March 23, 2004

... But between the two obsessions, Saddam Hussein or Osama bin Laden, we'd say that Clinton, with Clarke's advice, made the right choice.

Yes, the LNS has focused on the Richard Clarke story
almost exclusively for several days. Well, this few
days is pivotal in our history. We may not, if we fail
here, get this opportunity again...Therefore, we are
documenting it as best we can with "profiles in
courage" that underscore Clarke's powerful message...

Minneapolis Star Tribune Editorial: Rice would have
Americans believe the Bush administration came into
office eager to confront terrorism and willing to
spend what was necessary to do that. The record,
however, says otherwise -- in budgets, in priorities,
in the well corroborated obsession the administration
had with attacking Saddam Hussein. As it came into office, the Bush administration's take on President Bill Clinton was that he had been too obsessed with Osama bin Laden. The Bush team didn't intend to do that. But between the two obsessions, Saddam Hussein or Osama bin Laden, we'd say that Clinton, with Clarke's advice, made the right choice.

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

http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0323-06.htm

Published on Tuesday, March 23, 2004 by the
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Richard Clarke: His Case is Deep, Compelling
Editorial

Americans are going to be seeing a lot of Richard
Clarke in coming days. He's the former White House
counterterrorism chief whose new book, "Against All
Enemies," criticizes the Bush administration for
ignoring the threat from Al-Qaida before Sept. 11,
2001, and focusing almost immediately after on
attacking Iraq. The body of evidence Clarke marshals
to make his case is deep and compelling. That probably
is why the White House already has ginned up its
efforts to discredit both Clarke and his thesis. Whom
to believe? There are many good reasons to believe
Clarke.

Responding to Clarke's interview on "60 Minutes"
Sunday night, White House spokesman Dan Bartlett
dismissed Clarke's charges as a "red herring,"
something designed to draw attention from the real
issue. But no issue is more "real" than what this
administration did both before and after 9/11. That's
the issue being studied right now by a bipartisan
congressional commission, in front of which Clarke
will testify this week.

Bartlett then loosed a red herring of his own: He said
that Clarke is motivated by politics. "He has chosen
at this critical time, in the middle of a presidential
campaign, to inject himself into the political
debate." Well, yes. Clarke left government a year ago;
that seems a reasonable gestation period for a
detailed nonfiction work on an issue of such
importance. Is Bartlett suggesting the information
Clarke provides should have been withheld from the
American people until safely after the election?

A few facts about Clarke: He's a Republican. He served
30 years in government; for 10 years, under three
Republican presidents and one Democrat, he served in
the White House as one of the nation's most senior
national security advisers. Clarke is not a dove. He
believes in an assertive foreign policy and a vigorous
projection of U.S. military power, which should make
him a natural ally of Vice President Dick Cheney,
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul
Wolfowitz. Indeed, while serving as an assistant
secretary of state in the early 1990s, he worked with
Cheney and Wolfowitz to assemble the coalition that
pushed Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait. He argued, with
Wolfowitz, that the war ought to be prolonged until
the Iraqi Republican Guard was destroyed. Finally,
what Clarke has to say about the current Bush
administration's obsession from the start with Iraq is
corroborated by former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill
in his memoir, "The Price of Loyalty."

As for the substance of Clarke's thesis, National
Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice lays out the basics
in the page opposite. Rice's credibility already has
been substantially damaged by her misstatements and
deceptions concerning the intelligence used to justify
the war in Iraq. She makes too many assertions in this
column to discuss, but consider one for which
independent verification is available:

Rice writes, "We committed more funding to
counterterrorism and intelligence efforts." The
descriptor "more" is deliciously subjective. Funding
for counterterrorism had increased tenfold during the
Clinton years, although a great deal more was sought.
The additional funds were rejected by the
GOP-controlled Congress, as former FBI Director Louis
Freeh testified in October 2002.

In a memo from 2000, Attorney General Janet Reno
identified counterterrorism as her department's top
priority. Both before and immediately after Sept. 11,
Attorney General John Ashcroft and the White House
downplayed the significance of terrorism. Prior to
Sept. 11, the issue disappeared entirely from the list
of Department of Justice priorities. Moreover, on
Sept. 10, 2001, Ashcroft proposed cutting $65 million
for counterterrorism grants to state and local
governments because applications for the funds were
lagging. Immediately after Sept. 11, the FBI requested
an emergency appropriation of $1.5 billion for
counterterrorism. The White House allowed only $531
million, a third of what the FBI said it needed.

Rice would have Americans believe the Bush
administration came into office eager to confront
terrorism and willing to spend what was necessary to
do that. The record, however, says otherwise -- in
budgets, in priorities, in the well corroborated
obsession the administration had with attacking Saddam
Hussein. As it came into office, the Bush
administration's take on President Bill Clinton was
that he had been too obsessed with Osama bin Laden.
The Bush team didn't intend to do that. But between
the two obsessions, Saddam Hussein or Osama bin Laden,
we'd say that Clinton, with Clarke's advice, made the
right choice.

Copyright 2004 Star Tribune

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Posted by richard at March 23, 2004 02:09 PM