The Watch

The Watch is concerned about the increasing pressure towards feudalism in the United States from corporations, social regressives, warmongers, and the media. We also are concerned with future history concerning our current times, as non-truths which are “widely reported” become the basis for completely false narratives.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Bush administration looks broken from the inside, too

Richard Clarke Watch

Breaking radio silence again (spring break this week).

One of the big events of this spring that I've been waiting for is the release of Richard Clarke's book. Clarke worked in anti-terrorism for Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II. He just retired last February after 30 years of public service, and there have been a lot of stories about how Clarke tried, desperately, to turn the Bush administration's attention towards Al Qaeda in the months before 9/11. Much of this was discussed in Sid Blumenthal's book, "The Clinton Wars", where it was revealed that Clarke's large review of Al Qaeda was ignored by Kindalazy Rice, and how Cheney's "terrorism task force" never met, not even once, before 9/11.

Clarke's book is out tomorrow..

He had an interview on 60 Minutes tonight, which you might have seen. I missed it, but I found a description on a weblog:

Richard Clarke's attack on Bush on 60 Minutes was devastating. I hope you caught it. He portrays:

o an administration fixated on Iraq, despite the absence of any evidence that it was involved in terrorism against the United States or connected to al Qaeda;
o cabinet officials who seemed to have been "frozen in amber" and wanting to refight old Cold War battles instead of paying attention to new threats that had arisen since the Bush Sr. administration;
o an administration uninterested in al Qaeda before and to a large extent after 9/11;
o an administration that did not regard terrorism as an urgent issue before 9/11, despite Clarke's January 24, 2001 urgent request for a Cabinet-level meeting, which was ignored;
o an administration that downgraded Clarke's antiterrorism czar position from a cabinet-level position to a staff position;
o a president who irresponsibly failed to react to an extraordinarily high level of intelligence "chatter" indicating that an attack was imminent (as opposed to Clinton, who had placed Cabinet members on "battle stations" in December 1999, requiring daily meetings discussing what each was doing to combat the threat -- the Clinton administration successfully thwarted the terrorist threat at that time, catching an al Qaeda member in a car filled with explosives intended for LAX airport) -- although Clarke didn't mention it, Bush went on vacation the entire month of August 2001;
o an administration that, had it acted, might have been able to stop the 9/11 attacks;
o a secretary of defense who wanted to attack Iraq after 9/11 because it "had better targets" than Afghanistan, even though there was no evidence that Iraq had anything to do with 9/11 (Clarke said this idea was as though FDR had reacted to Pearl Harbor by bombing Mexico);
o a president who asked him to find out if there were links between Iraq and 9/11, in a manner that implied that he wanted Clarke to find them --when Clarke submitted a report (approved by other departments) that said there were no such links, it was returned because that was the "wrong answer";
o even after Clarke persuaded the administration to go to war with Afghanistan, not Iraq, Bush and company regarded a war against Iraq as "Stage Two" irrespective of whatever happened in Afghanistan;
o the Iraq war has nothing to do with a "war on terror" and is creating terrorists -- it feeds into Osama bin Laden's rhetoric, because bin Laden had always said that the U.S. would invade and occupy an oil-rich Arab nation, and Bush went and did just that;
o we have paid and continue to pay a huge price in lives and money for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein;
o money quote, speaking of Bush: "I think he's done a terrible job in the war against terrorism" -- both before and after 9/11. Clarke is outraged, in light of that, that Bush is running on the strength of his response to terrorism."

Here is a summary of his 60 Minutes interview, with highlights.

"Frankly," he said, "I find it outrageous that the president is running for re-election on the grounds that he's done such great things about terrorism. He ignored it. He ignored terrorism for months, when maybe we could have done something to stop 9/11. Maybe. We'll never know."

Clarke went on to say, "I think he's done a terrible job on the war against terrorism."
....
After the president returned to the White House on Sept. 11, he and his top advisers, including Clarke, began holding meetings about how to respond and retaliate. As Clarke writes in his book, he expected the administration to focus its military response on Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. He says he was surprised that the talk quickly turned to Iraq.

"Rumsfeld was saying that we needed to bomb Iraq," Clarke said to Stahl. "And we all said ... no, no. Al-Qaeda is in Afghanistan. We need to bomb Afghanistan. And Rumsfeld said there aren't any good targets in Afghanistan. And there are lots of good targets in Iraq. I said, 'Well, there are lots of good targets in lots of places, but Iraq had nothing to do with it.

"Initially, I thought when he said, 'There aren't enough targets in-- in Afghanistan,' I thought he was joking.

"I think they wanted to believe that there was a connection, but the CIA was sitting there, the FBI was sitting there, I was sitting there saying we've looked at this issue for years. For years we've looked and there's just no connection."
....
Clarke relates, "I began saying, 'We have to deal with bin Laden; we have to deal with al Qaeda.' Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, said, 'No, no, no. We don't have to deal with al Qaeda. Why are we talking about that little guy? We have to talk about Iraqi terrorism against the United States.'

"And I said, 'Paul, there hasn't been any Iraqi terrorism against the United States in eight years!' And I turned to the deputy director of the CIA and said, 'Isn't that right?' And he said, 'Yeah, that's right. There is no Iraqi terrorism against the United States."

Clarke went on to add, "There's absolutely no evidence that Iraq was supporting al Qaeda, ever."
....
"I said, 'Mr. President. We've done this before. We have been looking at this. We looked at it with an open mind. There's no connection.'

"He came back at me and said, "Iraq! Saddam! Find out if there's a connection.' And in a very intimidating way. I mean that we should come back with that answer. We wrote a report."

Clarke continued, "It was a serious look. We got together all the FBI experts, all the CIA experts. We wrote the report. We sent the report out to CIA and found FBI and said, 'Will you sign this report?' They all cleared the report. And we sent it up to the president and it got bounced by the National Security Advisor or Deputy. It got bounced and sent back saying, 'Wrong answer. ... Do it again.'
Here is a short bit of video from the interview:

The accusations are devastating, from a credible, non-partisan source who had the absolute highest access to both the intelligence and the decision-making process. What has become clear is that people who don't trust this administration have, if anything, underestimated the level of incompetence and total neglect for our welfare they have displayed both before and after 9/11. If I were related to a 9/11 victim, or to one of the people killed in Iraq, I would be sick to the center of my soul about this. As it is, I can hardly believe that we haven't run this gang out on a rail yet. There must be Republicans of good faith, who want good things for this country - all I can say is that the GOP has been hijacked by a group of radicals, and for the good of us all, including the Republican party, they must be stopped.

But, in the end, I wonder how much difference it will all make. For the true believers, it wouldn't matter if Bush and Bin Laden were caught planning the next attack together (something is sure to happen before the election - nothing rallies people around this "war president" like an attack). The almost-ghost of St. Reagan himself could come back and warn people about this gang of criminal fools, and the ghost would be smeared as unAmerican.

Look for Clarke to be smeared as a traitor in the weeks to come - that is sadly, tiredly, predictable. But what is clear is that attacking a country that you KNOW is not responsible for 9/11 - that the FBI and CIA have told you repeatedly is not responsible for 9/11 - is a war crime. Impeachment is too good for these evil, horrible men. I want them tried in the Hague. The only person who ever said that Iraq was a threat was Ahmed Chalabi, a con man who has bought himself a position of power in post-war Iraq for the price of providing these imperialists cover (thin though it is) for invading and occupying an oil-rich arab country (something which, as noted above, plays right into Bin Laden's hands). And by the way, Poppy Bush and Dick Cheney's Halliburton just get richer and richer, as our servicepeople die.

This war was the worst, most expensive, blunder in this country's history, and we saw it coming from a mile away. From the war profiteer's point of view, it is "Mission Accomplished". At this point, I'm only hoping that there is some kind of cosmic justice that these black souls will suffer, because if the brainwashed people in this country continue to be bamboozled by the Bush minions in the press, they will get away scot free.

Buy and read Clarke's book. Then give it to a friend. Then vote in November. For the sake of the USA and the world. It's never been more important.

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