Thursday, March 25, 2004
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Reading Against All Enemies, part II
Over at Time, Romesh Ratnesar accuses Clarke of "sexing up" his interactions with Bush. One example:
This is on pages 32-33 of Against All Enemies -- and actually, Clarke's written account of the Bush encounter is more charitable to the President than Ratnesay indicates. The key passage occur right after the encounter:
[Yeah, and don't forget what Clarke said on background in mid-2002!--ed. Actually, I'm not terribly persuaded that this should weaken Clarke's credibility. As anyone who's worked in government should know, what's said in an official capacity will read differently than what's said when one is allowed to be candid. Clarke was acting as a dutiful bureaucrat in 2002, and not as an independent agent.]posted by Dan on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM
Dan Drezner, as always, Bush apologist.posted by: elliottg on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
posted by: Dan Drezner on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
Different adjectives, different body parts pointing in different directions, slightly different verbal tones...
That article hardly qualifies as a defense. You first begin by sliming Dean. Dean stated that Bush's secrecy and lackof cooperation allowed conspiracy theories to grow (like mushrooms in the dark - my words, not Dean's). Secondly, your so called criticism in my mind paints the best possible face on what is a pretty bad situation with international credibility shot to Hell and the stiuation in Iraq likely to deteriorate rapidly after we turn it over. Finally, your article suggests that the problem is process. Most people would conclude and, it seems to me you concur, that process problems are easier to fix than strategy problems.
By the way, what happened to your outrage at the Plame Affair?posted by: elliottg on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
Why is everyone freaking out that Bush would want to know exactly who did this, and whether Saddam was involved? Does anyone remember the hours after 9/11? I know it occurred to me to be a very strong possibility that he had something to do with it. Even if some of the terrorists had trained in Iraq, or if some shred of the funding would have been traced back to Hussein (this is before we knew Hussein was busy bribing European leaders with oil remember) it would have had _huge_ implications. We're thinking of all this from the March 2004 context where we know Hussein didnt have thousands of chemical and biological weapons. That wasnt the case in 01. Our intelligence sucks remember?posted by: Mark Buehner on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
You know, I hope that no one ever transcribes my conversations with students. They would show that I claim things like, "the Supreme Court smacked down that claimant, saying 'political question, political question.'" And my accounts vary from day to day, or from blog post to blog post -- sometimes the Court thumbs its nose at the claimant, sometimes it just says "no way, buddy." I mean, how can I be so gall-darned inconsistent?
Credibility, indeed.posted by: Brett on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
To me, it doesn't sound like Clarke is suggesting that Bush wanted to know whether Saddam was involved. Sounds more like he's suggesting that Bush only wanted to hear HOW Saddam was involved.posted by: wishIwuz2 on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
That article was pretty dumb.
First of all, the accounts of the Bush aside in the book and the press are not inconsistent, and Time doesn't show this.
Second, it's pretty clear that Hadley's "Please update and resubmit" is bureacrat-speak for "the President won't like this." Clarke's information was all quite current; Hadley didn't want to leave a paper trail, and Clarke knew esxactly what this meant.
As for August 2002, first of all, the commission has the documentation for the Clinton-era plan that was given. Second, in the interview, Clark tried to be diligent about saying that there was not a "new" plan, but the questioner may have tripped him up a bit.
And finally, so he didn't slam the President in front of one of his deputies. Big deal.
Ya got nuthin', Drezner!posted by: praktike on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
“Actually, I'm not terribly persuaded that this should weaken Clarke's credibility.”
On the contrary, Richard Clarke was not cautious in his rhetoric. One can still be a “dutiful bureaucrat” and not be this fawning with his compliments. Dan Drezner must also ask himself an inescapable question: who is telling the truth---Condoleezza Rice or Clarke? One of them is lying.
The liberal media are starting pull away from Richard Clarke. Romesh Ratnesar of Time is merely the beginning of the end. In another week, they will have to find some other dirt to throw at the President.
“Dan Drezner, as always, Bush apologist.”
Our host is giving Richard Clarke every benefit of the doubt. He is going out of his way to be fair to the man. Furthermore, Dan Drezner hasn’t hesitated to criticize President Bush for his foolish anti-trade positions, the huge deficit, and pandering for the votes of the elderly.posted by: David Thomson on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
Sorry you're taking it on the chin Dan. While I think you are giving the President too much benefit of the doubt in this case, there are some relatively minor inconsistencies in Clarke's testimony. The problem is that if the same standard were applied to Administration statements and the conclusion that such inconsistencies constituted bad faith, then I'd have to assume treasonous conduct and that impeachment would be warrented.
If Clarke has inconsistencies, it's also true that the Administration's account has far larger and far more serious ones.posted by: Oldman on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
*In another week, they will have to find some other dirt to throw at the President.*
First post really does set the tone. Dan, you are an apologist. You are also thoughtful and intelligent, but you always bend over backwards for Bush. Quite simply, you have never, ever confronted the basic truth about this administration which is that everything is politics to them. They have no interest in governing. Look at their complaints about this book coming out during an election year. Look at their initial reluctance to extend the 9/11 commision's deadline.
Your position is a rational, economic response to the fact that your career is likely to be more illustrious with continued Republican success. Unfortunately, it requires a certain amount of self-delusion to accomplish.posted by: elliottg on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
hey thomson, was Clarke in the loop or out of the loop?posted by: praktike on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
Second, it's pretty clear that Hadley's "Please update and resubmit" is bureacrat-speak for "the President won't like this."
Really? The explanation that stuck with me (from Hadley?) is that, by the time Clarke submitted his memo saying it was al Qaeda, the CIA had already reached a similar conclusion and submitted a simlar analysis.
Hadley claimed that "update and resubmit" meant, if new evidence turns up, let us know; otherwise, a memo saying it is only al Qaeda simply duplicates our current thought process.
And, if memory serves, the next step was action against Afghanistan, not Iraq - if the President was unwilling to accept al Qaeda as the culprit, why did that happen?
I'm sure Clarke was disappointed that his was not the only voice in the process, but this story strikes me as far from conclusive.posted by: Tom Maguire on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
David Thompson writes: "who is telling the truth---Condoleezza Rice or Clarke? One of them is lying."
Well, which one is talking under oath, under penalty of law if caught lying? That would be Clarke.
Which one is just running her mouth for the gullible press? Which one refuses to testify under oath, though she will testify in private, not under oath? That would be Condi.
(Condi claims she won't testify because of separation of power issues, but that's clearly bullshit, because she has testified to the commission. She just won't testify in public, under oath. She can't abide that, because she's lying.)
Do you honestly think Condi is more credible?
"Hadley claimed that "update and resubmit" meant, if new evidence turns up, let us know; otherwise, a memo saying it is only al Qaeda simply duplicates our current thought process."
Sorry, that doesn't sound credible. People don't say "update and resubmit" when they mean "keep us notified". The resubmit implies immediacy, not "update if anything turns up".
Anyway, Hadley's known to not be credible. He was the fallguy for the uranium thing.posted by: Jon H on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
Your position is a rational, economic response to the fact that your career is likely to be more illustrious with continued Republican success. Unfortunately, it requires a certain amount of self-delusion to accomplish.
You got'em seeing red Dan. How can someone ignore the millions of $s and prestige Clarke will garner from the anti-Bush crowd while claiming your analysis is self serving?
Can I borrow your Jaguar and summer home in the Hamptons, Dan, for the weekend? You know, the 'bobbles' you've received since a Republican took the White House.posted by: Matthew Ryan on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
Dan's how old? 30. Richard Clarke is in his 60's. Dan has no pension and I don't know about tenure. Clarke has a considerable government pension as well as a successful consulting business. I think that Dan has a lot more reason to be worried about his future than Clarke. I'm sure that this boosts Clarke's net worth somewhat, but not really that much percentage wise; what it really does is boost his stature. If you want to accuse Clarke of something then I think your best line of attack is that he is grandstanding.posted by: elliottg on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
“Do you honestly think Condi is more credible?”
Thank you for so succinctly getting to the nitty-gritty. It truly does come down to whether one believes Condoleezza Rice or Richard Clarke.
“I'm sure that this boosts Clarke's net worth somewhat, but not really that much percentage wise.”
Wow, are you implying that Richard Clarke may already be a millionaire many times over? This book, which is currently number one on Amazon.com, along with the inevitable speaking engagements will probably add at least another million dollars to his bank account. Did you fail your second grade math test?posted by: David Thomson on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
I'm not attacking Clarke. I'm attacking a line of reasoning that doesn't hold up.
Do you really think that Dan Drezner's career is materially enhanced by a Republican President? In a 50-50 country I would think a movement of 1 or 2% of the populace be statistically insignificant to the advancement of one's career if he or she leans left or right. If the country moved 60-40 in one direction or another I'd concede the point, but I don't see anything like that in the near term (barring a Bush implosion where he completely loses the middle).posted by: Matthew Ryan on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
elliotg, at what point are you going to declare victory? When Dan says, "Yes, Mr. g, I am a groveling apologist, and deluded, and I cannot confront the truth, or maybe I know the real truth about the Adminstration and am just a self-interested schemer, or both, who can tell? Who stole my shoes again? Red pills in the morning, blue pills are for nighty-night time. Shut up! Shut UP!!1!"
Heard ya. Learn a new song, or stop singing.posted by: Dylan on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
nah, I don't think Drezner is motivated by money here. That's not fair.
He's just wrong.posted by: praktike on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
“Do you really think that Dan Drezner's career is materially enhanced by a Republican President?”
Dan Drezner’s career has been damaged because of his Republican leanings. The odds of earning tenure decreases significantly if you don’t follow the liberal line. His financial situation would dramatically improve if he didn’t rock the boat. You should read Richard Pipes’ autobiography VIXI. He asked Isaiah Berlin, a fellow professor at Harvard University, what he should do after deciding to vote for Richard Nixon. Pipes was told to go ahead and vote for the Republican candidate---but not to tell anyone.
Richard Pipes wrote his revealing book almost a quarter century after leaving the Reagan administration. This is the honorable thing to do. Amazon.com Sales Rank of his book is at 1,951.posted by: David Thomson on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
"there are some relatively minor inconsistencies in Clarke's testimony"
Relatively minor. Like going from doing a great job on terrorism to totally ignoring it for months. Again, its all an inkblot test. To me I hear Clarke 'characterizing' incidents and peoples reactions in his books and I roll my eyes, because his words about what happened have changed so radically god knows his impressions of the people he worked with have. Bitterness does weird things to your memory. The incident with RIce and OBL just says it all. He recalls assuming from her expression that she's never heard of AQ, meanwhile she had just given a lengthy radio interview on OBL a year before during the election. I'd say the guy either at the time interpretted things in a certain way, or he was writing his book and recollecting things like that. Either way, the facts keep contradicting him. Why should we believe the 'impression' he got off of Hadley, when his 'impression' of Rice was so off. Remember, this is a guy who _wasnt in the loop_, lack of information can certainly make you misunderstand peoples motives, especially if you're pissed off about being pushed aside. Inkblot test, in my opinion there is ample reason to question the mans... I guess objectivity is the word.posted by: Mark Buehner on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
I would think a movement of 1 or 2% of the populace be statistically insignificant to the advancement of one's career if he or she leans left or right.
2% of the voting age population is about 3.5 million people. How many books did Lying Al Franken sell? -and who just got a national radio gig...?posted by: Scott on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
Hey, this is great! Watch Bush apologists tie themselves in semantic knots while Clarke kicks the crap out of them. Could you guys just hold off for one minute while I get some popcorn? I'll be right back.posted by: mike on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
Oh Lord, that's funny, mike! ha ha ha aha *cough* hee hee *splutter*. Next time, go pull the fire alarm to amuse yourself. It's on the wall right next to the principal's office.posted by: Dylan on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
I wasn't kidding.posted by: mike on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
So, the guy who wrote the Time article found the big discrepancey in Clarke's account: According to the book Bush isn't wagging his finger at Clarke.
Big deal. Is this the best the Republicans can do?
As for Dan I do buy and I want to buy the argument that he censors himself by thinking about his career. It happens to good people and it's part of the game. If you want to become something in the future, you don't trash the people you will serve for. And I do like Dan and I agree with his moderate libertarian leanings.
But I rather think that he's the Colin Powell of bloggers, understanding of what's happening, yet unable to speak, instead of believing that he has any faith in this intellectually and morally bankrupt administration.posted by: Nick Kaufman on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
I just finished reading Clarke's testimony at the 9/11 comission. He seemed very fair and factual in his accounts. I would like to ask a question of everyone here. How often in day to day life at work do you see people put a better face on things than they may believe or may be the reality? I have had plenty of bosses that had to tow the company line that hours woulod improve with this new program, that restructuring is good of the company etc. Clarke's statements in 2002 seem to be him doing his job as politicians do. To me if he had been more fervent in his attaks on the administration in the hearings instead of being even handed, if he had not made the distinction that most of what his book deals with is the Iraqi war being in his opinion a large distraction from the war on terror, I would doubt his credibility. In reading everything he has said he seems very evenhanded. I haven't read the book yet so this is as far as I will go.
Dan is not a GROVELING apologist. He is interesting to read and often makes good points. His overall worldview is distorted to a point where some of his contortions must be starting to get uncomfortable.
1. I'm sure that Clarke's 30 years of service ending with 10 years in the SES qualifies him for a pension in excess of 100k per year.
2. His consulting company probably nets him somewhere between 200-500k per year.
3. The book may make 5-10 million dollars for him, but he also put at risk certain consulting assignments he would have received and BOD appointments where he could have leveraged his former position. I would guess the effect on speaking and appearance fees is a wash (fewew opportunities, but higher pay per). I imagine that the overall net effect is positive for Clarke, but it's not all one direction. Even without the book, he was set for life.posted by: elliottg on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
kat, here's a question for you: Have you ever worked at a job where the security of the united states was you primary responsibility? If you did, and you thought your boss was totally and absolutely screwing things up to the point of negligence, would you then spend the next 3 years saying how great he was doind, up to and including sending an email to his NSA detailing how worried you were that people wouldnt know how hard the president was working on security? Would you go in front of the 911 commission behind closed doors, the people trying like *&^# to make sure it never happened again, and tell _them_ how good a job Bush did? Would you then retire (with a congradualatory letter to Bush about his leadership of course) and start writing a book, meanwhile the country is going through the most important foriegn policy debate in a generation and you have information _directly and _crucially_ tied to that decision, but you remain silent. Until your book is published. The day before you go to your public hearing?
I would think a movement of 1 or 2% of the populace be statistically insignificant to the advancement of one's career if he or she leans left or right.
2% of the voting age population is about 3.5 million people. How many books did Lying Al Franken sell? -and who just got a national radio gig...?
If 2% of the voting public is 3.5 million than 5% is 8.75 million aka Nader's Army.posted by: Matthew Ryan on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
In reading his testimony he stated that he felt the Bush admin was trying to do the right things, he wanted to get the cyberterrorism thing going and he felt he still could make an impact. However as he and the questioners stated, the five fold increase was not approbraited and several other things took months and didn't happen until after 9/11 and they were things he felt should have happened sooner.
Look, after 30 years and 4 administrations he had probably learned a bit of patience and was willing to give Bush a chance. It seems he feels more that Iraq was the wrong choice and allow he is critical about the way Bush handled AQ he is very open with criticizing Clinton and the bureaucracy then as well.
I am just not willing to jump on the bandwagon that he is just doing all of this because he is bitter. That seems a bit childish. I have read of several other diplomats etc. retiring because of the Bush admins take on intel and foreign affairs so it is not as if Clarke is the first who said critical things of Bush. If he was that upset at Bush it would show more in his testimony then it did. I think he is trying to do what he feels is right.
Above all to me, the fact that he apologized to the families shows more about his credibility than anything else. A man willing to admit that he failed is not a man who is bitter at others for not doing their job. He is willing to accept his part in the tragedy. Anyone hear that from anyone else? I am sure however, that some will say he just did that to make himself look good.posted by: Kat on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
Let me put it this, no I have never had a job like that. Let's look at it in this context though, would condemning the President right after 9/11 and during the Afghanistan war have helped national security? Perhaps he felt that it was better for the country at the time that he said nothing since the President was attacking Afghanistan, where we know AQ was.In his view perhaps he feels that Iraq and the ongoing war will make things worse and he feels that because he is one of the few people who knows the history of terrorism over the last 30 years he has the neccessary knowledge and experience to contend with the Bush admin choice of attacking Iraq and possible repercussions. Is it possible we can look past career growth, monetary benefits and personal animosity to see what his real reasons are?posted by: Kat on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
Look, that the point of what Bush says in the Oval Office, is lesser or greater, depending on whether Clarke is speaking or his book, is pretty minor. Remember, the book had to go through and be vetted by the White House. You think he was allowed to keep everything in?
I see the Bush apologists here "sniping at the edges", while not addressing the real issues.
1. There has been no factual repudiation of what Clarke has said. Just again, these sniping at the edges.
I think we have enough EVIDENCE, to say that before 9/11, terrorism was NOT one of the highest priorities of the White House.
I can understand this to a degree - a new administration, getting its ground, etc, etc. Still, to ignore all the "chatter" in August, I DO fault the Bush administration for.
You could be on one side or the other, of whether Iraq was "part" or not of the war on terrorism. But some arguments are verifiable (factual, empirical), and some arguments are not.
1. We have to encourage democracy in a Middle East country, and the way to do this is to CREATE a Middle East democracy, by invading it. Let's invade a country that is run by a monster, to make it better for the people IN Iraq, and give an example of democracy. (UNVERIFIABLE)
No, invading Iraq is NOT part of the war on terrorism.
1. Iraq was FAR DOWN the list of those countries that have actual terrorists ties - behind Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Sudan. (VERIFIABLE)
Now, the arguments for going to war are unverfiable, although this doesn't mean they might not be true. I don't "know". Will democracy bloom? Or will middle east rage ensue, creating a million new Bin Ladens? If you SAY you know, either way, you are a hack or a liar.
But all the verifiable evidence is on the side of NOT INVADING IRAQ. And the pushing and pushing of false and misleading arguments FOR invading Iraq, simply DESTROYS THEIR CREDIBILITY.posted by: JC on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
One more thing. I think the problem with this administration is it keeps choosing ideology, rather than empiricism, on many things - when it simply is not playing politics. This has been true economically, by going from a national surplus to a HUGE national deficit, and is now true on a foreign policy front, where the administration belittled FACTS because they are acting out of an "unverifable" ideology.
Go read Julia Turner in Slateposted by: TexasToast on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
Yes, Dan is a great guy but he just can't see through the false consciousness that we enlightened progressive can see through.
Okay, sorry for the sarcasm but it's getting a little bit much from our friends on the left.
Question for our Democratic Bush critics, if I may:
(1) Critics have argued that Bush is a unilateralist cowboy willing to bomb at the drop of a hat. He's got a quick trigger and is unwilling (or incapable) of using the international community and its norms to go along with his actions.
(2) Now critics are joining with Clarke (at least this version of Mr. Clarke and not last year's edition) that Bush was NOT sufficiently aggressive in going after our enemies pre 9/11. He did not pursue these threats but, instead, was ignoring the problem or, at least, putting it on the back burner.
In scenario (2) above, the malevolent neocon hawks, who wish to use any rationale, real or imagined, to impose American hegemony upon the world, were asleep, letting OBL and al-Qaeda assemble their forces.
Okay, question: Is it being a "Bush apologist" to ask how the two above propositions can be reconciled?posted by: SteveMG on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
Yes. This has been short answers to long, seemingly complex questions meant to imply that there is a contradiction where there is none. Apologist presents two unrelated scenarios, one of which shows that Bush is unthinking and reactive. The other one shows that he is doesn't know what's important. Then the apologist tries to argue that only a fool or unelightened progressive can't see the contradiction in these two.posted by: elliottg on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
While I too doubt that Clarke is acting out of greed, I don't think I'm quite ready to sign on to Elliott's assumption that once someone's income gets up into the $300-600K range he can't be motivated by the desire to make even more.posted by: Paul Zrimsek on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
Kat, even if that were the case (which doesnt make a lot of sense to me, considering the level of opposition he has for the Iraq policy. I mean he thought and thinks its a total disaster, he was retired last winter, why not put your .02$ in?), lets assume for a moment that that was his motivation. What has changed? Are we not still hip deep in Iraq, fighting an ongoing war on terror that for instance just claimed 200 lives of a close ally? If Clarke is so sensitive to the stability of the country, what has changed that today he decides to put aside 4 years worth of charade? Aside from a book coming out, I see nothing.posted by: mark Buehner on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
"1. Iraq was FAR DOWN the list of those countries that have actual terrorists ties - behind Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Sudan. (VERIFIABLE)"
You're already wrong so I'll stop here. Iraq was one of the primary funders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.posted by: Mark Buehner on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
"Do you honestly think Condi is more credible?"
Considering that it's now established that Clarke assassinated her character by asserting she was less than knowledgable about al Qaeda, when she was speaking at length about the Osama threat in 2000, clearly Condi's the more credible one here.posted by: HH on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
And a book takes a little while to write--and to vet.
Also, if he'd simply come out and starting talking without a book, without evidence, without a clean story line or specific arguments, what do you imagine the White House would have been saying about him then?
If I were in his shoes, it would take me at least half a year simply to screw up my courage to face this kind of attack.
"Iran was a much more important funder of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. "
No, Iran is the primary funder of Hezbollah.
"Also, if he'd simply come out and starting talking without a book, without evidence, without a clean story line or specific arguments, what do you imagine the White House would have been saying about him then"
By god your right, now that I think about it I can only rememeber hearing published authors giving their insights into the Iraq decision. They had to quote passages to get on CNN and FOx. No wait, I dont rememeber anything like that, more like about a hundred different pundits, analysts, former administration types all throwing their takes at every form of media known to man. I do remember that.
"If I were in his shoes, it would take me at least half a year simply to screw up my courage to face this kind of attack."
Tell that to the 500+ soldiers. And whats so different now? His courage is properly screwed up?
The conversation between Clarke and Bush that's being described in the Time article is the same one Stephen Hadley denied ever occurred on the Clarke 60 minutes interview- even when Lesley Stahl pointed out there was another eyewitnesse she had corroborated this with.
So, remind me who has the credibility problem again- Clarke or administration critics?posted by: eponymous coward on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
Clarke. At least according to the 911 committee.posted by: Mark buehner on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
Mark Buehner writes: "Clarke. At least according to the 911 committee."
You mean the Republican flacks on the committee.
Like Jim Thompson, who fled the room like a little boy after Clarke smacked his silly ass down.posted by: Jon H on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
Well when you characterize things like that I know you must be a serious policy wonk. You cant see my eyes rolling right now. Ive never heard of Jim Thompson called a republican flack before, thats for sure. What office is he looking for, whats his motivation? Oh, thats right, hes retired.
"Lehman said that when he started to read press accounts of Clarke’s book, “I said to myself, this can’t be the same Dick Clarke that testified before us, because all of the promotional material and all of the spin in the networks was that this is a roundly devastating attack - this book - on President Bush.
“That’s not what I heard in the [private Commission] interviews.
“And I hope you’re going to tell me, as you apologize to all the families for all of us who were involved in national security, that this tremendous difference - and not just in nuance but in the stories you choose to tell - is really the result of your editors and your promoters rather than your studied judgment.”
Lehman then blasted:
[Your book] is so different from the whole thrust of your testimony to us. And similarly, when you add to it, the inconsistencies between what your promoters are putting out and what you yourself said as late as [last] August 5, you’ve got a real credibility problem.”
“Because of my real, genuine, longtime admiration for you, I hope you’ll resolve that credibility problem because I’d hate to see you become totally shoved to one side during the presidential campaign as an active partisan selling a book."posted by: Mark Buehner on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
Good try, but Clarke wiped the floor with this one. Even Dan Drezner here can see the point. What you say when you are working for the administration, is that you have a JOB. You support the administration, and give the best presentation possible, without lying. Every single spokesman in government does this. As Richard Clarke said, "This isn't about morality, this is about politics." And then had all the 9/11 families CLAPPING him for about 30 seconds.
That quieted down Lehman, and quickly too.
And again, notice the "side issue" - of, "you are trying to sell a book, so your views are discredited".
Or for Rand Beers, "you are an advisor to John Kerry, so your views are discredited."
Or, for Joe Wilson, "you are a democrat, so your views are discredited".
Or for Paul O'Niell, "you are a bitter man, who was let go, so your views are discredited".
When you start to admit some truth, some validity, to an opposing point of view, let me know.
JCposted by: JC on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
Clarke's descriptions of the same events have clearly become more exaggerated as time goes on. This is especially true of his media appearances, i.e., he loves his 15 minutes of fame to the point where he says things he wouldn't write given time to reflect.
But IMO he has gone over the line past arguable truthfullness at least several times.
This would be just politics and media whoring save for the fact that the NSC staff is supposed to avoid those in the interests of national security.
Clarke's chief legacy will be to cause future administrations to terminate NSC staff holdovers from past administrations, especially when there is a change of parties.
The effect of that will be bad. As an example, Clarke himself played a important subdiary role in the hunt for Columbian narcotics king Pablo Escobar. The Colombian police were closing in on Escobar when it was proposed to can the chief investigator for contacts with nasty but critically useful people.
A U.S. govt. liason (DEA or military - I forget which) guy on the spot called Clarke (then an NSC staffer) - because he knew Clarke - and advised him that firing of the chief Columbian investigator would ruin the hunt for Escobar. This was a classic "back-channel" message by a field operative to higher-ups to head off an impending disaster.
Clarke told appropriate people who quashed the threat to the Columbian police investigator. This is described in Mark Bowden's Hunting Pablo.
If turnover in NSC staff is increased, particularly when administrations change, the opportunity for field operatives to send back-channel messages to higher-ups like this will be significantly impaired.
This will not be a good thing, but it will happen due to Clarke's ego and lack of professionalism.posted by: Tom Holsinger on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
And again, notice the "side issue" - of, "you are trying to sell a book, so your views are discredited".Or for Rand Beers, "you are an advisor to John Kerry, so your views are discredited."Or, for Joe Wilson, "you are a democrat, so your views are discredited".Or for Paul O'Niell, "you are a bitter man, who was let go, so your views are discredited". When you start to admit some truth, some validity, to an opposing point of view, let me know.
Ah. So, you don't discount Bush's defenders because they're (gasp!) Not Democrats?posted by: Bithead on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
Re: Clarke's ego -
I'm sure that Clarke has an "ego" - who doesn't. You don't get to be a hard driving security hack without it. Again, quite the side issue to his subtantive arguments.
Also, his "lack of professionalim". I can't speak with sureness here, because what do I know. But it seems like, 30 years of professional service cannot be discounted. Also, if you start reading the articles (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uselections2004/comment/story/0,14259,1178658,00.html) it really does look as if he decided to be the point man, for a LOT of very unhappy counterterroism people. Again, if his premise is correct (these people have really messed up the war on terrorism) then what he has done is a very courageous thing.
Your point is probably right regarding turnover however - but again, this is a side issue to what Clarke is trying to say.
Tom Holsinger writes: "Clarke's chief legacy will be to cause future administrations to terminate NSC staff holdovers from past administrations, especially when there is a change of parties."
What makes you think that?
Paul O'Neill wasn't a holdover, but he still wrote a damaging book.
The problem isn't holding on to professional staffers, the problem is the incompetence and arrogance of the Bushies.
If Clarke had been replaced by Bush, the replacement would still have a story to tell about Bush taking a leisurely approach to fighting terrorism, and loading the process down with bureaucratic meddling.
What many here seem to forget... Clark was appointed by Reagan, kept on my Bush, then by Clinton. He is a Republican appointee. This is a guy who has a long history of committed public service WITHOUT any history of partisan politics over the last 20 years... Can you seriously write without reservation that this is the kind of gentleman who as he sets himself towards retirement would sell himself out for a book deal unless he knew that the information contained within that book was both substantial and undeniable? Of note --- no refutation has been made by any republican regarding the core of his writing... only barbs trying to cast doubt on his character.
When deciding on my "character reference" I plan to choose the one that doesn't have a history of
Do not take reasonable assertions by a well-respected advisor to 4 presidents, 3 of them republicans --- and toss him off as a liberal profiteer.posted by: BLL on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
I would feel better about Clarke's objectivity if (1) he wasn't team teaching a college course with the very man who is Kerry's national security adviser and (2) scheduling his book release to coincide with his 911 Commission testimony. It looks like he is taking sides in the partisan political debate, and accelerating the 911 Commission's movement in that very same direction.posted by: glenlyon on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
You know, Rand Beers also had a long history of non-partisan service for both Democratic and Republican Administrations. (Hey, Joe Wilson had an official commendation from Bush41.) Maybe it's the other way around: maybe these civil servants are so alarmed by the fanatacism and mendacity of the Bush Administration that they start working for its defeat! (The book release date was not Clarke's doing.)
So far, the Administation has backpedalled from its claim that Clarke invented a meeting with Pres. Bush. So far, they've been reduced to saying their chief counterterrorism official was out of the counterterrorism loop. Well, that was Cheney: at the same time other Administration officials were claiming he was in the loop. The Administration was so surprised by Clarke's failure to respect omertà they stopped making any sense (Link and link and link) How do you refute Clarke with statements other members of the Administration (not to mention any sort of objective reality) know are false?posted by: Andrew J. Lazarus on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
He is a man with an ethical agenda. This is the only reason he would place himself at such personal risk. There is nothing in his history to suggest otherwise. You may choose to doubt him if you wish, but do not discount what he says. It meshes only to well with what we already know. --- That Bush and the members of his cabinet started a preemptive war based on erroneous statements.posted by: BLL on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
Joe Wilson's "views" were - like Clarke's - discredited by himself. Wilson's own report didn't match his claims for it.
Likewise, Clarke's details don't match Clarke's own claims for them. We hear about the supposed Bush administration "obsession" with Iraq post-9/11 and what happens? Afghanistan is invaded within weeks.
That Paul O'Neil wrote a whiny book about being pushed out of Treasury because of his own inability to control his mouth does not undercut Tom's very important point about Clarke's irreversible damage to the NSC as an institution.posted by: Robin Roberts on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
"Paul O'Neill wasn't a holdover, but he still wrote a damaging book."
O'Neill, however, infamously did not do much spinning while in office, making Clarke's explanation even more ridiculous. Dan is right about the difference between the two but wrong about who has more credibility.posted by: HH on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
It's clear, to me at least, what's happening, here.
Kerry's Democrats cannot fault Mr. Bush on what he did in response to 9/11 any longer... though they did most certainly make the attempt. So what they're trying to do now is to claim he didn't do enough BEFORE 9/11.
That's the main thrust of the partisan attack leveled by Clarke, et al, and the center of the discussion as regards Condi Rice.
I find this an interesting tactic. More properly, a desperate one.
Think; What Kerry's really doing is providing a tacit admission that Clinton's policy of a 'law enforcement' approach was an abject failure. He's doing this because the main thrust of his argument seems to be that Bush continued to follow Clinton's policy... or, put another way, that Bush didn't move away from Clinton's policy fast enough once taking office.
What's particularly striking about this is that it's Clinton's failed policy that Kerry wants us to return to.
And Clarke? He's been exposed as yet another DNC put up job, and little more.
The reason that Bush went to Iraq instead of Iran, SA, Korea, etc. is because they had a legal opening to do so. The end of Gulf War I was a cease-fire, with conditions for Saddam to meet. He didn't meet them, and he was unlucky enough to have 9/11 happen on GWB's watch. A previous post made the very astute observation that the ones who complain about GWB being a unilaterlist cowboy with an itchy trigger finger, now say he wasn't "pre-emptive" enough with Al Qaeda. I don't see how anyone who is a thinking adult can say that there is no connection between Iraq and the War on Terror. If you cannot make the connection between the War on Terror and Iraq, you should really never offer your insight again into national security.posted by: Chuck on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
Hmmmm. I can think of at least 8 arguments advanced by Mr. Clarke and others that fault ‘the President for his post 9/11 policy in the Middle East n general and in Iraq in particular.
1. The emphasis on State actors. – AQ and other such groups may be a new type of threat capable of war against us without specific state sponsorship.
Since however, you have deemed it important to shut off debate by labeling anyone who might advance such an argument as a “(non)thinking adult” who should refrain from offering any insight into national security or as the purveyor of partisan attacks as there is no other rational reason to question the president’s policies, I guess there is no point in expanding on these arguments or even discussing them. So, I’ll just leave you with this thought to consider – one can learn many things from stupid people or people who might have a different point of view than your own. The biggest fools are the people who only listen to smart people just like themselves.
Humm, to take Texas Toast's points on one by one:
1. The emphasis on State actors. – AQ and other such groups may be a new type of threat capable of war against us without specific state sponsorship.
One of the reasons that AQ is an "new type of threat" is BECAUSE George Bush has make it to dangerious for governments to sponser groups like AQ. Remember 9/11 was planned while AQ HAD the sponsership of a government and it may be impossible or very much harder for AQ to pull off such attacks in the future with out such state sponsership. The attack in Spain was simply not an attack which required the same level of planning and support that 9/11 did dispite the large number of deaths caused. One can only wonder what level of havoc AQ could cause if they were openly sponserd by a state and had the access to such state institutions as state intelligence organizations, engraving and forging through state mints, access to money and credit through state banks, and other offical organizations like state Aviation authorities. Plus, of course the unhindered communications and TIME living in a frendly state provides. One thing Richard Clark and Bill Clintion provided AQ was the TIME to plan 9/11, it was in operation before Bush was elected, so it is hard to see how the main blame for 9/11 should fall on him.
2. Failure to “finish the job” – By attacking Iraq when he did, the president withdrew special forces and other assets from Afghanistan that might have substantially eliminated AQ as a threat and not allowed them time to regroup and resprout in other places
Sigh. What more would you have us do in Afghanistan? In the first place, most people think that Ben Laden is in Pakistan, not Afghanistan, and the Paks are VERY touchy about having American troops on their soil. So it is doubtfull if further American troops in Afghanistan would be that helpfull finding AQ. Second, if the problem is Arabic speakers of the Special forces, perhaps where the 82nd. Airborne should next land is the Middle East Studies Association (close, but most likly not their true name), the association of people who teach about the middle east in United States schools and colleges who have stated that they will not take any money from the government to teach people who will work for the military or the CIA, nor recomend any of their students to such organizations.
Lastly, sometimes you have to walk and chew gum at the same time. Having critized Bush for not stoping AQ from downing the Twin Towers, you can hardly be offended when he decides to stop a possible attack from Iraq with VX. After all EVERYBODY beleved that Iraq had WMD, knew Iraq had had them at one time, and believed that AQ and Iraq could, in the future, team up, if they had not already done so (the thought that AQ would not accept WMD from Iraq because Iraq was "secular" is so stupid as to be belyond belief; after all, AQ did not seem to turn down any money from Saudi Arabia even though Saudi Arabia was AQ's main enemy and reason for being.
3. Potential for stirring the pot – The occupation if Iraq will generate anti-American sentiment throughout the Arab world, creation countless Ben Ladens
You can not base your decisions on nut cases. Surely there must be one or two people who will join AQ because we invaded Iraq, but come on, what ever the reason was the 19 took down the Trade Centers, it was not becuase we invaded Iraq. Let us face it, to a certain percentage of people in the Middle East and elsewhere, the United States, and the West generaly, is the enemy, not because of WHERE we are, but because of WHO we are. That is, they hate us not becuase we are in the Middle East (although perhaps that gives them another reason), but becuase we are not MOSLEM!! Jeez, you don't have to believe me, just read the stuff AQ puts out. One might add here, in passing, that generaly when people of two different cultures like Americans and Iraqs actually meet and get to know each other, both learn to respect each other more; it makes hating the cardboard images in books impossible. And last but not lest, people in the middle east should learn that sending people out to run airplanes into buildings has consequences. Germany had to learn it the hard way (as the rest of the world learned what happened if you ignored such problems and let them get out of hand).
4. Cultural imperialism – Establishing western values and governmental forms in a society that is theologically and culturally alien and expecting to “withdraw” anytime soon
I have to give it to you, this is true. So, tell you what, lets shut down all the schools in the world, after all, that is what they do ALL THE TIME, transfer knowledge and civilization from those who have it to those who don't. Personally, I don't care what form of government Iraq has, I just want them to learn to leave the United States and its citizens ALONE! Then they can live in any style they wish, from palace to pigsty. But if they don't want to be like us, they should not complain that they are not as rich and powerfull as us.
One might note in this regard, that Texas Post here is showing one of the problems of the current liberal world. That is, she/he, is unwilling to admit that the civilization of the United States is simply BETTER than the civilization of Iraq under Saddam Hussein, and that we have a lot to teach the Iraqs. At one time, citizens of the West would feel it their duty to sacrifice to teach "poor and backward" citizens of Iraq how to become more like us, but since a great many in the west don't like the way we are, we don't feel we have anything to teach, so we feel no call to duty or sacrifice. Because each American death therefore means nothing, has no nobility about it, it is no wonder even the relatively few deaths we have had in Iraq is resented. This does not seem to me an "advance" in our civilization, but rather a retreat to a dog eat dog Hobbesan world where life is " solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short."
5. Weakening of international system – the damage to the multilateral system and multilateral institutions like the UN and NATO by unilateral action
What multilateral system???? Kosovo was solved by going in AGAINST the UN, remember? France, the nation who said that there was no way it would ever vote for armed action against Iraq has now shown to have been receiving BILLIONS of dollars in bribes. The UN itself was not only takeing BILLIONS of bribes in the form of its 3% overhead fee to admisister the Iraq "Oil for Food" program, it was knowlingly alowing Saddam Hussein to STEAL THE MILK MONEY OF IRAQI CHILDREN IN THE PROCESS!!! Jeez, what else do you need?
Lets face it, the UN is broken, beyond repair. Not only is it inefficient and corrupt, it is today the center of some of the most virulent, vicious anti-Semitism in the world today. Remember the Meeting on Racism held a couple of years ago in South Africa? How about the fact that for 50 years the UN has allowed the worst type of anti-Semitism to be taugh in schools it pays for in the refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, and the West Bank? You can't weaken what is alread dead, the best thing for us to do is rebuild the "multilateral system" from the ground up, but that will take years, time which we simply do not have. So we must do it the old fashion way, make the "coalition of the willing", save the world, and then, and only then, rebuild the broken multilateral system.
6. Terror elimination vs. terror management – The view that terrorism can be eliminated without fundamentally changing the society that breeds terrorism vs. an idea that we should instead seek to manage an control terrorism as fundamental change is at best a very long term process and at worst a pipe dream.
The problem here is that we don't have any choice. THEY CAME HERE TO BLOW UP OUR BUILDINGS AND KILL OUR CITIZENS. Terror management must come first, changing hearts and minds must come later. I will agree that in the end we must change the way people in the middle east think, but FIRST we must make the changes necessary to begin to accomplish that task. For example, if we do not intervene in Iraq to change the school system to reduce or eliminate the "Madrasa" as the only school available for poor children, we have lost already. Pakistan must see, in Iraq, that they can have a school system that reduces the power of the mullahs, and that if they do, the society, the country, and (maybe most importantly) the politicans will benefit. This could not, and would not have happened under Saddam Hussein.
7. Destabilization of moderate arab regimes – the arab street now HATES us.
What?? They don't hate us already?? What "moderate" arab regime?? Iraq??? Do you read what you write?
8. Saudi Arabia – most of the 911 hijackers were from ???????
So, let me understand this. Don't invade Iraq, a country lead by a man who had WMD at one time, and used them, and who hated our guts, but invade Saudi Arabia, which did not have WMD, and which was our ally. Not a good ally, I admit, but an ally none the less. (Now, if having citizens of countries you are not at war with kill your citizens or fight your armed forces requires you to invade them then we would have had to invade the followng countries (in approximate order of citizens fighting us): China (about a 1,000,000 in the Korean War), The USSR (fighter pilots in the Korean War), The USSR again (supplies and pilots in the Vietnam War), Argentina (Carlos the Jackel), Nicaragua (need it for the plot of "Red Dawn"), Cuba, Iran, Lebanon and others too numerous to mention)). Countries don't go to war that way. If you can make a good argument that Saudi Arabia was more dangerious to us than Iraq, I am willing to listen to it, but, quite frankly, it will take some doing. Even Richard Clark, after 9/11 did not say "Invade Saudi Arabia!!"
By the way, per your point 7, don't you think that invading Saudi Arabria, where not only the most holy sites of the Moslem religion are, but also the largest oil reserves in the world are would kind of inflame the "Arab Street" even MORE than invading Iraq?
posted by: Ralph Volpi on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
If Bush is such a liar about WMD's (which was not the primary or only reason we went to Iraq) why aren't they planting them and suddenly finding them. If GWB is so dishonest why would he not cover up the fact that they weren't really there. Oh, and why was every one else (Kerry, Clinton, Albright, Gore, England, France, Germany, Russia, China..basicallythe entire world) lying about Saddam's WMD's? What did they have to gain from lying about them?posted by: Chuck on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
At tbe end of the day we lost 3,000 lives in third or fourth battle in a war we didn't realize we were in. Everyone in this dispute could have realized this, or moved more aggressively.
Now we look back and the Washington elites (both sides) are trying to point fingers at each other. You are all talking about one meeting in which we are discussing whether one person read the other person's intentions correctly.
I stopped reading about half the way down because you all sound like highly educated 8 year olds trying to decide who should be blamed when the baseball went through the window.posted by: Tim Gannon on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
This thread reeks of the "fake science" put out by the conservative media. What do I mean by fake? In order to qualify as rational, logical thought, there must be some event that could happen that would cast even some small element of doubt onto your baseline assumptions... How can you not look at the evidence and wonder: Was the Bush administration on the ball and was invading Iraq the right thing to do? Everyone supported the war only because we were told that Iraq possessed and was ready to use WMD's against us. Someone was either lying, scheming or incompetently misinformed. Doubt is the proof of honest analysis. If you cannot doubt the Bush administrations course of action in light of the current evidence then you are either a zealot, a fool, or both.posted by: BLL on 03.25.04 at 04:04 PM [permalink]
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