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Between the Lines

March 23, 2004

Richard Clarke is a registered Republican

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.

Posted by tbrown at 01:04 PM

Pump watch

OK, gasoline prices have hit an all-time high – and they’re headed nowhere but up. According to a new AAA survey of 60,000 gasoline stations, unleaded regular now sells for an average of $1.738, a bit above the previous high hit last year just before the invasion of Iraq. (Note, however, that in inflation-adjusted terms we’re still nowhere near the 1981 peak, when gasoline cost $2.94 in today’s dollars.)

Everyone likes to blame OPEC for this – especially since they’re planning a one million barrel per day cut in output beginning next month. But there are plenty of other culprits. Me for instance; my car gets about 17 mpg. And let’s not forget our dear friends in the refining business. They have been merging like crazy so there are ever fewer of them and they’re closing older refineries and not building new ones. Further proof that the “invisible hand” of the market doesn’t always have the interests of us commoners at heart.

The outlook this summer is for prices in the $2.50 to $3 per gallon range.

Posted by tbrown at 12:59 PM

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Richard Clarke is a registered Republican
Pump watch


Blogs to watch

Abu Ardvark
Andrew Sullivan
Atrios Eschaton
Best of the Web
Drudge Report
Joe Conason (subscription required)
Josh Marshall
Kaus files
No More Mr. Nice Blog
Real Clear Politics
The Corner
The Volokh Conspiracy
The Whiskey Bar

Mideast blogs

Salam Pax (Iraq)
G. in Baghdad
L.T. Smash (U.S. military in Iraq)
Lady Sun (Iran)

City blogs

L.A. Examiner

Africa blogs

Cathy Buckle

Media blogs

Dan Gillmor's eJournal
Media Whores Online


Newspapers online (guide to papers on the web)
International Herald Tribune
The Guardian U.K.
New York Times (free registration required)

Economy blogs

Brad DeLong

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