Skip to comments.Richard Clarke: The Man Who Dropped the Ball
Posted on 03/27/2004 6:38:24 AM PST by veronica
In his book "Against All Enemies," Richard Clarke viciously attacks President Bush for failing to take strong action against al-Qaeda in the first eight months of his Presidency, pointing the finger of blame for 9/11 at the Bush administration.
A year ago, Richard Clarke was extensively used as a source for Richard Miniter's book "Losing Bin Laden," which pointed the finger of blame for 9/11 at the Clinton administration for not taking action against al-Qaeda in the eight years of his Presidency. It's no coincidence of names... it's the same Richard Clarke. So who does Clarke blame for 9/11, Clinton or Bush? How many fingers are there?
The failed strategy of dealing with terrorism through courts and lawyers rather than military means was pursued all through the nineties. Clarke was the White House terrorism advisor for both Presidents, ever since he was appointed to the National Security Council staff in 1992 by Bill Clinton. Iraq was clearly involved in the 1993 WTC bombing by al-Qaeda operatives, yet was never confronted by the Clinton administration... which only emboldened Saddam to defy the US even more openly as the years passed.
Mohammed Salameh, one of the bombers, made 46 phone calls to Iraq. Most of them were to his uncle, a convicted terrorist working in the PLO office in Baghdad. Abdul Rahman Yasin and Ramzi Yousef came to the US from Iraq, and Yousef traveled back to Iraq afterwards using a Kuwaiti passport in the name of Abdul Basit Karim. Karim's file had clearly been tampered with during Iraq's occupation of Kuwait -- Yousef's fingerprints had replaced those of the real Karim.
All the evidence of State sponsorship of terrorism was ignored, and a policy of prosecuting individual terrorists as common criminals was followed. Who was the White House's counter-terrorism advisor during this time? Who bears some of the responsibility, at least, for this policy? Right answer: Richard Clarke.
Clarke's book castigates President Bush for his response to the second attack on the World Trade Center in less than a decade. When informed of the attacks, Clarke states that Bush wanted to know whether Iraq -- which had been involved in the attack on the the Twin Towers less than a decade ago -- was involved again. In the course of Clarke's prime-time network infomercial on 60 Minutes (no one saw fit to mention that VIACOM, which owns CBS, also published Clarke's book through Free Press, a subsidiary of Simon & Schuster), Clarke stated that President Bush had a brief conversation with him on the subject. According to Clarke, Bush said,"'I want you to find whether Iraq did this.' Now he never said, 'Make it up.'
But the entire conversation left me in absolutely no doubt that George Bush wanted me to come back with a report that said 'Iraq did this.'" Any objective, intellectually honest person would be forced to wonder at Clarke's vehement reaction -- more than two years delayed -- to this seemingly reasonable question.
It would, in my opinion, have been irresponsible NOT to ask whether a country that had declared us their enemy, had been shooting down our planes for years, had been known to support terrorism, and had been involved in the first attack on the WTC was involved in the second attack on the same building. Clarke's personal impressions and prejudices -- which apparently form the bulk his book -- aside, all this tells us is that President Bush pays attention to history while Richard Clarke does not... even to his own.
In his resignation letter, dated 20 Jan 2003, Clarke wrote to President Bush, "I will always remember the courage, determination, calm, and leadership you demonstrated on September 11th," and "It has been an enormous privilege to serve you these last 24 months." A little more than a year later, he seems to have changed his mind. In the 60 minutes interview, he attacked President Bush's handling of 9/11.
CLARKE: I think the way he has responded to al Qaeda, both before 9/11 by doing nothing and by what he's done after 9/11 has made us less safe. Absolutely.
STAHL: Don't you think he handled himself and hit all the right notes after 9/11, showed strength, got us through it, you don't give him credit for that?
CLARKE: He gave a really good speech right after 9/11.
STAHL: You don't give him credit for anything. Nothing.
CLARKE: I think he's done a terrible job on the war against terrorism.
Prior to President Bush, there WAS no war against terrorism. After the 1993 WTC attack, nothing was done to stop al-Qaeda. Nothing was done when al-Qaeda terrorists killed 18 US servicemen in Somalia, also in 1993. Nothing was done after al-Qaeda terrorists blew up the Khobar Towers in 1996 or the US embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya in 1998. Nothing was done after al-Qaeda blew a hole in the USS Cole in 2000. Clarke claims that he warned President Bush about the terrible danger posed to the US by al-Qaeda and the need for a military response.
The entirety of the "military response" to al-Qaeda during the Clinton administration -- under Clarke's leadership as "terrorism czar" -- was limited to missile strikes on Sudan and Afghanistan, both of which proved fruitless. Why was nothing done about al-Qaeda during all the years of Clarke's tenure as head of counter-terrorism, if the danger was so obvious?
Clinton's administration passed up an opportunity to capture Osama bin Laden in 1996 According to a statement by Mansoor Ijaz (one of Clinton's 1996 campaign contributors), "President Omar Hassan Ahmed Bashir, who wanted terrorism sanctions against Sudan lifted, offered the arrest and extradition of Bin Laden and detailed intelligence data about the global networks constructed by Egypt's Islamic Jihad, Iran's Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas.
Among those in the networks were the two hijackers who piloted commercial airliners into the World Trade Center.
The silence of the Clinton administration in responding to these offers was deafening."
After 9/11, Clinton was heard to call his decision not to take bin Laden "the biggest mistake of my Presidency." A second back-channel offer was made to turn over bin Laden by the United Arab Emirates in the summer of 2000, before the attack on the Cole.
Richard Clarke soured the deal by openly referring to it during a meeting with the UAE rulers, who immediately denied any such offer had been made. That fall, a Predator drone spotted Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan. The Clinton administration again declined to act.
Richard Clarke -- arguably, the man who actually dropped the ball -- continues to criticise President Bush for not acting swiftly enough to send American military against bin Laden's terror network.
It turns out that the Bush administration was, in fact, preparing to launch a worldwide war against al-Qaeda. The day before 9/11, the Bush administration finalised a plan to overthrow the Taliban, capture Osama bin Laden, and crush al-Qaeda around the world.
Even had President Bush launched such an attack on Afghanistan the day after he took office, however, it wouldn't have stopped 9/11... which had been in motion since 1998.
Of course, then Liberals would certainly have condemned President Bush as an "imperialist warmonger" for launching a pre-emptive strike against a sovereign nation before they had actually attacked us. Go figure.
I do pray the majority of people who vote this November have the common sense to see thru the Democrat Bullsh.t.
And I don't understand why the 9/11 hearings failed to go back to the '93 attack on the WTC.
The majority will, sadly, vote for the cutest candidate, or the one with the most "pizazz!".