The campaign against Richard Clarke
As we all know, no one seems to be able to disprove any of Clarke’s accusations. They’ve gone at his credibility. So what are these accusations, and are any of them actually substantive? We’ll see. (note: all these accusations (not that they originated there) are from RNS)
First, there’s this:
Richard Clarke is deeply wired into the Kerry campaign, and not just through Rand Beers. His main contact is his good friend Jonathan Winer, who�s been Kerry�s chief political operative and investigator through Iran-Contra, BCCI, and all the way back to his days as Lt. Gov of Massachusetts. Jonathan�s been identified publically as one of a handful of people running Kerry�s �shadow state department� along with Beers. The LA Times yesterday had a story quoting Winer as saying he was talking regularly with Clarke while Clarke was still in the White House, and that Clarke was expressing his disgust with the Bushies.
This is the same thing as the Rand Beers silliness. Really, he has two friends who are in the Kerry campaign? Who cares? He’s been around Washington for 30 years, isn’t this expected? The charge is paranoia, plain and simple.
Next up, this:
The media are fascinated with the parts of former White House terrorism czar Richard Clarke�s book that trash President Bush as being out to lunch on the al-Qaida threat before 9/11.
But reporters aren�t talking about the chapter of �Against All Enemies� that describes how Osama bin Laden cooperated with Iraqi scientists to make weapons of mass destruction – a development that, if true, would more than justify President Bush�s decision to go to war in Iraq.
In his book, Clarke describes how the Clinton CIA determined in 1996 that Sudan�s Shifa chemical plant, which was allegedly bankrolled by bin Laden, was producing the chemical EMPTA.
A question for anyone who is against the war in Iraq who happens to slide through RNS:
Was he lying then, or is he lying now?
First off, there’s no “lying then or now” in this, seeing as both charges (no links and the Sudan plant) are in the book. Elsewhere in the book he says something to the effect of “any ‘links’ in the two are a minor footnote in comparison to other regimes.” What appears to me to be the case, is that he considers this a minor and sketchy point. Sudan, using bin Laden’s money (no guarantees bin Laden knew who the scientists were), hired some Iraqi scientists. What did Saddam know about it? Much? That’s assuming it’s true, Clarke relegates it to “possible.” It’s not something you could count as a connection, so there’s no contradiction. That said, I’d like to see him asked about it.
Finally, there’s this laundry list of charges:
Was he lying in his praising the Bush terrorism policy in his letter of resignation?
“It has been an enormous privilege to serve you these last 24 months,” said the Jan. 20, 2003, letter from Clarke to Bush. “I will always remember the courage, determination, calm, and leadership you demonstrated on September 11th.”
There’s nothing about policy there. Besides, what are you going to say?
Or was he lying about Bush�s policy to Jim Angle of Fox News (Aug 2002)?
Clarke answers basically every “contradiction” in his testimony.
Or was he lying about Dr. Rice�s reaction to his mentioning al Qiada for the first time?
I don’t see this as a lie. He gave his impression of her reaction. He didn’t say “she’s never heard of al Qaeda” he said “she appeared as though she’d never heard of al Qaeda.” There’s a difference. Whether she knew or not is irrelevent. He’s describing his impression. She looked surprised, confused, annoyed as to the mention of al Qaeda. Maybe she was surprised that he thought they in particular were a threat (after probably dismissing the Clintonite’s warnings). It’s speculation, but there’s nothing to show that he lied.
Or was he lying in his testimony to the committee yesterday (where he admitted that even if the Bush team had followed everyone of his suggestions to the letter, September 11th would have still happened)?
This one I may concede. Here’s his statement to CBS:
He ignored it. He ignored terrorism for months, when maybe we could have done something to stop 9/11. Maybe. We’ll never know.
Though, I wonder if he means in the testimony, we would have needed to know what the FBI knew about the hijackers farther down to have had a chance of preventing it. Still, it’s a contradiction, but one that I don’t think is a big deal. It’s not a fact or event, it’s his opinion. I think you need more than this to say he’s not credible.
Here’s the bottom line: The White House has had the book for 3 months. It can’t rebut any of the charges, with meeting tapes or minutes or what have you.