And not only is he a registered Republican (though he says he thinks of himself as an independent), but one who clearly seems to have been as hawkish as anyone on the Dick Cheney-Donald Rumsfeld-Paul Wolfowitz axis. Keep that in mind as the White House spinball machine tries to reinvent him as a) a Clinton partisan, b) a disgruntled former employee or c) someone who “wasn’t in the loop.”
That last comes from Cheney. This absurd notion is debunked below, but before we get to that, let’s pretend Cheney moved his lips and the truth came out. If Clarke, who was the head of counterterrorism for National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, wasn’t in the loop on that subject, then this administration’s problems were even worse than Clarke says.
And furthermore …
Responding to my post yesterday, blogger Rod McCarvel writes:
Good post about Richard Clarke (and especially the summary of the WSJ article), but a couple of points demand a response:
"First Clarke. He has a book coming out today, so take that into account." This would be a salient point *if* Clarke had anything to do with timing of the release of his book. However, he submitted his manuscript to the White House three months ago (apparently, all former White House employees need to have their manuscripts vetted to assure the secrecy of classified information). Thus, the timing of its release was more a matter of White House control than of Clarke's control. Certainly, the “60 Minutes” interview was timed to coincide with the publication of "Against All Enemies," and it appears to be the case that his publisher *did* move up the publication date by a few weeks to coincide with his testimony before the 911 Commission, but any complaints from the White House about the publication date being chosen to maximize political impact during the campaign season ring false. They could have allowed it to be released much earlier, or assured that it was released later.
"He also was demoted by the Bushies (he had been Clinton’s anti-terror czar) and he gives off distinct vibes of being the kind of guy who really, really wouldn’t like being undercut. Take that into account, too." True, but it is perhaps not quite fair to infer an ulterior motive here. First, bear in mind that Clarke was not a Clinton protege -- he served under Reagan and Bush I, he claims to be a Republican, and he did serve for a substantial time under Bush II (if he was such a worthless hack, why did they retain him?). Also, despite Dick Cheney's whining on the Rush "Hillbilly Heroin" Limbaugh show about how Clarke had been reassigned to cyberterrorism duty, and so was "out of the loop," that reassignment occurred well *after* 911. During all relevant times, he was The Man with respect to counterterrorism.
Another point which deserves some attention -- Scott McClellan claims that the conversation between Clarke and the "president," which Clarke maintains occurred in the Situation Room on 9/12/01, could not have happened because Bush was never *in* the Situation Room on 9/12. Never mind that there are independent witnesses to the conversation (between 2 and 4 witnesses, according to different versions of the story); let's take McClellan at his word and assume that the "president" wasn't there on that day. Okay, then -- where was he? I mean after all, there was a "situation" underway, was there not? …
All good points.
At Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall takes note of the administration’s attempt to demonstrate Clarke’s supposed Clintonista partisanship by pointing to his friendship with Rand Beers, another career bureaucrat (though a Democrat), who also worked for both Clinton and Bush and who also resigned a year or so ago.
“When you look at it, Beers' and Clarke's stories sound quite similar,” Marshall says.
“And the pattern suggests two possible theories.
“The first is that President Bush has the odd misfortune of repeatedly hiring Democratic party stooges for key counter-terrorism assignments who stab him in the back as soon as they leave his employ.
“The second is that anyone the president hires in a key counter-terrorism role who is not either a hidebound ideologue or a Bush loyalist gets so disgusted with the mismanagement and/or dishonesty that they eventually quit and then devote themselves to driving the president from office.
“Which sounds more likely?”
Read it all here.