It's worse than Watergate
It's worse than Watergate
That's the title of John Dean's new book, but it reminds me of what Dean's collegues tried to do. Richard Clarke isn't lying, at least bgy any legaldefinition. Tim Russert had him on for an entire hour and his statements are remarkably consistant over time.
The desperation of the Bush Administration over this week was not only shameful, but a waste of our tax dollars. How ridiculous is their assault on Dick Clarke?
He was the chief expert on counterterrorism in FOUR White Houses. Four presidents vetted him and hired him. He's been doing this since most of the aides of the President were in school. If he was a pathological liar, it would have been exposed. The White House wants to make him out to nbe some clerk, instead of the policy expert he was. If the public understood how important his role was, Bush would resign in disgrace.
The Bush Administration, led by Rove, don't care. All they care about is reelection. Not that Clarke may be right, that we may have made mistakes. Bush cannot admit mistakes.
Bill Frist should change his name to Bob Dole, with his shameful defense ofg Bush on the Senate floor. Richard Clarke had every right to apologize because he didn't do his job and admits it. Which means he has more character than in the entire Bush White House. Just like Dole did for Nixon, Frist is defending the indefensable.
George Bush is not even as subtle as Nixon. The attempt to smear Daniel Ellsberg was a black bag job, It was secret. Bush admits to wanting to ruin Dick Clarke, something that isn't going to happen. But it makes Bush look small and evil. In a week of allegations, they never denied the substance of his charges, which is that the Bush Administration neglected to take terrorism as seriously as the last two administrations did. They tried to turn Clarke's words around on him, but do they think the MIT-trained, 30 year bureaucrat, is stupid enough to write a book at variance with previous sworn testimony?
Now, the lifelong security official is a partisan liar trying to elect John Kerry after spending half his career in Republican White Houses? If he wanted to do that, he could have joined the Kerry campaign, like his successor and friend, Rand Beers.
I find that part of the story is missing from the tale of Richard Clarke. The guy who took his job was so frustrated that he didn't just quit and write a book, he went to work for the opposition. It didn't make a big splash at the time, but that is remarkable.
These guys thought their problems came from Baghdad and the whole world knows that. The Bushies thought Saddam was some kind of mastermind, when in reality he could barely control his army, much less the local tribes. Terrorism was far too risky for him. After the Clarke-inspired attack on the secret police headquarters, Saddam got out of the terrorism business.
It is amazing how the neo-cons are still spinning how their hopeless war in Iraq has something to do with Al Qaeda? Richard Perle is lying right now on CNN. I hope he's consciously lying, because if he believes Saddam and AQ were linked, he's insane.
What is even more revolting is that Clarke knows all these people personally. He's socialized with them, gone to their homes and on a dime, they turn on him. The only one who wouldn't join in was Colin Powell. Why? Maybe he's covering his ass, or leaving Condi to hang out in the wind or as is more likely, Clarke did him a favor which Powell can't pretend didn't happen. Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz are ideologues, they care not for favors. But maybe Clarke's office saved some State people overseas. Or maybe Powell wants to retain some of his soul. Who knows?
Watergate was about Nixon's paranoia. But it didn't kill 600 soldiers and wound 3000. It was an insult to our democracy. But this, this is vile beyond belief. If Bush had character, the American people would have forgiven an admission of mistakes. Instead, he must run a zero defect government. He never does anything wrong and anyone who does, doesn't work for him.
If anyone is surprised by the press coverage of this, which I actually think is fair, because Clarke was a source for many of the reporters and they know him as an honest guy, they shouldn't be. When Watergate was discovered, it was by two junior reporters, one on his way out of the door, loitering around the courts and cop house.
Their reporting was challenged by both the political and national staffs inside the Post. Outside, they were ignored for months. When Nixon came hard at Katherine Graham, threatening her TV stations which kept the paper alive, there was deafening silence. There have always been Heathers in Washington and New York. David Halberstam and Peter Arnett were no heroes to their editors when they reported on Vietnam.
A lot of people will turn their back on the truth for various reasons, some selfish, some ideological, some just from disbelief. But if Dick Clarke is a pathological liar, as some claim, or a dangerous partisan distoring the truth, it means both Congress and four Presidents misplaced their trust in a man ensuring this country's security. Which is a far more serious indictment of this government than anything Clarke writes in his book. If his critics feel that way, he should be indicted and brought before a judge. Somehow, I doubt that is going to happen.
posted by Steve @ 12:16:00 PM