April 08, 2004

Since the Sept. 11 attacks, the Bush administration has faced a steady exodus of counterterrorism officials, many disappointed by a preoccupation with Iraq they said undermined the U.S. fight against terrorism...

It is not just Richard Clark (R-Reality)...

Caroline Drees, Reuters: Since the Sept. 11 attacks, the Bush administration has faced a steady exodus of counterterrorism officials, many disappointed by a preoccupation with Iraq they said undermined the U.S. fight against terrorism...Former counterterrorism officials said at least half a dozen have left the White House Office for Combating Terrorism or related agencies in frustration in the 2 1/2 years since the attacks.

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

http://www.forbes.com/iraq/newswire/2004/04/07/rtr1326389.html



U.S. terrorism policy spawns steady staff exodus
Reuters, 04.07.04, 3:52 PM ET

By Caroline Drees, Security Correspondent

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Since the Sept. 11 attacks, the
Bush administration has faced a steady exodus of
counterterrorism officials, many disappointed by a
preoccupation with Iraq they said undermined the U.S.
fight against terrorism.

Former counterterrorism officials said at least half a
dozen have left the White House Office for Combating
Terrorism or related agencies in frustration in the 2
1/2 years since the attacks.

Some also left because they felt President Bush had
sidelined his counterterrorism experts and paid almost
exclusive heed to the vice president, the defense
secretary and other Cabinet members in planning the
"war on terror," former counterterrorism officials
said.

"I'm kind of hoping for regime change," one official
who quit told Reuters.

The administration's handling of the battle against
terrorism is a key issue for the presidency, and could
be key to Bush's re-election effort.

Similar charges were made by Bush's former
counterterrorism czar, Richard Clarke, who told the
independent commission investigating the Sept. 11,
2001, attacks that the administration ignored the al
Qaeda threat beforehand and was fixated on Iraq
afterward. National security adviser Condoleezza Rice
testifies before the 9/11 panel Thursday.

"Iraq has been a distraction from the whole
counterterrorism effort," said the former official,
adding the policy had frustrated many in the White
House anti-terrorism office, about two-thids of whom
have left and been replaced since Sept. 11.

The administration vehemently denies the accusations,
and says it is making strong progress in the global
war on terror.

HIGH TURNOVER

Roger Cressey, who served under Clarke in the White
House counterterrorism office, said: "Dick accurately
reflects the frustration of many in the
counterterrorism community in getting the new
administration to take the al Qaeda issue seriously."

Cressey left the office in November 2001, when he
became chief of staff of the White House's
cybersecurity office until September 2002.

The attrition among all levels of the Office for
Combating Terrorism began shortly after the attacks
and continued into this year. At least eight officials
in the office -- which numbers a dozen people -- have
left and been replaced since 9/11. Several of the
officials were contacted by Reuters.

The office has been run by four different people since
the attacks, and at least three have held the No. 2
slot.

"There has been excessively high turnover in the
Office for Combating Terrorism," said Flynt Leverett,
who served on the White House National Security
Council for about a year until March 2003 and is now a
fellow at the Brookings Institution think tank.

"If you take the (White House) counterterrorism and
Middle East offices, you've got about a dozen people
... who came to this administration wanting to work on
these important issues and left after a year or often
less because they just don't think that this
administration is dealing seriously with the issues
that matter," he said.

Rand Beers, a former No. 2 in the office who quit last
year over the administration's handling of the war on
terrorism, told Reuters the turnover had been
"unusually high" since the hijacked airliner attacks
in New York and Washington.

"And one of the reasons is frustration with the way
counterterrorism policy has been conducted, including
the focus on Iraq," said Beers, who now serves as a
foreign policy adviser for Democratic presidential
candidate John Kerry, who hopes to unseat Bush in
November.

The White House denied there had been unusually high
turnover, saying staff tended to be on limited
assignments from other federal agencies. A senior
administration official said it was "absolutely
untrue" Iraq was diverting attention from overall
counterterrorism efforts.

Another official said it was wrong to link all the
numerous departures to policy concerns over Iraq.

Several current and former officials said burn out
from job stress also contributed to high turnover in
the office, as did frustration among some staff about
the limits of their influence over policymaking in
general. Many National Security Council staffers only
stay 18 months to two years.

One current counterterrorism official said while the
Iraq campaign had been a "huge resource drain," this
held true for all major events that compete for scarce
resources.

"There's a problem of too few counterterrorism
staffers to begin with ... and with the focus on any
big issue like Iraq, it is a distraction from the
overall counterterrorism effort," the official said.

Copyright 2004, Reuters News Service

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Posted by richard at April 8, 2004 08:54 PM