Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Sunday, March 28, 2004  

Never Try to Bluff an Honest Man

"I would welcome it being declassified, but not just a little line here or there. Let's declassify all six hours of my testimony....

"Yes, and those documents I just referred to and Dr. Rice's testimony before the 9-11 Commission because the victims' families have no idea what Dr. Rice has said. There weren't in those closed hearings where she testified before the 9-11 Commission. They want to know. So let's take her testimony before the 9-11 Commission and make it part of the package of what gets declassified along with the national security decision directive of September 4 and along with my memo of January 25.

"In fact, Tim, let's go further. The White House is selectively now finding my e-mails, which I would have assumed were covered by some privacy regulations, and selectively leaking them to the press. Let's take all of my e-mails and all of the memos that I've sent to the national security adviser and her deputy from January 20 to September 11 and let's declassify all of it."

--Richard Clarke, Meet the Press, this morning

Whoops. The White House has been in spin mode so long they haven't the faintest clue which direction is up. I suppose they expected Clarke to cringe and shrink away from his record just as surely as they cringe and shrink away any time there's talk of investigating their own record. They forgot that sometimes a person goes to work, does the best job he knows how, and stands by his record. Clarke's happy to remind them.

Having seen that the President stoops quickly to personal attacks, Clarke pulled out some of his personal artillery--a letter from the President written after Clarke resigned.

"Dear Dick, you will be missed. You served our nation with distinction and honor. You have left a positive mark on our government." This is not the normal typewritten letter that everybody gets. This is the president's handwriting. He thinks I served with distinction and honor. The rest of his staff is out there trying to destroy my professional life, trying to destroy my reputation, because I had the temerity to suggest that a policy issue should be discussed. What is the role of the war on terror vis-a-vis the war in Iraq? Did the war in Iraq really hurt the war on terror? Because I suggest we should have a debate on that, I am now being the victim of a taxpayer-paid--because all these people work for the government-- character assassination campaign.

There's quite a bit of discussion about Clarke's motivation there too--though personally I find it rather tedious. If you're stupid enough to question Clarke's motivation in writing the book, but not Bush's motivation in trying to smear Clarke, there's not anything anyone can say to penetrate your ignorance.

Russert: Bush Attack Dog
It is fairly evident that Tim Russert is carrying the White House's water again--he came in armed with the most damning information available (to friends of the administration). He also repeated the most vicious of the attacks on Clarke. Through it all, Clarke responded exactly as you would expect an honest man with nothing to hide to respond. Example:

MR. RUSSERT: Forty-two family members wrote an open letter which is in the papers today saying that the book is offensive and profiteering and maximizing book sales because of September 11. What do you say to those families?

That's a low blow if ever there was one. (He doesn't mention the families who were delighted that someone--anyone--from the White House finally apologized.) Clarke would be forgiven, in my view, for punching Russert in the nose. How did he actually respond?

MR. CLARKE: Well, I say I'd like them to read it. You know, as to Senator Frist's comments, that it's filled with highly classified information, it was approved by the White House for release. And anything that the White House found in it that they thought was highly classified was removed. You know, I had a very emotional meeting with the families after the commission hearing. I had asked for their forgiveness in my testimony. And several of them came up to me and said, "I forgive you, I forgive you." It was a moment that I will never forget. And for Senator Frist to say that I didn't have the right to ask for their forgiveness, that I didn't have the right to apologize, I just think is an example of how this whole debate has gotten overheated. And I'd like to return to a level of civility here.

Further evidence of Russert water-carrying: he spent a long time rehashing the Clinton material. Russert might have had Clarke on the show to offer his own views; instead, Clarke was in the interrogation room, grilled by Russert, the White House's proxy. When Russert finally arrives at what I think is the most damning claims by Clarke--that Bush attacked Iraq even though he knew it wasn't connected to al Qaida--it's to defend against Bush counterattacks aimed at Clarke. ("Did you speak out against the war inside the government?")

He rounds off the interrogation with the Kerry charges. Clarke, again, manages them admirably.

MR. RUSSERT: In 2004 you'll vote for John Kerry?

MR. CLARKE: I'm not going to endorse John Kerry. That's what the White House wants me to do. And they want to say I'm part of the Kerry campaign. I've already pledged I'm not part of the Kerry campaign and I will not serve in the Kerry administration.

MR. RUSSERT: Will you vote for him?

MR. CLARKE: That's my business.

The Bushies may finally have run up against their worst nightmare: an honest man.

posted by Jeff | 10:37 AM |
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