Setting the Record Straight
The New York Post has an excellent editorial.
It comes after their meeting yesterday with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Excepts on the subject of Richard Clarke (pictured)...
CONDI VS. BUBBA . .
Clarke told the commission a very different story during hours of private testimony behind closed doors - one that jibed with a 2002 background briefing he gave to reporters.
Back then, he said: "There was no plan on al Qaeda that was passed from the Clinton administration to the Bush administration. . . . [a] plan, strategy - there was no, nothing new."
Indeed, Clarke said, the Bush team in 2001 "changed the [Clinton] strategy from one of rollback [of] al Qaeda over five years to a new strategy that called for the rapid elimination of al Qaeda. That is in fact the timeline."
Bush, he added, took action on several "issues that had been on the table for a couple of years," such as instituting a new policy in Pakistan that convinced Islamabad "to break away from the Taliban" and boosting "CIA resources . . . for covert action five-fold to go after al Qaeda."
In fact, a 1999 Clarke after-action memo - the one top Clinton aide Sandy Berger later stole from the National Archives - identified national-security weaknesses so "glaring" that only sheer "luck" prevented a cataclysmic attack back then.
And, as Clarke told the 9/11 Commission publicly, there was nothing the Bush administration could have done that would have prevented the attacks.
Sure, he tells a different story now. But that, he admitted, is because of his opposition to the Iraq war, which he believes distracted from the War on Terror.
Secretary Rice was a lot more honest, explaining yesterday that there was no full-scale War on Terror "the way that we're fighting it now" - by either administration - before 9/11: "We just weren't organized as a country, either domestically or as a leader internationally."
The blame for 9/11 goes back fully 25 years, and includes both Democratic and Republican presidents.
At the same time, the Clinton years were bookended by al Qaeda bombings - the 1993 attack World Trade Center attack, and the October 2000 suicide assault on USS Cole - with plenty of blood spilled in between.
Clinton effectively slept through it all - and now he's trying to rewrite history.
It won't wash.