Flush twice... it's a long way to Sally Quinn's place!
For March 28, 2004
The War Against Clarke Is a Miserable Failure
By the Pundit Pap Team
Jane Grice | Sherrie Gogerty Geeting
March 28, 2004 -- NEW YORK (apj.us) -- The number one priority of George W. Bush is to defeat the biggest danger to his administration.
Osama bin Laden? Uh-uh.
Ayman al-Zawah'ri? Nope -- and we doubt Li'l Shrubya can even pronounce it correctly.
John Kerry? Not even warm.
The number one threat to Bush comes from one Richard Clarke, onetime senior counterterrorism advisor to Presidents Reagan, Bush Sr., and Clinton, and allegedly the top counterterrorism chief to "Popular Wartime Preznit ©" George -- although it has come to light that the Junior Bush's handlers were keeping Clarke as far away from El Smirko and the entire Cabinet as possible, allowing him contact for the most part with their senior staffers.
Remember -- this is the one guy in the executive branch who had a better handle on the real threat of terrorism than anyone.
This is also the man who dared to personally apologize to the families of the victims of Al Qaeda's Sept. 11, 2001 attacks -- and dared say that the government had "failed" -- during a tempestuous and dramatic appearance before the 9/11 commission earlier this week.
And now he's the number one target of Team Shrub -- because not only do the revelations from the afore-mentioned appearance (under oath, mind you) destroy the credibility of Bush's so-called "war against terrorists" during an election year, but Clarke's daring assertion that the Iraq escapade actually undermined and continues to undermine the campaign to take out terrorists supports a position the Democrats are already pushing.
For their part, the administration let "Uncle Donald" Rumsfeld do the talking on FAUX News Sunday and ABC's This Week. Condolleeza Rice will be appearing on 60 Minutes -- but will not be put under oath before the 9/11 Commission for even 60 seconds. The reason by now is obvious: her testimony would corroborate Clarke's. We bet that she actually does want to testify -- but the callow Bush Boy refuses to allow such a thing to happen.
Clarke himself appeared on Meet the Press -- in what will be remembered as one of the most important Sunday interviews of the year -- and the lukewarm "Late Edition," with Judy Woodruff recycling Tim Russert's questions.
Rummy: Iraq was no distraction, so shut the hell up about it, dammit!
Players: George "Steph" Stephanopoulos, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, Secretary of War Dammit! Don Rumsfeld, Sept. 11 Commission Member Jamie S. Gorelick and John Lehman
Steph began by dramatically declaring Richard Clarke's 9/11 testimony the catalyst for a "partisan battle with the highest stakes possible." He also repeated the corporate press' favorite catch phrases for the week:
"Hair on fire!" and the nauseating Jim Thompson's whine of "Credibility problem."
Steph started with reference to a poll showing the Bush Boy's approval rating on terrorism dropping -- and, oddly, results that further indicate that Richard Clarke had no effect on Bush's ratings and that people think he's making personal attacks on Bush.
Huh? He was trying to explain failures of the executive branch both before 9/11! We'd be willing to bet the framing of the questions were a tad less than neutral.
Donald Rumsfeld, looking more caffeinated and testy than usual (yes, it is possible for him to appear that way), was guest one. Here's the exchange, in our traditional stripped-down-to-a-minute format, with Steph and George Will asking the questions.
Steph: Should Bush apologize?
Rummy: Not for me to say. Our hearts go, um, out to, er, the victims. The important thing is that the commission ask what we should be doing today.
Steph: Accepting responsibility is part of the process. Even Reagan admitted that after the Beirut bombing.
Rummy: Truman's "buck stops here".
Steph: So he should apologize.
Rummy: He took responsibility already! One thing that has to come out is the truth, that these attacks are not over and you can't defend against every attack if people are determined to kill many people. We have to go after them where they are!
Steph: That may be true...
Rummy: ... That IS true.
Steph: So where was the urgency before 9/11?
Rummy (not allowing Steph's question to get him off message): Hey, I'm talking about the FUTURE, dammit! We have to ask TODAY what we do TOMORROW! That's my damn talking point and I'm sticking with it! And the commission should stick to connecting the dots!
Will: If you'd connected the dots and fingered the snake pit in Afghanistan...
Rummy: You don't go from diplomacy to preemption -- it's a tough thing to do.
[Can you believe that howler? This from one of the great architects of the doctrine of preemption. We were laughing out loud at that bit of bald-faced hypocrisy.]
Will: Clarke said there was a loss of energy in aggressively addressing terrorism. Should you have been more aggressive?
Rummy: Write it off to a transition with imperfect focus. Hindsight is 20-20.
Will: Terrible continuity -- it's being criticized.
Rummy: I didn't have half my people confirmed for months. [Thank you for reminding us that Republicans, who controlled both houses of Congress during the first months of the Bush Regime, are masters at dragging their feet.]
Will: Clarke says Iraq took the energy out of the war against terrorism.
Rummy: Hey, look what we did in Afghanistan. We went to Afghanistan, we didn't go to Iraq. Got that? It was highly successful. But we didn't destroy Al Qaeda. We took away their training, their haven. It certainly destroyed the Taliban. Iraq was not a distraction. Got that? That's my other big talking point. Iraq. Was. No. Distraction.
Will: How degraded is Al Qaeda?
Rummy: Every day is tough. A lot of their inner circle is out. It's tougher to raise and move money. But they're still there.
Steph: Bush says Osama and Zawah'ri are no longer in control of Al Qaeda.
Rummy: It's a decentralized terrorist network. But there's an effect.
Steph: So operational control is local and/or homegrown.
Rummy: NO, there are key players contributing to larger-scale coordination.
Steph: What difference would getting Osama make now?
Rummy: Al Qaeda will continue for a while.
Steph: What is the goal of the operation to root out Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan?
Rummy: It's not one operation, these are continual operations.
Steph: Isn't it true that in March 2002 Special Forces were pulled from Afghanistan and sent to Iraq?
Rummy: We've had them in Afghanistan, in Iraq, all over the world.
Will: Terrorists caused regime change in Spain. That could happen here. It must be prevented!
Rummy: I don't know if the attacks changed the elections.
[Wow. What Rummy didn't say: Aznar's own dishonesty about ETA's role in the bombings -- which turned out not to be the case -- lost him the election. Can you say WMDs anyone? It's not the "tairism", it's the lies.]
Rummy (continued): It may have been the case. The purpose of terrorism is to terrorize, to influence people, to make them fearful and have them do what you want them to do.
Will: Does the US approve of Israel's assassination of Yassin?
Rummy: Bush and Powell have spoken. What we're trying to do with Osama is to get the guy behind the murder of 3,000 people to prevent him from using his network of killers. This is a self-defense issue.
[Hmmm... so offing Yassin must be OK by that standard.]
Steph: When I talked to Musharraf, he downplayed the effect of Dr. Khan's proliferation. [Soundbite of Steph saying the military played a role, and Musharraf denying it.] Do you buy it?
Rummy: I don't know that that's what he said.
Steph: "Individuals, not the military."
Rummy: I respect the guy. He has courage. Warrior on terror. Coalition partner. Tremendously cooperative. Khan has damaged the civilized world. That Musharraf -- my kinda guy.
Steph: Could he have done it without help from the military -- including then-chief-of-staff Musharraf?
Rummy: I have NO evidence that Musharraf was involved. You can't prove a negative. I know nothing! NOTHING!
Following a break (lots of commercials for overpriced and risky prescription meds), Jamie S. Gorelick and John Lehman joined Steph.
Steph: "Hair on fire!" What did you mean?
Gorelick: The subject of the hearing was what should have been done before 9/11/01. We succeeded before the millennium. I'm not going to prejudge, we're halfway through -- but where was the FBI Director? Why hadn't the FBI, CIA and NSC communicated with each other about known or suspected terrorists? If they'd been meeting, 9/11 might have been prevented.
Lehman: The odds could have been improved during the Clinton years. Our witnesses said so. But there's no proof it would have stopped the 9/11 attacks after 1/20/01. The issue is identifying everything that went wrong -- notably the CIA's failure to penetrate groups or cells.
Steph: You were tough on Clarke, said his private answers were different from his public statements. Does he still have a credibility problem?
Lehman: He shouldn't have talked about Iraq.
[Well, well! Thank you, John! That's the very thorn that's sticking in Smirk's craw: he should NEVER have dared reveal that the Iraq adventure set back the effort to root out Al Qaeda and other terrorist criminals.]
Lehman (continued): He changed his interpretation of 9/11. [You sure about that? C'mon, if you make an assertion, present evidence!] Both campaigns will use 9/11. [Will? Smirky McFlightsuit already has, doofus-boy!] There are changes that have to be made. Who picks up on reforms and runs with them first?
Steph: Did he change the emphasis of his story?
Gorelick: No, except for his comment on Iraq. I would agree with Lehman that we've seen policy disconnects, gaffes, gaps and problems.
Steph: Frist is saying that his testimony is at odds with a joint inquiry testimony and he's a perjurer!
Gorelick: I see no conflicts, but a difference in emphasis.
Steph: Should Dr. Rice testify under oath? They're citing separation of power precedent.
Lehman: The White House is making a big mistake, and is run by "strict constructionist" decision makers.
[WHOA! And we thought Lehman had it in for Clarke breaking rank with the GOP message. Looks as if he's none too thrilled with the Constitutional Regressionist Evangelical Taliban either.]
Steph: How can they preserve the privilege and still testify?
Lehman: She's not appearing before a tribunal. I've written two books on executive privilege. She has nothing to hide, and it's creating the impression that the White House has something to hide. It's a political blunder of the first order.
Gorelick: We're being generous. We're distinguishable from Congress.
[Note that last point. And the Misadministration is saying that Rice can't testify for "separation of powers" reasons? What separation of powers? The Bush Boy from PNAC?]
Steph then played his prerecorded interview with Pakistani dicta... er, our good friend, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, first pitching the military strongma... um, respected world leader as a target of Islamic militants and a supporter of the war on terrorism.
Steph: Did Zawah'ri escape?
Musharraf: They say he's a high-value target. I'm going to eliminate all of them!
Steph: You have a lot of people in custody. Any clues as to where he and Al Qaeda are?
Musharraf: No. We're looking. They are misusing the name of Islam and giving the religion a bad name.
[On this point Musharraf is 100% on the money -- so where are all the Islamic scholars and clergymen calling for a Muslim Reformation? They are a bit overdue...]
Steph: How do Muslims like you defeat Muslims like him?
Musharraf: Take the fight to him.
Steph: But your citizens seem to like Osama. If you take him out, you may enrage the street.
Musharraf: They are terrorists, and they are here [in Pakistan]. They are playing off anti-US sentiments.
Steph: How do you balance out your goals with the sentiments of the people?
Musharraf: They're making tapes, but we're taking them on.
Steph: So you think you'll get Osama before his allies get you.
Musharraf: I'm not making any predictions, but I believe I'll get him.
Steph: On September 14, 2001, you made a change of policy to support the fight against Osama. Rummy said you'd been a "hindrance" before that date.
Musharraf: 50% of Afghanistan was being ruled by the Taliban -- they were a big part of the real problem, and 9/11 turned the world against them.
Steph: Did the US take too long to take on Al Qaeda?
Musharraf: I didn't say that. My view was and is that everyone should have been taking the Taliban on diplomatically and urging them to change from within.
Steph: Some say the US must be more coercive toward Pakistan on the nuclear issue. Was there a deal between you and Bush on trading no toughness on Dr. Khan for help in taking on Al Qaeda?
Musharraf: No. There's no nuclear proliferation in Pakistan! None, I tell you! Never!
Steph: Dr. Khan will be responsible for as much instability in the 21st century as Hitler and Stalin were in the 20th, according to one analyst.
Musharraf: What's a centrifuge here or there? Then, you've got to be able to explode the uranium. This is a technical issue.
Steph: So Al Qaeda doesn't have a briefcase bomb.
Steph: What happens if an extreme Islamic state rises and has the bomb -- like, for example, in Pakistan?
Musharraf: It'll never happen -- we're a big country with a lot going on. I have no sleepless nights.
[Thanks, Pervez -- so reassuring to hear that for you!]
-- Jane Grice
Eat the Press
Tim Russert morphs from Press Heather... to Charlotte!
Players: Designated NBC representative for the RNC Tim Russert; Richard A. Clarke, former senior counterterrorism advisor to Presidents Reagan, Bush the Preppier, Clinton, and George the Lesser.
Timmy "Troll" Russert, sounding as tremulous as Charlotte Church hitting E over high C, introduced Richard Clarke as though he were worried Clarke might confuse "Russert" with "dessert" and summarily scarf him. It's one of the few times in recent memory the Troll has had even a vague inkling of the truth, as it turns out.
|Timmy Church: The hits (on anyone not towing the RNC/Bush line) keep on coming...|
Tim started with a clip of Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN) -- the Dr. Mengele of the Republican Party hierarchy -- accusing Clarke of perjury and urging the declassification of his prior testimony.
Clarke pointed out that he is not the issue, for all the GOP's efforts to make it so. He agreed and urged that all six hours of his testimony should be declassified, as should "AnaCondoleezza" Rice's testimony behind closed doors at the 9/11 hearings. Clarke named several documents which would show that the administration (including La Condo) was well aware of his urgings concerning Al Qaeda and Afghanistan -- and ignored them. A memo he wrote five days into the administration concerning the urgency of the terrorist threat was characterized by Condo as "warmed-over Clinton material". Clarke went on to suggest that all of his e-mails -- not just the selective ones the White House is releasing -- be declassified, as well as Condo's responses to them.
Tim then uttered the White House talking point that this episode is entirely "Richard Clarke v. Richard Clarke" -- and quoted some remarks that Clarke had made in a briefing (supposedly unattributed, until the White House thought they could clobber him with it).
Clarke stated calmly that there were no inconsistencies, and went on to explain the concept of spin to Timmy: how it is possible to put a positive face on things which in the long run are not positive. He also pointed out that TIME Magazine had just released a devastating report specifying Clarke himself as having presented a plan on January 25, 2001 which had not been dealt with for nine months because meetings on the subjects of China, Star Wars (!) and Iraq were more important to Condo and her committee than was the topic of terrorist threats to the United States. Clarke told the White House that basically the article was true, although minimal action had been taken -- and then was told that he could SAY that the report he submitted had been approved by the deputies if not the principals of the administration, he could SAY that there was an approval in principal.
Clarke then quoted Pat Buchanan, who said only last night "Look, when you're in the White House you can disagree with policy, but when you are asked to defend that policy, you defend it" -- as simple a definition of spin as I have seen. [Note from the editors: Buchanan also made this point on The McLaughlin Group, which although taped on Friday airs on Sundays in most markets.]
Clarke said that his choices were to either resign or continue in order to produce a national policy on protecting cyberspace from terrorism, which he showed to Timmy -- and which he said the President thanked him effusively for.
Richard Clarke quoted President Bush to Bob Woodward, saying that before 9/11 terrorism was not an urgent issue for him, he did not feel the urgency, which is of course Clarke's entire POINT. Now, he said, the White House is on a taxpayer-financed mission to destroy him personally and professionally -- a mission which the 10-point drop in the polls as regards Bush and his war on terrorism reveals as failing miserably.
Clarke repeatedly and firmly stated that the issue is not him, Richard Clarke; the issue is the president's performance and the success or lack of success in same. He denied any grudge against Condo -- and in a nice touch, he called her a very, very good person, but conspicuously sidestepping her ability as a presidential advisor or her talents as a national security expert.
When Timmy said Clarke told TIME that the issue of terrorism was moving along about as fast as could be expected, Clarke retorted that it was moving along normally but it was not a normal issue. He repeated that CIA Director George Tenet was warning the President every DAY that there was an impending attack and was testifying before Congress in February 2001 that Al Qaeda was the major terrorist threat to the United States, and even with all that there were 100 meetings of Condo's Committee before the subject even came up.
Timmy asked how Clarke would rate the President's performance on a scale of 1 - 10 on the war on Terror both before and after 9/11. Clarke responded as follows:
Clarke: Well, there wasn't any personal performance by the
president prior to September 11. Now, the only thing that I was
ever able to detect that he did on the war on terrorism was after
Tenet had been briefing him day after day after day after day about
an Al Qaeda threat, the president said, in May, "Well, let's, you
know, get a strategy." That's the only thing I ever heard that he
got involved in personally. And when he said that, Dr. Rice called
me and said, "The president wants a strategy." And I said, "Well,
you know the strategy was what I sent you on January 25, and it's
been stuck in these low-level committees." And she said, "Fine.
I'll deal with that." Well, she didn't deal with it until September.
And, interestingly enough, the president never said after that May
conversation, "Where's the strategy?" And, again, if you go back to
what the president himself says to Bob Woodward, he said, "I knew
there was a strategy in the works. But I didn't know how mature the
plan was." He's saying this on September 11. He didn't know where
the strategy was. The strategy that he had asked for in May? He'd
never come back and asked where it was. You know, basically, it
wasn't an urgent issue for them before September 11.
Tim: It sounds like a failing grade.
Gee, Tim, ya think?
Tim moved smoothly into "Were you lying then or are you lying now" mode as he quoted from Clarke's resignation letter. Clarke, mentioning the point that his mother had always taught him to be polite, brought out his heavy hitter, which he politely offered to allow Russert to read:
Clarke: Let me read another line from the letter, which I have. I
don't know what you have over there. But this [pulling a
handwritten letter from George W, Bush on official President of the
United States card stock from his jacket breast pocket] is the
actual letter. "I will always have fond memories of our briefings
for you on cybersecurity." NOT on terrorism, Tim, because they
DIDN'T allow me to brief him on terrorism. You know, they're saying
now that when I was afforded the opportunity to talk to him about
cybersecurity, it was my choice. I could have talked about
terrorism or cybersecurity. That's not true. I asked in January to
brief him, the president, on terrorism -- to give him the same
briefing I had given Vice President Cheney, Colin Powell and Condi
Rice -- and I was told, "You can't do that briefing, Dick, until
after the policy development process."
Tim: Who told you that?
Clarke: Condi Rice. And I said, "Well, can I brief him on
cybersecurity?" "Oh, yes, you can brief him on that." Now, you
read my letter to him. Let's read his letter back to me. Maybe
you'd like to read it, if you can read this.
Tim: Go ahead, please.
Clarke: This is his writing. This is the president of the United
States' writing. And when they're engaged in character
assassination of me, let's just remember that on January 31, 2003:
"Dear Dick, you will be missed. You served our nation with
distinction and honor. You have left a positive mark on our
government." This is not the normal typewritten letter that
everybody gets. This is the president's handwriting. He thinks I
served with distinction and honor. The rest of his staff is out
there trying to destroy my professional life, trying to destroy my
reputation, because I had the temerity to suggest that a policy
issue should be discussed. What is the role of the war on terror
vis-à-vis the war in Iraq? Did the war in Iraq really hurt the war
on terror? Because I suggest we should have a debate on that, I am
now being the victim of a taxpayer-paid -- because all these people
work for the government -- character assassination campaign.
Tim: We'll get to that particular debate, but let me go back to
September 11 and what led up to it. The Washington Post captured
this way: "On July 5 of 2001, the White House summoned officials of
a dozen federal agencies to the Situation Room. 'Something really
spectacular is going to happen here, and it's going to happen
soon,' the government's top counterterrorism official, Richard
Clarke, told the assembled group, including the Federal Aviation
Administration, Coast Guard, FBI, Secret Service, Immigration and
Naturalization Service. Clarke directed every counterterrorist
office to cancel vacations, defer non-vital travel, put off
scheduled exercises, place domestic rapid-response teams on much
shorter alert. For six weeks in the summer of 2001, at home and
overseas, the U.S. government was at its highest possible state of
readiness -- and anxiety -- against imminent terrorist attack." Did
Dr. Rice instruct you to organize that meeting?
Clarke: No. I told her I was going to do it. And I had already
been doing it two weeks before, because on June 21, I believe it
was, George Tenet called me and said, "I don't think we're getting
the message through. These people aren't acting the way the Clinton
people did under similar circumstances." And I suggested to Tenet
that he come down and personally brief Condi Rice, that he bring his
terrorism team with him. And we sat in the national security
adviser's office. And I've used the phrase in the book to describe
George Tenet's warnings as "He had his hair on fire." He was about
as excited as I'd ever seen him. And he said, "Something is going
to happen." Now, when he said that in December 1999 to the national
security adviser, at the time Sandy Berger, Sandy Berger then held
daily meetings throughout December 1999 in the White House Situation
Room, with the FBI director, the attorney general, the head of the
CIA, the head of the Defense Department, and they shook out of their
bureaucracies every last piece of information to prevent the
attacks. And we did prevent the attacks in December 1999. Dr. Rice
chose not to do that.
Nobody will ever be able to answer the question about preventing 9/11 definitively. There are too many intangibles. Richard Clarke's point is that if the Bush administration had met the minimum of the Clinton Administration behavior, perhaps one FAA employee would have been able to report to George Tenet that someplace in the United States of America there were a group of putative pilots from various Arab countries -- most from Saudi Arabia -- who wanted to learn to fly but didn't want to learn how to take off or land the plane.
Tim Russert tried to point out that "no one" had ever anticipated that an airplane could be used as a weapon. Clarke refuted that premise with the information that at the time of the Atlanta Olympics the question was asked about a plane crashing into the stadium, leading to a hastily contrived solution involving no-fly zones, helicopters and snipers. He went on to list several other instances in which planes as weapons were anticipated.
Tim: You mentioned the September 15 e-mail that you sent to Dr.
Rice. And here's a portion of it.
"Note to: CDR. When the era of national unity begins to crack in
the near future, it is possible that some will start asking
questions like did the White House do a good job of making sure that
intelligence about terrorist threats got to FAA and other domestic
law enforcement authorities.
"As the attached paper (which we sent you in July) and e-mail (also
July) note: In late June, the interagency Counter Terrorism Security
Group which I chaired warned of upcoming 'spectacular' Al Qaeda
attack that that would be 'qualitatively different.' We convened on
5 July a special meeting of domestic law enforcement.
"...Thus, the White House did insure that domestic law enforcement
(including FAA) knew that the Counterterrorism Strategy Group
believed that a major Al Qaeda attack was coming and it could be in
the US ...and did ask that special measures be taken. -rac,"
Richard A. Clarke.
Clarke: That's right.
Tim: Is that a CYA memo saying, "Condi, this is how you spin if
you're criticized for not doing enough?" Were you complicit in
Clarke: I wasn't complicit in anything. There was a great fear in
the White House after 9/11 that people would wonder why things
hadn't been done and who was involved. Was the president involved?
Was Dr. Rice involved? Was--who did what? And so what I was saying
to them in answer to their concern was I did these things. My
committee did these things. Now, again, contrast that to December
1999 when we had similar indicators that something big was going to
happen around the period of the millennium, there were going to be
three major attacks around the world. Actually we thought at the
time there would be five. And all of those kinds of things that I
described in that e-mail that I did at my level in 2001, the
national security adviser did at his level in December 1999.
Tim: But you're saying the White House did this. You're suggesting
to Condi, "These are your talking points. This is your spin if
you're asked whether or not the White House was prepared for this
kind of attack."
Clarke: That's not spin. It's facts. I'm recounting what I did.
She had asked me, "What did you do prior to 9/11?" And I'm telling
her what I did prior to 9/11.
Clarke refuted allegations that he was a disgruntled job-seeker (number two to Tom Ridge -- now THERE'S something to strive for). He dismantled the accusation that he had scheduled his book for publication at the time of the hearings clearly and concisely by pointing out that the White House had sat on the book, which he had submitted as required by law in October, when he completed it. He had wanted a December release, but was unable to submit to the publisher until it was vetted by the White House. THEY chose the time of publication, not Clarke.
Tim got in another long quote from Frist suggesting that Clarke should turn over all profits from the book to the orphans of 9/11. Clarke replied that not only had he intended to make a substantial donation to them, he was further intending to donate to the widows and children of Iraq and Afghanistan. He said that since the White House was now putting out the line that he would never again make another dime from anyone in Washington, he had his own economic situation to consider.
Tim then returned to the area where he has always felt the most comfortable: attacking Bill Clinton. He chose to use Dickless Cheney as a weapon, quoting him as follows:
Vice President Cheney also offered some comments about your
performance during the Clinton administration, and here's what he
said: "The other thing I would say about Dick Clarke is that he was
here throughout those eight years, going back to '93, and the first
attack on the World Trade Center; and '98, when the embassies were
hit in East Africa; in 2000, when the USS Cole was hit. And the
question that ought to be asked is, what were they doing in those
days when he was in charge of counterterrorism efforts?'"
The Washington Post did an analysis of the September 11 Commission
reports, your book and testimony and everyone else's, and concluded
in an analysis piece, "Bush, Clinton varied little on terrorism."
Would you concur with that?
Heh-heh. Finally, Russert had thrown some fresh meat to Clark. And he relished it.
Clarke: No, not really. Let's answer Dick Cheney's question: What
was the Clinton administration doing and what did it fail to do?
Because it failed to do some things. Thirty-five Americans over the
course of eight years -- thirty-five Americans -- were killed by Al
Qaeda during the Clinton years. And as a result of those thirty-
five deaths, President Clinton ordered the assassination of Osama
bin Laden, breaking with years of tradition and precedent, and the
assassination of his deputies, by CIA. He fired cruise missiles
into a base where he thought bin Laden was going to be. He launched
a series of diplomatic, intelligence, law enforcement, military
steps against Al Qaeda. What he failed to do was to take all of the
camps in Afghanistan where these terrorists were being trained on a
conveyor belt that was turning out thousands of people and sending
them overseas -- what he failed to do was to eliminate them, just to
bomb them. Now, there were lots of other things going on in the
world. And to be fair, he had the Middle East peace process close
to an agreement. He was bombing in Serbia. He was bombing in Iraq.
In retrospect, with 20/20 hindsight, people now understand that he
should have bombed the camps. I said so at the time.
He also managed to work into the mix the simple fact that when Bill Clinton took steps to engage and in fact assassinate bin Laden, he was accused of "wagging the dog" and trying to distract attention from the capital crime of oral sex in the Oval Office.
Tim tried to resuscitate his attack on Clinton/Clarke by stating several steps that Clarke had wanted taken but were not. He asked incredulously, "...and yet you're saying he [Clinton] was more aggressive that Bush?"
Clarke said "Well, he did SOMETHING, Bush did nothing, so yeah." Case closed.
Clarke did a whiz-bang job of explaining exactly how the Iraq war and George Bush had undermined and destroyed whatever support we had managed to garner in the Muslim world at the time of 9/11 and essentially created 100 Bin Ladens. Timmy thought the proper thing to do at that point was to ask Clarke whom he had voted for in 2000. Clarke stated that he had voted for Gore, refused Timmy's disingenuous attempts to get him to endorse John Kerry and emphatically ended the interview by asserting he would never work another day for any government entity.
Thus ends yet another effort by Timmy "Troll" Russert to establish himself as anything other than a shill for the Bush Administration. Stay tuned next week as the powers that be at NBC give him one more opportunity to expose himself for the talentless hack that he is.
-- Sherrie Gogerty Geeting