Well, I should be leaving Iraq tomorrow morning, God willing. Wish me luck.
And as a parting post before I leave this tragic land, I bring you Richard Clarke. As many of you know, Clarke was the chief counter-terrorism advisor to the White House. Reputedly, he delivered a brief to the President predicting the September 11 attacks on August 6, 2001.
And, like seemingly everyone else on the face of the planet, he has a book coming out in two days basically saying that the President and his advisors fumbled the ball epically in the war on terror.
(By the way, should you feel inclined, just click on his name on the left sidebar, and it’ll take you to Amazon, where you can buy a copy of the tome).
Anyway, he also had a sit-down interview* with Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes, which will be broadcast this Sunday. And in that broadcast, he has the following priceless gem:
White House terrorism advisor Richard Clarke tells Correspondent Lesley Stahl that on Sept. 11, 2001, and the day after – when it was clear al Qaeda had carried out the terrorist attacks – the Bush administration was considering bombing Iraq in retaliation. Clarke’s exclusive interview will be broadcast on 60 Minutes, Sunday, March 21 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
Clarke was surprised that the attention of administration officials was turning toward Iraq when he expected the focus to be on al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. “They were talking about Iraq on 9/11. They were talking about it on 9/12,” says Clarke. The top counter-terrorism advisor, Clarke was briefing the highest government officials, including President Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.
“Rumsfeld was saying we needed to bomb Iraq…. We all said, ‘but no, no. Al Qaeda is in Afghanistan,” recounts Clarke, “and Rumsfeld said, ‘There aren’t any good targets in Afghanistan and there are lots of good targets in Iraq.’ I said, ‘Well, there are lots of good targets in lots of places, but Iraq had nothing to do with [the September 11 attacks].'”
Clarke goes on to explain what he believes was the reason for the focus on Iraq. “I think they wanted to believe that there was a connection [between Iraq and al Qaeda], but the CIA was sitting there, the FBI was sitting there, I was sitting there, saying, ‘We’ve looked at this issue for years. For years we’ve looked and there’s just no connection,'” says Clarke. Clarke, who advised four presidents, reveals more about the current administration’s reaction to terrorism in his new book, “Against All Enemies.” (courtesy Brad DeLong).
Unbelievable. Simply unbelievable. And there’s more.
From the New York Times:
Senior Clinton administration officials called to testify next week before the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks say they are prepared to detail how they repeatedly warned their Bush administration counterparts in late 2000 that Al Qaeda posed the worst security threat facing the nation — and how the new administration was slow to act.
They said the warnings were delivered in urgent post-election intelligence briefings in December 2000 and January 2001 for Condoleezza Rice, who became Mr. Bush’s national security adviser; Stephen Hadley, now Ms. Rice’s deputy; and Philip D. Zelikow, a member of the Bush transition team, among others.
One official scheduled to testify, Richard A. Clarke, who was President Bill Clinton’s counterterrorism coordinator, said in an interview that the warning about the Qaeda threat could not have been made more bluntly to the incoming Bush officials in intelligence briefings that he led. (courtesy Matt Yglesias).
So much for that whole “Clinton did nothing about al-Qaeda” meme.
Brad DeLong said it best: Impeach George W. Bush. Impeach Richard B. Cheney. Impeach them now.
If Clinton could be impeached for a simple blowjob, and if Nixon got the ax for a third-rate burglary, then what does Bush deserve for lying about the causes for war and allowing the greatest intelligence failure in American history to take place–and not doing a thing about either one?.
Either we stand for something, or we stand for nothing at all.