Sunday, September 24, 2006

Clinton faults neocons for inaction on Bin Laden

It's about time:

Former president Bill Clinton angrily defended his administration's counterterrorism record during a Fox News interview to be aired today, while accusing "President Bush's neocons" and other Republicans of ignoring Osama bin Laden until the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Clinton said he authorized the CIA to kill bin Laden, and even "contracted with people to kill him." He also said he had a plan to attack Afghanistan, overthrow the Taliban and hunt for bin Laden after the attack on the USS Cole, but the CIA and FBI refused to certify that bin Laden was responsible, and Uzbekistan refused to allow the United States to set up a base. By contrast, Clinton said the Bush administration's neoconservatives "had no meetings on bin Laden for nine months," believing he had been "too obsessed with bin Laden."
"At least I tried," Clinton said. "That's the difference [between] me and some, including all of the right-wingers who are attacking me now. They ridiculed me for trying. They had eight months to try. They did not try. I tried. So I tried and failed. When I failed, I left a comprehensive anti-terror strategy and the best guy in the country, [Richard] Clarke, who got demoted."
Bill is right. Bush and the Republicans weren't too worried about terrorism until 9/11. And from the latest National Intelligence Estimate report, King FUBAR and his clown troupe administration have managed to increase terrorism as a result of the Iraq War debacle.

When the Fox News lapdog nipped at Clinton over Somalia, Bill cleared the air:
Clinton : There is not a living soul in the world who thought Osama bin Laden had anything to do with Black Hawk down or was paying any attention to it, or even knew al-Qaeda was a going concern in October '93.
Wallace : I understand.
Clinton : No, no, wait. Don't tell me that -- you asked why didn't I do more to bin Laden, there was not a living soul, all the people who now criticize me wanted to leave the next day. You brought this up, so you get an answer. But you -- secondly,
Wallace : -- Bin Laden says, but it showed the weakness of the United States.
Clinton : Bin Laden may have said it -- but it would have shown the weakness if we left right away. But he wasn't involved in that, that's just a bunch of bull. That was about Mohamed Aideed, a Muslim warlord, murdering 22 Pakistani Muslim troops. We were all there on a humanitarian mission; we had no mission, none, to establish a certain kind of Somali government or keep anybody out. He was not a religious fanatic --
Wallace : Mr. President --
Clinton : -- there was no al-Qaeda --
Wallace : With respect, if I may, instead of going through '93 and --
Clinton : No, no -- you asked it. You brought it up.
Wallace, a 30-year broadcast veteran who worked at NBC and ABC before Fox, is not usually considered part of the network's conservative commentariat, but Clinton accused him of doing "Fox's bidding" by preparing a "conservative hit job."
He attacked Wallace for failing to ask Bush administration officials why Clarke was demoted from his counterterrorism job: "Tell the truth, Chris. Tell the truth, Chris. Did you ever ask that?" He also complained that Wallace had lured him to the interview "under false pretences," but when Wallace offered to discuss his climate change project, he replied: "No, I want to finish this now."
And so he did, attacking President Bush for focusing on Iraq instead of Afghanistan, urging Americans to read Clarke's book and accusing Republicans of "a serious disinformation campaign" to blame the Clinton administration for losing bin Laden.
"I got closer to killing him than anybody's gotten since," Clinton said. "And if I were still president, we'd have more than 20,000 troops there trying to kill him. . . . You got that little smirk on your face and you think you're so clever, but I had responsibility for trying to protect this country. I tried and I failed to get bin Laden. I regret it, but I did try and I did everything I thought I responsibly could."
I am sick of Republicans completely ignoring the fact that they hounded, investigated, and impeached the wrong president. Talk about screwed-up priorities!

I'm glad Clinton defended his record. Compared to Bush, he's a much better president, and that's an understatement. And I doubt that 9/11 would have happened on President Gore's watch. In May, I posted:
I know, I know. The GOP faithful will indignantly retort... but, but, there have been. No Terrorist. Attacks. On. American. Soil. Since. 9/11! Yes, dear hearts, poor wittle Bushbots miss the point that maybe there would have been. No. 9/11. If. Bush had taken the "bin Laden cell in New York" and "preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks" written about in the Aug. 6, 2001, PDB, Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S., seriously. Had Bush fulfilled his duties as Commander-in-Chief with as much passion as his compulsion to clear brush on his ranch and exerted leadership over men whose "hair was on fire," men like Gen. Hayden and women like Condi Rice, prodding them to shake the trees and make 'em shed terrorists like falling fruit, maybe Bush would have succeeded in averting the 9/11 attacks.
As Richard Clarke reiterated:
“If we had had that kind of process in the summer of 2001 that we had in December '99, where the national security adviser was every day in the White House asking the FBI director and the attorney general and the secretary of defense, ‘Go back to your building, find out all that you can’ ... maybe the information that was in the FBI would have shaken loose.”
“We had Iraqi-sponsored terrorism against the United States; he used military force, and they stopped. We had Iranian-sponsored terrorism against the United States; he used covert action against them, and they stopped,” Clarke told Russert.
“We had al-Qaida attempts to blow up things in the United States during the millennium period, attempts to blow up embassies around the world, attempts to take over Bosnia during the jihad in Bosnia. And all of those attempts were thwarted.”
“Now, that doesn't mean that [Clinton] did everything he should have done, but the president of the United States was active on these issues in the Clinton administration. The president of the United States was not active on these issues prior to 9/11 in the Bush administration,” Clarke said.
Exactly. Of course, now that Bush has focused on terrorism, he made it worse by invading Iraq rather than finishing the job in Afghanistan, a country now in jeopardy with a growing insurgency of the Taliban.

One thing I trust about Clinton: He did all that he could to protect America. But Bush? Not. Even. Close.

UPDATE: Holy cow! I'm watching the Clinton-Wallace interview. I must say I admire Clinton for his passion. The press has treated him unfairly and given Bush a free ride. I couldn't agree more. The bias has been troubling. Full transcript courtesy ThinkProgress, a must-read. More later.