Battle Station Crawford!

If you didn’t see tonight’s (Mar 21/04) 60 minutes segment with BushCo’s former counter-terrorism advisor, Richard Clarke, read the transcript: it’s devastating. Clarke served Reagan, Bush I, and through both Clinton terms as the Terrorism Czar. (Download the plain text file or the HTML formatted version I transcribed off the cached and saved audio. I checked it once for accuracy, but haven’t copy edited for spelling or punctuation.)

It’s too late for as blistering an analytical post as I’d like, but in the meantime here are a few noteworthy chunks to mull over:

CLARKE: Well Rumsfeld was saying that we needed to bomb Iraq and we all said, ‘No no, al Qaeda is in Afghanistan. We need to bomb Afghanistan.’ 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 with it.’

LESLIE STAHL: You wrote you thought he was joking.

CLARKE: Initially I thought when he said there aren’t enough targets in Afghanistan, I thought he was joking.

STAHL: Now what was your reaction to all this Iraq talk? What did you tell everybody?

CLARKE: What I said was, you know, invading Iraq or bombing Iraq after we’re attacked by somebody else, it’s akin to, what if Franklin Roosevelt after Pearl Harbor instead of going to war with Japan said, “Let’s invade Mexico.” It’s very analagous.

Rumsfeld was told there simply was no Iraq connection to the 9/11 attacks, and no connection between Iraq and al Qaeda, but department heads also knew:

CLARK: I told them that, George Tenet told them that …

STAHL: Who did you tell?

CLARKE: I told that to the group, to the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Attorney General. They all knew it.

The President was also urged to focus on al Qaeda rather than Iraq, but rejected the advice from Clarke, the CIA and FBI and sent them back to “look again” for an Iraq/911 connection. The public record is littered with examples of Iraq on the Brain. Listening to Clarke’s frustration come through in describing what it took to get the President and the imperious heads of departments to listen was pretty damning. From the time BushCo took office, Clarke pushed for focus on al Qaeda rather than Iraq, but came up against an imperial wall of stubbornness.

CLARKE: I said, ‘Mr. President. We’ve done this before. We have been looking at this. We looked at it with an open mind. There’s no connection.’ He came back at me and said, “Iraq! Saddam! Find out if there’s a connection.’ And in a very intimidating way. I mean, that we should come back with that answer. We wrote a report.

STAHL: In other words, you did go back and look.

CLARKE: We went back again and we looked.

STAHL: You did. And was it a serious look? Did you really … ?

CLARKE: It was a serious look. We got together all the FBI experts, all the CIA experts. We wrote the report. We sent the report out to CIA and down to FBI and said, ‘Will you sign this report?’ They all cleared the report and we sent it up to the president and it got bounced by the National Security Advisor or Deputy. It got bounced and sent back saying, ‘Wrong answer.’ …

STAHL: Did the President see it?

CLARKE: I have no idea to this day if the President saw it because after we did it again it came to the same conclusion. And frankly, Leslie, I don’t think the people around the President show him memos like that. I don’t think he sees memos that he wouldn’t like the answer [to].

STAHL (exposition): {Clarke was the President’s top advisor on terrorism and yet it wasn’t until after 9-11 that he ever got to brief Mr. Bush on the subject. Clarke says that prior to 9-11 this administration did not take the threat seriously.}

CLARKE: We had a terrorist organization that was going after us, al Qaeda. That should have been the first item on the agenda and it was pushed back, and back, and back for months.

Don’t you feel safer already knowing that the Presidential Gut decides what’s what and then personally, or through his staff, rejects whatever disagrees with it, as though sending back an icky looking cheeseburger? On taking office, BushCo rejected al Qaeda warnings from Clinton administration officials and from intelligence advisors within their own administration. For months, Clarke tried, and couldn’t get, cabinet-level meetings to deal specifically with al Qaeda.

CLARKE: We had a terrorist organization that was going after us, al Qaeda. That should have been the first item on the agenda and it was pushed back, and back, and back for months.

STAHL: You’re about to testify publicly before a committee that wants to know if the Bush administration dropped the ball. What are you going to tell the committee when they ask you that?

CLARKE: Well there’s a lot of blame to go around and I probably deserve some blame too. But on January 24th of 2001, I wrote a memo to Condileezza Rice asking for, urgently — underlined urgently — a cabinet level meeting to deal with the impending al Qaeda attack and that urgent memo wasn’t acted on.

STAHL: Do you blame her for not understanding the significance of terrorism?

CLARKE: I blame the entire Bush leadership for continuing to work on the Cold War issues when they came back in power in 2001. It was as though they were preserved in amber from when they left office eight years earlier. They came back, they wanted to work on the same issues right away — Iraq, Star Wars — not the new issues, the new threats that had developed over the preceding eight years […]

In April of 2001, Clarke met with Paul “We didn’t invade Iraq because of WMDs” Wolfowitz:

CLARKE: I began saying, ‘We have to deal with bin Laden. We have to deal with al Qaeda.’ Paul Wolfowitz the Deputy Sec’y of Defense said, ‘No, no, no. We don’t have to deal with al Qaeda. Why are we talking about that little guy? We have to talk about Iraqi terrorism against the United States.’ And I said, ‘Paul, there hasn’t been any Iraqi terrorism against the Untied States in eight years,’ and I turned to the Deputy Director of [the] CIA and said, ‘Isn’t that right?’ and he said, ‘Yeah, that’s right. There is no Iraqi terrorism against the United States.’

STAHL: In eight years.

CLARKE: In eight years.

The incident Clarke is referring to is an assassination attempt on Bush the Dad. This following passage speaks volumes about the kind of thinking BushCo considers steady wartime leadership:

CLARKE: The White House carefully manipulated public opinion, never quite lied, but gave the very strong impression that Iraq did it.

STAHL: But you’re suggesting here that they knew better —

CLARKE: They did know better.

STAHL — and it was deliberate.

CLARKE: They did know better. They did know better. We told them. The FBI told them. The CIA told them. They did know better. And the tragedy here is that Americans went to their deaths in Iraq thinking that they were avenging September 11 when Iraq had nothing to do with September 11. I think for a Commander in Chief and a Vice President to allow that to happen is unconscionable.

STAHL (exp): {And he thinks the President to this day misinterprets the nature and the scope of the terrorist threat.}

CLARKE: He asked us after 9/11 to give him cards with pictures of the major al Qaeda leaders and tell us when they were arrested or killed so he could draw X’s through their pictures, and you know, I write in the book, I have this image of George Bush sitting by a warm fireplace in the White House drawing X’s through al Qaeda leaders and thinking that he’s got most of them and therefore he’s taken care of the problem, and while George Bush thinks he’s crossing them out one by one there are all these new al Qaeda people who are being recruited who hate the United States in large measure because of what Bush has done.

Steven Hadley, No. 2 on the National Security Council, issues some dismissals and denials, even going to the “he’s cosy with Democrats I tells ya!” ploy by suggesting that Clarke intends to work for Kerry — Public Enemy Number 1! — and even going to the “Look! Clinton!” gambit. But here’s how well Hadley’s strongest feint holds up.

HADLEY: All the chatter was of an attack, a potential al Qaeda attack overseas, but interestingly enough, the President got concerned about whether there was the possibility of an attack on the homeland. … So the President put us on battle stations.

STAHL: Now he[Clarke]’s the top terrorism official in this administration at that point. He’s saying you didn’t go to battle stations.

HADLEY: Well I think that’s just wrong —

STAHL (exp): {He also says Clarke was wrong when he said the President pressured him to find a link between Iraq and 9/11}

HADLEY: We can not find evidence that this conversation between Mr. Clarke and the President ever occurred.

STAHL: Now can I interrupt you for one second. We have done our own work on that ourselves and we have two sources who tell us independently of Dick Clarke that there was this encounter. One of them was an actual witness.

HADLEY: Look, the — I — I stand on what I said. But the point I think we’re missing in this is of course the President wanted to know if there was any evidence linking Iraq to 9/11.

STAHL (exp): {So he’s not denying the President asked for another review, nor is he denying that Clarke wrote a memo stating once again that Iraq was not involved in 9/11. In fact the White House showed us the memo dated September 18th. As Clarke said, it was bounced back. The notation reads, ‘Please update and resubmit,’ and it was written by Steven Hadley.}

HADLEY: I asked him to go back — not ‘wrong answer’ — I asked him to go back and check it again a week or two later to make sure there was no new emerging evidence that Iraq was involved.

STAHL (exp): {Hadley says the whole issue about Iraq was moot by the time Clarke submitted his memo, since the President, at a meeting with his War Cabinet at Camp David had already decided to focus the US response to 9/11 on Afghanistan, which is what Clarke had been recommending. But Clarke said it was not moot, because the administration wanted to make Iraq phase two of the response, no matter what happened in Afghanistan.}

VIDEOTAPE OF GW BUSH: You can’t distinguish between Al Qaeda and Saddam when you talk about the war on terror.

STAHL: (exp): {Clarke contends that with statements like that, the President continually left an impression that Saddam had been involved in 9/11.}

So what does the Preznit consider “battle stations”? Shortly after sending the following notice of a continuation of the “Iraq Emergency” to Congress, the President left for a month-long Crawford vacation in August, 2001.

(To Congress on July 31, 2001) Section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)) provides for the automatic termination of a national emergency unless, prior to the anniversary date of its decla-ration, the President publishes in the Federal Register and transmits to the Congress a notice stating that the emergency is to continue in effect beyond the anniversary date. In accordance with this provision, I have sent the enclosed notice, stating that the Iraqi emergency is to continue in effect beyond August 2, 2001, to the Federal Register for publication.

The crisis between the United States and Iraq that led to the declaration on August 2, 1990, of a national emergency has not been resolved. The Government of Iraq continues to engage in activities inimical to stability in the Middle East and hostile to United States interests in the region. Such Iraqi actions pose a continuing, unusual, and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States. For these reasons, I have determined that it is necessary to maintain in force the broad authorities necessary to apply economic pressure on the Government of Iraq.

This jibes with news stories referring to Karl Rove’s mention that a “new product” doesn’t get introduced before Labor Day. That new product was, of course, an Iraq invasion. The public record is filled with examples illustrating that an Iraq invasion was a set course, from the persistent campaign to discredit UN inspections, to bullying and even spying on UN diplomats, to campaigns to smear local dissenters.

Not only is this all this sleazy on its own, it persistently works to the the detriment of true national security. An administration so petty and vicious it exposes a valuable CIA agent and all her contacts throughout her long career, for nothing more than revenge and partisan gain, simply isn’t responsible enough to be entrusted with national security. Intelligence, small-i and big-I is utimately based on truth. BushCo has spent more time and resources distorting and suppressing it than working to illuminate it by adding the best information available.

I hope everyone writes their respective congresscritters demanding that any administration testimony before the 9/11 committee be public. The media and the RNC treat 9/11 as if it’s GW Bush’s personal campaign toy — you’d think all 9/11 was was the “defining moment of his presidency”. It’s bad enough that Bush has unnecessarily delayed an investigation into the WMD hype so it won’t mess up his politicking, and there’s not even a bleat of protest from the press. (Only in America …)

He shouldn’t be allowed to continue treating 9/11 like Barney biting down on a favorite bone. 9/11 wasn’t a personal attack on GW Bush, or an attack on the Republican party and the rest, collateral damage to be completely ignored.

It’s outrageous that Democrats routinely get compared to or associated with terrorists. Presumably there were no Democrats in the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, or the planes that crashed, among the responders and the survivors, or among the millions that watched in horror.

9/11 was an attack on the entire nation. Any hearings involving administration officials that don’t explicitly involve classified information but rather meetings and memos should be public, and televised.

Update: I’ve made minor corrections to the transcripts (corrected name spellings) and removed from this post a duplicated paste of a segment.


Comments: 5


Hadley the Weasel’s performance has to be seen to be believed. The ridiculously ineffectual non-denial of Clarke’s claim that he was told by Bush himself to find a link between the WTC incident and Iraq is just priceless, in its complete failure to make any maningful rebuttal of Clarke’s claim. Better still was Hadley’s allegation and backpedal concerning Clarke’s view of Bush as leader:




All the while, Hadley’s head is bobbing up and down like a parrot’s.

This oughta be the final nail in the Bush Presidency’s coffin, if there’s any justice, but it still remains to see whether the press will do its job.

For one thing, since we now know that virtually every administration-advanced reason for the invasion of Iraq is hooey, we’re left with the question of just what that reason really was.

I used to reject out of hand the “Saddam tried to kill Daddy” and “oil grab” rationales, because I believed that nobody could possibly be so petty, or so willing to take so many innocent lives in pursuit of them, but now I’m not so sure.

A puzzlement.


I watched the 60 Minutes interview with my Republican Boyfriend (why, god, why?). I expected him to be dismissive of Clarke, to be honest. Instead, he’s now ready to vote for Kerry. Of course, I’ve been pounding about this stuff at him for months, but he found Clarke very credible.

So, that gives me hope, honestly. He found Hadley not believable.


Fear of a Bush Planet: 9-11 is a joke in this administration.

Richard Clarke proves it.


Bush Weak on Terrorism

This Richard Clark deal is really hitting hard this week. His book and 60 minutes interview are (finally) forcing the mainstream press to focus on this – something that the…


I totaly disagree with with the meme that is seeping out of this. “Bush was bad but it was Clinton’s fault too”.

If I remember correctly Clinton stopped a terrorist attack on US soil. His administration also attempted to get the new administration to follow up on on plans to roll back Bin Laden’s network, only to have the projects shelved because the explosions would not have be big enough (Rummy: “not enough targets”, Bush “swatting at flies. Saddam. Iraq. Find it!.”

The Bush administration showed a shocking level of complacency, and hurbis, and the fact that the Clinton administration is being drug down to thier level in this show trail makes me sick.


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