[ Bush Administration former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke has come under vindictive attack from the White House for criticizing the Administration’s failure to heed urgent warnings regarding the al Qaeda threat before 9/11. These sorts of counterattacks are nothing new. They are becoming common place necessities for Team Bush, as high-level officials continue to defect, unraveling the fabric of lies which clothes Administration policy. Notable defectors include
- Richard Foster, the Medicare program’s actuary who blew the cover on Administration lies to Congress;
- Greg Thielmann, the analyst in charge of assessing the Iraqi weapons threat for Colin Powell’s intelligence bureau, who blew the cover on Powell’s lies to the U.N.;
- General Jay Garner, who was sacked by Bush probably because he wanted early elections in Iraq and opposed handing over the Iraqi economy to U.S.-based multinational corporations;
- decorated intelligence analyst Larry Johnson, who chastised the Administration for vengefully (and illegally) outing a CIA agent;
- former chief U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq, David Kay, who reported the absence of evidence of weapons of mass destruction on which the Iraq War was premissed;
- former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who exposed the Administration’s lie about Saddam Hussein purchasing uranium from Niger;
- former Secretary of the Treasury Paul O’Neill, who confirmed the Administration’s early determination to bomb Iraq regardless of lack of evidence of a threat.
Built on lies, the White House’s counterattacks, however, lack “teeth,” as shown in the article below.
Thanks to Eric Forst for forwarding the following article. –doclalor ]
9/11 Warnings Ignored
by David Sirota, Christy Harvey and Judd Legum
Richard Clarke, a Reagan appointee who was the government's top counterterrorism expert under President Clinton and President George W. Bush, yesterday on 60 Minutes said the Bush Administration “failed to act prior to September 11 on the threat from al Qaeda despite repeated warnings.” The assertion is fully substantiated by newly revealed internal FBI and Justice Department documents that were published today on the Center for American Progress website. As the documents and a companion American Progress backgrounder show, the Bush Administration received repeated warnings that an Al Qaeda attack was imminent, yet underfunded and subordinated counterterrorism in the months leading up to 9/11, and after. The Administration has defended itself by claiming it set up a counter-terrorism task force in May of 2001 – but the task force never actually met. Meanwhile, the Administration “downgraded terrorism as a priority” and ended such key counterterrorism efforts as the “highly classified program to monitor Al Qaeda suspects in the United States.” Among the victims of the Administration's “downgrading of terrorism as a priority” was “a highly classified program to monitor Al Qaeda suspects in the United States,” which the White House suspended in the months leading up to 9/11.
EVEN AFTER 9/11, STILL CUTTING COUNTERTERRORISM: Clarke said the President was improperly attempting to “harvest a political windfall” from 9/11 even though he has taken “insufficient steps after the attacks” to secure America. Again, Clarke's assertion is backed up by the record. As the WP reports on the new documents released by American Progress, “in the early days after the Sept. 11 attacks, the Bush White House cut by nearly two-thirds an emergency request for counterterrorism funds by the FBI.” When congressional Democrats sponsored amendments to substantially increase this funding, the President threatened to veto them, and they were voted down.
9/11 USED AS MEANS TO ATTACK IRAQ: Clarke charged the Administration began making plans to attack Iraq on 9/11, despite evidence the terror attack had been engineered by Al Qaeda. And though Administration officials are now denying it, Clarke's assertion is consistent with earlier reports. CBS News reported on 9/4/02 that five hours after the 9/11 attacks, “Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was telling his aides to come up with plans for striking Iraq — even though there was no evidence linking Saddam Hussein to the attacks.” Similarly, then-Secretary of Treasury Paul O'Neill said the Administration “was planning to invade Iraq long before the Sept. 11 attacks and used questionable intelligence to justify the war.” When the Administration denied O'Neill's charges, ABC News reported that his account was confirmed by another White House source.
CONSERVATIVES STILL CLAIMING SADDAM-AL QAEDA TIES: Clarke's elaboration on how the Administration immediately focused on Iraq instead of Al Qaeda has moved conservatives to a new level of dishonesty. As an American Progress video shows, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) claimed yesterday that “the Bush administration never made any claim that there was a connection between Saddam and al Qaeda.” (See the full transcript and video). But it was President Bush and Vice President Cheney who repeatedly told the American public that there was “no question” Saddam and Al Qaeda were connected. Those claims were never substantiated, and have now been proven completely false.
SHIFTING THE BLAME: Vice President Cheney and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice have criticized (without proof) the Administration's opponents for supposedly wanting to treat counterterrorism as a simple law enforcement matter. But as Newsweek notes, it was the Bush Administration who was most guilty of such shortsightedness: Despite repeated terror warnings before 9/11 and urging by the Clinton Administration to focus on Al Qaeda, the Administration “placed more emphasis on drug trafficking and gun violence” than on counterterrorism. The Newsweek story is substantiated by the record: look at this internal document outlining how the Clinton Administration made counterterrorism the “Tier One” priority. Now look at this internal document in which Attorney General Ashcroft highlighted his new goals – none of which were counterterrorism. Ashcroft was trying to downgrade counterterrorism and re-prioritize traditional “law enforcement.”
RICE ATTACKS COME AS SHE HIDES: While Rice continues her attacks, she has “repeatedly declined” to appear publicly before the 9/11 commission to answer questions raised by Clarke and others. As AP reports, the commission issued a formal statement saying “Rice should tell the public what she knows.” But, the Administration has fought any inquiry of 9/11 from the beginning. As Newsweek reported on 2/4/02, Vice President Cheney called Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD) to “warn” him not to open hearings into the attacks. If Daschle pressed the issue, Cheney “implied he would risk being accused of interfering with the mission” against terrorism. For the next several months the White House opposed the creation of the independent commission, attempted to drain its funding after it was created, and tried to limit the amount of time top officials would spend with the panel.
WHITE HOUSE RESPONDS BY MAKING FALSE ATTACKS: The Administration responded to Clarke not by addressing the facts, but by attacking his credibility. Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley – the same man who helped insert the false uranium claim into the President's pre-war State of the Union – claimed one conversation between Clarke and the President never happened. In fact, “two people who were present confirmed Clarke's account. They said national security adviser Condoleezza Rice witnessed the exchange.”
“The Bush administration never made any claim that there was a connection between Saddam and al Qaeda.” – Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), 3/21/04
“There’s no question that Saddam Hussein had al Qaeda ties.” – G.W. Bush, 9/17/03