In an essay in the New York Review of Books critical of the press coverage prior to the Iraq war, Michael Massing singles out the work of the Knight Ridder Washington bureau as being skeptical of the claims of the administration at the time. Now, they appear to be continuing that outlook with this piece on where we stand with the various allegations connected with Richard Clarke's book and his testimony before the 9/11 commission:
WASHINGTON - Former White House counterterrorism adviser Richard Clarke's controversial book criticizing President Bush's handling of the war on terrorism has consumed Washington for 10 days and prompted a series of countercharges from the White House. Here, in a nutshell, is what we've learned so far from the charges, countercharges and conflicting accounts.
Allegation: The Bush administration failed to treat the al-Qaida threat as an urgent priority before Sept. 11, 2001.
True. Bush acknowledged in an interview with Bob Woodward last year that he "didn't feel that sense of urgency" before Sept. 11. But top officials from the Clinton and Bush administrations agree that their options for attacking al-Qaida bases in Afghanistan were limited until Sept. 11 galvanized world opinion. Although few in Washington were as alarmed by the al-Qaida threat as Clarke was, Bush was concerned enough that he directed his staff to come up with a better strategy for eliminating the terrorist network.
Allegation: The Bush administration was fixated on Iraq from the day Bush took office.
True, but some officials were more fixated than others. Iraq had been near the top of the list of global trouble spots for at least a decade, so it's not surprising that Bush pressed intelligence agencies to look hard for any evidence of Iraqi involvement in Sept. 11. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has acknowledged that he raised the possibility of attacking Iraq in the days after Sept. 11, despite the fact that there was and still is no evidence linking Iraq to the terrorist attacks.
Allegation: More diligent action against al-Qaida could have prevented the Sept. 11 attacks.
Probably not, but there's no way to know for sure. The independent Sept. 11 commission is sharply divided on this question. There's no doubt that more could have been done to thwart the attackers, but Clarke has acknowledged that even if Bush had followed all his advice, it wouldn't have prevented the Sept. 11 attacks.
[Note: From everything I've seen and read, Clarke has never made the claim that the 9/11 attacks were entirely preventable, the most he's said is that if his advice about attacking al-Qaeda after the attacking the Cole had been carried out, al-Qaeda would have been considerably weakened, and might not have been able to mount a complex coordinated project like the 9/11 attacks. He's also said that he if the Bush administration had given the same high-level attention to counter-terrorism that Clinton did, then information might have moved between the FBI and CIA and up the ladder to Clarke, and that if he had known that two al-Qaeda operatives were in the country learning to fly airplanes, he "likes to think" that he would have been able to connect some dots and make a difference in helping to prevent 9/11. But never, from what I'm aware of, has he said that 9/11 was completely preventable. -- Ed]
Allegation: Iraq was a distraction from the war against al-Qaida.
True. The war in Iraq diverted attention and resources from the campaign in Afghanistan and elsewhere. In addition, the war appears to have inflamed Islamic radicals, and allowed al-Qaida two years to decentralize. But Bush may be right in saying that a free and democratic Iraq could help blunt the appeal of terrorism in the Arab world and point the way to a new era there. And the lesson of what happened to Saddam Hussein could curb the behavior of other hostile nations.
Allegation: Clarke wasn't "in the loop."
False. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice put this one to rest almost as soon as Vice President Dick Cheney made the allegation. "I would not use the word out of the loop. ... He was in every meeting that was held on terrorism," she said. However, it isn't clear what loop Cheney meant.
Allegation: Clarke is an opportunist whose motives and credibility are suspect.
Judgment call. Clarke clearly has an agenda, but that doesn't mean his critique is incorrect. The election-year timing of his book's publication, his financial interest in maximizing public interest in it, his past praise for Bush's performance and his rosy view of the Clinton administration raise questions about his motives. Even so, rather than rebutting Clarke's criticism on its merits, Bush administration officials and their allies have cast doubt on his motives. Clarke has denied under oath that he would accept any position in a Kerry administration.
Also on the Clarke front, he's apparently asked MoveOn to withdraw their new ads, which feature excerpts from his 60 Minutes interview, but it appears to me to be primarily an attempt to try to preserve at least the appearance of objectivity, in order to help fend off charges of partisanship.
Or, rather, since nothing is going to stop the Bushies and their trained seals in the right-wing echo chamber from making the claim that Clarke is a Democratic partisan pure and simple, to lend credibility to the counter-claim that his only partisanship is towards an effective counter-terrorism program to help protect Americans from harm, which, in my opinion, is actually the case.
Clarke said it was unclear immediately whether he can legally demand that MoveOn stop airing the advertisement against Bush, since it includes remarks he made in a national news broadcast.
"The point is not whether they're acting illegally, but I certainly want everyone to understand they are acting without my permission and distorting my message," Clarke said.
hostile to science
lacking in empathy
lacking in public spirit
out of control
Thanks to: Breeze, Chuck, Ivan Raikov, Kaiju, Kathy, Roger, Shirley, S.M. Dixon
i've got a little list...
Steven Abrams (Kansas BofE)
Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson
Roger Ailes (FNC)
Alan Bonsell (Dover BofE)
Bill Buckingham (Dover BofE)
George W. Bush
Bruce Chapman (DI)
The Coors Family
William A. Dembski
Leonard Downie (WaPo)
John Gibson (FNC)
Fred Hiatt (WaPo)
James F. Inhofe
Philip E. Johnson
by Joel Pelletier
(click on image for more info)
Stephen C. Meyer (DI)
Judith Miller (ex-NYT)
Sun Myung Moon
Elspeth Reeve (TNR)
Martin Peretz (TNR)
Richard Mellon Scaife
Susan Schmidt (WaPo)
John Solomon (WaPo)
Richard Thompson (TMLC)
Bob Woodward (WaPo)
All the fine sites I've
Be sure to visit them all!!
Arthur C. Clarke
Daniel C. Dennett
Philip K. Dick
Stephen Jay Gould
"The Harder They Come"
Ursula K. LeGuin
The Marx Brothers
Michael C. Penta
Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
"The Red Shoes"
"Singin' in the Rain"
Talking Heads/David Byrne
Hunter S. Thompson
"2001: A Space Odyssey"
If you read unfutz at least once a week, without fail, your teeth will be whiter and your love life more satisfying.
If you read it daily, I will come to your house, kiss you on the forehead, bathe your feet, and cook pancakes for you, with yummy syrup and everything.
(You might want to keep a watch on me, though, just to avoid the syrup ending up on your feet and the pancakes on your forehead.)
Finally, on a more mundane level, since I don't believe that anyone actually reads this stuff, I make this offer: I'll give five bucks to the first person who contacts me and asks for it -- and, believe me, right now five bucks might as well be five hundred, so this is no trivial offer.