The Tao of Politics

One of my main concerns is: how can I make a difference? There are thousands of political blogs out there. It’s easy to get lost in that ocean. So I may blog about politics on occasion, or I may blog about health issues, depending on where my interests lead me, and where I feel I can contribute something of significance.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

I don’t want to get into a whole big thing about the brouhaha raging these days in Washington over who is to blame for 9/11, Clinton or Bush. But there is some misinformation circulating out there to which someone needs to respond. The major assertion from the right is that the Clinton administration did not give a comprehensive plan to the Bush administration for fighting al Qaeda. This assertion could revolve around semantics. One person’s comprehensive plan may not be comprehensive in another person’s eyes. But the 9/11 Commission Report, on page 197, says:

As the Clinton administration drew to a close, Clarke and his staff developed a policy paper of their own, the first such comprehensive effort since the Delenda plan of 1998.The resulting paper, entitled “Strategy for Eliminating the Threat from the Jihadist Networks of al Qida: Status and Prospects,” reviewed the threat and the record to date, incorporated the CIA’s new ideas from the Blue Sky memo, and posed several near-term policy options.
Then on page 201:

Within the first few days after Bush’s inauguration, Clarke approached Rice in an effort to get her—and the new President—to give terrorism very high priority and to act on the agenda that he had pushed during the last few months of the previous administration. After Rice requested that all senior staff identify desirable major policy reviews or initiatives, Clarke submitted an elaborate memorandum on January 25, 2001. He attached to it his 1998 Delenda Plan and the December 2000 strategy paper. “We urgently need . . . a Principals level review on the al Qida network,” Clarke wrote.
So there was a plan that was delivered to the new Bush administration, and it was comprehensive, whether or not it was comprehensive enough for Dr. Rice. So don’t tell us you didn’t receive a plan. That is just plainly contradicted by the 9/11 Commission Report.

What seems to me to be a likely explanation for what occurred in early 2001 is this:

Some counterterrorism officials think the new administration responds slowly simply because Clarke’s proposal originally came from the Clinton administration. [Time, 8/4/2002] For instance, Thomas Maertenson, on the National Security Council in both the Clinton and Bush administrations, says, “They really believed their campaign rhetoric about the Clinton administration. So anything [that administration] did was bad, and the Bushies were not going to repeat it.” [New York Times, 3/24/2004; Star-Tribune (Minneapolis), 3/25/2004]
If that is true, then that is truly regrettable. The new Bush administration appeared to be more concerned about playing petty politics than is was about protecting our country. I might argue that their approach has not changed in 5+ years.

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  • At 10:53 AM, Blogger Carl said…

    Curiously, my book o the month was Clarke's book...I disavow any prophecies I may have inadvertently made here.

  • At 12:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Have we reached the point in the Bush administration where we will engage in a Clintonesque parsing of the word "comprehensive"? Will it all boil down to what the meaning of comprehensive is? What a sad, sad situation.

  • At 1:12 PM, Blogger Batocchio said…

    The GOP policy that cannot be perverted is not the eternal GOP policy. ;-)

    Good digging with the 9/11 Commission Report. (And thanks for stopping by Blue Herald.)

    I think what troubles me, as you touch on, is that numerous accounts depict the Bush administration as very reactionary and contrary for the sake of it. If Clinton did it, do the opposite. If George H.W, Bush did it, do the opposite. H.W. Bush's key foreign advisor, Brent Scowcroft, was shunted to the side and then no longer invited to the White House when he counseled a more cautious, patient and realistic foreign policy over the hawkish, reckless attitude still fashionable in the Bush administration. Why not stay in Afghanistan and finish the job against Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and Bin Laden? And even if one thinks invading Iraq was the right thing to do, it is utterly unconscionable not only to not plan adequately for the aftermath, but to aggressively prevent such planning. I'm sadly reminded of young adolescents in the "you can't tell me what to do!" stage of rebellion. Our soldiers and our nation deserve better – as do the people of Afghanistan and Iraq, who are dying at a staggering rate.

  • At 1:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I heard about the Clarke situation after 9/11, sometime before the end of the month. There is no excuse for the Bush administrations mishandling of the terror situation, but that won't stop them from creating one.

  • At 9:59 PM, Blogger jude cowell said…

    Again--how right you are!

    The neocon agenda was all they had their sights on and it irks me now when they criticize what Clinton didn't do because he was "distracted" by Monica-Gate--conveniently failing to mention that they did the distracting!

    Everyone knows that if Clinton had done what they criticize him for now, they would've criticized him no end then--and no cooperation would he have had from the "opposite side of the aisle."

    Twerps. Integrity, my patootie.


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