Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Clinton Tough on Terror: A False Legacy

September 26, 2006

Did Clinton actually leave a “comprehensive strategy to combat Al Qaeda, as was claimed by ex-President B.J. Clinton during his temper tantrum on Foxnews Sunday on September 24, 2006? Richard Clarke, former Counterterrorism czar under both the Clinton and Bush administrations, has asserted he did just that. Secretary of State and former National Security Advisor, Condaleeza Rice says he did not.

Who is right and who is lying?

In August of 2002, on the eve of the first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Time Magazine, under the title of "They Had A Plan", made just that claim, that the Clinton administration through Richard Clarke had left “an aggressive plan to take the fight to al-Qaeda.” Clarke says, according to the Time article, that he drew up this “aggressive plan” after the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole.

The Time article says that Clarke presented the “strategy paper” to national-security adviser Sandy Berger on December 20, 2000, but that Berger decided not to act on it, fearing he would be handing the incoming Bush administration a “War.” An unnamed Clinton aide said, “That wasn’t going to happen.”

Shortly after the August 2002 Time article, National Review reporters spoke to Saxby Chambliss (R. Ga.), who was then a member of the House of Representatives and chair of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security. Representative Chambliss stated, “I’ve had Dick Clarke testify before our committee several times, and we’ve invited Samuel Berger several times and this is the first I’ve ever heard of that plan.” He went on to express wonder that if was such a big deal to them, why it had never been mentioned before.

In an August 2002 background briefing attended by several news reporters, Clarke was asked: “What is your response to the suggestion in the Time article that the Bush administration was unwilling to take on board the suggestions made in the Clinton administration because of animus against the — general animus against the foreign policy?”

Richard Clarke replied, “I think if there was a general animus that clouded their vision, they might not have kept the same guy dealing with terrorism issue. This is the one issue where the National Security Council leadership decided continuity was important and kept the same guy around, the same team in place. That doesn't sound like animus against uh the previous team to me.”

Further pressed by Foxnews senior White House correspondent, Jim Angle: “You're saying that the Bush administration did not stop anything that the Clinton administration was doing while it was making these decisions, and by the end of the summer had increased money for covert action five-fold. Is that correct?,” Clarke responded: “All of that's correct.”

In reply to the question of another reporter, “Are you saying now that there was not only a plan per se, presented by the transition team, but that it was nothing proactive that they had suggested?,” Clarke replied, “Well, what I'm saying is, there are two things presented. One, what the existing strategy had been. And two, a series of issues — like aiding the Northern Alliance, changing Pakistan policy, changing Uzbek policy — that they had been unable to come to um, any new conclusions, um, from '98 on.”

As he was being asked shortly after, “Were all of those issues part of alleged plan that was late December and the Clinton team decided not to pursue because it was too close to ...,” Clarke interrupted the questioner with, “There was never a plan, Andrea. What there was was these two things: One, a description of the existing strategy, which included a description of the threat. And two, those things which had been looked at over the course of two years, and which were still on the table.

QUESTION: So there was nothing that developed, no documents or no new plan of any sort?

CLARKE: There was no new plan.

QUESTION: No new strategy — I mean, I don't want to get into a semantics ...

CLARKE: Plan, strategy — there was no, nothing new.

QUESTION: 'Til late December, developing ...

CLARKE: What happened at the end of December was that the Clinton administration NSC principals committee met and once again looked at the strategy, and once again looked at the issues that they had brought, decided in the past to add to the strategy. But they did not at that point make any recommendations.

QUESTIONS: Had those issues evolved at all from October of '98 'til December of 2000?

CLARKE: Had they evolved? Um, not appreciably.

ANGLE: “What was the problem? Why was it so difficult for the Clinton administration to make decisions on those issues?”

CLARKE: “Because they were tough issues. You know, take, for example, aiding the Northern Alliance. Um, people in the Northern Alliance had a, sort of bad track record. There were questions about the government, there were questions about drug-running, there was questions about whether or not in fact they would use the additional aid to go after Al Qaeda or not. Uh, and how would you stage a major new push in Uzbekistan or somebody else or Pakistan to cooperate?”

“One of the big problems was that Pakistan at the time was aiding the other side, was aiding the Taliban. And so, this would put, if we started aiding the Northern Alliance against the Taliban, this would have put us directly in opposition to the Pakistani government. These are not easy decisions.”

Amid this controversy, an unnamed (you lefties love “unnamed") former Clinton administration official said, “There were certainly ongoing efforts throughout the eight years of the Clinton administration to fight terrorism.” Anonymous added, “It was certainly not a formal war plan. We wouldn’t have characterized it as a formal war plan. The Bush administration was briefed on the Clinton administration’s ongoing efforts and threat assessments.”

In late 2000, early 2001, prior to the Bush administration’s transition into the White House, the Time Magazine article mentioned above, from August 2002, also stated that John O’Neill (who lost his life in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center), led the FBI’s National Security Division was in Yemen investigating the attack on the USS Cole. U.S. ambassador to Yemen, Barbara Bodine opposed the FBI’s “large presence” in Yemen fearing it causing political problems for the Yemeni government (sound familiar to current claims about the U.S. presence in Iraq?), leading her to bar Agent O’Neill from returning to Yemen when he came back to the U.S. for Thanksgiving with his family.

It is extremely difficult for me to believe the Clinton administration, through Ambassador Bodine, made this investigation nearly impossible to conduct. It’s little wonder that administration officials said they couldn’t act against Al Qaeda due to lack of conclusive results.

For reasons that I cannot fathom, Ms. Bodine was appointed the US coordinator for central Iraq, before being recalled shortly after her appointment by the Bush administrations State Department, headed by former General Colin Powell, at the time, 2003.

Regardless of Mr. Clinton’s “meltdown” tantrum on TV this past Sunday, his record is clear and speaks for itself. Richard Clarke can write a book opposing the Bush administration and the ongoing fighting in Iraq, part of the over all War on Terror. James Carville can appear on morning talk shows with the veins popping out in his forehead. Barbara Boxer can go on Foxnews and in the middle of an interview state, in her usual mocking tone, “so I see you agree with the president on this. Okay, fine.” Hillary Clinton can come out in her usual damage control, standing by her man and saying that this shows Democrats aren’t going to take it any more. We are the Vast Right Winged Conspiracy and your words and deeds have been recorded and documented for posterity.

Bill Clinton’s record speaks for itself. Richard Clarke’s record and deeds have also been documented long before he decided to go for a book deal slamming Bush.

It all screams that the Clinton years were negligent, soft if you will, on terror.



Shawa said...

Great article, Lew! I am passing it on to everyone I know.
Expose the weasels!!

LewWaters said...

Thanks. Spread this around to any and every body. We have to do the work our lamestream media is unwilling to do ;)


Anonymous said...

Well said Lew and a great article. The Clinton years were years many things were neglected.

Remember George Stephanopoulos? Some years back, and I am only paraphrasing had said on GMA when asked why he left the Clinton Administration, that he left because - he could no longer be a part of the Clinton et al because they did not take the office of President seriously.

Certainly that does not come as a surprise to us.

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