Play it as it lies

The most striking feature of Bill Clinton’s bloviations on FOX News Sunday with Chris Wallace yesterday was the incredibly low ratio of facts to whoppers. If Chris Wallace could prompt that red-faced response with such an innocuous question, I wonder if a few minutes with Richard Miniter (author of Losing bin Laden, interviewed by NRO here), might not send him to intensive care. I would love to hear Miniter ask Clinton a few questions about Clinton’s treatment of the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center — an attack that Clinton shrugged off in a few paragraphs of his subsequent Saturday morning radio talk, never to return to the subject. (Miniter quotes the relevant paragraphs of the radio address at pages 28-30 of his book.)

Our friends at RealClearPolitics have posted a tough column by Ronald Cass that begins to address Clinton’s rewriting of the record. Reader and former Marine intelligence analyst Kevin Groenhagen has also taken a look at the assertion that the Bush administration demoted and fired Richard Clarke — the man who apparently was the key to fighting terrorism in every administration since the Reagan administration. (See Miniter’s comments on the Clinton administration’s use of Clarke — who was a significant source for Miniter’s book — at pages 78-80. How has the Bush administration succeeded so far in averting another terrorist attack on American ground without Clarke in the government?) Groenhagen contrasts Clinton’s comments on the Bush administration’s alleged mistreatment of Clarke with Clarke’s comments in Against All Enemies:

Clinton claimed that Richard Clarke had been demoted and then later said he was fired.

On page 234 of “Against All Enemies,” Clarke writes:

“I had completed the review of the organizational options for homeland defense and critical infrastructure protection that Rice had asked me to conduct. There was agreement to create a separate, senior White House position for Critical Infrastructure Protection and Cyber Security, outside of the NSC Staff. Condi Rice and Steve Hadley assumed that I would continue on the NSC focusing on terrorism and asked whom I had in mind for the new job that would be created outside the NSC. I requested that I be given that assignment, to the apparent surprise of Condi Rice and Steve Hadley.”

If Clarke was demoted, he requested the demotion.

Clinton also seems to imply that Clarke was “demoted” prior to 9/11. However, on page 239 of Against All Enemies, Clarke writes the following:

“Roger Cressey, my deputy at the NSC Staff, came to me in early October, after the time that I had intended to switch from the terrorism job to Critical Infrastructure Protection and Cyber Security. The switch had been delayed by September 11.”

In other words, the Bush administration kept Clarke at NSC beyond the period Clarke had planned on being there.

In a footnote on page 240, Clarke makes it clear that he left the administration under his own volition:

“Cressey and I did spend over a year working on the cyber security problem, producing Bush’s National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace, and then quit the Administration altogether.”

JOHN adds: One of Clinton’s more bizarre claims was his assertion, repeated at least twice, that “all the right-wingers” who now criticize his performance on terrorism said, at the time, that he was obsessed with bin Laden. What on earth was he talking about? I don’t recall a single person, left or right, criticizing Clinton at any time for being obsessed with bin Laden or doing too much to fight him, or terrorism in general. I suspect he may be referring to criticism of his 1998 decision to bomb an African facility that turned out, apparently, to be a pharmaceutical factory. That attack was criticized by some because its timing appeared to be linked to the Monica Lewinsky scandal, and because the strike turned out to be based on mistaken intelligence. But I don’t believe anyone–certainly not anyone on the right–criticized the bombing on the ground that it showed too much interest in fighting terrorism. And, in any event, that attack was not an attempt to kill bin Laden, as Clinton seemed to imply.

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