... For Clarke, then in his 10th year as a top White House official, that day marked the transition from neglect to folly in the Bush administration's stewardship of war with Islamic extremists. His account -- in 'Against All Enemies,' which reaches bookstores today, and in interviews accompanying publication -- is the first detailed portrait of the Bush administration's wartime performance by a major participant. Acknowledged by foes and friends as a leading figure among career national security officials, Clarke served more than two years in the Bush White House after holding senior posts under Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. He resigned 13 months ago yesterday.
Although expressing points of disagreement with all four presidents, Clarke reserves by far his strongest language for George W. Bush. The president, he said, 'failed to act prior to September 11 on the threat from al Qaeda despite repeated warnings and then harvested a political windfall for taking obvious yet insufficient steps after the attacks.' The rapid shift of focus to Saddam Hussein, Clarke writes, 'launched an unnecessary and costly war in Iraq that strengthened the fundamentalist, radical Islamic terrorist movement worldwide.'
Among the motives for the war, Clarke argues, were the politics of the 2002 midterm election. 'The crisis was manufactured, and Bush political adviser Karl Rove was telling Republicans to 'run on the war,' ' Clarke writes.
Clarke describes his book, in the preface, as 'factual, not polemical,' and he said in an interview that he was a registered Republican in the 2000 election. But the book arrives amid a general election campaign in which Bush asks to be judged as a wartime president, and Clarke has thrust himself loudly among the critics. Publication also coincides with politically sensitive public testimony this week by Clinton and Bush administration officials -- including Clarke -- before an independent commission investigating the events of Sept. 11.
... "Any leader whom one can imagine as president on September 11 would have declared a 'war on terrorism' and would have ended the Afghan sanctuary [for al Qaeda] by invading," Clarke writes. "What was unique about George Bush's reaction" was the additional choice to invade "not a country that had been engaging in anti-U.S. terrorism but one that had not been, Iraq." In so doing, he estranged allies, enraged potential friends in the Arab and Islamic worlds, and produced "more terrorists than we jail or shoot."
"It was as if Osama bin Laden, hidden in some high mountain redoubt, were engaging in long-range mind control of George Bush, chanting 'invade Iraq, you must invade Iraq,' " Clarke writes.
Senior civil servants like Clarke are the people who truly govern our nation. When they resign things are very bad.
Note the reference to the 9/11 committee. It's easy to see why Hastert and Bush have wanted to kill the 9/11 committee -- including chairing it with someone who shares Bush's negligence.
It looks like Bush was wrong to believe Saddam was involved with 9/11. But right or wrong, it's very clear Bush had no particular evidence to justify his beliefs. He believed his intuition, and had no use for contrary facts or opinions.
Bush is certainly decisive. Decisively irrational.
Two comments on the last statements. Some particularly craven journalists give Bush credit for deciding to invade Afghanistan. Jimmy Carter, much criticised for an allegedly pacifist and indecisive nature, wouldn't have hesitated for a fraction of second to invade Afghanistan. That was a forgone conclusion. Bush gets no points for invading Afghanistan. Secondly some have claimed that Kerry is "bin Laden's candidate". I don't think so! No president could have done a better job of serving bin Laden's agenda than George W. Bush. If we can convince the terrorists that their actions will elect Kerry, we may yet avert an attack prior to November.
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