Richard A. Clarke's commentary on top government leaders, from his new book, "Against All Enemies."
-President Bush: Clarke blames Bush for doing a "terrible job" fighting terrorism. Says "the critique of him as a dumb, lazy rich kid was somewhat
off the mark," but that Bush looks for "the simple solution, the bumper-sticker description of the problem."
-President Clinton: Clarke says he was "beyond mad" over Clinton's lack of discretion that led to his impeachment, but generally praises Clinton as
a charismatic, sharp thinker who couldn't get CIA, Pentagon and FBI to deal with terrorism issues. Says Clinton's approval of missile attacks
against Iraq over the assassination attempt during Bush's father's presidency deterred Saddam Hussein from future terrorism against America.
-Vice President Dick Cheney: Clarke describes Cheney as quiet and calm but radically conservative. Says Cheney believes U.S. could handle Iraq alone
and "everyone else is just more trouble than they are worth." Blames Cheney for failing to speak out about the threat of al-Qaida during senior
White House meetings.
-CIA Director George Tenet: Clarke says Tenet "was as much concerned with the threat of al-Qaida as anyone in the government prior to September 11"
but was struggling with internal rebuilding at the CIA. Tenet is quoted as saying in June 2001, "It's my sixth sense, but I feel it coming. This is
going to be the big one." Says Tenet and Clarke jointly scrapped a doomed plan to capture bin Laden in 1996 at the heavily guarded Tarnak farm in
Afghanistan. Clarke complains regularly about failures by CIA to insert spies effectively into Afghanistan and Somalia.
-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice: Clarke says Rice, who effectively demoted Clarke after Bush's election, has "a closer relationship with
the second President Bush than any of her predecessors had with the presidents they reported to." Says she "looked skeptical" when Clarke briefed
her early in 2001 about al-Qaida threats.
-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld: Clarke accuses Rumsfeld of plotting to bomb Iraq one day after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, despite any evidence
of Iraqi involvement. Says Rumsfeld noted there weren't any good bombing targets in Afghanistan but plenty of targets in Iraq. "At first I thought
Rumsfeld was joking. But he was serious and the president did not reject out of hand the idea of attacking Iraq," Clarke wrote.
-Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz: Clarke quotes him as saying during an April 2001 meeting, "I just don't understand why we are beginning by
talking about this one man bin Laden," and telling Clarke, "You give bin Laden too much credit."
-Secretary of State Colin Powell: Clarke praises Powell for urging focus on al-Qaida, not Iraq, immediately after 2001 attacks. Credited for
recognizing al-Qaida threat early in 2001.
-Attorney General John Ashcroft: Clarke criticizes Ashcroft over his response to the 2001 attacks, especially over handling of alleged "dirty
bomber" Jose Padilla as an enemy combatant. "The attorney general, rather than bringing us together, managed to persuade much of the country that
the needed reforms of the Patriot Act were actually the beginning of fascism." Clarke says an unidentified staffer asked him after meeting with
Ashcroft early in 2001, "He can't really be that slow, can he?" Clarke's response: "He did lose a Senate re-election to a dead man."
-FBI Director Robert Mueller: Clarke says Mueller, who was hired days before the 2001 attacks, "cannot be blamed for the failure of the bureau to
find al-Qaida or even to have a computer network prior to then." But he complains that the FBI, under Mueller, hasn't managed to keep its top
counterterrorism experts from retiring.
-Former FBI Director Louis Freeh: Clarke blames Freeh for failing to coordinate largely independent FBI field offices or upgrade their computer
Does anyone recall the PNAC document that had the bush administration planning for regime change in Iraq before even going into office?