Against One Enemy–the President

Richard Miniter, author of Losing bin Laden, blasts Richard Clarke’s book Against All Enemies, as a partisan screed:

As for [the Iraq war’s] justification, he acts as if there is none. He dismisses, as “raw,” reports that show meetings between al Qaeda and the Mukhabarat, Iraq’s intelligence service, going back to 1993. The documented meeting between the head of the Mukhabarat and bin Laden in Khartoum, Sudan, in 1996–a meeting that challenged all the CIA’s assumptions about “secular” Iraq’s distance from Islamist terrorism–should have set off alarm bells. It didn’t.
There is other evidence of a connection between Iraq and al Qaeda that Mr. Clarke should have felt obliged to address. Just days before Mr. Clarke resigned, Secretary of State Colin Powell told the United Nations that bin Laden had met at least eight times with officers of Iraq’s Special Security Organization. In 1998, an aide to Saddam’s son Uday defected and repeatedly told reporters that Iraq funded al Qaeda. South of Baghdad, satellite photos pinpointed a Boeing 707 parked at a camp where terrorists learned to take over planes. When U.S. forces captured the camp, its commander confirmed that al Qaeda had trained there as early as 1997. Mr. Clarke does not take up any of this.
Curiously, about the Clinton years, where Mr. Clarke’s testimony would be authoritative, he is circumspect. When I interviewed him a year ago, he thundered at the political appointees who blocked his plan to destroy bin Laden’s camps in Afghanistan in the wake of the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole. Yet in his book he glosses over them. He has little of his former vitriol for Clinton-era bureaucrats who tried to stop the deployment of the Predator spy plane over Afghanistan. (It spotted bin Laden three times.)
He writes (correctly) that Abdul Yasim, one of the 1993 World Trade Center bombers, fled to Iraq but adds the whopper that “he was incarcerated by Saddam Hussein’s regime.” An ABC News crew found Mr. Yasim working a government job in Iraq in 1997, and documents captured in 2003 revealed that the bomber had been on Saddam’s payroll for years.
Mr. Clarke gets the timing wrong of the plot to assassinate bin Laden in Sudan; it was 1994, not 1995, and was the work of Saudi intelligence, not Egypt. He dismisses Laurie Mylorie’s argument that Iraq was behind the 1993 World Trade Center blast as if there is nothing to it. Doesn’t it matter that the bombers made hundreds of phone calls to Iraq in the weeks leading up to the event? That Ramzi Yousef, the lead bomber, entered the U.S. as a supposed refugee from Iraq? That he was known as “Rasheed the Iraqi”?

Clarke was in a position to add considerably to the public’s knowledge about the history of our war with islamofascism. Unfortunately, he has deliberately chosen partisan advantage over truth, and in doing so, has contributed only to perpetuating the public’s widespread ignorance on the most vital issue of our time.


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