What we learned from the Report of the 911 Commission XV.

President George W. Bush’s National Security Advisor Condaleeza Rice insisted upon a return to the formal table of organization, in which Clarke’s group reported through the deputies and Clarke ceased to be a de facto “principal.” Clarke saw this as a demotion. (p. 288.)

On 25 January 2001, in response to a request from Rice for suggestions on policy reviews or initiative from her senior staff, Clarke submitted a memo pushing the policy he had advocated in the waning days of the Clinton administration. He also worked to bolster the case for action against al Qaeda in other ways, sending a memo outside the normal chain of communications directly to VP Cheney before a visit to CIA HQ urging the VP to press the CIA about the Cole investigation and sending intelligence about al Qaeda’s role in the Cole attack to Rice as a counter to the CIA’s refusal to claim a definite link between Bin Laden and the bombing. (pp. 290-291.)

On 19 April 2001 Clarke’s Counterterrorism Security Group discussed the reports of predicted attacks by Sunni extremists and by Abu Zubaydah.

On 29 May 2001 Clarke urged Stephen Hadley to press the CIA on what further steps it could take to forestall an attack against American interests. (p. 368.)

About 7 June 2001 Clarke submitted to Rice a memo–essentially his memos of December 2000 and January 2001–outlining a sustained multi-faceted effort. (pp. 295-296.)

On 25 June 2001 Clarke told Rice and Hadley that he had learned of six different intelligence reports that reported al Qaeda people predicting an attack in the near future. (p. 369.)

On 28 June 2001 Clarke warned Rice that the intelligence community had concluded “that a major terrorist attack or series of attacks is likely in July.” (p. 370.)

In late June or early July 2001 Clarke urged Deputy National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley to make anti-al Qaeda policy the whole focus of US-Pakistan relations. This went nowhere. (p. 299.)

By early September 2001 Clarke felt a furious urgency to get the government to act on al Qaeda. “After nine years on the NSC staff and more than three years as the president’s national coordinator, he had often failed to persuade these agencies [CIA, Pentagon] to adopt his views, or to persuade his superiors to set an agenda of the sort he wanted or that the whole government could support.” (p. 308.)

So, was Richard Clarke a prophet without honor in his own land or was he an ambitious bureaucrat who had found his leash being pulled-in by the business-like Bush administration?  Perhaps different people in the national security establishment saw him in different lights.

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