Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 13, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

COUNTERTERRORISM....When I was reading Richard Clarke's Against All Enemies, one of the things that struck me was that everyone who takes the chief counterterrorism job in George Bush's White House gets disgusted pretty quickly and leaves. Over at TNR's Campaign Journal, Ryan Lizza notes that the latest counterterrorism chief, Frances Fragos Townsend, has recently resigned and summarizes the revolving door like this:

First there was Richard Clarke. We all know what happened to him. He left his post in disgust and wrote a book arguing that Bush paid no attention to terrorism before 9/11 and that the war in Iraq was a monumental diversion from the fight against al Qaeda and a gift to jihadist recruiters across the Muslim world. Clarke was replaced by General Wayne Downing, a pro-Iraq war hawk. Nonetheless, he had a similar experience, lasting a total of 10 months before abruptly resigning in frustration at how the White House bureaucracy was responding to the terrorist threat. Downing was replaced by two men, General [John] Gordon, who lasted ten months before moving on to his homeland security job, and Rand Beers, who resigned in disgust over the Iraq war after seven months in his post. His experience was searing enough that he immediately joined the Kerry campaign. Beers was replaced by Townsend, who has now been tapped to replace Gordon, who is apparently resigning under circumstances similar to Clarke and Beers. (Got all that?)

In a followup post Ryan notes that there's actually a sixth person to add to this list.

There doesn't seem to be a single person who knows anything about counterterrorism who can stand to be in Bush's White House for more than a few months. What does this tell you about both their competence and their dedication to building a counterterrorism program that actually works?

Kevin Drum 3:26 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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