Bush can run, but can't seem to hide
By Brad Friedman on 3/22/2004, 1:28pm PT  

Wow...Stunning and explosive info from former Bush Terrorism Czar, Richard Clarke on last night's 60 Minutes. But the real "Must See TV" will be this week when he testifies publically before the 9/11 Commission. Here's the star-studded schedule. Not to be missed!

Of course, as with the previous Bushmen-Who-Left-the-Reservation like Paul O'Niell and David Kay before him, the Right Wing Attack Dogs are wasting no time trying to get out in front of the story to call their own man a complete whacko.

When Rush gets Dick Cheney for a live interview, and Condi Rice Op-Eds in the Washington Post you know the Whitehouse understands they're in trouble and they'd better get out in front quickly. They're trying.

Clarke, a Reagan appointee who worked for Bush 41 and then as Clinton's Terrorism Czar and then stayed on in the post for Bush 43, is no whacko. In other words, whatever they will try to do now to crush him, this man is no Dick Morris, and that is clearly scaring the hell out of them.

His words and credentials speak volumes, which is what makes him so dangerous, and why he must be discredited immediately! Most alarmingly, we may finally begin to see why the Administration has been - shall we say - less than eager to give their whole side of the story to the 9/11 Commission.

It's tough to isolate the most damning revelations from Clarke's appearance last night:

  • The fact that Clarke's request three days after Inauguration for an "URGENT" meeting about the "impending al Qaeda attack" was ignored until just one week before 9/11.
  • The fact that Wolfowitz couldn't understand why Clarke was so concerned about "that little guy", Bin Laden when they needed to be concerned with "Iraqi Terrorism against the United States" - of which there had been none in eight years since Clinton bombed the Iraq Intelligence building in retaliation for the failed assassination attempt on Bush 41.
  • The analogy that Clarke gives wherein he said it would be as if, after Pearl Harbor, FDR decided to invade and occupy Mexico instead of declaring war on Japan. 
  • His view that the Administration simply came in and picked up where they left off eight years ago with the Cold War, and they were obsessed only with things like Star Wars and Saddam Hussein.
  • There's so much incredible stuff to chose from, but here's a few key items for you. I'd suggest you check out the whole interview if you missed it last night...

    "We had a terrorist organization that was going after us! Al Qaeda. That should have been the first item on the agenda. And it was pushed back and back and back for months.

    "There's a lot of blame to go around, and I probably deserve some blame, too. But on January 24th, 2001, I wrote a memo to Condoleezza Rice asking for, urgently --- underlined urgently --- a Cabinet-level meeting to deal with the impending al Qaeda attack. And that urgent memo-- wasn't acted on.

    "I blame the entire Bush leadership for continuing to work on Cold War issues when they back in power in 2001. It was as though they were preserved in amber from when they left office eight years earlier. They came back. They wanted to work on the same issues right away: Iraq, Star Wars. Not new issues, the new threats that had developed over the preceding eight years."

    Clarke finally got his meeting about al Qaeda in April, three months after his urgent request. But it wasn't with the president or cabinet. It was with the second-in-command in each relevant department.

    For the Pentagon, it was Paul Wolfowitz.

    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."

    And this...

    "The president dragged me into a room with a couple of other people, shut the door, and said, 'I want you to find whether Iraq did this.' Now he never said, 'Make it up.' But the entire conversation left me in absolutely no doubt that George Bush wanted me to come back with a report that said Iraq did this.

    "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.'

    "I have no idea, to this day, if the President saw it, because after we did it again, it came to the same conclusion. And frankly, I don't think the people around the president show him memos like that. I don't think he sees memos that he doesn't-- wouldn't like the answer."

    It's still a long way to November 2nd, but if the story continues unfolding this way on Bush's number one issue, the "War on Terror", he may find himself in big big trouble on Election Day.

    (If you're scratching your head, trying to figure out why Bush is keeping CIA Head, George Tenet on board, I think you can wonder no longer!)

    But don't underestimate the ability of, John F. Kerry --- or John F. Notbush, as I prefer to think of him --- to rise to the typical Democrat talent of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.