Clinton Administration vs. Bush Regime on Al Queda

Discussion in 'Politics' started by bungrider, Apr 9, 2004.

  1. All I can say is, thank god Clinton was president during Y2K, otherwise none of us would be here right now, and the bush regime would be safely underground eating little debbie snack cakes and watching Bonanza reruns...

    Clarke vs. Rice: Excerpts from testimony

    (CNN) -- Fifteen days after former White House counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke testified before the 9/11 commission, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice made her case before the panel.

    Here are excerpts from their testimony on several key issues before the commission.

    What did Bush know and what did he do?
    CLARKE: President Bush was regularly told by the director of Central Intelligence that there was an urgent threat. ... On one of those occasions, he asked for a strategy to deal with the threat. ...

    [Rice's] looking into it and the president asking for it did not change the pace at which it was considered. And as far as I know, the president never asked again.

    [The threat level in summer 2001] exceeded anything that [CIA director] George Tenet or I had ever seen.

    RICE: From January 20 [2001] through September 10 [2001], the president received at [daily intelligence briefings] more than 40 briefing items on al Qaeda, and 13 of those were in response to questions he or his top advisers posed.

    The threat-reporting that we received in the spring and summer of 2001 was not specific as to time, nor place, nor manner of attack. Almost all of the reports focused on al Qaeda activities outside the United States, especially in the Middle East and North Africa. In fact, the information that was specific enough to be actionable referred to terrorist operations overseas.

    Most often, though, the threat reporting was frustratingly vague.

    How high a priority was terrorism?
    CLARKE: George Tenet and I tried very hard to create a sense of urgency by seeing to it that intelligence reports on the al Qaeda threat were frequently given to the president and other high-level officials. And there was a process under way to address al Qaeda.

    But although I continued to say it was an urgent problem, I don't think it was ever treated that way. My view was that this administration, while it listened to me, didn't either believe me that there was an urgent problem or was unprepared to act as though there were an urgent problem.

    RICE: President Bush understood the threat, and he understood its importance. He made clear to us that he did not want to respond to al Qaeda one attack at a time. He told me he was tired of swatting flies. ...

    One doesn't have the luxury of dealing only with one issue if you are the United States of America. There are many urgent and important issues. But we all had a strong sense that this was a very crucial issue.

    How did the Clinton and Bush administrations' approaches differ?
    CLARKE: My impression was that fighting terrorism, in general, and fighting al Qaeda, in particular, were an extraordinarily high priority in the Clinton administration -- certainly no higher priority. There were priorities probably of equal importance such as the Middle East peace process, but I certainly don't know of one that was any higher in the priority of that administration.

    I believe the Bush administration in the first eight months considered terrorism an important issue, but not an urgent issue.

    RICE: The decision that we made was to, first of all, have no drop-off in what the Clinton administration was doing, because clearly they had done a lot of work to deal with this very important priority. ...

    On an operational level, therefore, we decided immediately to continue to pursue the Clinton administration's covert action authority and other efforts to fight the network. ... We also moved to develop a new and comprehensive strategy to try and eliminate the al Qaeda network.

    How does the war in Iraq fit into the war on terror?
    CLARKE: The war in Iraq was not necessary. Iraq was not an imminent threat to the United States. And by going to war with Iraq, we have greatly reduced our possibility to prosecute the war on terrorism.

    RICE: I believe we will change the nature of the Middle East, particularly if there are examples that this can work in the Middle East. And this is why Iraq is so important.

    The Iraqi people are struggling to find a way to create a multiethnic democracy that works. ... When they succeed, I think we will have made a big change -- they will have made a big change in the middle of the Arab world, and we will be on our way to addressing the source [of terrorism].

    Could more have been done to prevent 9/11?
    CLARKE: Let me compare 9/11 and the period immediately before it to the millennium rollover and the period immediately before that. ... Every day they went back from the White House to the FBI, to the Justice Department, to the CIA and they shook the trees to find out if there was any information.

    Contrast that with what happened in the summer of 2001, when we even had more clear indications that there was going to be an attack. Did the president ask for daily meetings of his team to try to stop the attack? Did Condi Rice hold meetings of her counterparts to try to stop the attack? No.

    RICE: There was no silver bullet that could have prevented the 9/11 attacks. In hindsight, if anything might have helped stop 9/11, it would have been better information about threats inside the United States -- something made very difficult by structural and legal impediments that prevented the collection and sharing of information by our law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

    Why didn't Bush respond to the USS Cole bombing?
    CLARKE: I suggested, beginning in January of 2001, that ... there was an open issue which should be decided about whether or not the Bush administration should retaliate for the Cole attack [which occurred in October 2000].

    Unfortunately, there was no interest, no acceptance of that proposition. And I was told on a couple of occasions, "Well, you know, that happened on the Clinton administration's watch."

    I didn't think it made any difference. I thought the Bush administration, now that it had the CIA saying it was al Qaeda, should have responded.

    RICE: I do not believe to this day that it would have been a good thing to respond to the Cole, given the kinds of options that we were going to have. ... We really thought that the Cole incident was passed, that you didn't want to respond tit-for-tat. ...

    Just responding to another attack in an insufficient way we thought would actually probably embolden the terrorists -- they had been emboldened by everything else that had been done to them -- and that the best course was to look ahead to a more aggressive strategy against them.

    Did the decision-making process delay action against terrorism?
    CLARKE: In the Bush administration I ... and my committee, the counterterrorism security group, report to the deputies committee, which is a sub-cabinet level committee. ...

    It slowed [the process] down enormously, by months.

    RICE: I just don't believe that bringing the principals over to the White House every day and having their counterterrorism people have to come with them and be pulled away from what they were doing to disrupt was a good way to go about this. It wasn't an efficient way to go about it.
  2. Yep, that administration needs to get a lot of credit on that issue.:cool: But the stupefied public pays more attention to a glorified bj than thousands of dead.:( go figure....

  3. the public pays attention to whatever the media puts on TV

    the reality is that the whole clinton affair was publicized because the repubs had control of congress, and thus had a forum to antagonize a popular president, and waste $60million. (there's nothing the republicans like more than wasting tax $$$)

    the only reason the iraq quagmire and all the lies about WMD haven't become more of an issue is because the repubs have congress. (that's also why spending has increased)

    the next step in the iraq quagmire is for a joint chief of staff of the current regime to come forward...then the whole thing will explode lewinsky-style.
  4. The Bush administration's handling of the bipartisan commission investigating the 9/11 tragedy grows worse — and more oddly self-destructive — with each passing day. Following its earlier attempts to withhold documents from the panel and then to deny its members vital testimony, we now learn that President Bush's staff has been withholding thousands of pages of Clinton administration papers as well.

    Bill Clinton authorized the release of nearly 11,000 pages of files on his administration's antiterrorism efforts for use by the commission. But aides to Mr. Clinton said the White House, which now has control of the papers, vetoed the transfer of over three-quarters of them. The White House held the documents for more than six weeks, apparently without notifying the commission, and might have kept them indefinitely if Bruce Lindsey, the general counsel of Mr. Clinton's presidential foundation, had not publicly complained this week. Yesterday the commission said the White House had agreed to allow its lawyers to review the withheld documents, but without guaranteeing any would be released.

    This latest distressing episode followed the White House's pattern of resisting the commission in private and then, once the dispute becomes public, reluctantly giving up the minimum amount of ground. Earlier in the week, Mr. Bush finally agreed to allow Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, to testify under oath — but only after extracting a commitment that the commission would not seek any further public testimony from any White House official. After months of foot-dragging, Mr. Bush also grudgingly agreed to let the panel question him and Vice President Dick Cheney privately. Last year the Pentagon, the Justice Department and other agencies stonewalled the commission's requests for documents until its chairman, Thomas Kean, the former Republican governor of New Jersey, complained publicly.

    Explaining the latest act of obstruction, Scott McClellan, the president's spokesman, said on Thursday that some documents were duplicative, unrelated or "highly sensitive." The White House, he said, had given the commission "all the information they need." Mr. Bush's staff should not be making that judgment. The commission's 10 members can be trusted with sensitive material.

    Moreover, given the repeated criticism of this administration's obsessive secrecy on other issues, it is astonishing that it would still withhold anything that did not pose an immediate and dire threat to national security. The American people would like to know that they have a government that freely gives information to legitimate investigations on matters of grave national interest, not one that fights each reasonable request until it is exposed and forced to submit. The White House is serving no public purpose by acting less interested than the rest of us in having this commission do its vital work. Its ham-handed behavior is also gravely damaging the entire concept of executive privilege.

    sumting, sumting stinks up the place with this whole 9/11 scum and cabal deal... time for another watergate

    :confused: :confused: :confused:
  5. I suggest you read a book called "Losing Bin Laden" in which, ironically enough, our hero Mr. Clarke comes across as a lone voice of caution on the building terrorist threat in an otherwise distracted and uncaring Clinton White House. Indeed, he was well known in DC circles for having been highly critical of Clinton's legalistic and wholly ineffectual aproach to fighting terror, which is why he was retained by the Bush administration.

    Hence, his recent "conversion" with regard to Clinton's efforts on terrorism strikes those who know him well as specious at best, and simply the product of a bruised ego. That and the chance to make a few dreckles, of course.
  6. I didn't listen to all the testimony, so I found the comparisons presented above to be interesting. I didn't find anything in it however to cast serious blame on the administration. Most of Clarke's differences with Rice involve perceptions or his preference for a different bureaucratic approach, not substance. I think Rice nailed the crux of the problem when she observed that there was a legal problem in sharing intelligence and coordinating foreign and domestic intelligence, plus institutional reluctance to cooperate. Also, I think Commission member John Lehman raised some very troubling questions about the FAA, questions that to me seem far more relevant than Clarke's annoyance that he wasn't on the White House A list anymore.

    Clarke's praise for the Clinton administration seems to overlook two important facts. One, the Moussawi fiasco, which Richard Ben-Vineste , the pitbull partisan Democrat, raised with Rice, occurred on Clinton's watch. Implausibly, Ben-Vineste tried to imply that somehow Rice was asleep on this issue, when it was the Reno Justice Department that denied the needed warrants to search his apartment and computer. If that search had gone forward, it is very likely the whole plot could have been foiled.

    Also, Clarke criticizes Bush for not responding to the Cole attack, but why does he give Clinton a free ride on it? While I tend to agree that Bush's response was lacking, it was the naive Clinton administration that had the Cole come into the Aden harbor unescorted, despite the fact that the Yemen was crawling with terrorists. The State Department's desire to make nice with the Yemenis was allowed to dominate obvious security issues. To compound matters, the US Ambassador there then frustrated the investigation, leading the top FBI agent in charge to resign and ultimately be killed in 9/11.
  7. Come on buddy, you obviously did not read the transcripts very carefully . . .

    The reason that Clarke gives the Clinton Administration a "free-ride" as you say in regards to retaliating for the attack on the USS Cole is because the CIA and George Tenet was not able to find clear-cut responsibility for the attacks.

    As Clarke stated and Rice replied:

    Why didn't Bush respond to the USS Cole bombing?
    CLARKE: I suggested, beginning in January of 2001, that ... there was an open issue which should be decided about whether or not the Bush administration should retaliate for the Cole attack [which occurred in October 2000].

    Unfortunately, there was no interest, no acceptance of that proposition. And I was told on a couple of occasions, "Well, you know, that happened on the Clinton administration's watch."

    I didn't think it made any difference. I thought the Bush administration, now that it had the CIA saying it was al Qaeda, should have responded.

    RICE: I do not believe to this day that it would have been a good thing to respond to the Cole, given the kinds of options that we were going to have. ... We really thought that the Cole incident was passed, that you didn't want to respond tit-for-tat. ...

    Just responding to another attack in an insufficient way we thought would actually probably embolden the terrorists -- they had been emboldened by everything else that had been done to them -- and that the best course was to look ahead to a more aggressive strategy against them.

    Remember, arrests on the attack of the USS Cole were not even made until November of 2000.
  8. Well, who did they think did it, the Israelis? The bottom line is that the Cole should never have been brought into an obviously insecure port. That was the failure. and as I recall there was retaliation in the form of a Predator strike that killed a carload of top al-Qaeda guys in Yemen. There was also a lot of handwringing from Dem's that we were acting like vigilantes,etc.
  9. Are you truly incapable of being "bi-partisan"?

    Do you always have to drag some sort of politcal party "reference" or "remark" into a factual conversation?
    Honestly, it really takes away from any objectivity that you may be able to have in a discussion here. Know the facts first, then make a statement.

    If you have a problem with Port Security in Yemen, I suggest you take it up with Admiral Vernon Clark, who was Chief of Naval Operations at the time. Or perhaps George Tenet of the CIA.

    You might also recall that the Commander of the USS Cole, Kirk Lippold and his crew failed to take about a dozen required steps to protect the ship, and that if all these steps had been taken, it "may have prevented or mitigated" the attack.

    In all fairness to Commander Lippold, he was not given necessary information about the terrorist threat in Aden, a major port at the southern tip of the Saudi peninsula. So why don't you put some blame on George Tenet on this one as well?

    Or is it always a democrats fault?
    Or Clinton's fault?
  10. Transcript: Clarke Praises Bush Team in '02

    Wednesday, March 24, 2004

    WASHINGTON — The following transcript documents a background briefing in early August 2002 by President Bush's former counterterrorism coordinator Richard A. Clarke to a handful of reporters, including Fox News' Jim Angle. In the conversation, cleared by the White House on Wednesday for distribution, Clarke describes the handover of intelligence from the Clinton administration to the Bush administration and the latter's decision to revise the U.S. approach to Al Qaeda. Clarke was named special adviser to the president for cyberspace security in October 2001. He resigned from his post in January 2003.


    RICHARD CLARKE: Actually, I've got about seven points, let me just go through them quickly. Um, the first point, I think the overall point is, there was no plan on Al Qaeda that was passed from the Clinton administration to the Bush administration.

    Second point is that the Clinton administration had a strategy in place, effectively dating from 1998. And there were a number of issues on the table since 1998. And they remained on the table when that administration went out of office — issues like aiding the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, changing our Pakistan policy -- uh, changing our policy toward Uzbekistan. And in January 2001, the incoming Bush administration was briefed on the existing strategy. They were also briefed on these series of issues that had not been decided on in a couple of years.

    And the third point is the Bush administration decided then, you know, in late January, to do two things. One, vigorously pursue the existing policy, including all of the lethal covert action findings, which we've now made public to some extent.

    And the point is, while this big review was going on, there were still in effect, the lethal findings were still in effect. The second thing the administration decided to do is to initiate a process to look at those issues which had been on the table for a couple of years and get them decided.

    So, point five, that process which was initiated in the first week in February, uh, decided in principle, uh in the spring to add to the existing Clinton strategy and to increase CIA resources, for example, for covert action, five-fold, to go after Al Qaeda.

    The sixth point, the newly-appointed deputies — and you had to remember, the deputies didn't get into office until late March, early April. The deputies then tasked the development of the implementation details, uh, of these new decisions that they were endorsing, and sending out to the principals.

    Over the course of the summer — last point — they developed implementation details, the principals met at the end of the summer, approved them in their first meeting, changed the strategy by authorizing the increase in funding five-fold, changing the policy on Pakistan, changing the policy on Uzbekistan, changing the policy on the Northern Alliance assistance.

    And then changed the strategy from one of rollback with Al Qaeda over the course of five years, which it had been, to a new strategy that called for the rapid elimination of Al Qaeda. That is in fact the timeline.

    QUESTION: When was that presented to the president?

    CLARKE: Well, the president was briefed throughout this process.

    QUESTION: But when was the final September 4 document? (interrupted) Was that presented to the president?

    CLARKE: The document went to the president on September 10, I think.

    QUESTION: What is your response to the suggestion in the [Aug. 12, 2002] Time [magazine] 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?

    CLARKE: 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.

    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: All of that's correct.

    ANGLE: OK.

    QUESTION: 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: 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.

    QUESTION: Was all of that from '98 on or was some of it ...

    CLARKE: All of those issues were on the table from '98 on.

    ANGLE: When in '98 were those presented?

    CLARKE: In October of '98.

    QUESTION: In response to the Embassy bombing?

    CLARKE: Right, which was in September.

    QUESTION: 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: 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.
    #10     Apr 9, 2004