Observations on the world today.

Friday, March 26, 2004

Smearing for King George 

From a Neal Boortz editorial entitled RICHARD CLARKE EITHER IS .. OR WAS .. A LIAR
Let's start with a statement Clarke made to the 9/11 Commission yesterday. Clarke told the commissioners that early on in the Bush administration he told the president: " ... and I said, well, you know, we've had this strategy ready ... ahh ... since before you were inaugurated. I showed it to you. You have the paperwork. We can have a meeting on the strategy anytime you want."

So .. there's Clarke telling the media and the commissioners yesterday that he had presented paperwork to Bush on a strategy for dealing with Al Qaeda and was ready to discuss it. But what did he say to Jim Angle in 2002? This: "I think the overall point is, there was no plan on Al Qaeda that was passed from the Clinton administration to the Bush Administration."

Lying then? Or lying now?

And what about this "Bush did virtually nothing" claim?

In the 2002 background briefing Clarke said: "When President Bush told us in March to stop swatting at flies and just solve this problem, then that was the strategic direction that triggered the NSPD (National Security Presidential Directive) from one of roll back to one of elimination." "NSPD" is National Security Presidential Directive. So Clark was telling reporters in August of 2002 that the directive from the president in March of 2001 was to stop swatting at flies ... to eliminate Al Qaeda. This is what calls doing virtually nothing?

In the 2002 briefing Clarke also told Angle and the rest of the reporters that Bush had ordered an increase in CIA resources by five times .. .including funding for covert actions against Al Qaeda. Again ... doing virtually nothing?

Here's the kicker. It comes from the transcript of the 2002 Clarke briefing ... near the end.

Jim Angle: "So, just to finish up if we could then, so what you're saying is that there was no -- one, there was no plan; two, there was no delay; and that actually the first changes since October of '98 were made in the months just after the administration came into office?

Richard Clarke: "You got it. That's right.

So .. while the terrorist threat was increasing Clinton made no changes in his plan of action against terrorism during the last two years of his presidency, but Bush got on the stick immediately. That is what Clarke is now describing as "doing virtually nothing."

Obviously Clarke is lying. We just have to figure out which statements are the lies? Was he lying in 2002 when he was working in the Bush White House? Or is he lying now when he's trying to sell a book?
Okay, Boortz is a fool, but that's been established. However, even occasionally a fool can have a flash of insight.

But not today.

Boortz tries unsuccessfully to characterize two separate apparent conflicts as lies. The first is Clarke saying in 2002 that no plan was passed from Clinton to Bush, and then supposedly "contradicting" himself in 2004 when he says that the Bush people refused to accept the plan.

Where is the contradiction?

In the second supposed contradiction, here is what Clarke said about that under oath in the commission hearings:
THOMPSON: Well, let's take a look, then, at your press briefing, because I don't want to engage in semantic games. You said, the Bush administration decided, then, you know, mid-January -- that's mid- January, 2001 -- to do 2 things: one, vigorously pursue the existing the policy -- that would be the Clinton policy -- including all of the lethal covert action findings which we've now made public to some extent. Is that so? Did they decide in January of 2001 to vigorously pursue the existing Clinton policy?

CLARKE: They decided that the existing covert action findings would remain in effect.

THOMPSON: OK. The second thing the administration decided to do is to initiate a process to look at those issues which had been on the table for a couple of years and get them decided. Now, that seems to indicate to me that proposals had been sitting on the table in the Clinton administration for a couple of years, but that the Bush administration was going to get them done. Is that a correct assumption?

CLARKE: Well, that was my hope at the time. It turned out not to be the case.

THOMPSON: Well, then why in August of 2002, over a year later, did you say that it was the case?

CLARKE: I was asked to make that case to the press. I was a special assistant to the president, and I made the case I was asked to make.

THOMPSON: Are you saying to me you were asked to make an untrue case to the press and the public, and that you went ahead and did it?

CLARKE: No, sir. Not untrue. Not an untrue case. I was asked to highlight the positive aspects of what the administration had done and to minimize the negative aspects of what the administration had done. And as a special assistant to the president, one is frequently asked to do that kind of thing. I've done it for several presidents.
So Clarke is saying that in that episode, he was putting a pretty face on some criticism for the president. He say's he wasn't lying, but that he was saying what he hoped would turn out to be true. We know that he quit because it did not turn out that way.

So, the answer to Boortz's question of whether he was lying then or now is that it depends on how broad a definition of lie you want to use. If you use a very broad definition, he wasn't lying at all. If you choose a very narrow definition, he was lying then in 2002 when he said that the Bush administration was going to act on the recommendations.

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