Wednesday, March 24, 2004

U.S.: What credibility?

Ah, I missed this bit, caught it on Fox News. Richard Clarke said he was asked by the administration to make the case to reporters on what was being done with regard to terrorism. Asked if he was expected to lie and did it, Clarke said no, he was not; instead, he was expected to present the positive aspects of the administration's efforts. Here's the weakness in Clarke's dodge: it does not nullify his earlier statement that the Bush administration in eight months did more to counter terrorism than the Clinton administration had done in eight years. For, if the positive aspects all detail action, then the negative aspect cannot reveal inaction but must pertain to flaws in the plan of action. In August 2002, Clarke would have America believe that the Bush administration was pro-active with regard to Al Qaeda. In 2004, in his newly published book and his testimony before the 9/11 Commission today, Clarke would have America believe that the Bush administration did nothing about Al Qaeda. Those two propositions cannot both be true. Either the Bush administration did something or it did nothing. The degree of activity is not an issue; the existence of activity is. Thus, we come to this: either Clarke lied at that press conference in 2002 or he is lying in his book and to the 9/11 Commission, his testimony to which is given under oath.

How is one to understand Clarke's own words in August 2002?:

[T]he Bush administration decided then, you know, mid-January, to do two things. One, vigorously pursue the existing policy, including all of the lethal covert action findings,... 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..... [T]hat 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..... [T]he 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.... [T]hey 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.
If the book and the Commission testimony are true, then Clarke lied in August 2002 when he detailed a timeline of Bush administration action stemming from January 2001 to the end of summer, 2001. If Clarke told the truth in August 2002, then he is lying in his book and to the Commission. Either way, Clarke is lying. That's the trap in which he has fixed himself. Moreover, if he is lying in 2002, it is a stupid lie because a FOIA might verify the measures he represents the administration as having undertaken. Worse yet, the lie may have been told for political gain, for he was up for a position in the Bush administration.The complicating factor of the timeline's details is that they stand as witness against Clarke's present claims that the Bush administration did nothing with regard to Al Qaeda. Clarke's press conference and his altered testimony leave no room for a middle ground, and neither does his attempt to hold on to the filthy rags of his credibility.

It all comes down to this: no matter how hard the Democrats try, Bush ≠ Clinton. Kerry = Clinton. And America cannot afford another Democrat president who is lax on national security.

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