The Corner

Clarke & The Commission

Clarke is notgoing to be just a Monday story-for certain. He’ll be the star Wednesday, at the 9/11 commission hearing. Insider guy tells me:

Here’s the story Clarke may be helping the Commission Dems fly:

Even though the Cole bombing happened on Clinton’s

watch (Oct 2000), it was really too late in his term to have reasonably

expected him to do anything about it; therefore the failure to retaliate

against bin Laden (and, as the story goes, to neutralize him so that

9/11 could have been prevented) is Bush’s fault. I think Clarke will be

there to say this, and to tell the Commission — as [he’ll be telling the world on CBS Sunday night]– that

he was Cassandra screaming for something to be done about bin Laden

prior to 9/11 but he couldn’t get the Bush people to listen.

The story is total BS. First, even if there had not been an

unprecedented delay in resolving the 2000 presidential election, the

Cole attack happened almost a month before the ELECTION, not a month

before THE END OF CLINTON’s TERM; he was going to be president for

nearly 3 more months, and if Gore had won it would have essentially been

a continuation of the same administration. If a military response was

called for, it was incumbent on Clinton to respond . . . immediately.

If, as happened, Bush had emerged as the winner, it would have been

entirely appropriate for Clinton to coordinate what he was doing with

Bush and his transition team (just as Bush 41 coordinated what he was

doing in Somalia before Clinton assumed the office in 1993); but that is

not an excuse for not responding. Clinton didn’t do anything — and not

because he was deferring to a new admin, but because he NEVER wanted to

do anything if it meant meaningful military action, and because he was

too busy pardoning Mark Rich and the Weather Underground to be bothered

with bin Laden.

By the time the Bush got in, it was 3 mos after the Cole, and it

took another 1 to 8 mos to get the major players of his admin confirmed

and in place. Further, it makes no sense to look at the Cole attack in

isolation — it was part of a pattern of attacks by a growing entity;

that situation did not call for a specific retaliation for Cole but for

an entire rethinking about al Qaeda. Regardless of what Clarke says,

that precisely is what was done: a new counterterrorism policy was developed — shifting from containment to

eradication of al Qaeda and its sanctuaries — and drafts were

circulated at the cabinet level in June and the first week of September

2001 (the latter is virtually the same as the directive GWB signed after

the 9/11 attacks). Of course 9/11 happened despite all this, but that hardly means intense rethinking and

planning was not underway beforehand — rethinking and planning that had

lots to do with the spectacularly swift and decisive military campaigns

post-9/11. And Clarke is certifiably insane if he thinks Bush could

have garnered public support or put together a coalition BEFORE the 9/11

attacks. To do what we did required key help from countries (like

Pakistan) who would not have given us that help absent the 9/11

attacks. (Think about this: We’ve seen the various objections to the

military operation against Iraq — and that was AFTER 9/11 and involved

a country in open defiance of UN resolutions satisfaction of which were

the condition for ending the first Gulf War; what do you figure the

Dems, the NYT, CBS, etc. have said if Bush had decided to invade

Afghanistan BEFORE 9/11?)


The Latest