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February 13, 2005

Can You Say "Cover Your A$$, Boys And Girls?"

"I knew that you could..." As if I needed another reason to despise Richard Clarke:

A strategy document outlining proposals for eliminating the threat from Al Qaeda, given to Condoleezza Rice as she assumed the post of national security adviser in January 2001, warned that the terror network had cells in the United States and 40 other countries and sought unconventional weapons, according to a declassified version of the document.

Hmmm... If the Clinton administration was aware of this, how should we characterize it ... serious, even imminent threat, then why, pray tell, wasn't anything done about it?

The 13-page proposal presented to Dr. Rice by her top counterterrorism adviser, Richard A. Clarke, laid out ways to step up the fight against Al Qaeda, focusing on Osama bin Laden's headquarters in Afghanistan. The ideas included giving "massive support" to anti-Taliban groups "to keep Islamic extremist fighters tied down"; destroying terrorist training camps "while classes are in session" and then sending in teams to gather intelligence on terrorist cells; deploying armed drone aircraft against known terrorists; more aggressively tracking Qaeda money; and accelerating the F.B.I.'s translation and analysis of material from surveillance of terrorism suspects in American cities.

"Step up" the fight? Was there ever a "fight" to "step up"?

This is news, I must say. Really, it's quite heartening. I am glad to hear that, when he was not urging President Clinton to skip those "boring" CIA briefings, Mr. Clarke was busy directing the "fight" against al Qaeda. Damned shame he seems to have so little to show for it after eight years, though:

Mr. Clarke was seeking a high-level meeting to decide on a plan of action. Dr. Rice and other administration officials have said that Mr. Clarke's ideas did not constitute an adequate plan, but they took them into consideration as they worked toward a more effective strategy against the terrorist threat.

Well isn't that just like those Bushies? Sweep it all under the carpet. All that glorious momentum achieved under Clinton just came to a screeching halt once old Dubya took the helm. Criminal...

Under the heading "the next three to five years," Mr. Clarke spelled out a series of steps building on groundwork that he said had already been laid, adding that "success can only be achieved if the pace and resource levels of the programs continue to grow as planned."

Uh-huh.

He said the C.I.A. had "prepared a program" focused on eliminating Afghanistan as a haven for Al Qaeda.

Yet as NBC's Lisa Myers detailed, President Clinton declined to take bin Laden out when he had the chance.

He also admitted on tape refusing an offer from Sudan to extradite bin Laden, although Sandy Berger denies such an offer was ever made.

And Mr. Clarke, who today seems hell-bent on convincing us that the Bush administration bungled the job of national security, was singing a different tune in 2002.

RICHARD 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.

Second point is that the Clinton administration had a strategy in place, effectively dating from 1998. And there were a number of issues on the table since 1998. And they remained on the table when that administration went out of office — issues like aiding the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, changing our Pakistan policy -- uh, changing our policy toward Uzbekistan. And in January 2001, the incoming Bush administration was briefed on the existing strategy. They were also briefed on these series of issues that had not been decided on in a couple of years.

And the third point is the Bush administration decided then, you know, in late January, to do two things. One, vigorously pursue the existing policy, including all of the lethal covert action findings, which we've now made public to some extent.

Make up your mind, Mr. Clarke. And you might want to get with Berger, Clinton, et al, and get the story straight.

These constant forays into creative writing are really becoming quite annoying.

Posted by Cassandra at February 13, 2005 09:59 AM

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