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Clarke Then and Now
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Is this the same guy?

Richard Clarke, in public testimony this week:

CLARKE: My impression was that fighting terrorism, in general, and fighting Al Qaida, in particular, were an extraordinarily high priority in the Clinton administration -- certainly no higher priority.


CLARKE: I believe the Bush administration in the first eight months considered terrorism an important issue, but not an urgent issue.

And in a briefing in 2002:

And the third point is the Bush administration decided then, you know, in late January, to do two things. One, vigorously pursue the existing policy, including all of the lethal covert action findings, which we've now made public to some extent.

And the point is, while this big review was going on, there were still in effect, the lethal findings were still in effect. 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.

So, point five, that 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.


JIM ANGLE: You're saying that the Bush administration did not stop anything that the Clinton administration was doing while it was making these decisions, and by the end of the summer had increased money for covert action five-fold. Is that correct?

CLARKE: All of that's correct. the testimony and the transcript go together?

I'm sure somebody smart out there can explain that they actually do. That you could maintain all existing policies and increase funding for new intiatives, while being less concerned about terrorism.

Attitudes are subjective, right? I mean, I keep hearing liberals say to stop attacking Clarke on character issues or book profit concerns and address the factual basis of his claims. Well, we can't honestly be expected to objectively verify claims of what Bush and Condi and Rumsfeld were thinking...or what their demeanor was.

We can't verify what Bush said to Clarke when he yanked him into a private room, can we? So we have to look at policy...that's pretty much the only objective measure of the Bush team's level of concern for terrorism, isn't it? And according to Clarke himself, they not only continued all existing policies and programs from the Clinton years, they kept on the same counter-terrorism team for continuity, and increased funding five-fold for covert action, a program that Clarke says he pressed for under Clinton but never got.

Based on policy, how does that possibly reflect a lesser degree of urgency or attention than the efforts under Clinton?

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