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.