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Richard Clarke's Agenda
by George Shadroui
24 March 2004

Where was Richard Clarke when the Sudan offered to serve up Osama Bin Laden on a platter and the Clinton administration did not explore the offer?

I haven't read the book and probably won't, but published reports and a lengthy interview on 60 Minutes were enough to confirm in my mind that Richard Clarke is a Democratic hit man.

That's right. The man who supposedly served honorably in both Republican and Democratic administrations has unleashed a barrage of criticism in the direction of the Bush administration that is so transparently one-sided it is difficult to conclude that he is anything other than a Democratic operative.

Most of the criticism is rehash. Consider the claims: Bush wanted to take Saddam out even before 9/11, as if there is dishonor in wanting to implement U.S. policy and remove a tyrant who was a regional and international threat. Clark charges that Bush wanted there to be a link between Saddam and Al Qaeda, as if the inability to establish a smoking-gun link was not national news that the Bush administration itself acknowledged. Clark also charges that Bush let Al-Qaeda off the hook, as if removing its protectors and destroying its bases in Afghanistan was not a serious and sustained commitment against the terrorist network.

Clarke's real beef is political and personal. He wanted to continue being the Czar of anti-terrorism, but got pushed aside by Bush, who preferred the counsel of his National Security Advisor and the head of the CIA. This refusal by Bush to meet personally with Clarke or to keep his position cabinet level seems to be the real animus that drives this former public servant, who no doubt will soon be a Kerry job applicant should the Democrat be elected. Clarke teaches a class with Kerry's foreign policy advisor at the Kennedy School at Harvard. Conspiracy anyone?

What is most amazing is how much easy air time Clarke is being given by the media. To take just one example, Ken Oberland on MSNBC made much of Clarke's book, but seemed taken aback when his own consultant, General Wayne Downing, questioned a number of the claims made by Clarke. Oberland tried to portray Clarke as a victim of Bush attacks, when in fact Downing felt Clarke's criticism of Bush was unfair and personal.

It also has to be underscored again that Clarke headed up the feeble anti-terrorism effort under Clinton for several years, which makes his charges against Bush all the more outrageous. 

Give the guy credit for chutzpah, but we might want to ask a few tougher questions than Leslie Stall managed. First, where was Clarke when the Sudan offered to serve up Osama Bin Laden on a platter and the Clinton administration did not explore the offer?  Would it be reasonable to hold Clarke or Clinton accountable for 9/11, not a new administration that was still trying to get its bearings after a divisive and controversial election?

Where were Clarke and the Clinton Administration after the first World Trade Center bombing, the attacks on U.S. Embassies and the attack on the U.S.S. Cole? Why didn't they see it coming and why didn't they protect our citizens? Better yet, why didn't they stop Timothy McVeigh from killing hundreds of innocent people in Oklahoma?

If it is fair to insinuate neglect on the part of the Bush administration, why doesn't the mainstream media hold the Democrats who occupied the White House during eight years of ongoing terrorism to the same critique? You begin to see just how partisan much of the criticism is.

Our government has an obligation to do its best to protect our country and its citizens, but you can no more stop every act of terrorism than you can every robbery across the nation. It is time we talked sensibly about this threat and it is time the Democrats stopped trying to portray honest policy differences as matters of corruption or malfeasance. If they can't contain their rhetoric during a time of war, they should be introduced to the same petard on which they seek to hoist Bush. Bush is hardly perfect, but compared to the Democrats attacking him – Kerry, Kennedy and many others – he has been restrained and statesmanlike.

Agree or disagree with the war on Iraq, and no one denies that it has been tough going at times, Saddam was a destabilizing force, a threat to his neighbors and a player in international terrorism.  A final phase of our war with Iraq was inevitable, sooner or later. Bush chose to act decisively after 9/11 because he wanted to take the battle to those most likely to constitute a threat against our country.

To ascribe to the Bush administration insidious motives or to describe its aggressive actions as a dereliction of duty is absurd, which makes the arguments put forward by the Democrats and their allies absurdity squared.

George Shadroui has been published in more than two dozen newspapers and magazines, including National Review and Frontpagemag.com.

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