The Corner

“Very Close”

Clarke says he is “very close” to George Tenet. Clarke just refused to ask a bunch of questions from Charlie Rose for fear of getting “George” in trouble, suggesting Tenet would agree with the Clarke version of the world–saintly Clinton holdovers, ready to free the world from al Qaeda, if only the Bush family were not so Saddam-obsessed. This does remind you that, whatever Tenet thinks of the Clarke book–which we’re not about to find out any day soon–Tenet is part of an old thinking (see Lowry’s Legacy, too) who are still running the CIA. Let me refer you to Michael Ledeen, Oct. 1, 2001:

That’s asking a lot. In practice, it’s unreasonable to expect this of a professional civil servant unless it is clear that there’s an unbreakable mandate for the mission. There is only one way to demonstrate that: to remove the people who have failed in the past. Of late, we have begun to hear calls for the resignation of George Tenet, and certainly someone should be held accountable for the colossal intelligence failure that made life easy for the September 11th mass murderers. But it is important that President Bush not single out one or two individuals, and then pretend that a couple of new people can turn the whole thing around. He (or Ridge, on the president’s authority) should ask for the resignations of the whole lot of them, from the (Clinton-appointed) FAA chief to the heads of the various counterterrorist units and the counterintelligence top guys as well. If Louis Freeh were still at FBI, he should go along with the others (hell, he should have gone once the Hanssen treason was discovered).

Yes, it’s bloody, and yes, it runs counter to some of the early themes of compassionate conservatism. Some will urge the president to let these people redeem themselves, a process in which he strongly believes, having experienced it personally. But that is a doctrine for normal times, and he does not have the time to determine who can be redeemed, and who will simply fail again. This is time for the old motto, “kill them all, let God sort ‘em out.”

New times require new people with new standards. The situation requires it. The American people, who have responded magnificently to this horror, richly deserve it. The entire political world will understand it and applaud it. And it will give Tom Ridge a chance to succeed, and us to prevail.

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