Thanks to Clarke's kiss-and-tell insiders memoir, "Against
All Enemies," the American public now has a clear picture
of the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of the Bush team, along
with their massive failures to comprehend the menace from al Queda,
both before and after 9/11 (Clinton and his administration comes
in for a fair share of blame too.).
however, has taken a page from the Watergate playbook, embracing
a quest for power while at the same time proposing dubious initiatives.
key question is: What did the President know and when did he know
The Bush administration has forgotten the lesson learned the hard
way by President Richard Nixon, the same President who, on November
17th, 1973 told an audience of newspaper editors, "I am not
In 1972 Nixon appointed young John Dean as Counselor to the President.
Dean (much like Clarke) desperately wanted to be a player in the
White House. As relayed by J. Anthony Lukas, in perhaps the best
book ever written about Watergate, "Nightmare," Nixon
was determined to keep an "enemies list" of those people
who were seeking to thwart his re-election.
shared his twisted plans with his sycophant Dean. As Nixon put
it to Dean, "They are asking for it and they are going to
get it. We never used this power [the Internal Revenue Service]
in the first four years as you know. We have never used it. We
have never used the [FBI] bureau, and we have not used the Justice
Department, but things are going to change now. And they [the
federal bureaucrats] are going to do it now or go."
Dean's response? "What an exciting prospect!"
But it was to be Dean's "exciting" and devastatingly
accurate memory of Nixon and the White House felons-in-waiting,
put forth in marathon testimony before impeachment hearings that
spelled the end for Richard Nixon.
calmly, coldly, proffered a word-for-word, phrase- by-phrase recitation
of the Nixon/White House advisors/Cabinet officers misdeeds, high
crimes and misdemeanors.
made an end to Nixon's reign inevitable. When it was revealed
that Nixon had been audio taping all his White House conversations,
it turned out that yes, Dean had recalled it all correctly, crooked
word for crooked word.
Three decades and six presidents later, we have Richard Clarke,
instead of John Dean, testifying before the 9/11 Commission, providing
an insider's ear and eye to the clumsy, Machiavellian missteps
of the Bush administration and President Bush himself.
Clarke's tale sounds right. I believe it. Just as Dean's words
sounded right. Verisimilitude rings true to the ear that way.
Clarke is also a fierce political infighter. Anyone who survives
in White Houses under Reagan, Bush I, Clinton and Bush II
becoming more powerful with each administration is a bureaucrat
who knows how to serve his own political and personal interests.
(This is a guy who stuffed a .357 into his belt as he strode back
in the White House after 9/11 to what end, shoot it out
with Condi? give his crotch greater heft?)
Clarke is also responsible for coining the doom-laden phase "Cyber
Pearl Harbor," a hobgoblin cyberterrorism threat as realistic
as the 1983 computer-cum-nuclear doomsday film War Games.
to Clarke (now ensconced in the comfortable groves of academe
at Harvard, counting his royalties) Hey Richard, name one
person who died from cyberterrorism?
It was also Clarke who initially (and eventually successfully)
sought to weaken the Freedom of Information Act as it relates
to corporations. Thanks to the Department of Homeland's enabling
legislation, John Ashcroft's dark propensities and Clarke's hype-vocabulary,
it's going to be tougher to chase corporate do-badders via their
next time one tries to chase corporate corruption, Haliburton,
for example, you'll get a response, something to the effect that
"No, you can't have that information because of our cooperation
with Homeland Security." Kinda makes Dick Cheney feel all
warm and cosy all over.
It also makes one kinda want to tell Clarke where to shove his
Do I believe Clarke about what happened in the White House?
Sure. Same as I believed John Dean.
That still doesn't make me want to sit next to either one of them
at a dinner party.
Clarke's prism, we see President Bush's National Security Advisor
Condoleezza Rice, as she is briefed by Clarke on al Queda. "[H]er
facial expression gave me [Clarke] the impression she had never
heard the term before," or Lynn Cheney, who, on September
11th, in her Vice-President-husband's office offering her distinctly
right wing "advice and opinion in the bunker."
George W. Bush himself "who 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 insignificant
steps after the attacks; and who launched an unnecessary and costly
war in Iraq that strengthened the fundamentalist, radical Islamic
terrorist movement worldwide."
In short Bush and lots of people around him, blew it. The whole
nine yards of September 11th and its aftermath, including their
attempted decimation of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights
all of it done in the name of combating terrorism.
war in Iraq brings back Vietnam war memories of "We had to
destroy the village in order to save it" (Stateside, the
credit for the damage to the Bill of Rights, belongs in large
measure, to Bible-thumping, self-righteous Attorney General John
Ashcroft. Questions on that? Check with Jose Padilla.)
The Bush administration has fired up all its guns against Clarke
and why not their re-election campaign is now in serious
jeopardy. The Bush re-elect team was in the process of spending
the next 90 days and millions of dollars to negatively "define"
and thus seriously wound/damage/ Senator John Kerry.
what winds up on the front page? Clarke's accusations and Bush
powerhouses lamely offering the mantra of "not recalling."
Add to that full days of fully televised 9/11 Commission hearings.
Z. Koch is an award-winning investigative reporter. He can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org