ROEMER: ...Was fighting Al Qaida a top priority for the Clinton administration from 1998 to the year 2001? How high a priority was it in that Clinton administration during that time period?
CLARKE: My impression was that fighting terrorism, in general, and fighting Al Qaida, in particular, were an extraordinarily high priority in the Clinton administration -- certainly no higher priority...
ROEMER: ...How high a priority was fighting Al Qaida in the Bush administration?
CLARKE: I believe the Bush administration in the first eight months considered terrorism an important issue, but not an urgent issue. Well, president Bush himself says as much in his interview with Bob Woodward in the book Bush at War. He said, I didn't feel a sense of urgency...
For months prior to 9/11, Bush's counterterrorism chief could not get a meeting scheduled to brief the president about the mounting al-Qaida threat, despite the fact that, according to the one 9/11 commissioner who's had full access to the library of 2001 intelligence briefings, the growing terrorism warnings "would set your hair on fire." According to a 9/11 commission staff report, during those very same three months in 2001, the National Security Agency, which eavesdrops on communications around the world, reported 33 messages suggesting "a possibly imminent terrorist attack."
Yet during the summer of 2001, Bush's aides painted an image of an Oval Office bursting with outside experts queued up to discuss stem cells face-to-face with Bush in a process that seemed to stretch for weeks at a time.
Best New Blog finalist - 2003 Koufax Awards
A non-violent, counter-dominant, left-liberal, possibly charismatic, quasi anarcho-libertarian Quaker's take on politics, volleyball, and other esoterica.
Lo alecha ha-m'lacha ligmor, v'lo atah ben chorin l'hibateyl mimenah.