Will Richard Clarke
December 27, 2007 - WND.com
by Jack Cashill
At the beginning of the campaign season, top Democratic candidates scrambled after Clinton national security veterans with almost as much urgency as the U.S. and the Soviets once pursued German rocket scientists.
In either case, the winner would corner a certain market on national security expertise, a virtue in glaringly short supply among top Democratic candidates in this year’s presidential hunt.
Not surprisingly, Hillary Clinton secured the services of the more distinguished of the would-be advisors, Richard Holbrooke and Gen. Wesley Clark among them, as well as some of the more dubious, none more so than Sandy Berger and Joseph Wilson.
While Hillary walked away with the lion’s share of the pickings, Barack Obama and John Edwards, alas, were left to divvy up the lamb’s.
The most prominent among Obama’s recruits is one Richard Clarke. Clarke served as America's top counterterrorism official during the Clinton years and famously stayed on the job under George W. Bush.
As history will record, he should not have. Clarke’s attempt to undermine Bush’s re-election campaign and, worse, the military campaign in Iraq set a new gold standard for political treachery. It has made the retention of career national security officials all but impossible in anyone’s future administration.
If Clarke had subverted the president for reasons of principle, one could almost forgive him. But claims of principle have to be based on a foundation of truth, and Clarke’s were anything but. Indeed, even a cursory glance at his record shows him to be as dishonest as he is treacherous.
A good place to begin is with Clarke’s blockbuster 2004 bestseller, Against All Enemies. The Clarke we meet in this book and in subsequent interviews insists that for years he valiantly attempted to focus America’s attention on Osama bin Laden.
Clarke claims to have achieved some success under a savvy President Clinton only to be undone by the negligence and ignorance of the Bush White House.
"As I briefed [Condoleezza] Rice on al-Qaeda,” writes Clarke in a not atypical slander, “her facial expression gave me the impression she had never heard the term before."
Excerpts on the book’s back cover lay out its essential brief. In a war of words with Paul Wolfowitz, Clarke expresses shock that this shady neo-con still spouts the “totally discredited Laurie Mylroie theory.”
For the record, the impeccably credentialed Mylroie served as Clinton’s advisor on Iraq during the 1992 campaign. She has argued persuasively that Iraqi intelligence was involved in the first World Trade Center bombing and thus might be involved in the second.
According to Clarke, this line of thinking led Bush insiders to ignore Clarke’s conviction that al Qaeda “and it alone” posed “an immediate and serious threat to the United States.” Willfully misdirected, the White House proceeded to bully its way into a needless war against Iraq.
A complicit media allowed Clarke to spin a narrative of his choosing with precious little effort to verify the consistency of that narrative.
What makes verification essential now is that Clarke could very well be our next National Security Advisor or Director of Central Intelligence should Obama prevail in November.
Clarke, however, is not easy to interpret. In his book and in his media appearances, he has shown an eye-popping indifference to facts, no virtue in a world at war. The challenge for the observer is to distinguish his carelessness from his conscious dissembling.
On at least three occasions, for instance, Clarke tells the reader that Pan Am 103 was destroyed in 1989 “during the first Bush’s presidency.”
In fact, Pan Am 103 was blown up in 1988 when Ronald Reagan was in the White House and Clarke was an up and comer in his State Department. You’d think he’d remember or at least Google the date if he did not.
Clarke links the 1982 U.S. intervention in Lebanon to concerns about Iran. In fact, we intervened to oversee the successful PLO evacuation to Tunisia and stuck around (too long) to help establish a new government in Beirut.
Clarke makes the bizarre claim that President Clinton “had defeated al Qaeda when it attempted to take over Bosnia.” Even a cursory read of John R. Schindler’s Unholy Terror will put this nonsense to rest.
In Clarke’s retelling, El Sayyid Nosair murders Jewish leader Meir Kahane in New York in 1992, an assassination he ties to Osama bin Laden. In reality, this first strike in the American jihad took place two years earlier, in 1990.
For Clarke, the later date may have made a bin Laden connection seem more credible, but to the reader such a critical mistake makes Clarke seem less credible as a source on anything.
If these miscues can be blamed on carelessness, the same cannot be said for Clarke’s discussion of the February 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.
“We now know,” he writes in his 2004 book, “that the World Trade Center attack in 1993 was an al Qaeda operation.” That royal “we,” however, does not include master bomber Ramzi Yousef or Osama himself.
Indeed, Osama has denied knowing Yousef before WTC I, and the al Qaeda honcho has never been shy about claiming responsibility where due.
When asked about financing, Yousef would cite only “family and friends.” Tellingly, the Justice Department did not indict bin Laden for the crime.
In his much praised 2006 account of the path to 9-11, The Looming Tower, Lawrence Wright concedes that no one in the intelligence community really knows who sponsored the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center.
Wright’s concession here carries all the more weight because he is writing for a generally liberal audience that does not want to hear the word “Iraq” any more than he wants to say it.
Wright obliges their shared bias by failing to mention the very name, “Abdul Rahman Yasin.” An Iraqi co-conspirator with the chemical burns to prove it, Yasin successfully fled the country after the 1993 bombing and headed back to Baghdad.
Clarke at least mentions Yasin, though he misidentifies him as “Abdul Yasim” and makes the incoherent claim that Yasin was “incarcerated by Saddam Hussein’s regime” upon returning to Baghdad.
In reality, an ABC correspondent found Yasin working for the Iraqi government in Baghdad a year after the bombing. The Iraqi regime had provided Yasin a house and monthly stipend.Yasin would live there comfortably for a decade before being rousted by the American military.
Caught in this deception, Clarke came more or less clean some months later before the 9/11 commission. "The Iraqi government didn't cooperate in turning him over,” he said of Yasin, “and gave him sanctuary, as it did give sanctuary to other terrorists."
Those other terrorists include the lethal Abu Nidal Organization, which was a virtual subsidiary, of the Baath Party, and Abu Abbas, the infamous killer of the wheelchair bound American, Leon Klinghoffer. Abbas, by the way, had been traveling the world on an Iraqi diplomatic passport.
Needless to say, Clarke also ignores the fact that Ramzi Yousef—“Rashid the Iraqi” as he was known to his co-conspirators—traveled to the U.S. with an Iraqi passport on a journey that began in in Baghdad.
The fact that the bombing occurred on February 26, 1993, two years to the day after Saddam’s humiliating retreat from Kuwait, is a detail that Clarke likewise chooses not to mention.
Ignoring all the above, Clarke can claim with a straight face that Iraqi involvement in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing “had been investigated for years and found to be totally untrue.”
Or, as Clarke’s buddy, the former CIA chief George Tenet, might have said of the case against Iraqi participation, it’s a “slam dunk.”
|Home | Professional | Personal | International | National | Regional | Books & DVDs | Articles By Title | Email Jack|