September. They were done. They were done after September 11th. They were all done. I didn't really understand why they couldn't have been done in February.

Of course, his statement ignores the main thing that happened after 9/11: the invasion of Afghanistan. (Incidentally the only truly effective course of action--and the one he wouldn't have recommended.)


Imagine my annoyance - the Delenda plan from 1998 was attached to the plan prepared after the USS Cole attack.

OTOH, the "shake your tree" argument also weakens - we learn that the CIA sat on key info, yet it was Tenet briefing Bush daily, and the CIA which, on its own initiatuve, prepared a domestic risk assessment.

We also see a **great** Clarke interview with Frontline in March 2002 - presumably, as a loyal staffer, who was forced to lie when he said:

Q: A lot of people looked at Sept. 11, and said "Massive intelligence failure. Haven't seen an intelligence failure like this since Pearl Harbor." What's your opinion on that allegation?

CLARKE: I think it's a cheap shot. I think when people say, no matter what event it is, they say, "Oh, it was an intelligence failure," they frequently don't know what the intelligence community said prior to the event. In June 2001, the intelligence community issued a warning that a major Al Qaeda terrorist attack would take place in the next many weeks. They said they were unable to find out exactly where it might take place. They said they thought it might take place in Saudi Arabia.

We asked, "Could it take place in the United States?" They said, "We can't rule that out." So in my office in the White House complex, the CIA sat and briefed the domestic U.S. federal law enforcement agencies, Immigration, Federal Aviation, Coast Guard, and Customs. The FBI was there as well, agreeing with the CIA, and told them that we were entering a period when there was a very high probability of a major terrorist attack. Now I don't think that's an intelligence failure. It may be a failure of other parts of the government, but I don't think that was an intelligence failure.

This is turning into barrel-fishing.

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