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Former Terrorism Czar Criticizes Bush 9/11 Response

HeadlineMar 22, 2004

President Bush’s former terrorism czar Richard Clarke is publicly accusing Bush of ignoring the threat posed by Al Qaeda up until Sept.11, 2001 and that after the US was attacked, Bush wanted to immediately to strike Iraq.

According to a new book by Clarke, Bush said on the evening of Sept. 12: “Go back over everything, everything. See if Saddam did this.” When Clarke responded that Al Qaeda was responsible, Bush said “I know, I know, but … see if Saddam was involved. Just look. I want to know any shred.”

Clarke is widely viewed as a leading figure in national security circles. He has held top posts under every president since Reagan and served as both President Clinton and President Bush’s top anti-terrorism official.

In his book Clarke writes that Bush “failed to act prior to September 11 on the threat from al Qaeda despite repeated warnings and then harvested a political windfall for taking obvious yet insufficient steps after the attacks.” He goes on to write that Bush “launched an unnecessary and costly war in Iraq that strengthened the fundamentalist, radical Islamic terrorist movement worldwide.”

Clarke charges the Iraq war was used to help the Republicans win the 2002 midterm election. He writes, “The crisis was manufactured, and Bush political adviser Karl Rove was telling Republicans to 'run on the war.'”

Clarke also says that before Sept. 11 Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz claimed Iraq was behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and posed at least as much as danger as Al Qaeda.

Meanwhile, less than a day after the attacks, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, said at a cabinet-level meeting that, “there were no decent targets for bombing in Afghanistan and that we should consider bombing Iraq.”

The White House Sunday dismissed Clarke’s charges as “politically motivated,” “reckless” and “baseless.”

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