Condoleezza Rice Answers Richard Clark

by on March 22nd, 2004

Baldilocks links to this Washington Post Op-Ed (free registration required) written by National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. The piece was written in response to Richard Clarke’s assertions about Bush administration failings in dealing with Al Qaida before 9/11 and an alleged Bush obsession with Iraq. It also comes as close to placing responsibility for 9/11 on the Clinton administration as possible without flatly stating it.

[T]he counter-terrorism team, which we had held over from the Clinton administration, suggested several ideas, some of which had been around since 1998 but had not been adopted. No al Qaeda plan was turned over to the new administration.

Rice then goes on to dispel the assertion that the Bush and his administration was somehow obsessed with Iraq.

Through the spring and summer of 2001, the national security team developed a strategy to eliminate al Qaeda — which was expected to take years. Our strategy marshaled all elements of national power to take down the network, not just respond to individual attacks with law enforcement measures. Our plan called for military options to attack al Qaeda and Taliban leadership, ground forces and other targets — taking the fight to the enemy where he lived. It focused on the crucial link between al Qaeda and the Taliban. We would attempt to compel the Taliban to stop giving al Qaeda sanctuary — and if it refused, we would have sufficient military options to remove the Taliban regime. The strategy focused on the key role of Pakistan in this effort and the need to get Pakistan to drop its support of the Taliban. This became the first major foreign-policy strategy document of the Bush administration — not Iraq, not the ABM Treaty, but eliminating al Qaeda

Rice continues to explain the administrations strategy both before and after 9/11. After months of silence in the face of a never ending stream of attacks from the Democratic candidates, it is good to see administration officials finally responding. By the time November comes around the Democrats will learn that when you run a campaign based on half truths, distortions and outright lies the truth hurts.

Stephen Macklin