In 2002 Richard Clarke meticulously described Bush’s approach to the terrorism threat as taking what the Clinton administration had been doing, continuing that exact strategy in the same way, and at the same developing new strategies to deal with issues that had been on the table but unaddressed since at least 1998. He has a seven-point outline of what the Bush administration did.
And the third point is the Bush administration decided then, you know, mid-January, to do two things. One, vigorously pursue the existing policy, including all of the lethal covert action findings, which we’ve now made public to some extent.
And the point is, while this big review was going on, there were still in effect, the lethal findings were still in effect. 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.
So, point five, that process which was initiated in the first week in February, uh, decided in principle, uh in the spring to add to the existing Clinton strategy and to increase CIA resources, for example, for covert action, five-fold, to go after Al Qaeda.
Five-fold. In the budget. Al Qaeda specifically targeted. March of 2001. Two months after taking office.
Particularly interesting is Clarke’s statement that not only did the Bush administration back off from existing issues, but they actively began working on issues that had been mostly untouched for several years, like the Taliban and Pakistan. Remember, this is all before 9/11. Some retrospectively important issues had been allowed to languish on the back burner for years.
ANGLE: And none of that really changed until we were attacked and then it was …
CLARKE: No, that’s not true. In the spring, the Bush administration changed — began to change Pakistani policy, um, by a dialogue that said we would be willing to lift sanctions. So we began to offer carrots, which made it possible for the Pakistanis, I think, to begin to realize that they could go down another path, which was to join us and to break away from the Taliban. So that’s really how it started.
Can that be right? I though Bush’s only plan for the War on Terror was to invade Iraq.
At the time of the interview, Clarke was a special advisor on cyberspace security. He resigned in 2003 and has a book coming out. Do you think that anything he talked about in this interview will be in that book? From the tone of his recent statements, I’d say not. Probably trimmed from the manuscript to improve the pacing, or some such.
UPDATE: ACE posted on this, as well. Despite the fact that we made several eerily similar statements, I didn’t (repeat DIDN’T) see his post before I wrote mine. And, despite the fact that I don’t think anyone has ever seen Murdoc and ACE in the same place at the same time, we are not the same person.