Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 26, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

CLARKE ROUNDUP....Here are a few miscellaneous items about Dick Clarke that I haven't had time to mention yet:

  • Clarke says that Donald Rumsfeld was at a terrorism meeting a few days before 9/11 and looked "distracted." Rumsfeld says he wasn't even at the meeting, which shows that Clarke is full of it. Aren't there minutes of this meeting somewhere? I doubt the attendee list is classified, so shouldn't we be able to sort this out pretty quickly?

  • The White House apparently saw Clarke's finished book three months ago when he submitted it for a security review, which makes the administration's Keystone Cops response to Clarke all the harder to understand. As the Washington Post puts it:

    Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage contradicted Rice's claim that the White House had a strategy before 9/11 for military operations against al Qaeda and the Taliban; the CIA contradicted Rice's earlier assertion that Bush had requested a CIA briefing in the summer of 2001 because of elevated terrorist threats; and Rice's assertion this week that Bush told her on Sept. 16, 2001, that "Iraq is to the side" appeared to be contradicted by an order signed by Bush on Sept. 17 directing the Pentagon to begin planning military options for an invasion of Iraq.

    Rice, in turn, has contradicted Vice President Cheney's assertion that Clarke was "out of the loop" and his intimation that Clarke had been demoted. Rice has also given various conflicting accounts. She criticized Clarke for being the architect of failed Clinton administration policies, but also said she retained Clarke so the Bush administration could continue to pursue Clinton's terrorism policies.

  • Condoleezza Rice, upset over Clarke's attacks on her, wants to meet with the 9/11 commission again, but only in private and not under oath. The problem with refusing to testify under oath is pretty obvious, but the issue of privacy is a little more subtle.

    If sensitive national security issues are being discussed, a private session is obviously appropriate, but that doesn't seem to be what's going on here. Rather, much like a source who wants to talk off the record, it's an opportunity to slam Clarke and create doubt about his credibility without giving him a chance to respond. After all, how can you respond to charges that are made secretly and can't be divulged by anyone there?

    This is the real problem with an awful lot of off-the-record sourcing as well. It gives someone a chance to plant doubt about someone else's credibility, but it prevents the victim from responding since the reporter is not allowed use the material directly. Rice is playing the same game.

There's too much to keep up with on the Clarke story without driving yourself mad, so that's it for now. As usual, The Progress Report has more, much more....

Kevin Drum 1:03 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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