Alright I promise not

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Alright, I promise not to do too much of this. <$NoAd$>But here are some portions of comments from Jim Wilkinson, an NSC spokesman, on Paula Zahn Monday night (itals added)…

First, knock Clarke for pursuing the well-known fool’s errand of hitting the terrorists overseas before they can hit us here …

This is a president who had Condoleezza Rice and others ask for a strategy. Dick Clarke, when he first came and briefed, presented several ideas, all of which frankly were overseas. He had the idea to increase help for Uzbekistan, which we did. He had the idea to help increase the counterterrorism budget, which we did. These were all ideas, but they were over there.

Next, the ‘strategy’ strategy …

I want to make a very point here, that all of his ideas he presented were not a strategy. This is a president who wanted a comprehensive strategy to go after al Qaeda where it lives, where it hides, where it plots, where it raises money. All the ideas that — except for one — that Dick Clarke submitted, this administration did. This is the president who expedited the arming of the Predator, an unmanned aerial vehicle, so that we could go after these terrorists like we’ve done in other places.

This ‘strategy’ mumbojumbo has definite echoes of Nigel Tufnel: No, no, no, this one goes to eleven …

On a more substantive note compare Wilkinson’s description of Clarke’s pitiful proposal to this one from an August 4th, 2002 article in Time. Note particularly the comment from the “senior Bush administration official” at the end …

Berger had left the room by the time Clarke, using a Powerpoint presentation, outlined his thinking to Rice. A senior Bush Administration official denies being handed a formal plan to take the offensive against al-Qaeda, and says Clarke’s materials merely dealt with whether the new Administration should take “a more active approach” to the terrorist group. (Rice declined to comment, but through a spokeswoman said she recalled no briefing at which Berger was present.) Other senior officials from both the Clinton and Bush administrations, however, say that Clarke had a set of proposals to “roll back” al-Qaeda. In fact, the heading on Slide 14 of the Powerpoint presentation reads, “Response to al Qaeda: Roll back.” Clarke’s proposals called for the “breakup” of al-Qaeda cells and the arrest of their personnel. The financial support for its terrorist activities would be systematically attacked, its assets frozen, its funding from fake charities stopped. Nations where al-Qaeda was causing trouble-Uzbekistan, the Philippines, Yemen-would be given aid to fight the terrorists. Most important, Clarke wanted to see a dramatic increase in covert action in Afghanistan to “eliminate the sanctuary” where al-Qaeda had its terrorist training camps and bin Laden was being protected by the radical Islamic Taliban regime. The Taliban had come to power in 1996, bringing a sort of order to a nation that had been riven by bloody feuds between ethnic warlords since the Soviets had pulled out. Clarke supported a substantial increase in American support for the Northern Alliance, the last remaining resistance to the Taliban. That way, terrorists graduating from the training camps would have been forced to stay in Afghanistan, fighting (and dying) for the Taliban on the front lines. At the same time, the U.S. military would start planning for air strikes on the camps and for the introduction of special-operations forces into Afghanistan. The plan was estimated to cost “several hundreds of millions of dollars.” In the words of a senior Bush Administration official, the proposals amounted to “everything we’ve done since 9/11.”

Next from Wilkinson, misstate Clarke’s statements and then accuse him of Iraq double-talk by again mischaracterizing another statement …

Well, I think your viewers tonight would be a little alarmed if the president didn’t ask about Iraq. This is a nation that was shooting at our pilots, shooting at our pilots hundreds of times a day in the southern no-fly zone, a nation that had used WMD against its neighbors. And I think your viewers tonight would be a little alarmed if the president didn’t ask about any connection from anybody on any part of the globe, frankly.

The president wanted to know who did it and who was responsible. Dick Clarke, on another interview he gave to PBS “Frontline,” said that, right after 9/11, all his options were open. He wasn’t sure who did it. So, again, we see Mr. Clarke on three sides of a two-sided issue. What the American people need to know is that their government is working diligently to go after al Qaeda where it lives, where it plots, where it raises money, and where it does threats or tries to do us harm here.

Here’s the Frontline passage Wilkinson is referring to …

Question: Because one of the things that surprises a lot of the public, I think, is that immediately after Sept. 11, the administration knew exactly who had done it. Was that why?

Clarke: No. On the day of Sept. 11, then the day or two following, we had a very open mind. CIA and FBI were asked, “See if it’s Hezbollah. See if it’s Hamas. Don’t assume it’s Al Qaeda. Don’t just assume it’s Al Qaeda.” Frankly, there was absolutely not a shred of evidence that it was anybody else. The evidence that it was Al Qaeda began just to be massive within days after the attack.

Question: Somebody’s quoted as saying that they walked into your office and almost immediately afterwards, the first words out of your mouth was “Al Qaeda.”

Clarke: Well, I assumed it was Al Qaeda. No one else had the intention of doing that. No one else that I knew of had the capability of doing that. So yes, as soon as it happened, I assumed it was Al Qaeda.

Returning to the Wilkinson tirade already in progress, now blame all previous terrorism attacks on Clarke’s being a doofus while also managing to step on Cheney’s story line by insisting that Clarke was running the show right before 9/11 …

I would say that, since this president’s been here, two-thirds of al Qaeda have been captured or killed. I would say, I would remind you that Dick Clarke was in charge of counterterrorism policy when the African embassies were bombed. Dick Clarke was in charge of counterterrorism policy when the USS Cole was bombed. Dick Clarke was in charge of counterterrorism policy in the time preceding 9/11 when the threat was growing.

Finally, make a nonsensical comparison between Clarke’s blowing 9/11 and the president’s wiping out all the bad guys afterwards …

And in June of 2001, when the FBI said 16 of the 19 hijackers were already in the United States, Dick Clarke was in charge of counterterrorism. I think you contrast that directly with this president’s record of freezing millions of dollars in terrorist assets, rounding up more than two-thirds of the members of al Qaeda. It’s a clear distinction.

Most of these aren’t even distortions. They’re silly little gotchas, many of which don’t even make any sense.

This is the best they can do.

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