Political Failures


From the AP:

The Clinton and Bush administrations' failure to pursue military action against al-Qaida operatives allowed the Sept. 11 terrorists to elude capture despite warning signs years before the attacks, a federal panel said Tuesday.

The Clinton administration had early indications of terrorist links to Osama bin Laden and future Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as early as 1995, but let years pass as it pursued criminal indictments and diplomatic solutions to subduing them abroad, it found.

Bush officials, meanwhile, failed to act immediately on increasing intelligence chatter and urgent warnings in early 2001 by its counterterrorism adviser, Richard A. Clarke, to take out al-Qaida targets, according to preliminary findings by the commission reviewing the attacks.

"We found that the CIA and the FBI tended to be careful in discussing the attribution for terrorist attacks," the bipartisan report said. "The time lag between terrorist act and any definitive attribution grew to months, then years, as the evidence was compiled."

NEXT: More On Spain

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. No one had the political wiil that would have been required to take the measures that would have stopped 911.

    In a parallel universe, Sept. 11 never happened


  2. huh?,

    It’s funny the way you call him “Dick”. Way to go. Good luck with that.

    But I have to disagree with your conclusion, which is, apparently, that Bush is a great leader. I’m perfectly willing to forgive all that came before 9/11, since, as has been repeated ad nauseum by administration lackeys, 9/11 “changed everything.” But:

    (1) Bush sat and listened to a children’s story in a Florida elementary school classroom for at least 7 minutes after he was told the second tower had been hit, and that “America [was] under attack.” Had he gotten off his ass, there’s at least an increased likelihood that the Pentagon hit could have been prevented.

    (2) Bush and his team wanted to retaliate against Iraq for 9/11, and it reportedly took some arm-twisting by the ethical and responsible people to convince them to bomb the right country.

    (3) Bush’s preoccupation with Iraq led him to lie to us to get us to agree with him that we should make war with Iraq, and the resultant war again diverted attention from the entirely separate and distinct region of the world where those actually responsible for 9/11 were.

    (4) Arguably, Bush’s war with Iraq probably has only helped recruit more potential terrorists, as al Queda’s leader, Osama bin Laden, had predicted that the U.S. wants to invade and occupy an oil-rich Arab nation, and that’s just what Bush did.

    One might argue that by invading and occupying Iraq, Bush opened up a new front in the war on terror, thus taking a country that had otherwise not been involved in al-Queda style terrorism (IMHO, funding Palestinian suicide bombings, attempting to assassinate Bush’s dad, and/or harboring someone from the 1993 WTC bombing DO NOT count), and making it a convenient clearing house for all America-hating terrorists to visit. If this were held out as the rationale offered for invading Iraq (i.e., let the killing go on over there, potentially sacrificing U.S. soldiers, but not over here, where civilians would be victimized) then maybe there could’ve been an honest debate about the war. Instead Bush lied and apparently hypnotized you and other dupes like you that al Queda = Iraq, bin Laden = Saddam. Retard.

  3. Maybe we should let Mr. Clarke speak for himself, as he does in this article this morning. Some excerpts:

    “…Bush’s own comments to Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward, author of “Bush at War,” in which the president said he “didn’t have a sense of urgency” about Osama bin Laden or al Qaeda.”

    “During the Clinton administration, he said, al Qaeda was responsible for the deaths of “fewer than 50 Americans,” and Clinton responded with military action, covert CIA action and by supporting United Nations sanctions.

    “They stopped al Qaeda in Bosnia,” Clarke said, “They stopped al Qaeda from blowing up embassies around the world.”

    “Contrast that with Ronald Reagan, where 300 [U.S. soldiers] were killed in [a bombing attack in Beirut,] Lebanon, and there was no retaliation,” Clarke said. “Contrast that with the first Bush administration where 260 Americans were killed [in the bombing of] Pan Am [Flight] 103, and there was no retaliation.”

    “I would argue that for what had actually happened prior to 9/11, the Clinton administration was doing a great deal,” Clarke said. “In fact, so much that when the Bush people came into office, they thought I was a little crazy, a little obsessed with this little terrorist bin Laden. Why wasn’t I focused on Iraqi-sponsored terrorism?”

    “This is the president in a very intimidating way, finger in my face, saying, ‘I want paper on Iraq and this attack,'” Clarke said. “Everyone in the room got the same impression, and everyone recalls it vividly. So I’m not making it up. I don’t have to make it up.”


  4. FuCCk you digdug.

  5. If I understand some of the comments above the moronic Bush administration was supposed to be able to completely handle a terrorism problem in eight months that the brilliant Clinton administration (and Mr. Clarke) did nothing about in eight years.

    Oh, and Bush could have prevented the Pentagon attack if he’d figured out everything that was going on in the first seven minutes?
    What a fascinating idea. I remember I knew exactly what was going on in the first couple of minutes. No doubt about it.

  6. Clarke et al do not understand the Bush administration’s “obsession” with Iraq because they do not share the same apprehension of the problem of terrorism. It is a fundamental difference in causality model of terrorism.

    Clarke viewpoint, the one shared by the Clinton administration and most of those opposing the war in Iraq, held that Al Queda and similar organizations were the cause of terrorism and that neutralizing the specific individuals involved, preferably via international law enforcement, would solve the problem.

    The Bush viewpoint is that Al Queda is but a symptom of the main problem i.e. the dysfunction of large numbers of world’s nation states, especially many majority Islamic states. In this viewpoint, neutralizing this or that terrorist network will provide only temporary,if any, security. The conditions that created the network will cause another to spring into being.

    Clarke is one of a cadre of critics who came out of the State Dept who got effectively demoted when the Bush administration began to retool America’s anti-terrorist strategy to one based on a military and covert action instead of a diplomacy and law enforcement one. A large number of people who were on the fast track under Clinton got bounced to the periphery in the first few months under Bush. After 9/11 they fell even further from favor.

    This is an intellectual battle between those who think of terrorism as small, short term problem requiring only minor changes in the world community and those who think of it as a large, long term problem that requires profound structual changes.

  7. “CRAWFORD, Tex., Aug. 6 2001 — By the time President Bush returns to Washington on Labor Day after the longest presidential vacation in 32 years, he will have spent all or part of 54 days since the inauguration at his parched but beloved ranch. That’s almost a quarter of his presidency.”

  8. Gadfly,

    Yeah, Bush probably should be staying in the Oval Office and spend his time getting serviced by a twenty something intern.
    Nah, that stuff didn’t “distract” the Rhodes Scholar.
    Then again, maybe Bush just likes going home to be with HIS wife.

  9. Gadfly–

    To be fair, I’d bet that prior to 9/11, a lot of folks on this board (myself included) would be just fine with a president taking as much time off as he wanted to. If he’s clearing brush, he’s not trying to fix things that aren’t broken.

    When W was elected, I wasn’t thrilled, but I was content that he didn’t seem like he was going to try to do very much.

    Oh well…

  10. From the New Tork Times:

    Mr. Cressey (Clarke’s business partner, who witnessed the exchange with Bush) cast Mr. Bush’s instructions to Mr. Clarke less as an order to come up with a link between Mr. Hussein and Sept. 11, and more as a request to “take a look at all options, including Iraq.” He backed off Mr. Clarke’s suggestion that the president’s tone was intimidating

  11. Shannon,

    Don’t forget to mention that invading Iraq does not necessarily follow the belief that terrorism is “a large, long term problem that requires profound structual changes.” I also don’t see that your two viewpoints are in reality so neat or distict.

  12. Let’s not forget that the alternative was Al Gore.
    Al Gore.
    Say it again, then thank your god if you have one.
    Al Gore.
    Eeewww, gives me the willies!

  13. JAG & Brian, I’m fine with an absentee president, too. But don’t go crying about Bush only being in office 8 months and pretend he was working his ass off trying to find OBL when WTC happened. He took more time off before 911 than Clinton did in his entire two terms.

    911 happened on Bush’s watch. He owns it.

  14. JAG: Way to stay focused, on topic. Bush infallible. God’s president. How many more hours until broadcast excellence resumes?

  15. digdug,

    Where do I say Bush is infallible? Making the point that it is absurd to equate the first eight months with eight years of a presidency does not imply Bush perfection, does it?
    Pointing out that Bush doesn’t get blown by interns doesn’t imply perfection either but it is to the point that maybe he is paying a little more attention to things even when he isn’t in the Oval Office compared to the previous occupant.
    As unserious a president as Clinton was I don’t think anyone can make the case that the terror threat was well understood by anyone at the time. I don’t blame Clinton for 9/11, I blame Bin Laden.

    But I find it fascinating that people can seriously suggest one person is just as repsonsible as another when they hand only ONE TENTH the time to address the matter. That’s ridiculous. Would you accept that kind of logic with any other disaster in life? I’d hope not.

    Oh, and the next defense of Bush will come up just as soon as somebody makes any equally illogical comparison.
    Good enough for you? Focused enough? Do I have your permission to post again? Please…

  16. JAG,
    I don’t see how Bush taking more vacation time than Clinton did in 1/10th the time means he his paying more attention, oral sex in the office or no. I don’t think it was Bush’s fault, but for him to act like there was no failure is ludicrous. The fact that Condi said that 9-11 style attacks weren’t simply overlooked, but “unimaginable” is ridiculous.

    Is terrorism a law enforcement issue? When the terrorists are on American soil, you’re damn right it is! Or are you going to deploy the 101st Airborne into Phoenix? From what I’ve read, Clarke seems mostly credible (the timing is a non-issue since the book printing was delayed 3 months due to security clearance, meaning it was also not a surprise). If he was dismissed half as often as he claims, there were major failures on the Bush Administration’s hands. I’m not saying 9-11 would be stopped, but his my way or the highway attitude hurt us. Clinton didn’t do a great job, but at least a couple major plots were foiled (LAX, Seattle). Yes, yes there was little to no follow-up after the Cole bombing, but Bush came in shortly afterwards and didn’t do any better.

    I have a simple, serious question JAG. People of all political stripes like to blame their problems on the predecessor of their guy (or take credit if their guy was the previous one in office and things went well). What, in your own opinion is the statute of limitations of blaming the other guy? A year? 2 years? A full term? Can Clinton blame Bush 41 for Waco since he was only in for a month and still needed to get his legs, so it was Bush’s ATF even though Reno called the shots?

    I’m sorry for the mixed snarky/seriousness of this post, but this entire administration has been passing the buck (on more than just 9-11) and it’s a major pet peeve. It especially bothers me reading people on these comment boards excusing the buck passing becauser they agree with the guy in office, when they are usually quick to call out anyone, public or private for failing to take responsibility for their mistakes. Thanks.

  17. > there’s a limit to how long you can plausibly blame all your fuck-ups on the problems you “inherited.”

  18. Had Clinton ended office not with immoral pardons,
    but with an immoral attack on al qaeda targets,
    or had Bush entered his term bombing in the middle east,
    Nineleven would still have happened, 99% assured,
    getting the blame for it having happened.

    That’s what is said of Iraq and Israel.
    If the two parties weren’t so jealous of one another,
    the US could be twice as effectual.

  19. We refuse to surrender yet want peace…

  20. Gadfly, it’s worked before.

  21. I wonder if Clinton would have responded to the Cole bombing if the whole Florida thing hadn’t happened.

    It might have been difficult to open that can of worms without knowing who was going to have to deal with it next, making an already tricky transition worse.

    If Gore had clearly won in November, it probably would have been easier to launch a strike against Al Qaeda, simply through the likelihood of continuity of personnel. No need to bring lots of new staff up to speed.

    If Clinton had launched a strike prior to Bush taking office, the GOP probably would have complained about Clinton leaving a mess for Bush to clean up.

  22. I think the title says it all, that these are political failures, i.e., a failure to satisfy constituents and political bedfellows. We could have gone in guns blazing to Syria, SA, Afghanistan, etc., based only on the intel we had, having not been hit at home yet, and tried to take out a.Q. without pursuing all these “criminal indictments and diplomatic solutions”. But how would that have put us in any “morally superior” position (quotes are a result of my disgust with the notion) compared to our going into Iraq? I think what we learned from the left a la Iraq is that you’re not supposed to trust your intel, and if you do it’s just because you’re a war-mongering nazi.

  23. Let’s see if I get this straight… Dick Clarke (emphasis intentional and earned) URGED the Bush people to immediately respond to the potential threat of terrorism… after Clarke and his lackeys spent EIGHT YEARS doing absolutely NOTHING about the matter except reccommend the bombing of an asprin factory?

    If Dick Clarke was such an expert on the subject of terrorism, why wasn’t military action taken during all of the terrorist actions of the 1990’s? Why did he let that Saudi-born POS Saddam escape when Sudan offered to give him to us gift-wraped NUMEROUS TIMES? Why did the US do nothing about the terrorist attack on the USS Cole? Why did the US do nothing about the coordinated terrorist attacks in Africa?

    The plain and simple anwer is that Dick Clarke failed to do his job, and now he’s trying to pass the blame for his gross incompetence to the people who are now having to clean up HIS messes. And if members of Congress had any cahones, they would thoroughly and publicly lambaste him for his ineptitude.

  24. I think the Saudi-born POS was Osama, but we get the point.

  25. rst,

    Actually, I think the lesson we learned from the right a la Iraq is that if your intelligence is saying “A” and “B,” you shouldn’t tell everyone that it only said “A.”

  26. I watched M. Albright testify this morning right before I came to work. Either she was terrified like a little kid in the principal’s office, or she has got to be one of the more inept public speakers ever to hold such a high office. I suspect the former. She spoke fast, almost without inflection, and one sentence just ran into the other.

    I don’t know why she’s so scared. I find it very hard to believe that any heads are really going to roll over this. But maybe there’s something that we just don’t know yet…

  27. Clinton was hamstrung from day one. The Republican hate machine did one frivolous lawsuit, investigation and criminal action after another irregardless of the public interest. That they ask otherwise now is the height of hypocrisy.

  28. dude: you’re right… sorry… the Saudi-born POS I was referring to was Osama, not Saddam.

  29. The total incompetence of both parties handling terrorism, as compared with the final, rational treatment of terror as a war, is so blatently obvious that the liberals need to keep yelling at the top of their voices to drown out reality.

  30. huh?

    Either Clarke did have the exchanges with the Bush administration he claims to have had, or he didn’t. But if he did, there’s no way to push off 9-11 as a failure merely on Clarke’s fault. According to Clarke, the top actors in Bush’s foreign policy apparatus made a conscious decision to downplay Al Qaeda in favor of Iraq.

    Clinton deserves a lot of blame for what happened. But there is simply no honest way to blame Clinton for putting the issue on the back burner, without also blaming Bush for ignoring it eight months. That’s an awfully long transition to blame on your predecessor. No matter whether Clinton was asleep at the wheel, if Bush failed to take reasonable corrective action when he took over, he is equally culpable.

    As for the Bushites cleaning up Clarke’s mess: that’s pretty hard to make a plausible case for, unless Clarke had the authority to force Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz, at gunpoint, to pull their heads out of their asses and take action. Eight months is a long time for Bush to take up the ball and start connecting the dots on his own: especially if he was given explicit warning, and still failed to make Al Qaeda a priority.

    I think Bush must want the GOP to lose the White House, in 2008 if not now. They need a new Democrat in there for the next Republican to blame all his failures on: there’s a limit to how long you can plausibly blame all your fuck-ups on the problems you “inherited.”

  31. Ah..but in the end, the very nature of terrorism makes it extraordinarily difficult to assess and handle, not to mention the even greater challenge in pinpointing the specifics of a planned or impending attack.

    Based on what I’ve learned so far, I don’t really “blame” anyone for missing the 9/11 warning signs, per se. However, I DO blame the Bush administration for this after-the-fact quagmire that is now Iraq…..

    And to be honest, I’m not sure the billions we have now spent on fighting terrorism has necessarily made us that much safer..but that’s had to determine, I suppose.

  32. George Bush recognized the threat from Iraq from Day One

    Given that Bush was at least the third president to recognize the threat from Iraq, it is unreasonable to think he needed to push hard to find reasons. Congress shrugs now and plays the We-Didn’t-Know card, and of course, it’s an election year. But do you think for a second that these same men who stand up and blast Bush for the cameras and print honestly care whether the proof of WMD was substantial? Congress wanted this before Bush, and Clinton set it up for him. Pretend all you like that the Illuminati
    sitting on the Haliburton board of directors orchestrated Desert Sequel, but you’d be ignorant. History did not begin on 9/11/2001. There was a long-standing, unresolved conflict between the United States and Iraq whose cease-fire was essentially broken (POWs, Kurds, WMD, firing on planes in no fly zone, paying back the foreign debts they cancelled, etc) almost as soon as it was started.

    The alternative was to wait until something came up, at which point these same naysayers – and you fine people – would be in here asking why we didn’t do anything in Iraq sooner. The distinction, Les, was not between A and B, but between A and ~A. There’s a substantial difference.

  33. Why doesn’t congress do something useful? Like investigate the UN Oil-For-Food program. On the face of it, that program appears to have benn run in a way that was not only corrupt, but anti-thetical to US interests…and we pay 22% of the UN’s budget.

  34. What I love most about this silly shit is that many of you will blast the CIA for not doing what many of you likely blasted the IDF for doing – assassinating the figurehead of a terrorist organization.

  35. OK, I’m confused. Which of the following statements is operative today:

    “George Bush was not obsessed with invading Iraq from the day he took office, and never pushed his staff to find him reasons. Dick Clarke (and Paul O’Neil) is a liar.”


    “George Bush recognized the threat from Iraq from Day One, and was pushing his staff to find a way for him to solve it via invasion, as he should have.”

    And BTW, was Clarke intimately involved in top level counter-terrorism policy at the beginning of the Bush administration, as Powell said yesterday, or was he “out of the loop” and Cheney and McClellan keep saying?

  36. It’s also worthwhile to note that both the threat posed by Al Qaeda, and the government’s understanding of that threat, grew in scope over the years of the Clinton presidency. So comparing “8 years vs 8 months” isn’t really valid.

    What raises a flag for me is that Clinton seemed to have the understanding and the will to take serious action by the last few months of his term, but didn’t want to start a war as he was walking out the door. So his staff handed off the plans to Bush, who had his staff review them for 8 months in order to, apparently, get the Clinton stink off them and bring them into line with Bush’s foreign policy views. So now we’re talking about a year or more when the very top of the government knew about the threat, and knew something had to be done, but didn’t act because of political factors related to the transition of power between the parties.

    If Clinton had launched a major military operation a month before election day, the GOP would have whined like a loose fanbelt (to be fair, the Democrats would doubtless do the same thing if the roles were reversed). I’m afraid these transition problems are an achilles heel for our system.

  37. ” Either Clarke did have the exchanges with the Bush administration he claims to have had, or he didn’t. But if he did, there’s no way to push off 9-11 as a failure merely on Clarke’s fault. According to Clarke, the top actors in Bush’s foreign policy apparatus made a conscious decision to downplay Al Qaeda in favor of Iraq.”

    I have a hard time believe government officials to begin with, but I have an even harder time with Clarke. He does appear politically motivated, and there are those convincingly refuting his claims.

    For example, Clarke claims this Administration ignored terrorists threats. Even going as far to claim Rice gave him the impression she had never even heard of the term Al-Qaeda before. We know this is ridiculous based on interviews Rice gave while Bush was running for President.

    Then there?s the 60 minutes interview back in Sept of 2003

    60 minutes: To the war cabinet, al Qaeda was no surprise. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice says the administration had been at work on a plan to strike bin Laden?s organization well before Sept. 11.

    ?The president said, ?You know I?m tired of swatting at flies, I need a strategy to eliminate these guys,?? recalls Rice.

    Chief of Staff Andrew Card recalls that the plan Mr. Bush had asked for was ?literally headed to the president?s desk, I think, on the 11th, 10th or 11th, of September.?

    Isn?t the existence of this Al-Qeada Plan, that was started months before 9/11, hard evidence proving that President Bush was not ignoring the threat from Al-Qeada, and in fact was looking to completely eliminate them, and discredits Clarkes claim?

  38. and…

    Politicized intelligence . . .

    By Mansoor Ijaz

    LONDON. ? Richard Clarke, former White House counterterrorism czar for Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, testifies today before the commission investigating the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the United States. He is well-qualified to do so because few individuals over the last decade, inside or outside government, better understood the Islamic extremism threat in all its dimensions.
    But rather than deliver a factual recounting and analysis of intelligence failures and politically charged antiterrorism policies that plagued his years as coordinator for counterterrorism operations, he has chosen to characterize the Bush White House as indifferent to the threat posed by Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda network prior to the September 11 attacks without consideration for the failures on his watch during the Clinton years. This is inaccurate and adds nothing to our understanding of how distant terrorists could plan and carry out such daring and effective attacks.
    Mr. Clarke’s premise that Bush national security officials neither understood nor cared to know anything about al Qaeda is simply untrue. I know because on multiple occasions from June until late August 2001, I personally briefed Stephen J. Hadley, deputy national security adviser to President Bush, and members of his South Asia, Near East and East Africa staff at the National Security Council on precisely what had gone wrong during the Clinton years to unearth the extent of the dangers posed by al Qaeda. Some of the briefings were in the presence of former members of the Clinton administration’s national security team to ensure complete transparency.
    Far from being disinterested, the Bush White House was eager to avoid making the same mistakes of the previous administration and wanted creative new inputs for how to combat al Qaeda’s growing threat.
    Mr. Clarke’s role figured in two key areas of the debriefings ? Sudan’s offer to share terrorism data on al Qaeda and bin Laden in 1997, and a serious effort by senior members of the Abu Dhabi royal family to gain bin Laden’s extradition from Afghanistan in early 2000.
    ? Fall 1997: Sudan’s offer is accepted by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, then rejected by Mr. Clarke and Clinton National Security Adviser Samuel “Sandy” Berger.
    Sudan’s president, Omar Hasan El Bashir, made an unconditional offer of counterterrorism assistance to the vice chairman of the September 11 Commission, then Rep. Lee Hamilton, Indiana Democrat, through my hands on April 19, 1997. Five months later on Sept. 28, 1997, after an exhaustive interagency review at the entrenched bureaucracy level of the U.S. government, Mrs. Albright announced the U.S. would send a high-level diplomatic team back to Khartoum to pressure its Islamic government to stop harboring Arab terrorists and to review Sudan data on terrorist groups operating from there.
    As the re-engagement policy took shape, Susan E. Rice, incoming assistant secretary of state for East Africa, went to Mr. Clarke, made her anti-Sudan case and asked him to jointly approach Mr. Berger about the wisdom of Mrs. Albright’s decision. Together, they recommended its reversal.The decision was overturned on Oct. 1, 1997.
    Without Mr. Clarke’s consent, Mr. Berger is unlikely to have gone along with such an early confrontation with the first woman to hold the highest post at Foggy Bottom.
    U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed by al Qaeda 10 months later. Files with detailed data on three of the embassy bombers were among the casualties of Mr. Clarke’s decision to recommend missile attacks on an empty Khartoum pharmaceutical plant rather than get Sudan’s data out almost a year earlier to begin unraveling al Qaeda’s network.
    To this day, neither Mr. Berger nor Mr. Clarke has explained to the American people why a deliberative decision of the U.S. government, made by interagency review, was overturned in such cavalier fashion by a small clique of Clinton advisers in the face of Sudan’s unconditional April 1997 offer to cooperate on terrorism issues. If he was interested in facts, why did Mr. Clarke spurn the recommendations of his own intelligence and foreign policy institutions that the Sudanese offer be explored? Why did he not act on the Sudanese intelligence chief’s direct approach to the FBI, of which he was aware, in early 1998 just prior to the final planning stages of the embassy bombings?
    ? Spring 2000: Abu Dhabi’s offer to get bin Laden out of Afghanistan falls flat.
    In late 1999, after a barrage of threats from al Qaeda’s senior leadership against the Abu Dhabi royal family, a senior family member approached the Taliban foreign minister and Mullah Omar to discuss mechanisms for getting bin Laden out of Afghanistan. Mr. Clarke, who enjoyed close relations with the Abu Dhabi family, was brought into the loop early to prevent separation between Washington and Abu Dhabi on such a sensitive matter.
    While Mr. Clarke was skeptical of the idea at first, he played ball long enough to understand the real intentions of the Taliban regime. Smart enough, except when the deal got real.
    As the strategy started taking shape in earnest ? a personal request from President Clinton to Sheikh Zayed, Abu Dhabi’s ruler, seeking help to get bin Laden coupled with a $5 billion pan-Arab Afghan Development Fund that would be offered in return for bin Laden taking residence under house arrest in Abu Dhabi, with the possibility of extraditing him later to the United States ? Mr. Clarke again scuttled the deal by opting instead for the militaristic solution. He pushed for armed CIA predator drones to hunt bin Laden in the remote mountains of northeastern Afghanistan.
    Abu Dhabi was left with a black eye. The Taliban became even more aggressive in allowing al Qaeda to plan and carry out terrorist operations from Afghan soil. Another chance to capture the world’s most notorious terrorist had been lost.
    Mr. Clarke’s selective memory serves no interest but his own agenda. He personifies the politicizing of intelligence by pointing fingers during the political high season for failures that not only occurred on his watch but also were due partly to his grand vision he would one day personally authorize a drone operation to kill bin Laden.
    Mr. Clarke, as he testifies today, should remember he served at the pleasure of the American people. He was appointed to defend us against the very terrorists he repeatedly assessed inaccurately. A grateful nation recognizes the difficulty of his task but we ask that he stick to facts rather than inject vitriol and untruths into a debate that must yield answers to help protect our children in the future.


  39. joe,

    “So his staff handed off the plans”.
    According to Clarke:
    “Actually, I’ve got about seven points, let me just go through them quickly. Um, the first point, I think the overall point is, there was no plan on Al Qaeda that was passed from the Clinton administration to the Bush administration.”


    So, there wasn’t even a plan after eight years. Oh, sorry, it really wasn’t eight years it was what six? Five? Four? And even though Clinton’s people (not Clinton) didn’t even have a plan to suggest after “years” Bush (personally) shares equal culpability after months.
    Wow, that sounds “fair minded” to me.
    Oh, and who do you think took intelligence matters more seriously; someone who met/meets with the CIA director daily or someone who never met with the director(was briefed by staff)?
    Again, I don’t blame Clinton, personally. There are a lot of reasons why even the best people wouldn’t have assessed this risk properly. But the notion that Bush, personally, failed here in equal measure to his predecessor is a joke.

  40. But of course thats just my view of clarke.

    Personally as far as preventing 9/11. I feel it’s wishful thinking. I don’t think their is anything either administration could have done to prevent this. Anyone thinking that, killing bin Laden or any of his minions and thinking this would have hindered this organization, hasn’t really paid attention to how they work, and is looking too simplisticly at the issue.

    Its much more complicated than that, ignore that and we’re destin to repeat the mistakes of the past.

  41. But of course thats just my view of clarke.

    Personally as far as preventing 9/11, I feel is wishful thinking. I don’t think there is anything either administration could have done to prevent this. Anyone thinking that killing bin Laden or any of his minions would have hindered this organization, hasn’t really paid attention to how they work, and is looking too simplistically at the issue.

    Its much more complicated than that, ignore that and we’re destine to repeat the mistakes of the past

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.