Clarke on the Immediate Response to 9/11

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.

One Response to “Clarke on the Immediate Response to 9/11”

  1. John F Says:

    This isn’t actually a breaking story. I don’t mean to dig up something from a smaller source but last year — Around September 20th, an Australian news site had reported this:,4057,7350504%5E2,00.html

    Of course, pinning Clarke’s comments with Al Franken’s “Lies and the Lying Liars who Tell Them: A fair and balanced look at the Right” chapter called “Operation Ignore” along with the book about O’Neil and what he claimed the Bush administration was saying about the time they took over (“We need to find a way to get to Iraq!”), it paints a picture of an administration that was dead set on going back into the Middle East.

    Let the Right try to smear clarke… Remember that Clarke was the guy who handed Clinton a fully prepared “War with Al Qaeda” battle plan after the USS Cole Bombing. The only thing they can blame Clinton for with this (though they blame him for everything in the universe that they see as wrong) is not handing the new president a war to begin his administration.

    Then again, the Bush team should have responded to the USS Cole attack to set the tone of their administration. Instead? They bombed Iraq and had a spy plane lost inside China… Figures…

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