Former White House counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke is sidestepping questions about reports he is in negotiations for a movie based on his new anti-Bush book, Against All Enemies.
Clarke appeared on MSNBC’s Hardball Wednesday night and faced repeated queries on the subject from host Chris Matthews.
“Is there going to be a movie based on your life?” Matthews asked.
“I certainly hope not,” Clarke said.
“Have you heard anything about it?” Matthews asked again. “Talked to anybody about it?”
“I’ve read in the press–”
“No conversations with agents or anything so far?”
“My agents may be having conversations,” Clarke said.
“You don’t know, though?”
“I haven’t approved any movie,” Clarke said.
Clarke then tried to change the subject, but Matthews stuck to the movie issue. “Is there any discussion with HBO or anybody else in terms of making a TV movie about your experiences?” Matthews asked. “Any discussions at all that you know about?”
“I think I just answered that question,” Clarke said. “My agents may be talking to people–”
“And you have authorized them to do so?”
“I haven’t authorized any movie yet.”
“Any movie discussion?”
“I haven’t authorized anything,” Clarke said. “But I will say this. If there is a movie, revenues, substantial revenues from any movie, just as substantial revenues from this book, are going to charities related to Iraq, to Afghanistan, and to the victims of 9/11.”
On the program, Clarke also addressed the issue of a new ad by the left-wing activist group MoveOn.org, featuring Clarke’s criticisms of the president’s handling of the terrorist threat. Late Tuesday, MoveOn began airing a commercial which said the president “shamelessly exploited 9/11 in his campaign commercials” and then played a recording of Clarke saying, in a recent interview with CBS’s 60 Minutes, that, “I find it outrageous that the president is running for reelection on the grounds that he’s done such great things about terrorism. He ignored terrorism for months when maybe we could have done something to stop 9/11.”
In a brief conversation with National Review Online shortly before noon Wednesday, Clarke said he did not know about the ad. On Hardball, he said, “I woke up this morning, turned on the TV, and I heard my own voice on a TV ad, and I never approved my voice being used on a TV ad, and I don’t much care for it.”
Also on Wednesday, Clarke told the Associated Press, “I don’t want to be part of what looks like a political TV ad. I’m trying hard to make this not a partisan thing but a discussion of how we stop terrorism from happening in the future.”
Nevertheless, MoveOn, the militantly anti-Bush group whose ad competition once attracted entrants which compared the president to Adolf Hitler, found an appealing message in Clarke’s book and recent statements. A MoveOn spokesman says the group will continue to use Clarke’s message and even plans a second ad featuring Clarke.
“Given the many striking revelations that Mr. Clarke has made about the Bush administration’s use of intelligence and the incredibly strong response from our members, we are planning a second ad to fall on this one’s heels,” said MoveOn official Eli Pariser in a statement released Wednesday.
Pariser said MoveOn is using Clarke’s message to strike at the president’s strongest spot, his handling of the war on terrorism. Polls routinely show Bush with a two-to-one lead over Democratic challenger John Kerry on the issue of who would best conduct the war on terrorism. “With millions of jobs lost and rising healthcare costs, the only thing this administration has left to run on is its supposed leadership in combating terrorism,” Pariser said. “This ad strikes at the core of Bush’s case for re-election.”