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(UPDATED) Clinton invokes Clarke on Fox News Sunday
Posted by: McQ on Monday, September 25, 2006

Byron York does what Bill Clinton has said we all should do:
“All you have to do is read Richard Clarke’s findings and you know it’s not true,”
In fact, Clinton said it 11 times according to York.

York's findings? Well they sort of mirror mine. Lots of plans, no action. Clarke on the Pentagon:
Clinton did not give up in the sense of an executive who gives an order and then moves on to other things, thinking the order is being carried out when in fact it is being ignored. Instead, Clinton knew at the time that his top military and intelligence officials were dragging their feet on going after bin Laden and al Qaeda. He gave up rather than use his authority to force them into action.

Examples are all over Clarke’s book. On page 223, Clarke describes a meeting, in late 2000, of the National Security Council “principals” — among them, the heads of the CIA, the FBI, the Attorney General, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the secretaries of State, Defense. It was just after al Qaeda’s attack on the USS Cole. But neither the FBI nor the CIA would say that al Qaeda was behind the bombing, and there was little support for a retaliatory strike. Clarke quotes Mike Sheehan, a State Department official, saying in frustration, “What’s it going to take, Dick? Who the shit do they think attacked the Cole, f*ckin’ Martians? The Pentagon brass won’t let Delta go get bin Laden. Hell they won’t even let the Air Force carpet bomb the place. Does al Qaeda have to attack the Pentagon to get their attention?”
As it turns out, that's exactly what it took ... of course, after Clinton left office. Clarke on the CIA:
The story was the same with the CIA. On page 204, Clarke vents his frustration at the CIA’s slow-walking on the question of killing bin Laden. “I still to this day do not understand why it was impossible for the United States to find a competent group of Afghans, Americans, third-country nationals, or some combination who could locate bin Laden in Afghanistan and kill him,” Clarke writes. “I believe that those in CIA who claim the [presidential] authorizations were insufficient or unclear are throwing up that claim as an excuse to cover the fact that they were pathetically unable to accomplish the mission.”

Clarke hit the CIA again a few pages later, on page 210, on the issue of the CIA’s refusal to budget money for the fight against al Qaeda. “The formal, official CIA response was that there were [no funds],” Clarke writes. “Another way to say that was that everything they were doing was more important than fighting al Qaeda.”
And Clarke on the FBI:
The FBI proved equally frustrating. On page 217, Clarke describes a colleague, Roger Cressey, who was frustrated after meeting with an FBI representative on the subject of terrorism. “That f*cker is going to get some Americans killed,” Clarke reports Cressey saying. “He just sits there like a bump on a log.” Clarke adds: “I knew he was talking about an FBI representative.”
With all that cooperation, its no wonder we didn't even get out of the box trying to get bin Laden.

Of course that doesn't mean that anyone in the administration is willing to admit they never really tried. Nope, the problem, according to Clarke, was the opposition:
So Clinton couldn’t get the job done. Why not? According to Clarke’s pro-Clinton view, the president was stymied by Republican opposition. “Weakened by continual political attack,” Clarke writes, “[Clinton] could not get the CIA, the Pentagon, and FBI to act sufficiently to deal with the threat.”

Republicans boxed Clinton in, Clarke writes, beginning in the 1992 campaign, with criticism of Clinton’s avoidance of the draft as a young man, and extending all the way to the Lewinsky scandal and the president’s impeachment. The bottom line, Clarke argues, is that the commander-in-chief was not in command. From page 225:
Because of the intensity of the political opposition that Clinton engendered, he had been heavily criticized for bombing al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan, for engaging in ‘Wag the Dog’ tactics to divert attention from a scandal about his personal life. For similar reasons, he could not fire the recalcitrant FBI Director who had failed to fix the Bureau or to uncover terrorists in the United States. He had given the CIA unprecedented authority to go after bin Laden personally and al Qaeda, but had not taken steps when they did little or nothing. Because Clinton was criticized as a Vietnam War opponent without a military record, he was limited in his ability to direct the military to engage in anti-terrorist commando operations they did not want to conduct. He had tried that in Somalia, and the military had made mistakes and blamed him. In the absence of a bigger provocation from al Qaeda to silence his critics, Clinton thought he could do no more.
In the end, Clarke writes, Clinton “put in place the plans and programs that allowed America to respond to the big attacks when they did come, sweeping away the political barriers to action.”
That's just pathetic. What we have here is a failure of leadership, plain and simple. Either that or it was all show. Go through the motions, say the right things, get the proper wheels turning, but never follow through.

And the fall back then is to throw the blame for any resulting failure in the lap of others by claiming constant attacks weakened Clinton to the point that he was unable to act as commander-in-chief. Given that as a reason, it makes you wonder how George Bush manages to get anything done.

Clinton further excused himself by saying he turned over a "comprehensive anti-terror strategy" to the incoming Bush administration. Not so says Sandy Berger (testimony, Select Committees On Intelligence, U.S. Senate And U.S. House Of Representatives Hearing, 9/18/02):
"Now, the second question you asked - which comes off the Time Magazine story, I think, was there a plan that we turned over to the Bush administration during the transition. If I could address that. The transition, as you will recall, was condensed by virtue of the election in November. I was very focused on using the time that we had - I had been on the other side of a transition with General Scowcroft in 1992. But we used that time very efficiently to convey to my successor the most important information - what was going on and what situations they faced. Number one among those was terrorism and Al-Qaeda, and I told that to my successor. She has acknowledged that publicly so I'm not violating any private conversation. We briefed them fully on what we were doing - on what else was under consideration and what the threat was. I personally attended part of that briefing to emphasize how important that was. But there was no war plan that we turned over to the Bush administration during the transition. And the reports of that are just incorrect."
The story Berger is referencing and verifying is one by Michael Elliott ("They Had A Plan," Time, 8/12/02):
"A senior Bush Administration official denies being handed a formal plan to take the offensive against al-Qaeda, and says Clarke's materials merely dealt with whether the new administration should take 'a more active approach' to the terrorist group."
Obviously much more active than had the Clinton administration.

In fact, even Clarke admitted that:
"[T]here was no plan on al-Qaida that was passed from the Clinton administration to the Bush administration." (Richard Tomkins quoting Clarke, "WH Throws Own Words Back At Clarke," United Press International, 3/24/04)
One last point. Clinton claimed the following:
"I think it's very interesting that all the conservative Republicans, who now say I didn't do enough, claimed that I was too obsessed with bin Laden. All of President Bush's neo-cons thought I was too obsessed with bin Laden."
Not really.

Guy Gugliotta and Juliet Eilperin noted in the Washington Post of 8/21/98:
President Clinton won warm support for ordering anti-terrorist bombing attacks in Afghanistan and Sudan ... from many of the same lawmakers who have criticized him harshly as a leader critically weakened by poor judgment and reckless behavior in The Monica S. Lewinsky scandal.


[M]ost lawmakers from both parties were quick to rally behind Clinton in a deluge of public statements and appearances ... a marked contrast to the relatively sparse and chilly reception that greeted his ... statement on the Lewinsky matter."
The WaPo article also quoted both Newt Gingrich, then Speaker of the House and Trent Lott, Majority Leader in the Senate. Said Gingrich:
"I think the President did exactly the right thing ... By doing this we're sending the signal there are no sanctuaries for terrorists. ... Anyone who watched the film of the bombings, anyone who saw the coffins come home knows better than to question this timing ... It was done as early as possible to send a message to terrorists across the globe that killing Americans has a cost. It has no relationship with any other activity of any kind."
Sound like someone claiming Clinton was too "obsessive" about bin Laden?

Or this by Lott:
"[The attacks are] appropriate and just."
The more I read about this interview, the more I view it, the more I'm convinced that while Clinton's anger is real, it is misplaced. His memory, it appears, is selective and his recall faulty. And that's being generous.

Frankly it was reminiscent of another episode in which he demonstrated a faulty recall with the same anger and stridency. As I recall, he began with the words "I did not have sex with that woman...".

UPDATE: My old buddy Pogue says it was an act. William Kristol agrees (that ought to make Pogue have second thoughts).

UPDATE II: Andrew Klavan shreds Clinton and his performance:
To put it in his own terms, Clinton has never understood what the meaning of "is" is, the fact that some things happened and others didn't, that some things are true and others simply are not. He believes that his legacy will be created in the spin cycle of history rather than in the fitful but persistent human search for history's truth.

Of course he panics and rages like a child when the spin goes the wrong way, when he is given his portion of the blame for encouraging Bin Laden through his military retreat from Somalia or for allowing the terrorist to escape by refusing to put a kill order on him.

He thinks reality itself is being wrestled away from him, that he can wrestle it back and mold it into the shape he wants it to have.

But he's wrong. That's just "is" being is. That's just "truth" bearing away the victory.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

The more I read about this interview, the more I view it, the more I’m convinced that while Clinton’s anger is real, it is misplaced. His memory, it appears, is selective and his recall faulty. And that’s being generous
His anger was planned.
It’s obvious to me that Clinton went into the interview knowing that Wallace would ask him tough/controversial questions. He knew that only half of the interview would be about his global initiawhatever.

It allowed Clinton to address the crockudrama that ABC put out without appearing too defensive.
In fact, it allowed Clinton to look the victim while taking it to those bastards at FOX entertainment News.

What better venue?

Ten to one says Clinton goes down in history as the best politician to ever walk the face of the planet.

Written By: PogueMahone
It allowed Clinton to address the crockudrama that ABC put out without appearing too defensive.
Well if true, he blew that.

And with all the misinformation, he made it even worse.

Had he dealt with the subject quickly and in some good humor, we’d be talking about his global whatever right now.
Written By: McQ
Had he dealt with the subject quickly and in some good humor, we’d be talking about his global whatever right now.
I doubt that. When have you ever talked about Clinton’s global whatever?

Every time I see "Clinton" in the title, I can be assured of reading a point by point criticism.

Besides. I don’t think Clinton "blew" anything (okay, you don’t know how hard I had to bite my tongue not to make a joke at that one, careful McQ.)
With this,
"We’d like to get your overall opinion of some people in the news. As I read each name, please say if you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of these people — or if you have never heard of them. Bill Clinton."
Favorable 60%
Unfavorable 37%
Sept 22-24, 2006
He could just shut up and coast. I’ll wager he goes up a point or two.
Any takers?
Written By: PogueMahone
I’ll take that Pogue. I bet thirty days from now he’ll be lower (barring any other intervening factor which I can pull out to avoid paying off at my discretion.)
Written By: Lance
It’s never a good idea to bet with your emotion, Lance.

That’s why I never bet on the Tsunami’s.

But hey, I’ll gladly take your money!

Written By: PogueMahone
Oh yeah, his anger was being caught in his own web of lies and deceit again. Sorry SOB ought to be strung up for what HE clearly allowed to happen on his watch.
Written By: Unscripted Thoughts
URL: http://
"Either that or it was all show"

That seems to be the liberal response to most any problem; pass a law, make a plan, develop a strategy. Actually solving a problem is irrelevant, showing that you care and have good intentions are sufficient.
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Oh yeah, his anger was being caught in his own web of lies and deceit again. Sorry SOB ought to be strung up for what HE clearly allowed to happen on his watch.
Are we still talking about Clinton?
Because I could swear that 09/11/2001 was after Bush took office.

You know, after that whole "Bin Laden determined to attack" business.
Written By: PogueMahone
Did you see the update, Pogue?
Written By: McQ
That seems to be the liberal response to most any problem; pass a law, make a plan, develop a strategy. Actually solving a problem is irrelevant, showing that you care and have good intentions are sufficient.

Like our post-war plans in Iraq. Oh - wait. We didn’t make a plan.

So being a liberal is making a plan but not following thru.

But being a winger is not making a plan at all.

Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
Well now I did, McQ. Thanks for pointing me.

And you may be right. Far be it from me to engage in pop psychology to think what Clinton’s motives were.
"And on this issue of the Shia in Iraq, I think there’s been a certain amount of, frankly, Terry, a kind of pop sociology in America that, you know, somehow the Shia can’t get along with the Sunni and the Shia in Iraq just want to establish some kind of Islamic fundamentalist regime. There’s almost no evidence of that at all. Iraq’s always been very secular."
Pop psychology is risky business.
Written By: PogueMahone
Why would the military, FBI, CIA be reluctant or unwilling to go after Bin Laden? That doesn’t seem to make any sense. Bin Laden was killing their own.

Written By: Unknown
URL: http://
I think this is really sad, people are talking like this is ancient history. No one thought that much of terrorism at that time, not just the GOV.tring to blame CLINTON for not catching that bastard, when he hasn,t been president for almost six f@#$% years is stupid.BUSH has been president for all this time no BEN LADEN, no connection between IRAQ and 9/11 almost three thousand dead troops, about twenty thouand mamed or wounded, are you people that stupid.STOP BEING LOYAL TO PARTIES AND START BEING LOYAL TO YOUR F@#$% COUNTRY, his policies (BUSH)are not making this country safer he is a the worst president in recent history. He had a chance to UNITE the country and the world instead he has left untrusted and alone how is that good.
Written By: Joseph
URL: http://
Good grief, Joseph. My 1st grade daughter writes a more structured sentence than you. Put down the bong and come up for air.
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
If political attacks weaken a president’s ability to wage war, then maybe the democrats should think twice before attacking Bush.

Come to think of it, that will be an excellent excuse for Bush: I wanted to do stuff, but since the dems attacked me, the bureaucracy didn’t do them.
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
In fact, it allowed Clinton to look the victim while taking it to those bastards at FOX . . .
As opposed to real news, like CBS.
Ten to one says Clinton goes down in history as the best politician to ever walk the face of the planet.
Depends. If we measure by accomplishment, he won’t. He used his political skills for essentially short term personal gain, not to gain anything of significance. His effort at significance was his Hillery-Care plan, after that he just chased poll numbers.

Which is just as well: we don’t need another lefty politician as accomplished as LBJ.
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Ten to one says Clinton goes down in history as the best politician to ever walk the face of the planet
Indeed, I couldn’t think of anything more fitting or damning for him...
Written By: Shark
URL: http://

Obviously we are citizens of different countries. Although the citizens of my country may F@#$, the country itself does not. Great Britain may have F@#$ed, hence Australia, New Zealand, etc., but as far as I know, my country has no offspring.
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
How about this:
Freeh says he stayed on longer as FBI director because he didn’t want to give Clinton a chance to name his successor. “I was concerned about who he would put in there as FBI director because he had expressed antipathy for the FBI, for the director. I was going to stay there and make sure that he couldn’t replace me.”

Freeh had another reason for wanting to outlast Clinton. It was the 1996 Khobar Towers terrorist attack in Saudi Arabia, where 19 U.S. servicemen died and more than 370 were wounded.

President Clinton had sent the FBI to investigate and promised Americans that those responsible would pay. “The cowards who committed this murderous act must not go unpunished. Let me say it again: we will pursue this. America takes care of our own. Those who did it must not go unpunished,” the president said.

But Freeh says the President failed to keep his promise.

The FBI wanted access to the suspects the Saudis had arrested but then-Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar said the only way to get access to prisoners would be if the president personally asked the crown prince for access.

Freeh says Clinton did not help him. He writes in his book:

“Bill Clinton raised the subject only to tell the crown prince that he understood the Saudi’s reluctance to cooperate, and then he hit Abdullah up for a contribution to the Clinton Presidential Library.”

“That’s a fact that I’m reporting,” says Freeh.

It’s a strong charge. And 60 Minutes wanted Mr. Clinton’s side of all this. He declined to talk to 60 Minutes, but told his spokesman to say: "The assertion that he asked the Saudis for funding for his library while he was president is absolutely false."

And Clinton’s former national security advisor, Sandy Berger, told us that Mr. Clinton did press the Saudis to cooperate with the FBI.

Freeh says to get access to the Saudis’ suspects, he eventually sought help from another president, the first President Bush. “Former President Bush, at my request interceded with the Saudis, spoke to Crown Prince, now King Abdullah, asked for his assistance and it happened just like that.”
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
No, sir, I don’t think so. The president seems to be able, the former president seems to be able to deny facts with impugnity. Bin Laden is alive today because Mr. Clinton, Mr. Sandy Berger, and Mr. Richard Clarke refused to kill him. That’s the bottom line. And every time he says what he said to Chris Wallace on Fox, he defames the CIA especially, and the men and women who risk their lives to give his administration repeated chances to kill bin Laden.
Mike “Anonymous” Scheuer

O‘DONNELL: Let me ask you what you know about what we‘ve read recently about a secret military operation known as Able Danger. There are people involved in that that say that the United States knew about Mohammed Atta a year before the 9/11 attacks. Is that true? And was there a massive failure by our government?

SCHEUER: I don‘t know firsthand information about Able Danger, ma‘am, but from what I‘ve read in the media, that the lawyers prevented them from passing the information to the FBI, that certainly rings true. The U.S. intelligence community is palsied by lawyers.

When we were going to capture Osama bin Laden, for example, the lawyers were more concerned with bin Laden‘s safety and his comfort than they were with the officers charged with capturing him. We had to build an ergonomically designed chair to put him in, special comfort in terms of how he was shackled into the chair. They even worried about what kind of tape to gag him with so it wouldn‘t irritate his beard. The lawyers are the bane of the intelligence community.

Yep. Clinton’s team sure was focused on killing Bin Laden. Can’t blame him, seeing as how many people are worried about poking KSM in the chest or not letting him sleep.
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
Harun, yes, I read those as I suspect that many of the sinisphere commenters have. However, that won’t chance their opinion since it is not really "reality based". Reality as in what they believe.
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
Great analysis, McQ.

I hope more folks really do compare what Clinton did, and what his "plans" were.
A future interview question — in your plan to fight back against AQ, how many soldiers were to be used?

[I wrote my similar "I never had sex with that woman" analysis in your more recent post before reading this one. Total agreement.]
Written By: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad
For some people, the truth is hard to swallow.

I believe Clinton is a lot better at telling the truth than Bushy Boy. Bush’s inability to react, let alone act proactively, were obvious as he continued reading My Little Goat while the country was under attack.

Do you suppose GW Bush will be out and about in 2014 trying to raise money for global warming or feeding people or stopping Aids? I seriouly doubt it, he will probably be holed up on the ranch hoping another angry mother of a dead soldier doesn’t try and smoke him out.
Written By: Steve Owens
URL: http://
Steve Owens may be the first person to ever insulate that invading Afghanistan was not a reaction, and the first Bush opponent to say Iraq wasn’t proactive.
Who do I want for a leader? One who remains calm during the most stressful of situations, knowing that the immediate reactions are to be taken by first responders and other lower level leaders that have been trained and empowered to take proper action? Or one that melts down in a controlled situation when someone asks a question he knows is coming?
I guess in the old Soviet top down-system, choice two is needed. But I like the American system better, where the top sets the strategy and the lower levels are allowed to take appropriate actions without needing every detail spoon fed from above. The U.S. military hasn’t lost a battle with that strategy since the first few in North Africa in WWII. (Their have been losses to the press and in strategy, but no actual battles).
Will Bush be out raising money for global warming? Probably not, as he most likely already knows that the current warming trend is still in line with the sun-spot cycle and that 18,000 years of temperature data is more persuasive than 120. As for feeding people, Bush is taking action so people can go to a market safely to buy food, as opposed to Clinton, who gave food to North Korea so they wouldn’t have to divert resources from their military or nuke programs.
Written By: Ted Pilewski
URL: httP://

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