If you want to see what Rice said, look here:
If you want to see what Clarke said, you have to control for time period, as he contradicted himself all over the place. I’ll let Lumpy look them up on Google.
Here’s a link to a post by Glenn Reynolds (law professor at University of Tennesee, Knoxville) on this, generally:
It’s interesting reading, but this bit certainly seems to undercut Richard Clarke’s claims:
We also moved to develop a new and comprehensive strategy to eliminate the al-Qaida terrorist network. President Bush understood the threat, and he understood its importance. He made clear to us that he did not want to respond to al-Qaida one attack at a time. He told me he was “tired of swatting flies.”
This new strategy was developed over the Spring and Summer of 2001, and was approved by the President’s senior national security officials on September 4. It was the very first major national security policy directive of the Bush Administration ? not Russia, not missile defense, not Iraq, but the elimination of al-Qaida.
When coupled with Sandy Berger’s statement that “there was no war plan that we turned over to the Bush administration during the transition. And the reports of that are just incorrect,” this would seem to undercut the claim that Clinton focused like a laser beam on terrorism while Bush was distracted with other pet projects. In fact, nobody was really paying enough attention, as Rice notes:
The terrorists were at war with us, but we were not yet at war with them. For more than 20 years, the terrorist threat gathered, and America’s response across several administrations of both parties was insufficient. Historically, democratic societies have been slow to react to gathering threats, tending instead to wait to confront threats until they are too dangerous to ignore or until it is too late. Despite the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915 and continued German harassment of American shipping, the United States did not enter the First World War until two years later. Despite Nazi Germany’s repeated violations of the Versailles Treaty and its string of provocations throughout the mid-1930s, the Western democracies did not take action until 1939. The U.S. Government did not act against the growing threat from Imperial Japan until the threat became all too evident at Pearl Harbor. And, tragically, for all the language of war spoken before September 11th, this country simply was not on a war footing.
Since then, America has been at war. And under President Bush’s leadership, we will remain at war until the terrorist threat to our Nation is ended. The world has changed so much that it is hard to remember what our lives were like before that day.
Of course many people – including some of those faulting the Bush Administration here – are still having trouble admitting that we’re at war now, and acting accordingly.
Posted by Glenn Reynolds at April 08, 2004 02:37 PM