March 23, 2004

Not only did John Ashcroft completely drop terrorism as a priority it wasn't even mentioned in his list of seven "strategic goals" just one day before 9/11 he proposed a reduction in counterterrorism funds.

Credibility? Competence? Character? Yes, the 2004
election is a national referendum on the _resident's
fitness to serve in the office to which is was not
elected in 2000...The Emperor has no uniform...

Paul Krugman, New York Times: Did the Bush
administration ignore terrorism warnings before 9/11?
Justice Department documents obtained by the Center
for American Progress, a liberal think tank, show that
it did. Not only did John Ashcroft completely drop terrorism as a priority it wasn't even mentioned in his list of seven "strategic goals" just one day before 9/11 he proposed a reduction in counterterrorism funds.

Repudiate the 9/11 Cover-Up and the Iraq War Lies,
Show Up for Democracy in 2004: Defeat Bush (again!)


http://www.nytimes.com/2004/03/23/opinion/23KRUG.html?ex=1081029877&ei=1&en=7402f8a2197b54fd

March 23, 2004
Lifting the Shroud
By PAUL KRUGMAN

rom the day it took office, U.S. News & World Report
wrote a few months ago, the Bush administration
"dropped a shroud of secrecy" over the federal
government. After 9/11, the administration's
secretiveness knew no limits Americans, Ari
Fleischer ominously warned, "need to watch what they
say, watch what they do." Patriotic citizens were
supposed to accept the administration's version of
events, not ask awkward questions.

But something remarkable has been happening lately:
more and more insiders are finding the courage to
reveal the truth on issues ranging from mercury
pollution yes, Virginia, polluters do write the
regulations these days, and never mind the science
to the war on terror.

It's important, when you read the inevitable attempts
to impugn the character of the latest whistle-blower,
to realize just how risky it is to reveal awkward
truths about the Bush administration. When Gen. Eric
Shinseki told Congress that postwar Iraq would require
a large occupation force, that was the end of his
military career. When Ambassador Joseph Wilson IV
revealed that the 2003 State of the Union speech
contained information known to be false, someone in
the White House destroyed his wife's career by
revealing that she was a C.I.A. operative. And we now
know that Richard Foster, the Medicare system's chief
actuary, was threatened with dismissal if he revealed
to Congress the likely cost of the administration's
prescription drug plan.

The latest insider to come forth, of course, is
Richard Clarke, George Bush's former counterterrorism
czar and the author of the just-published "Against All
Enemies."

On "60 Minutes" on Sunday, Mr. Clarke said the
previously unsayable: that Mr. Bush, the
self-proclaimed "war president," had "done a terrible
job on the war against terrorism." After a few hours
of shocked silence, the character assassination began.
He "may have had a grudge to bear since he probably
wanted a more prominent position," declared Dick
Cheney, who also says that Mr. Clarke was "out of the
loop." (What loop? Before 9/11, Mr. Clarke was the
administration's top official on counterterrorism.)
It's "more about politics and a book promotion than
about policy," Scott McClellan said.

Of course, Bush officials have to attack Mr. Clarke's
character because there is plenty of independent
evidence confirming the thrust of his charges.

Did the Bush administration ignore terrorism warnings
before 9/11? Justice Department documents obtained by
the Center for American Progress, a liberal think
tank, show that it did. Not only did John Ashcroft
completely drop terrorism as a priority it wasn't
even mentioned in his list of seven "strategic goals"
just one day before 9/11 he proposed a reduction in
counterterrorism funds.

Did the administration neglect counterterrorism even
after 9/11? After 9/11 the F.B.I. requested $1.5
billion for counterterrorism operations, but the White
House slashed this by two-thirds. (Meanwhile, the Bush
campaign has been attacking John Kerry because he once
voted for a small cut in intelligence funds.)

Oh, and the next time terrorists launch an attack on
American soil, they will find their task made much
easier by the administration's strange reluctance,
even after 9/11, to protect potential targets. In
November 2001 a bipartisan delegation urged the
president to spend about $10 billion on top-security
priorities like ports and nuclear sites. But Mr. Bush
flatly refused.

Finally, did some top officials really want to respond
to 9/11 not by going after Al Qaeda, but by attacking
Iraq? Of course they did. "From the very first moments
after Sept. 11," Kenneth Pollack told "Frontline,"
"there was a group of people, both inside and outside
the administration, who believed that the war on
terrorism . . . should target Iraq first." Mr. Clarke
simply adds more detail.

Still, the administration would like you to think that
Mr. Clarke had base motives in writing his book. But
given the hawks' dominance of the best-seller lists
until last fall, it's unlikely that he wrote it for
the money. Given the assumption by most political
pundits, until very recently, that Mr. Bush was
guaranteed re-election, it's unlikely that he wrote it
in the hopes of getting a political job. And given the
Bush administration's penchant for punishing its
critics, he must have known that he was taking a huge
personal risk.

So why did he write it? How about this: Maybe he just
wanted the public to know the truth.


E-mail: krugman@nytimes.com

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Posted by richard at March 23, 2004 08:36 AM