Cheney has spoken of the necessity of going to war in Iraq, the need to use 'enhanced interrogation' techniques, and the need to develop a unique designation for 'enemy combatants' and separate facilities - Guantanamo, et. al., - in response to the horrors of 9/11. Cheney describes 9/11 as a defining moment and how the actions taken on 9/11 and after have kept America safe, going on to claim that only those actions kept us safe.
Richard Clarke has a somewhat different take. He states that:
“I believe this zeal stemmed in part from concerns about the 2004 presidential election. Many in the White House feared that their inaction prior to the attacks would be publicly detailed before the next vote -- which is why they resisted the 9/11 commission -- and that a second attack would eliminate any chance of a second Bush term. So they decided to leave no doubt that they had done everything imaginable.”
He also said, about Bush's core players, that,
“…when Bush's inner circle first really came to grips with the threat of terrorism, they did so in a state of shock -- a bad state in which to develop a coherent response. Fearful of new attacks, they authorized the most extreme measures available, without assessing whether they were really a good idea.“
He goes on to describe the scene at the White House on 9/11, and an attitude that developed then and that would continue:
“While the Pentagon was still burning, Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld was in the White House suggesting an attack against Baghdad. Somehow the administration's leaders could not believe that al-Qaeda could have mounted such a devastating operation, so Iraqi involvement became the convenient explanation. Despite being told repeatedly that Iraq was not involved in 9/11, some, like Cheney, could not abandon the idea.”
Clarke lays out his argument against the need for the use of a Guantanamo, the 'enemy combatant' designations, or any of the extreme measures enacted under the Bush Administration.
“On detention, the Bush team leaped to the assumption that U.S. courts and prisons would not work. Before the terrorist attacks, the U.S. counterterrorism program of the 1990s had arrested al-Qaeda terrorists and others around the world and had a 100 percent conviction rate in the U.S. justice system. Yet the American system was abandoned, again as part of a pattern of immediately adopting the most extreme response available.”
Regarding the use of waterboarding and other 'enhanced interrogation' techniques, Clarke reports that:
“…there was the immediate and unwarranted assumption that extreme measures -- such as waterboarding one detainee 183 times -- would be the most effective.”
Clarke concluded by saying that:
"Yes, Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice may have been surprised by the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 -- but it was because they had not listened."
Dick Cheney was interviewed at the National Press Club on Monday. When asked about Richard Clarke's op-ed, he said:
"You know, Dick Clarke. Dick Clarke, who was the head of the counterrorism program in the run-up to 9/11. He obviously missed it. The fact is that we did what we felt we had to do, and if I had to do it all over again, I would do exactly the same thing."
When reminded of Clarke's stated warnings to the Bush Administration, Cheney then stated:
"That's not my recollection. But, I haven't read his book."
Maybe not. But you were aware of the briefings detailed in this article in TIME.
Everything is always somebody elses fault. Yet Dick Cheney is out on his speaking tour ranting at President Obama for making us less safe (even though no waterboarding has occurred in 5 years) and taking the credit for no attacks on American soil in 7 years (although the worst attack occurred under his watch). What a piece of work. Someone tell him to go away.
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