T Nation

Enough Clarke

This was from www.washtimes.com/national/inpolitics.htm

Democrats please pay extra attention to this article.

"Clarke’s admission
“If President Bush had followed every last letter of Richard Clarke’s recommendations starting Inauguration Day, it still would not have prevented 9/11,” the Wall Street Journal says.
“How do we know this? Richard Clarke says so,” the newspaper said in an editorial.
"Here’s how the disgruntled National Security Council adviser put it last week in an exchange with Slade Gorton, a member of the 9/11 Commission and former Washington senator:
"Mr. Gorton: 'Assuming that the recommendations that you made on January 25 of 2001 … including aid to the Northern Alliance, which had been an agenda item at this point for 2? years without any action, assuming that there had been more Predator reconnaissance missions, assuming that that had all been adopted, say, on January 26, year 2001, is there the remotest chance that it would have prevented 9/11?
"Mr. Clarke: ‘No.’
"Mr. Gorton: ‘It just would have allowed our response after 9/11 to be perhaps a little bit faster?’
"Mr. Clarke: ‘Well, the response would have begun before 9/11.’
"Mr. Gorton: ‘But ? yes, but we weren’t going to ? there was no recommendation on your part or anyone else’s part that we declare war and attempt to invade Afghanistan prior to 9/11?’
"Mr. Clarke: ‘That’s right.’
"This startling exchange got almost no media attention last week. Mr. Clarke has rocketed to national fame over the past 10 days by alleging the Bush administration was negligently inattentive to the al Qaeda threat. He took it upon himself to ‘apologize’ on behalf of ‘your government’ to the families of 9/11 victims, as if there had been policy options on the table ? perhaps offered by him ? that might have prevented their deaths.
“But when pressed on that point under oath, Mr. Clarke was forced to concede that the impression he’d created, the very reason anyone was paying any attention to him, was false. As long as Mr. Clarke is in the apology business, can we have one for wasting a week of the administration’s precious antiterror time?”

In a previous post, RightSideUp made some assumptions about what I thought about the Clarke business. I’ll tell you what I think. I think 9/11 was unbelievably awful. It changed my thinking drastically. I became a greater proponent of a muscular foreign policy. I am scared to death that a vial of ricin could kill everyone in Washington D.C. I am now very proactive.

Richard Clarke sounds a lot like Richard McNamara in the 1980’s. For those of you who do not know, he was the Secretary of Defense under Kennedy and Johnson. He was intimately involved in Vietnam strategy/tactics. Towards the end of his life he gave at least one tearful, public admission that Vietnam was wrong. This is what I think Clarke is doing. He is questioning himself as to whether he could/should have done more prior to 9/11. Unfortunately, instead of self-reflection and private discussions with his previous employers, he has decided to start pointing fingers. I personally feel the fact that he has a book deal of $1 million dollars, teaches a class on terrorism with John Kerry’s pal, and he voted for Gore are secondary issues. I think guilt and second guessing are his primary motivations.

I’m not a democrat - I don’t live in the US - but I find some things interesting in the article. Firstly the bits you quote from the article speak about measures in Afghanistan prior to 9/11 (aid to the Northern Alliance and use of predator drones) to preventing 9/11. Paul Clarke states these would not have prevented an attack. This is not an admission by Paul Clarke that if the administration had followed ALL his recommendations that 9/11 would have been prevented, that is something the Wall Street Journal is implying in its EDITORIAL, Clarke is merely commenting about two of his recommendations that were raised by the senator.
Now reading the following Paper from Britain where Clarke speaks more about prevention:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/september11/story/0%2C11209%2C1175817%2C00.html

“In December '99 we get similar kinds of evidence that al-Qaida was planning a similar kind of attack. President Clinton asks the national security advisor to hold daily meetings with attorney-general, the CIA, FBI. They go back to their departments from the White House and shake the departments out to the field offices to find out everything they can find. It becomes the number one priority of those agencies. When the head of the FBI and CIA have to go to the White House every day, things happen and by the way, we prevented the attack. Contrast that with June, July, August 2001 when the president is being briefed virtually every day in his morning intelligence briefing that something is about to happen, and he never chairs a meeting and he never asks Condi rice to chair a meeting about what we’re doing about stopping the attacks. She didn’t hold one meeting during all those three months. Now, it turns out that buried in the FBI and CIA, there was information about two of these al-Qaida terrorists who turned out to be hijackers [Khalid Almidhar and Nawaf Alhazmi]. We didn’t know that. The leadership of the FBI didn’t know that, but if the leadership had to report on a daily basis to the White House, he would have shaken the trees and he would have found out those two guys were there. We would have put their pictures on the front page of every newspaper and we probably would have caught them. Now would that have stopped 9/11? I don’t know. It would have stopped those two guys, and knowing the FBI the way they can take a thread and pull on it, they would probably have found others.”

Clark is pressed by the interviewer whether this would have prevented 9/11 his response is the following:

"B: So might they have stopped the September 11 attacks?

RC: I don’t want to say they could have stopped the attacks. But there was a chance.

JB: A reasonable chance? A good chance?

RC: There was a chance, and whatever the probability was, they didn’t take it. "

Can you see the difference in the two strategy’s ?.

On an another point who’s Richard McNamara ? I’ve heard of a Robert McNamara who was the Secretary of Defence between 61-69 ( if my memory serves me properly ) and from reading interviews with him he doesn’t seem very “tearful”, he only acknowledges that he followed a policy he had misgivings and he also he made “mistakes”.