Tuesday :: Mar 23, 2004

Now Even The NYT Goes On The Hunt In The Clarke Story


by Steve

Aside from what happens over the next several days at the 9/11 Commission hearings, even the NYT and its discredited reporters Lis Bumiller and Judith Miller are getting into the act of looking for ways to back up Dick Clarke’s story. In today’s edition of the Times, Bumiller and Miller find several of the witnesses Clarke claimed to the face-to-face encounter he had with Bush right after 9/11. And in so doing, they expose Condi once again as at least having a convenient loss of memory, and at most of lying through her twin-mirrored teeth.

One ally, Mr. Clarke's former deputy, Roger Cressey, backed the thrust of one of the most incendiary accusations in the book, about a conversation that Mr. Clarke said he had with Mr. Bush in the White House Situation Room on the night of Sept. 12, 2001. Mr. Clarke said Mr. Bush pressed him three times to find evidence that Iraq was behind the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The accusation is explosive because no such link has ever been proved.

Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary, responded at a White House briefing on Monday that Mr. Bush did not remember having the conversation, and that there were no records that placed the president in the Situation Room at the time.

Mr. Clarke countered in a telephone interview on Monday that he had four witnesses, including Mr. Cressey, who is a partner with Mr. Clarke in a consulting company that advises on cybersecurity issues. In an interview, Mr. Cressey said the national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, also witnessed the exchange. Administration officials said Ms. Rice had no recollection of it.

Another ally of Mr. Clarke, Thomas R. Maertens, confirmed the outlines of Mr. Clarke's critique of the White House. Mr. Maertens, who served as National Security Council director for nuclear nonproliferation on both the Clinton and Bush White House staffs, said that Mr. Clarke had repeatedly tried to warn senior officials in the Bush administration about the growing threat of Al Qaeda.

"He was the guy pushing hardest, saying again and again that something big was going to happen, including possibly here in the U.S.," Mr. Maertens said Monday from his home in Minnesota. But Mr. Maertens said that the Bush White House was reluctant to believe a holdover from the previous administration.

"They really believed their campaign rhetoric about the Clinton administration," Mr. Maertens said. "So anything they did was bad, and the Bushies were not going to repeat it. And it's disgusting to see the administration now putting a full-court smear on Clarke — for being right."

In addition to Mr. Cressey, at least two other former officials with knowledge of what occurred in the Situation Room that day also backed up the thrust of Mr. Clarke's account, though one of the two challenged Mr. Clarke's assertion that Mr. Bush's demeanor and that of other senior White House officials was intimidating.

And of the many lines of attack the White House is using to attack Clarke, they now claim he was almost obsessive in his pursuit of Al Qaeda. Almost obsessive? Is that a bad thing? Don’t you want your chief of counter-terrorism to be obsessive in going after terrorists you yourself say the prior administration should have dealt with? Doesn’t such an argument from the White House confirm Clarke’s account?

Administration officials said Mr. Clarke, who was on Ms. Rice's staff, was kept on after the Clinton administration because she wanted to maintain continuity in counterterrorism policy.

Mr. Clarke, they said, proved to be almost obsessive — a description he applies to himself in the book — about attacking Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden and impatient that many of his ideas, like forging a closer alliance with the Northern Alliance, the Taliban resistance in Afghanistan, were not adopted.

Again, the White House is using a line of attack here that actually makes Clarke’s case for him.

It is notable that Bumiller and Miller are both on this case with an aggressive and thorough story that backs up Clarke. It appears that the Times is tired of losing out on this story to the Post and wants to resume the competitive sharkpack mentality to see who can nail the story (and the White House) first, using its two most knee-padded reporters to do it.

And lastly, to those complaints by the White House that Clarke was timing the release of his book to do maximum damage to Bush in the middle of the election, Clarke refuted that charge last night on “Charlie Rose” when he told Rose that the White House is responsible for the book coming out now. Why? Because Clarke finished the book and had the manuscript delivered to the White House for its national security screening last November.

Steve :: 8:03 AM :: Comments (5) :: Spotlight :: Digg It!