Kicking off a two-day media blitz, Richard Clarke appeared on 60 Minutes on Sunday night to discuss his new book, Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror — What Really Happened, which has a sales rank of 5 at Amazon today. The former counterterrorism coordinator for the Bush and Clinton administrations, Clarke also advised Reagan and Bush, Sr., on terrorism threats.
In his book, Clarke says members of the current administration began planning to bomb Iraq on September 11th, 2001, despite a dearth of evidence of Iraq’s involvement in the attacks that continues to this day. When the Secretary of Defense was told the terrorists’ base was in Afghanistan, Rumsfeld allegedly responded, “But there are no good targets in Afghanistan.” What’s more, the administration apparently ignored Clarke’s predictions about Al-Qaeda terrorism threats in the months preceding the attacks on the World Trade Center, preferring instead to focus on cold war targets.
Many newspapers and other media outlets that lean toward both sides of the political spectrum finally have begun piecing together the contradictory and misleading statements made by members of the administration about terrorism and Iraq and September 11 in the last couple of years. But the New York Times, that bastion of fair reporting (cough), portrays Clarke as an angry, slightly unhinged quack with an axe to grind. At least it offers an excerpt from the book.
Critics and members of the administration have accused Clarke of releasing the book now in the hopes of sabotaging Bush’s reelection bid and currying favor with Kerry. But on PBS Newshour last night Clarke said the book would have been published sooner had it not been held up for 3 months by the White House, which was reviewing it for classified material. Clarke testifies tomorrow before the 9/11 Commission. (Some links and information via Atrios.)