Magazine article The New American

The Clarke Revelations

Magazine article The New American

The Clarke Revelations

Article excerpt

Few had heard the name Richard A. Clarke before his March 21 interview on Sixty Minutes, where he answered questions about his book, Against All Enemies, and defended its indictment of the Bush administration. That television appearance and the early release of his book to several media representatives generated a firestorm of publicity and made him an overnight international celebrity. Already in the headlines by March 24, and with his book now available, he then appeared as a star witness before the prestigious National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States.

In his Sixty Minutes interview, his 300-page book and his testimony before the commission, Clarke charged that the Bush administration has done "a terrible job in the war against terrorism." He claimed further that even after the 9-11 tragedy top administration officials, including the president himself, focused more on ridding Iraq of Saddam Hussein than on combating al-Qaeda. He said that he knew before the 9-11 attacks that the bin-Ladenled terrorist group posed a danger to our nation and that he had repeatedly urged action to address this threat. He also said that he knew beyond question that it, not Iraq, was responsible for the devastating 9-11 destruction.

Clarke is a 30-year veteran of federal service. From 1992 until he resigned from the government in March 2003, he chaired the Counterterrorism Security Group (CSG), where he was the federal government's top official charged with assessing intelligence about terrorism and responding to any terrorist attacks. In no way was he a minor bureaucrat. His responsibility as the leader of CSG placed him above senior officials of the FBI, CIA, Justice Department and the military when terrorism was under scrutiny. Within hours of the 9-11 tragedy, he chaired a hastily assembled CSG meeting, only to find that "[Secretary of Defense] Rumsfeld and [Assistant Secretary of Defense] Wolfowitz were going to try to take advantage of this national tragedy to promote their agenda about Iraq." According to his account, he sought immediately but unsuccessfully to get them to understand that the attack had been the work of al-Qaeda, not Iraq. The next day, President Bush personally told him to "go back over everything, everything. See if Saddam did this. See if he's linked in any way." But he repeatedly protested then as now, "There's absolutely no evidence that Iraq was supporting al Qaeda."

In his book, Clarke also charged that the war against Iraq was "unnecessary." He insisted that it "does nothing to prevent terrorists from coming to America, but does divert funds from addressing our domestic vulnerability and does make terrorist recruitment easier. …

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