We urgently need such a Principals level review on the al Qida network.
. . .
al Qida is the active, organized, major force that is using a distorted version of Islam as its vehicle to achieve two goals:
--to drive the US out of the Muslim world, forcing the withdrawal of our military and ecomonic presence in countries from Morocco to Indonesia;
--to replace moderate, modern, Western regimes in Muslim contries with theocracies modeled along the lines of the Taliban.
. . .
Attached is the year-end 2000 strategy on al Qida developed by the last Administration to give to you. Also attached is the 1998 strategy. Neither was a "covert action only" approach. Both incorporated diplomatic, economic, military, public diplomacy and intelligence tools. Using the 2000 paper as background, we could prepare a decision paper/guide for a PC review.
So I'm pretty sure that Richard Clarke was concerned about these al Qida folks as a bit of a potential problem to the US. So what did National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice do? Funny you should ask. Here's a little timeline:
The January 25, 2001, memo, recently released to the National Security Archive by the National Security Council, bears a declassification stamp of April 7, 2004, one day prior to Rice's testimony before the 9/11 Commission on April 8, 2004. Responding to claims that she ignored the al-Qaeda threat before September 11, Rice stated in a March 22, 2004 Washington Post op-ed, "No al Qaeda plan was turned over to the new administration."
You say plan, I say plan, I dunno. Maybe just semantics. Here's more:
Asked by Hadley to offer major initiatives, on January 25, 2001 Clarke forwarded his December 2000 strategy paper and a copy of his 1998 Delenda plan to the new national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice. Clarke laid out a proposed agenda for urgent action by the new Administration: Approval of covert assistance to the Northern Alliance; significantly increase funding; choosing a standard of evidence for attributing responsibility for the Cole and deciding on a response; going forward with new Predator missions in the spring and preparation of an armed version; and more work on terrorist fundraising.
. . .
Clarke asked on several occasions for early principals meetings on these issues, and was frustrated that no early meeting was scheduled. No principals committee meetings on Al Qaida were held until September 4th, 2001. Rice and Hadley said this was because the deputies committee needed to work through many issues relating to the new policy on Al Qaida. The principals committee did meet frequently before September 11th on other subjects, Rice told us, including Russia, the Persian Gulf and the Middle East peace process. Rice and Hadley told us that, although the Clinton administration had worked very hard on the Al Qaida program, its policies on Al Qaida, quote, "had run out of gas," and they therefore set about developing a new presidential directive and a new, comprehensive policy on terrorism.
Holy crap. Does it ever end. Freedom is on the march, I guess, so that makes it all OK. After all, the administration took Poor Richard's admonition seriously, as reported here:
TIMOTHY ROEMER, Commission Member: OK. With my 15 minutes, let's move into the Bush administration.
On January 25th, we've seen a memo that you've written to Dr. Rice urgently asking for a principals' review of Al Qaida. You include helping the Northern Alliance, covert aid, significant new '02 budget authority to help fight Al Qaida and a response to the USS Cole. You attach to this document both the Delenda Plan of 1998 and a strategy paper from December 2000.
Do you get a response to this urgent request for a principals meeting on these? And how does this affect your time frame for dealing with these important issues?
CLARKE: I did get a response, and the response was that in the Bush administration I should, and my committee, counterterrorism security group, should report to the deputies committee, which is a sub-Cabinet level committee, and not to the principals and that, therefore, it was inappropriate for me to be asking for a principals' meeting. Instead, there would be a deputies meeting.
So the responce was "Go away, kid, you bother me."
John Ashcroft was covering up titties in the Whitel House, Karl Rove was plotting to overthrow the constitution, Ari Fleischer was spinning more webs than a black widow, Don Rumsfeld was designing an army based on SimCity, and GWBush was working hard. Could they have prevented 9/11? No, probably not. But they could have at least acted like al Qaeda was important.
Because they were.