Richard Clarke Reminds Cheney and Condi of Their Incompetence

When I saw Condi saying, "unless you were there, in a position of responsibility, you cannot possibly imagine the dilemmas we faced in trying to protect Americans," to Stanford students, my instinct was to remind everyone that she was forced to admit, "I believe the title was ‘Bin Laden determined to attack inside the United States.’"

Richard Clarke, after listening to Cheney and Condi make similar statements for a month, has a similar instinct (and of course, he’s in a position to make the argument more strongly than I). Today, he’s got an op-ed reminding readers of how Cheney and Condi refused to take terrorism seriously until it was too late. And once they did, they overreacted.

He describes the panic with which Cheney responded on 9/11.

I remember that morning, too. Shortly after the second World Trade Center tower was hit, I burst in on Rice (then the president’s national security adviser) and Cheney in the vice president’s office and remember glimpsing horror on his face.

And then he catalogs how the excessiveness of Cheney’s and Condi’s response led to more failures (click through for his discussion of the Iraq debacle).

On detention, the Bush team leaped to the assumption that U.S. courts and prisons would not work. Before the terrorist attacks, the U.S. counterterrorism program of the 1990s had arrested al-Qaeda terrorists and others around the world and had a 100 percent conviction rate in the U.S. justice system. Yet the American system was abandoned, again as part of a pattern of immediately adopting the most extreme response available. Camps were established around the world, notably in Guantanamo Bay, where prisoners were held without being charged or tried. They became symbols of American overreach, held up as proof that al-Qaeda’s anti-American propaganda was right.

Similarly, with regard to interrogation, administration officials conducted no meaningful professional analysis of which techniques worked and which did not. The FBI, which had successfully questioned al-Qaeda terrorists, was effectively excluded from interrogations. Instead, there was the immediate and unwarranted assumption that extreme measures — such as waterboarding one detainee 183 times — would be the most effective.

Finally, on wiretapping, rather than beef up the procedures available under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), the administration again moved to the extreme, listening in on communications here at home without legal process. FISA did need some modification, but it also allowed for the quick issuance of court orders, as when President Clinton took stepped-up defensive measures in late 1999 under the heightened threat of the new millennium.

Yes, Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice may have been surprised by the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 — but it was because they had not listened. And their surprise led them to adopt extreme counterterrorism techniques — but it was because they rejected, without analysis, the tactics the Clinton administration had used. The measures they uncritically adopted, which they simply assumed were the best available, were in fact unnecessary and counterproductive.

"I’ll freely admit that watching a coordinated, devastating attack on our country from an underground bunker at the White House can affect how you view your responsibilities," Cheney said in his recent speech. But this defense does not stand up. The Bush administration’s response actually undermined the principles and values America has always stood for in the world, values that should have survived this traumatic event. The White House thought that 9/11 changed everything. It may have changed many things, but it did not change the Constitution, which the vice president, the national security adviser and all of us who were in the White House that tragic day had pledged to protect and preserve.

Richard Clarke was there, in a position of responsibility, Condi. Only he didn’t have the same feeling, I guess, because he was not totally unprepared to deal with that position of responsibility.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

96 replies
  1. NCDem says:

    I recently re-read the book by Philip Shenon, the Commission, the uncensored history of the 9/11 investigation. The description of Richard Clarke turning to the families in the room when he gave testimony and apologized for the failure of the American government still gives me goose bumps. Cheney and Condi… not so much.

  2. Rayne says:

    I wonder why Clarke didn’t make a much bigger stink earlier, but then I wonder if he was being suppressed from doing so in a number of different ways, including access to the media.

    Everyone of the dissenters appears to have been discredited or ignored when they could have made a serious difference.

    It also crosses my mind that Clarke’s comments could play into a concerted effort to throw Deadeye (and Rice) under the bus…

    • Nell says:

      why Clarke didn’t make a much bigger stink earlier

      I’m not sure I understand this complaint. Against All Enemies and the multiple press appearances to promote it? Dramatic testimony to the 9/11 Commission?

      Or do you mean more specifically making more noises about the torture?

      • Rayne says:

        I’m talking about the period during the drive for war.

        Clarke knows the intel community and how it operates; if he really saw a critical problem and he saw it as urgent, he could have used it and their media tools

        Unless there were other factors in the mix which suppressed any attempt on his part to do this. There were at least two different contracted organizations which were ensuring the storyline behind the drive to war was focused…

        • Nell says:

          I’m talking about the period during the drive for war.

          Ah. Agreed. Particularly after the business of Bush and Rumsfeld pressing for a connection to Iraq immediately after the attacks.

          I think it was the realization that nothing was going to stop these guys from having their war — something that was visible from afar and up close. Clarke, as an insider, just decided as so many of them do to “keep the powder dry” rather than hook up with the activist rabble, and hoped to use what he knew to have enough of an effect on the elections for his team to get back in power in 2004.

      • Leen says:…..Mar24.html

        Ex-Aide Recounts Terror Warnings
        Clarke Says Bush Didn’t Consider Al Qaeda Threat a Priority Before 9/11

        By Dan Eggen and Walter Pincus
        Washington Post Staff Writers
        Thursday, March 25, 2004; Page A01

        “President Bush’s top counterterrorism adviser warned seven days before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorism attacks that hundreds of people could die in a strike by the al Qaeda network and that the administration was not doing enough to combat the threat, the commission investigating the attacks disclosed yesterday.

        Richard A. Clarke, who served as a senior White House counterterrorism official under three successive presidents, wrote to national security adviser Condoleezza Rice on Sept. 4, 2001, urging “policymakers to imagine a day after a terrorist attack, with hundreds of Americans dead at home and abroad, and ask themselves what they could have done earlier,” according to a summary of the letter included in a commission staff report. Clarke also cites the same plea in his new book.

        Clarke told the commission in testimony yesterday afternoon that whereas the Clinton administration treated terrorism as its highest priority, the Bush administration did not consider it to be an urgent issue before the attacks.

        “I believe the Bush administration in the first eight months considered terrorism an important issue but not an urgent issue,” Clarke told the 10-member panel. “. . . There was a process underway to address al Qaeda. But although I continued to say it was an urgent problem, I don’t think it was ever treated that way.”

        *** hello..Hello! HELLO IS ANYONE AT HOME?

    • freepatriot says:

      I wonder why Clarke didn’t make a much bigger stink earlier

      he’s a decent man, who was trying to honorably serve his country

      he was so focused on the threat of terrorism against America that he did not see the threat to America residing in the whitehouse

      that’s my view

  3. priscianusjr says:

    I remember very well the constant drumbeat emanating from the government after 9/11. It can be summarized as follows: ”Be afraid, be very afraid.” I remember noting the oddity of it. I was not alive during the Roosevelt administration, but everybody knows that was a much scarier situation, and FDR told the American people, ”The only thing to fear is fear itself.” When you are under attack you rally your people, you raise their morale. The message from Cheney & Co. was just the opposite: ”The only thing we fear is lack of fear.” It was obvious to me at the time that they wanted Americans to be afraid. It gradually became clear that they needed a constant drumbeat of fear in order to win approval to attack Iraq and to curtail civil liberties at home. — I do not believe for a minute that they were in a panic. Maybe Bush was in a panic directly after reading ”My Pet Goat,” because he did not know what was going on, but in general this panic meme is as much a fable as everything else they’ve told us. They wanted to curtail our civil liberties and 9/11 gave them the perfect opportunity. And they knew that beforehand. That’s why they paid no attention to ”Bin Laden determined to attack” and all the other warnings. It’s not so hard to understand.

    • CompLitter says:

      Not that I don’t think your point is valid, but actually FDR said “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” at his first inaugural, not after Pearl Harbor (which I assume is the “much scarier situation” you refer to).

  4. CyberDem says:

    There are two mindsets at work here, IMHO:

    1. Cheney and his NeoCon buddies in PNAC were hell bent to attack Iraq. I believe this attitude was driven by oil. The terrorist attack was as good an excuse as any to put that long-held plan into action.

    2. Cheney and his ilk are driven by their “authoritarian father” attitude. Whatever this (sick) daddy wanted to do was called legal. They/He didn’t care about the legalities of the endeavor it just made him feel more powerful and “right” to hit back HARD. The black sites/rendition and Gitmo were intended to keep the terrorists outside our legal system where Cheney & Co could do as they wanted and the administration couldn’t/wouldn’t be held responsible for their actions against them.

    It looks like it’s going to work, unfortunately…

  5. BoxTurtle says:

    Throwing Dick and Rice under the bus is a nice thought, but Obama’s the driver and that bus is parked.

    Boxturtle (Always gloomy until the caffine kicks in)

  6. radiofreewill says:

    I’m certain that that ‘look of horror’ didn’t last long on Cheney’s face before his eyes got big, and the corners of his lips curled upwards into a hand-rubbing sneer!

    “Hmmmmm! But Condi! We can use this for us!”

    “What?! This is a National Security Tragedy, Dick! I feel like a Failure! I’m confused! How can this be used by us?”

    “Well, first, see, we discredit all the Intelligence Agencies for failing to prevent the attack. Then, we’ll set-up our own ‘trusted’ sources of intelligence! Next, I’ll get W to basically authorize, at the presidential-level, if you will, a Really Tough Interrogation Program that’s guaranteed to get the ‘truth’ out of these bastards…”

    “Wait! I get it! Don’t you think we should secretly wire-tap everyone, too, just to make sure we’re ‘controlling the message’ and keeping ‘everyone’ safe?”


    • Gitcheegumee says:

      May 6, 2009

      Nailing a Petition
      Stanford Antiwar Alums Call for War Crimes Investigation of Condoleezza Rice

  7. TheraP says:

    I’ve said it before. I’ll say it again.

    Many professionals must deal with emergencies, with crises. Many of us have to make life and death decisions. We still do it with due deliberation. We train for it. We discuss it beforehand and afterward – our peers.

    It’s a poor excuse they’re giving. Because if they were not equipped to deal with crises, then they should never have sought the jobs they held!

    • valletta says:

      Of all people, the big Dick was BETTER prepared than anyone for the *aftermath* of 9/11. He was a key member of the COG (Continuation of Government) group which was formed by executive order under Reagan.
      So he is being disingenuous to pretend this all came out of nowhere. He was ready and did exactly what he had always planned. Invade the 2nd richest oil nation. He was just incompetent at it, like everything else in his life.

      • sadlyyes says:

        nope they got what they wanted
        Clinton= gas a little over a buck….post Iraq invasion= gas over 5 bux

        • valletta says:

          Oh, I agree.
          I meant incompetent at pulling it off cleanly. They wanted to install Chalabi and thought it would be over much sooner.
          Though it hardly mattered, the media and most of the US population rolled over….

          • sadlyyes says:

            i really made my pronouncements on Merika after that……rubes all
            i figured the public would not go for the big expense silly me

  8. annagranfors says:

    ”I remember that morning, too. Shortly after the second World Trade Center tower was hit, I burst in on Rice (then the president’s national security adviser) and Cheney in the vice president’s office and remember glimpsing horror on his face.”

    That wasn’t horror on his face. That was Cheney’s orgasm face. It just *looks* horrible.

  9. constantweader says:

    One thing you learn in grade school is that bullies are really scared guys overcompensating. Cheney was afraid then, & as Colin Powell’s former chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson said the other day, he’s frightened now. That is one big fat chicken who even in his dotage hopes punching somebody else in the face will get him off the hook for directing unnecessary wars & war crimes.

    The Constant Weader at

  10. plunger says:

    These are facts:

    Zim-American Israeli Shipping moved its offices out of the World Trade Center, breaking its lease at great expense, one week prior to 9/11. Urban movers assisted in their move out of the WTC Towers, and the movers had unlimited access to the buildings. A Bush family member (Marvin) was in charge of security for the WTC. Rice warned Mayor Willie Brown on 9/10 not to fly to New York from San Francisco on 9/11. Buzzy Krongard and others shorted the airlines stocks in advance of 9/11. Odigo warned Israeli nationals to stay away from the WTC two hours prior the the first plane striking the first tower on 9/11. Mossad Agents from Urban Movers were caught red handed on 9/11 with a video tape of the first plane striking the first tower.

    The evidence of foreknowledge is everywhere you look for it – if you want to know.

  11. PJEvans says:

    teacherken at the Great Orange believes that Darth was more concerned about the political fallout – the 2004 election – than about anything else (like real security). He wanted everyone to believe they were doing everything they could for ‘national security’, and that the security measures had to be flashy public stuff to work, in order to hide the fact that they’d been completely incompetent at everything.

  12. lokijohn says:

    Every word in “Against All Enemies” was vetted and okayed by Bushco pre-publication.

    14- There are 400 entries of early warnings compiled at including Richard Clarke warning of an Abu Zubaida attack a day or two after the FAA issued a warning about mideastern hijackers mid April 2001.

    A common pattern seems to be lower echelon FBI, CIA, NSA, DoD (Able Danger) agents discover info and are blocked by superiors from investigating further.

    At the risk of disagreeing with some brilliant and principled people whose thoughts I respect (EW, Bmaz, Mary, you know who you are) I have to say, it doesn’t look like ‘incompetence’ to me.

    • plunger says:

      It is precisely the opposite of incompetence. Incompetence is their fall back position…but notice that no one ever gets fired! Number of incompetents fired for allowing 9/11? ZERO.

      Ahmad Chalabi:

      “We are heroes in error”

      Sure you are!

      Rumsfeld’s goal at the outset was to “win in Iraq” (meaning occupy the place forever) by appearing to lose (protracted stalemate/occupation). Losing on purpose is what they do! Witness 9/11 as the most glaring example.

      Everyone chalks it up to incompetence when they elected to fire all of the uniformed soldiers in Iraq and allow the place to fall into anarchy. This was all planned at the outset. Rumsfeld actually threatened to fire anyone who worked on the planning for the aftermath of the invasion. The reason he wanted the soldiers cut loose is two fold –

      1: To ensure an active insurgency and
      2: To ensure that no “uniformed” troops were captured and interrogated, in order to get around the laws against torture and other requirements under the Geneva Conventions.

      Failing on purpose is a tactic. How many incompetents did they install to ensure each apparent failure? When you understaff the SEC, what result do you expect? Same game, different name.

      • freepatriot says:

        nice comment, all on-topical n shit

        cept I think you overestimate the capabilities of “designed incompetence”, and underestimate the “evil luck” of the bushies

        they are not capable of designing a planned incompetence any better that they were at making real plans

        to put it in a dark parlance, they neglected certain things, and they hit the jackpot, instead of the $20 prize or the $50 prize they expected

        I think cheney really was stunned, and scared, when he saw what their “incompetence” had allowed to happen

        I was stunned, an I’m just about unstunnable. I wasn’t scared though (I heard a lot of weird shit in my days, you can scare me, but you can rarely surprise me) What I still expect to happen in my lifetime would frighten the fuck out of most people. But collapsing the World Trade Center, as a singular act ??? UN FUCKIN BELIEVABLE

        I didn’t think it could be done

        I’ve heard reports that the terrorists obtained the building plans, or some details about the building, during the trial for the 1993 bombers. that’s how they were clued in to the inherent flaws in the building

        so there was some really smart people behind this, and it wasn’t the bushies. I don’t write a lot of stuff down here, cuz I don’t want to give anybody any ideas. But 9-11 could have been a LOT worse. They planned a spectacular initial attack, but they had no follow thru

        and for the record, it wasn’t controlled demolition. I know that much, so don’t try it …

        an consider this a cookie

        • PJEvans says:

          The number of times I’ve tried to explain that deformation comes well before melting, and requires a lot less heat ….
          (The penalty of having taken engineering classes, including properties of materials.)

          • JohnJ says:

            One of the shows on engineering failures showed how a similar building came down in the exact same way during construction. They pushed the cure times on the concrete and the top floors started the exact same sequence. I seem to remember it in the DC area in the late 70’s. It took down something like 7 or 8 floors.

            Why doesn’t ANYONE ask any engineer about this; steel may turn liquid at one temperature, but it SOFTENS at a lot lower temperature.

            There are many many other serious questions about 9/11, I just wish people would quit using the physics, which are entirely debunkable, as some kind of proof.

            • plunger says:

              No plane or jet fuel touched Building 7. Clearly, the plane that was intended to strike Building 7, which was also clearly prewired, was shot down in Pennsylvania – a MASSIVE SCREW UP that left it to Larry Silverstein to have the building “pulled” with the previously planted explosives around 5:00 that evening (as admitted by him on PBS in his own words).

              Every discussion of buildings collapsing that ignores Building 7 is intentional distraction away from the truth. Building 7 is THE SMOKING GUN of 9/11. 2 planes hit 2 buildings, yet three buildings fell to earth. It doesn’t get any more clear than that.

              Consult Occam’s Razor. No physics required.

              As further proof of an inside job, ask yourself this simple question…

              Where are the satellite images of the planes in flight on 9/11? Cheney tracked the “plane” (actually an A-3 Skywarrior from Raytheon’s fleet equipped with Dov Zakheim’s Sysplan guidance system onboard) for the last 50 miles on radar as it approached the Pentagon, and ordered a total stand-down as witnessed and testified to by Norm Mineta.

              Where are the satellite images of that “plane ” as it approach and struck the most heavily surveilled building on planet earth?

              No imagery from space has been made available for public review from that day. Why? Because no civilian airliner struck the Pentagon…that’s why.

              You pay for that imagery. Don’t you want to see the proof? Or would you rather just attack the messenger?

              • PJEvans says:

                Sorry, you can’t see planes from that altitude. You can from high-altitude photographs, if the camera is good, but airplanes are small, and on a background with any visual clutter (cities, highways, fields), forget it. Normally the best satellites can do is pick up contrails – and those are subject to weather conditions.

                (I read aerial photographs for a living, looking for stuff that’s on the order of 1-2m in size. Trust me, you can’t see airplanes from space, any more than you can see the Great Wall from the moon.)

                • plunger says:

                  You can read a license plates from that altitude, but you can’t see planes? Amazing?

                  • PJEvans says:

                    You can’t read license plates either. (Well, maybe the spy satellites can, but I’ve never seen any evidence of it, and that would require 1cm or better resolution, as well as a license plate on top of the vehicle.)

                    • plunger says:

                      You held yourself out as an expert, and therein lies the problem. You did so in an effort to have this community take your word as fact. Further, you did so to discredit me and/or diminish the likelihood that others should give any weight to what I post. Your posting was purposefully misleading and false. You said you can’t see anything “as small as an airplane” from satellites. 100% false. That you’ve never seen spy satellite imagery IS THE POINT. What was your point?

                      I stated that we have not seen any images from satellites of any planes in flight on 9/11, specifically, none approaching or striking the Pentagon. This is a fact. Your comment, that this was technology impossible, is total fiction. False. Not true. A lie.

                      What was your purpose – injecting fiction into a discussion of truth? You held yourself out to be an expert at #46. You earlier implied some expertise with respect to the engineering of steel structures as well. Now who’s got the credibility problem?

                      Agents of disinformation abound.

                    • 1970cs says:

                      The official version of events of 9/11 was dictated to the traditional media by Dick Cheney. Stories that differ from Cheney’s are considered conspiracy theories.

                      One may not like the alternate 9/11 theories, but Cheney’s be very afraid version of what happened on 9/11 is the justification for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Patriot Act, Guantanimo and torture,and the suspension of our civil liberties. They are the cornerstone for our foreign and domestic policy built upon Cheney’s version of events.

                • plunger says:

                  You said you read aerial photographs for a living. Really?

                  Do you read spy satellite imagery for a living?


                  What was your point, exactly.

                  A plane is too small for a spy satellite to see it?

                  Right, sure, you bet. The weather was crystal clear that bright, sunny day.


                  U.S. officials generally decline to discuss intelligence gathering capabilities, but some of the satellite and aircraft available include:

                  Lacrosse/Vega high-resolution satellites. The most recent version was believed to have been launched Aug. 17, 2000, by a Titan missile. It is considered particularly useful in cloudy weather.

                  KeyHole electro-optical imaging satellite. The most recent version was believed to have been launched Friday by a Titan 4B rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The satellite offers high resolution images, capable of picking out objects as small as four inches.

        • sadlyyes says:

          and for the record, it wasn’t controlled demolition. I know that much, so don’t try it …

          agree with ya but bldg,7 was pulled,i heard the guy say it on that day….

          • PJEvans says:

            Oh, the ‘Rodney Dangerfield’ building, so-called because no one pays attention to it. (See, for example, Ghosts of Vesuvius.)

            I understand it burned for several hours but was ignored, maybe because the towers were a bigger problem; also, I suspect, it was hard to get crews into the area. (Especially with no emergency communications.)

        • plunger says:

          It was Micheal Chertoff and Dov Zakheim who had the plans to the WTC from the earlier bombing attempt.

          Perhaps not coincidentally in May 2001, when Dov Zakheim served at the Pentagon, it was an SPS (his firm’s) subsidiary, Tridata Corporation, that oversaw the investigation of the first “terrorist” attack on the World Trade Center in 1993. This would have given them intimate knowledge of the security systems and structural blueprints of the World Trade Center. From the ’90s through 2001, WTC Security was handled by Securacom, a Kuwait-American firm, on whose board Marvin Bush, the president’s brother, sat. After 9/11, Securacom was let go, changed its name to Stratosec, and was delisted from the Stock Exchange in 2002.

          According to the SPC website (4), a recent customer at that time was Eglin AFB, located in Florida. Eglin is very near another Air Force base in Florida-MacDill AFB, where Dov Zakheim contracted to send at least 32 Boeing 767 aircraft, as part of the Boeing /Pentagon tanker lease agreement. (5)

          As the events of September 11, 2001 occurred, little was mentioned about these strange connections, and the possible motives and proximity of Dov Zakheim and his group. Since there was little physical evidence remaining after the events, investigators were left only with photographic and anecdotal evidence.

          and this:

          Chertoff: Derailed major investigation of Al Qaeda weapons smuggling in New Jersey. Was he protecting Israeli involvement in Al Qaeda financing activities?

          Chertoff also failed to investigate the presence on the 33rd floor of the North Tower of the Trade Center of the Yemen Import Company, an office that, like Zim Shipping, had been cleared of all its personnel in the weeks prior to 911, leaving only an answering machine and fax in place.

          As Assistant US Attorney, Chertoff also declined to prosecute Dr. Magdy Elamir, an Egyptian-born neurologist in Jersey City who was implicated in an FBI/ATF arms trafficking investigation code named Operation Diamondback. It turned out that Elamir was a Chertoff’s client in a fraud case brought against Elamir’s HMO by the state of New Jersey. NBC’s Dateline, on August 2, 2002, referred to a 1998 foreign intelligence report obtained by the network, “The report alleges that an H.M.O. owned by Dr. Elamir in New Jersey was ‘funded by ben [sic] Laden’ and that in turn Dr. Elamir was skimming money from the H.M.O. to fund ‘terrorist activities.’” New Jersey investigators discovered that $15 million in funds from Elamir’s HMO were unaccounted for and Dateline determined that some of the funds were transferred to off-shore bank accounts. Chertoff represented Elamir at the time the money was shifted to the off-shore bank accounts.

          As for the cookie – I’ll pass.

        • Gitcheegumee says:

          I had read that AIG was the insurer for the WTC.

          AIG allegedly had been complicitduring WWII with supplying the US government with the blueprints for MANY of the buildings in Germany,buildings that AIG insured.

  13. Minnesotachuck says:

    Another player in this tragic fiasco who shouldn’t be forgotten is Philip Zelikow. He played a major role regarding national security on the Bush-Cheney transition team, where he was instrumental in driving the organizational changes at the NSC that led to the downgrading of Richard Clarke’s anti-terrorism coordinator position. This greatly reduced Clarke’s access to the principals and their deputies which, in turn, made it much easier for Bush, Cheney et al to plug their ears and say “I can’t hear you!” while they tried to gin up interest in attacking Iraq. (Paul O’Neill tells us, via Ron Suskind in The Price of Loyalty that the invasion of Iraq was on the table from the first weeks of their first term.) Then, after the 9/11 Commission became inevitable, the Bush-Cheney cabal manipulated the insertion of Zelikow as chief of the committee staff in spite of his long-time association with the person most responsible for dropping the ball besides Bush and Cheney themselves, namely Condi Rice with whom he, Zelikow, had previously collaborated in writing the book Germany Unified and Europe Transformed: A Study in Statecraft. Much of Philip Shenon’s book The Commission, that NCDem mentions above at #2, is the story of Zelikow’s thumb on the Commission’s scales.

    • james says:

      and anyone who might think Suskind is biased can read David Frum’s book published in 2005 wherein he states that during an interview with Bush in February of 2001, Bush laid out his agenda and right there in the top ten was regime change in Iraq. Frum, the guy who coined the term “axis of evil” can hardly be called anti-Bush.

  14. Justinajustice says:

    Perhaps Richard Clarke, for whom I have the utmost respect, is too honorable a man to conceive that it was not incompetence leading up to 9-11 and not shock, but a dark glee, that filled Dick Cheney’s face that day of 9-11.

    Was Cheney really so surprised and traumatized by 9-11?

    The Bush-Cheney administration had the voluminous, civil-liberties destroying “Patriot Act” already written prior to 9-11 and pushed it through Congress, largely un-read by congressional representatives, within a month of 9-11. Bush-Cheney had announced their decision to “take out Saddam” by their first National Security Meeting in February of 2001. They had initiated their program of illegal surveillance of all telephone, electronic and internet communications well prior to 9-11, then used 9-11 to retroactively justify it.

    Upon receiving the August 6, 2001 CIA briefing about Al Qaeda plans to attack inside the U.S. using planes, all the Bush administration had to do to forestall the high-jackings was to order that all commercial airliner cockpits be sealed off from passengers, an order that had been recommended in the Hart-Rudman Terrorism Commission Report submitted to Bush-Cheney in February, 2001. The entire Hart-Rudman Report was referred to Dick Cheney upon is submission; he studiously ignored it, as well as all the anxious warnings sent by American allies prior to 9-11.

    No, the onslaught on the U.S. Constitution was not in reaction to the shock of 9-11, it began long before that horrendous date.

    • JohnJ says:

      The Bush-Cheney administration had the voluminous, civil-liberties destroying “Patriot Act” already written prior to 9-11

      The guy who says he wrote it and they stole it from him is now our vice-preznit.

      somthin’s that made me uncomfortable since the election started.

  15. rkilowatt says:

    …I burst in on Rice…and Cheney and remember glimpsing horror on his face.”

    Guessing…either because Cheney did not know such an event was planned [C. as patsy?]or he knew but the event was supposed to go down differently..such as at a later date or was to be stopped at the last moment and event co-opted for use to justify take-over of Iraq as operatons base…as part of strategic planning.

    Co-opting someone else’s event for one’s own purpose or staging a false-flag event is standard covert operation’s mindset. Both are covert actions and Clark was an interloper.

  16. TarheelDem says:

    To my mind, the key phrase is this:

    I believe this zeal stemmed in part from concerns about the 2004 presidential election. Many in the White House feared that their inaction prior to the attacks would be publicly detailed before the next vote — which is why they resisted the 9/11 commission — and that a second attack would eliminate any chance of a second Bush term. So they decided to leave no doubt that they had done everything imaginable.

    • Loo Hoo. says:

      Another great link, Leen. Thanks.

      I lived at 25 Broad St., almost at the corner of Wall St. If you look at a map, you will see just how close my home was to that carnage. Yet despite what I saw and continue to see in my dreams, I would never support the kind crimes carried out by the Bush administration and I will never accept that the 9/11 attacks unhinged them. The fact is that the Bush administration was already planning a way to go to war with Iraq. The attacks of September 11 had nothing to do with that choice and cannot be an excuse for those actions.

      And Cheney was traumatized.

  17. perris says:

    I remember that morning, too. Shortly after the second World Trade Center tower was hit, I burst in on Rice (then the president’s national security adviser) and Cheney in the vice president’s office and remember glimpsing horror on his face.

    his interpretation of their expression was clearly misplaced

    the look on their face was;

    “this is the guy that can tell everyone we were warned and did nothing”

    it was not the look of, “oh my”

    • bmaz says:

      Heh, that could very well be.

      And Perris, thanks for coming Wednesday night, it was good to meet you and Bluejeantshirt

  18. GregB says:

    The constant refrain post 9/11.

    It is not IF we will be attacked but WHEN we will be attacked.

    The coward caucus wet their pants and began swinging wildly.

    Weak fools.


  19. perris says:

    On detention, the Bush team leaped to the assumption that U.S. courts and prisons would not work.

    this is also a mispaced interpretation

    they leaped to the correct conclusion that they could create more fear and control by making certain we had black sites, creating fear and torturing natives to increase the insurgency

    • hackworth1 says:

      Create fear and make billions of dollars. An historic money-making opportunity for Dick’s Halliburton, Bechtel, Dyncorp, Carlyle Group, Big Oil and other corporations with gov-connected individuals as stockholders and inside players. There’s no contract like a no-bid contract.

  20. plunger says:


    They jumped the gun on the script. Watch as this BBC correspondent reports that Building 7 has already collapsed – while it remains standing in the shot behind her.

    • plunger says:

      Look at the BBC video of WTC 7 and then tell me who’s nuts. Is that a building standing there or not?

        • plunger says:

          It’s not about my breath. Did you or did you not watch the BBC correspondent claiming that the building standing behind her had already collapsed? Very simple question.

          • Raven says:

            Let’s put it this way, if everything you think is true, so what? What are you going to do with it? Four years ago my next door neighbor saw spare change or whatever it is. She was hysterical “how can I live in a world like this”!!!! She still does.

            • plunger says:

              “So what?”

              Thank you for revealing your position. You are happy to live under a fascist dictatorship where false flag attacks are acceptable. Why are you here at all?

              If everything I am saying is true, then the very least you can do is remain silent, rather than attempting to Swiftboat the truthtellers.

  21. Raven says:

    Results 1 – 10 of about 12,500,000 for 9 11 conspiracy. (0.07 seconds)

    Results 1 – 10 of about 6,930,000 for easter bunny

    • plunger says:

      You don’t have any desire to know the truth. OR, you already know the entire truth, and you have an agenda with these comments.

      Did you or did you not review the BBC video? Is this a difficult question for you to answer?

  22. sadlyyes says:

    bldg 7 will always be a big problem for the people who sooooooooooooooo need to believe in spaghetti monsters

  23. bmaz says:

    Alrighty folks, I have been watching this and can’t take any more. Get back to the subject of the thread now.

    • sadlyyes says:

      this was te biggest crime to hit this country since 1812,when…our oceans didntn protect us either,but everyone wants to cut off all discussion,okay fine with me,lets move foward and not look back

      • plunger says:

        Not everyone wants to stifle discussion. There will come a day when the only topic of conversation is the truth of 9/11. It will always be “on topic” then.

        Good evening.

        • sadlyyes says:

          ya know,it is difficult to live with uncertainty,,i chalk it up to that,but that is closer to the truth than nice pat answers,good eve to you too

      • bmaz says:

        I have no inclination whatsoever to stifle discussion; by the same token, many people do not want a public thread about an important and completely different topic to be overrun and overwhelmed by discussion of the intricacies of these, shall we say, theories.

        • sadlyyes says:

          thats exactly the problem,and why we keep getting Warren commissions,and magic bullet theories,and the same OLD crimminals/players…………………disgusting really

        • plunger says:

          Actually the videos posted are not theories. They are in fact videos. They demonstrate factual events. Not everything should be encompassed under the umbrella of “theory.” The BBC, PBS, and other mainstream media news coverage speaks for itself, without interpretation of theory. The sounds of bombs going off in buildings are what they are. The interviews of eye witnesses speak for themselves. The viewer can draw his or her own conclusion, provided they are made aware of it.

          Thank you.

  24. Raven says:

    Talk Talk Lyrics

    Well did I tell you before
    When I was up
    Anxiety was bringing me down
    I’m tired of listening to you
    Talking in rhymes
    Twisting round to make me think
    You’re straight down the line

    All you do to me is talk talk
    talk talk, talk talk
    All you do to me is talk talk

    If every sign that I see is complete
    Then I’m a fool in your game
    And all you want to do
    Is tell me your lies
    Won’t show the other side
    You’re just wasting my time

    All you do to me is talk talk
    talk talk, talk talk
    All you do to me is talk talk

    When every choice that I make is yours
    Keep telling me what’s right and what’s wrong
    Don’t you ever stop to think about me
    I’m not that blind to see
    That you’ve been cheating on me

    You’re laughing at me when I’m up
    Crying for me when I’m down
    Laughing at me when I’m up
    Crying for me

    All you do to me is talk talk
    talk talk, talk talk

  25. nonplussed says:

    Certainly a lot of folks who have objections to others expressing their views. Some I find some surprising, some I know enjoy exerting their authority. You boys have fun…

  26. rdwdkw says:

    Raven. isn’t it hard to believe that no pictures from any camera ,anywhere, was focused on the Pentagon on that fateful day? Don’t be so down on anyone who has doubt. You might be right, but then again you might not be. Time will tell.

    • valletta says:

      This is, in my mind, the dog that didn’t bark.

      Everyone knows there are 100 cameras at your local Target but apparently the only videos of the Pentagon on 9/11 came from a gas station across the street.

      Yeah, riiiight….

  27. mamazboy says:

    Condi’s “look of horror” was probably less about the event itself than her sudden realization that she might have to confront more challenging issues than what kind of expensive shoes to wear or how high to hold her hand when she waved getting off an airplane. Rice was the classic patronage pick – a friend of her patron and someone who expected the perks of position without having to actually do anything.

  28. TheOracle says:

    “Similarly, with regard to interrogation, administration officials conducted no meaningful professional analysis of which techniques worked and which did not. The FBI, which had successfully questioned al-Qaeda terrorists, was effectively excluded from interrogations. Instead, there was the immediate and unwarranted assumption that extreme measures — such as waterboarding one detainee 183 times — would be the most effective.”

    The professional FBI interrogators who initially questioned captured al Qaeda suspects just weren’t getting the “right answers” that Bush officials wanted to hear, especially with regards to Iraq. The detainees weren’t admitting to any connection between Saddam Hussein’s regime and al Qaeda, which contradicted what Iraqi exiles were telling BushCo and what Curveball was feeding German authorities…so with the Bush administration having a war to start, and the sooner the better, Bush officials decided to use torture to get the answers they wanted in a more “timely” fashion.

    Indications are that once BushCo had all its pre-war preparations in place by late 2002, then Bush would order the assault to begin during the 2002-2003 winter months, taking advantage of the colder “better-fighting” temperatures then, no doubt recommended by generals at the Pentagon.

    Per the rhetoric of Bush officials leading up to the war’s start, any invasion of Iraq would be over fairly quickly, with the war’s costs being paid for with captured Iraqi oil, over a year and a half before Bush started campaigning in mid-2004 for reelection to a second term. Thus, the “Mission Accomplished” publicity stunt, which no doubt would have been widely used in Bush’s 2004 reelection campaign…if things had gone according to plan.

    The long-sought Republican invasion of Iraq was delayed. U.N. WMD inspectors weren’t finding any of the WMD stockpiles in pre-war Iraq that tortured detainees and Iraqi exiles had said were there. Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld grew impatient, so on the first day of spring 2003 (having missed the Iraqi winter and facing the brutally hot Iraqi summer ahead), they ordered the U.N. inspectors out of Iraq and hostilities to commence.

    The torture ordered by BushCo before the war to elicit information to sell their insane war shifted after March 2003 to using torture within Iraq against detainees, at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere, to justify after-the-fact their insane war…with BushCo constantly keeping in mind Bush’s reelection chances in 2004.

    U.S. WMD inspection teams sent into post-invasion Iraq, even with Iraqi detainees being tortured for “right answers,” never could find any hidden Iraqi WMD, just as mountains of Sunni Baathist documents seized by our occupying forces never revealed any shred of evidence indicating that Saddam Hussein’s regime had anything to do with al Qaeda and 9/11.

    So, the cover-up began in earnest, through 2003 and 2004 (leading to Bush getting reelected), and continuing to this day (now meant to keep Bush officials from going to prison or The Hague). We all know by now that top Bush officials authorized torture of prisoners, contravening international treaties and federal statutes outlawing torture. We all know they’ve tried to cover-up their torture regime, even going so far as to establish shadow interrogation sites run by shadow interrogators, some of whom were private contract torturers-for-hire. And we all know, finally, that much of the torture used against prisoners was not meant to protect the U.S. from another right-wing terrorist attack, but was meant to elicit information to justify their mad push for war against Iraq, both pre-invasion and post-invasion, which is why the more professional, career FBI interrogators were sidelined.

    • plunger says:

      Cheney knew for a fact that neither Bin Laden nor Saddam had anything whatsoever to do with 9/11… Because Cheney was in charge of the entire 9/11 operation – and actually bungled it quite badly by shooting down a plane intended to strike WTC 7. Four planes allegedly hijacked, yet only three buildings are struck, and one falls down without benefit of an aircraft strike or jet fuel? This is a major screwup.

      Bush actually admitted to seeing the first plane hit the first tower, live, in real time. Listen as he catches himself and tries to explain it. He admitted it not once, but twice – each time on video tape in front of crowds of people. He says “I was sitting outside and saw the plane hit the tower.” The only explanation for his statements is that he was receiving a live secure stream to his limo out front of the elementary school prior to going inside.

      Live streaming secure video was also how he and Cheney observed the torture of detainees – in real time.

  29. orionATL says:

    TheraP @9

    just so.

    neither bush, who had little experience governing, nor cheney, who did not lack for experience, but was completely lacking in analytical temperament, were the leaders to get us thru this crisis.

    i would also add that the overreaction clark talks about was, in my view, a way to cover their prior incompetence. these excesses were intended to draw attention away from their lack of personal preparedness and their lack of wisdom before the crisis.

    as we learned, it would have taken no more than a focused effort by the fbi bureaucracy to stop the entire attack. the perpetrators were so obvious in their training that they drew the attention of two sets of fbi field agents in different parts of teh country.

    finally, i have allowed myself to think more than once that bush and cheney may have welcomed a terrorist attack as a means to justify attacking iraq. they just may niot have foreseen the scope of impact of a spectacularly successful attack on the world trade center. bush, after all, was fond of saying at republican fund-raising rallies with respect to the budget, that hius admin’s experiencing the 9/11 attack and the invasion of iraq was like winning the trifecta.

  30. onwatch says:

    I heard or watched it all on “9/11″. It was during that day i realized that my government was on vacation and it seemed that they were trying to hide that fact every day thereafter. Pathetic, juvenile, discusting.

  31. timbo says:

    Thanks for this article. Clarke has nailed the anti-intellectualism rampant in the White House in 2001 and thereafter. The fact is that Congress itself was getting tired of the Bushies by the time 9/11/2001 rolled around…but that fact was made to conveniently disappear under the new powers the Executive assumed. A lot of those powers were violations of the laws, treaties, and Constitution…and the sucky politicians on the right decided that it was better to get along, go along than to actually stick up for the framework on which the Republic was supposedly founded on at that juncture. From then on out, the Congress become secondary to the Executive branch…and has that really changed much 8 years later? A good question! And one that will likely be answered in the next nine months or so…badly would be my guess.

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