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Molly Ivins on Clarke's testimony and the unremitting attack on him

by Dave Konkel [Moderator] / March 28, 2004 4:15 AM PST
The attack on Clarke.
BTW, you could have bowled me over with a feather when I listened to our tape of the McLaughlin Group today -- Pat Buchanan (of all people) said he believed the Clarke/O'Neill story of the Bushies' focus on Iraq. Also said anyone in Washington understand that when you testify as a member of an Administration, even under oath, you're not free to criticize, so Clarke's apparently changing his story is just par for the course.

-- Dave K, Speakeasy Moderator
click here to email semods4@yahoo.com

The opinions expressed above are my own,
and do not necessarily reflect those of CNET!
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And a third, independent take on the Iraq fixation -- book review
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Re:Molly Ivins on Clarke's testimony and the unremitting attack on him
by Evie / March 28, 2004 8:44 PM PST

Molly has some facts wrong.

Even Time gets it in regards to Clarke's credibility

Clarke's liberties with the text don't stop there. On 60 Minutes he said that after submitting to the White House a joint-agency report discounting the possibility of Iraqi complicity in 9/11, the memo "got bounced and sent back saying, 'Wrong answer.'" The actual response from Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, shown later in the program, read "Please update and resubmit." On 60 Minutes, Clarke went further, saying that Bush's deputies never showed the President the joint-agency review, because "I don't think he sees memos that he wouldn't like the answer." This is pure, reckless speculation. Contrast that with the more straightforward account in Against All Enemies : after his team found no evidence of Iraqi involvement, Clarke writes that "a memorandum to that effect was sent up to the President, and there was never any indication that it reached him."

In a few other instances, Clarke's televised comments seem designed to disparage the President and his aides at all cost, omitting any of the inconvenient details ? some of which appear in the pages of his book ? that might suggest the White House took al-Qaeda seriously before Sept. 11. Bush, Clarke says, "never thought [al-Qaeda] was important enough for him to hold a meeting on the subject, or for him to order his national security advisor to hold a cabinet-level meeting on the subject." This has been a constant refrain in Clarke's public statements ? that Bush's failure to call a "Principal's Meeting" of his cabinet to discuss terrorism until the week before Sept. 11 showed a lack of interest in al-Qaeda. While it is technically true that the White House did not hold a Cabinet-level meeting on al-Qaeda until Sept. 4, the charge is still misleading, since Bush, as early as April 2001, had instructed Rice to draft a strategy for rolling back al-Qaeda and killing bin Laden, saying he was tired of "swatting flies" ?, a line Clarke does include in his book. Rice's response was to task a committee of deputies to study the U.S.'s options for rolling back the Taliban; the group ultimately concluded that the U.S. should increase its support to the Northern Alliance and pressure on Pakistan to cooperate in a campaign to remove the Taliban. It was essentially the same plan Clarke had drafted during the Clinton Administration. As his book details, the plan was scuttled by intransigence at the CIA and the Pentagon, neither of which Clinton wanted to confront head-on.

The man has no credibility. Krauthammer has really hit the nail on the head.


Clarke's answer is unbelievable; ``Well, I'm not prepared to call it a mistake. It was a judgment made by people who had to take into account a lot of other issues. ... There was the Middle East peace process going on. There was the war in Yugoslavia going on. People above my rank had to judge what could be done in the counterterrorism world at a time when they were also pursuing other national goals.''

This is significant for two reasons. First, if the Clarke of 2002 was telling the truth, then the Clarke of this week -- the one who told the 9/11 commission under oath that ``fighting terrorism in general and fighting al Qaeda, in particular, were an extraordinarily high priority in the Clinton administration -- certainly (there was) no higher priority'' -- is a liar.

Second, he becomes not just a perjurer but a partisan perjurer. He savages Bush for not having made al Qaeda his top national security priority, but he refuses even to call a ``mistake'' Clinton's staggering dereliction in putting Yasser Arafat and Yugoslavia(!) above fighting al Qaeda.

If that's not a partisan hack I don't know what qualifies. He certainly got the putting the glasses on and off thing down pat for his MTP performance.

Incidentally, I heard the two heads of the 9-11 Commission on one of the Sunday shows. What is fascinating is that one of Clarke's biggest charges is that Bush fought the wrong war over obssession with Iraq. This has NOTHING to do whatsoever with what security failures led up to 9-11 which is the commissions sole purvue! And it doesn't jive with events as we know them to have occurred subsequently. Bush went after Osama/Afghanistan first, it took over a year to even put the wheels in motion to go into Iraq.

Evie Happy

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Re: Molly Ivins on Clarke's testimony and the unremitting attack on him

Hi, Evie.

>> but he refuses even to call a ``mistake'' Clinton's staggering dereliction in putting Yasser Arafat and Yugoslavia(!) above fighting al Qaeda.<<
I couldn't agree more -- that charge is a partisan hack. First, thousands were dying in Yugoslavia, while Al Qaeda was seen to be a much smaller problem until the Cole attack, at least. Second, most political analysts believe the root cause of Muslim discontent with the West, which feeds Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism, is the situation in Palestine. Solve that, and one of the extremists' biggest recruiting areas (the refugee camps) would hopefully go away. Finally, Clinton in fact did try to do something about Al Qaeda; unfortunately, Bin Laden wasn't where the CIA said he'd be when we sent the cruise missiles. And what was the Republican response (including on this forum?) Charging that the attack was a case of "wag the dog." Don't you think that might have had just a little something to do with Clinton's refusal to try again just before the 2000 election?

-- Dave K, Speakeasy Moderator
click here to email semods4@yahoo.com

The opinions expressed above are my own,
and do not necessarily reflect those of CNET!

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Not even a good try Dave--Read the report that essentially...

points out Clarke's lack of any credibility and apparent sole intrest in selling a book.


Of course, they listened to Clarke and other people too before making up their minds that there simply wasn't much difference in priorities in either the Clinton of Bush Administrations. Clarke's claims to the contrary are simply the words of a man demoted by his female boss to a position more in line with his actual capabilities.

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Re:Re: Molly Ivins on Clarke's testimony and the unremitting attack on him

Yugoslavia was a threat to US National security? Never!

Clinton's efforts to get bin Laden were inept, and he has been caught on tape explaining how he turned down the offer of bin Laden on a silver platter.

Am I remembering wrong, wasn't that "smoking gun" Iraq plan something left over from the Clinton administration? After Bush take office wasn't there a tiny little crisis of a plane shot down by China? Two points (1) Any administration has more than one situation to deal with at any time, this didn't change when Bush took office, and (2) You missed Krauthammer's point that if Clarke justifies Clinton's inaction as having other priorities (Yugoslavia among them) then he is lying when he claims Al Quaeda was an extremely high priority. Those two don't square.

You apparently skimmed the Time piece too. It focuses on inconsistencies in Clarke's current stories -- as in what is written in the book doesn't jive with his testimony or between his various television appearances. The story keeps changing.

As for Arafat, that was the biggest blunder of all. Catering and legitimizing and playing host to a known terrorist. Sucking up to Arafat was the first mistake in countering terrorism.

Evie Happy

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