I’ve noted before how with the passage of time, the disagreements and confusions of the present get clarified. So with the Bush people’s immediate reaction to the 9/11 attacks. If you folllow the angry yapping lefties, as I (obviously) do, the following isn’t really news. But the interview with Richard Clarke, former top White House terrorism advisor, that CBS is running tomorrow on 60 Minutes, will probably raise a few eyebrows among those who either haven’t given the question much thought until now, or who have been giving Bush & Co. the benefit of the doubt so far.
Anyway, as submitted by reader Barry Ritholtz: Sept. 11: Before and after.
Some choice quotations:
Clarke was surprised that the attention of administration officials was turning toward Iraq when he expected the focus to be on al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.
“They were talking about Iraq on 9/11. They were talking about it on 9/12,” says Clarke.
The top counter-terrorism advisor, Clarke was briefing the highest government officials, including President Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.
“Rumsfeld was saying we needed to bomb Iraq….We all said, ‘but no, no. Al Qaeda is in Afghanistan,” recounts Clarke, “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 [the September 11 attacks].'”
And there’s this one:
“Frankly, I find it outrageous that the president is running for re-election on the grounds that he’s done such great things about terrorism,” says Clarke in Sunday’s interview. “He ignored it. He ignored terrorism for months, when maybe we could have done something to stop 9/11. Maybe. We’ll never know.”
Righties will be quick to smear Clarke. I’m guessing they’ll try to link him with Clinton, or will focus on the fact that he’s trying to drum up sales for his new book. They can’t dispute his facts, so raising a smokescreen of irrelevancies is all they have. But Clarke is a top terrorism expert, advisor to four presidents, who was there, in the room with Bush and his staff, as the response to the 9/11 attacks was put together. He’s rock-solid credible. And the picture he’s painting isn’t pretty.
Attention Bush supporters: You have a problem.