Former US counterterrorism official Richard Clarke on Wednesday told the commission probing the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the US that President George W. Bush did not take the terrorism threat seriously enough, and the head of the CIA admitted more could have been done to foil the strikes.
Clarke, who served the last four US presidents, said the Clinton administration was active in tracking Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network but the Bush administration, which took office in January 2001, did not consider the issue urgent.
"I believe the Bush administration in the first eight months considered terrorism an important issue, but not an urgent issue," said Clarke, who shook Washington this week with his book directly criticizing Bush.
Clarke told the hearing that Bush had "greatly undermined the war on terrorism" after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon by invading Iraq last year.
Seeking to discredit Clarke, the White House released the transcript of a briefing he gave in early August 2002 praising the way the Bush team had taken over the war against al-Qaeda. Clarke was only identified as a "senior official," but the White House has now revealed his identity.
On the second of two dramatic days of open testimony, commissioner Tim Roemer, a former Democratic congressman, asked Clarke about a letter he wrote to Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, one week before the Sept. 11 attacks.
"You urge policymakers to imagine a day after hundreds of Americans lay dead at home and abroad after a terrorist attack and ask themselves what else they could have done. You write this on Sept. 4, seven days before Sept. 11," Roemer said.
Rice said the letter from Clarke was a theoretical rather than an actual warning.
"Of course we all knew that one day a catastrophic attack was possible," she said.
Some Republican commissioners said Clarke had damaged his credibility by sensationalizing his charges against Bush to sell his book. The White House has also attacked his motives, citing Clarke's close ties to a top aide to Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.
The national commission of five Republicans and five Democrats is due to issue its findings by July 26, at the height of the presidential campaign.
Commission Chair Thomas Kean, a former Republican governor of New Jersey, said he believed the Sept. 11 attacks could have been prevented.
Earlier, CIA Director George Tenet dismissed criticism that his agency had a fear of conducting high-risk operations.
Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said it was no wonder if the CIA was hesitant to conduct risky covert operations given its history of being vilified by Congress and the public for some of its past actions.
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
WARNINGS OVER COMPLACENCY: The curves of new infections in numerous countries is climbing, while others see the the first new infections in months Spikes in COVID-19 infections in Asia have dispelled any notion that the region might be over the worst, with Australia and India yesterday reporting record daily infections, Vietnam fretting over a new surge and North Korea urging vigilance. Asian nations had largely prided themselves on rapidly containing initial outbreaks after the coronavirus emerged in central China late last year, but flare-ups this month have shown the danger of complacency. “We’ve got to be careful not to slip into some idea that there’s some golden immunity that Australia has in relation to this virus,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters. Australia recorded its
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
The Australian government yesterday said that it plans to give Google and Facebook three months to negotiate with media businesses fair pay for news content. In releasing a draft of a mandatory code of conduct, Canberra aims to succeed where other nations have failed in making tech firms pay for news siphoned from commercial media companies. Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that Google and Facebook would be the first platforms targeted by the proposed legislation, but others could follow. “It’s about a fair go for Australian news media businesses, it’s about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection and a sustainable