Clarke was right. So was Paul O’Neill. During the six months before the 9/11
terrorist attacks the Bush administration paid little attention to the
threat from al-Qaeda and instead set the stage for a war with
Two weeks before the 9/11 terrorist attacks, national security wasn’t even a top priority for the Bush administration. Security -- job security, health security and national security -- was last on a list of major issues Bush planned to deal with in the fall of 2001, according to a transcript of a speech Bush gave on Aug. 31, 2001 to celebrate the launch of the White House’s new website.
National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, who is scheduled to testify Thursday before the commission investigating the 9/11 terrorist attacks, says Clarke, President Bush’s counterterrorism specialist, is a liar after Clarke told the commission two weeks ago that the Bush administration failed to deal with al-Qaeda seriously before 9/11.
Clarke exposes the
Bush administration’s attitude toward Islamic terrorists in his book,
Against All Enemies and says the Bush administration was obsessed with
Rice is expected to be
grilled by the commission. She’ll try and prove that the Bush administration
dealt with al-Qaeda seriously. But there’s no denying that the allegations
Clarke, O’Neill and
other whistleblowers have made, that the White House
was obsessed with
As early as January
2000, Rice was trying to sell a war with
“As history marches
toward markets and democracy, some states have been left by the side of the
She echoed that line
in August 2000, during an interview with the Council on Foreign Relations,
where Rice said
“The containment of
Rice was interviewed by dozens of print and broadcast journalists between January and September 2001. An extensive search of more than 400 news stories available on Lexis Nexus between January 1, 2001 and September 10, 2001 show that Rice never once spoke about the threat posed by al-Qaeda or its leader Osama bin Laden.
When Rice discussed
terrorism in public speeches and interviews in 2001, she only utters the
word to describe rogue nations such as
On July 29, 2001, Rice
was interviewed by CNN’s John King. She was asked how the
“Well, the president has made very clear that he considers Saddam Hussein to be a threat to his neighbors, a threat to security in the region, in fact a threat to international security more broadly,” Rice said. “And he has reserved the right to respond when that threat becomes one that he wishes no longer to tolerate.”
“But I can be certain of this, and the world can be certain of this: Saddam Hussein is on the radar screen for the administration. The administration is working hard with a number of our friends and allies to have a policy that is broad; that does look at the sanctions as something that should be restructured so that we have smart sanctions that go after the regime, not after the Iraqi people; that does look at the role of opposition in creating an environment and a regime in Baghdad that the people of Iraq deserve, rather than the one that they have; and one that looks at use of military force in a more resolute manner, and not just a manner of tit-for-tat with him every day.”
The question of
whether the Bush administration targeted
A January 11, 2001 article in the New York Times, “Iraq Is Focal Point as Bush Meets With Joint Chiefs,” should finally put an end to that debate.
“George W. Bush, the nation's commander in chief to be, went to the Pentagon today for a top-secret session with the Joint Chiefs of Staff to review hot spots around the world where he might have to send American forces into harm's way,” reads the first paragraph of the Times article.
Bush was joined at the Pentagon meeting by Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.
The Times reported
that, "about half of the 75-minute meeting … focused on a discussion about
"Iraqi policy is very much on his mind," one senior Pentagon official told the Times. "Saddam was clearly a discussion point."
On June 22, 2001,
President Bush spoke briefly about terrorism during a speech in
"It's time to come together and to think about a new security arrangement that addresses the threats of the 21st century,” according to a transcript of Bush’s remarks.
“And the threats of
the 21st century will be terrorist in nature, terror when it comes to
weaponry. What we must do -- freedom-loving people must be willing to think
differently and develop anti-ballistic missile systems that will say to
rogue nations and leaders who cannot stand
Clarke was right. Our government failed us. Worse, they lied too.
Jason Leopold is the former Los Angeles bureau chief of Dow Jones Newswires. He spent two years covering the Enron bankruptcy and the California energy crisis. He just finished writing a book on the energy crisis, due out in December through Rowman & Littlefield.
Other Articles by Jason Leopold