Thursday, February 01, 2007

Chatting with Former Counter-Terror Czar Richard Clarke

Pandachews chatted with former White House counter-terrorism Czar Richard Clarke at www.boston.com on 2/1/2007 at 1030am. Here's some background on Clarke (and a link to an extended audio interview) taken from the Web site of the PBS program, Frontline.

A counterterrorism expert, Richard Clarke was a member of the White House National Security Council in both the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations and is the author of Against all Enemies, an insider account of the Bush administration's policy-making in the war on terror. As an intelligence analyst in his early career, and later, a high-level policy maker, Clarke offers insights into the interplay between the two worlds and shares some thoughts on the heated intelligence wars during the lead-up to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Here's our chat:

Pandachews: Mr. Clarke, what do you say to people who defend the war in Iraq based on the notion that, if we don't fight the terrorists there, we'll be fighting them in the US?

Richard_Clarke: I say take a class in logic. There's nothing about our being in Iraq that stops a terrorist from coming here. Indeed the US Army found documents in Iraq of al Qaeda of Iraq planning to send people here.

Pandachews: Supporters of the Bush Administration say that the President has been a "victim of his own success." Because there have been no more terrorist attacks since 9/11, they say people have lost their sense of urgency about the war on terror and that's why they're turning on the President.

Richard_Clarke: I don't know of any real success that the President has had. People are turning on him because he is mindlessly getting people killed in Iraq, there was no reason to go into Iraq in the first place, and he can't admit his error and stop the carnage. He's forcing the next president to clean up his mistake...knowing that the clean up will be messy. Not exactly a profile in courage.

Pandachews: What do you think about Cheney's reported "One Percent Doctrine" that we need to treat a 1% chance of terrorist attack as though it were a certainty? How does that serve or defeat US interests in the world, particularly in the war on terror?

Richard_Clarke: The one per cent solution means that if there is a one percent chance something will be a threat you go after it. Well, if you really took that attitude you would be bopping a lot of innocent people...which would make you more enemies.

Pandachews: The Bush Administration says it HAS strengthened homeland security, and points to legislation last year tightening port security. Are they blowing smoke?

Richard_Clarke: They are. They oppose the 100 per cent screening of container shipping. They have done little or nothing about chemical plant and chemical rail car security, securing radiological material, protecting subways, etc...

Pandachews: What about Musharraf in Pakistan? It's clear that Al Qaeda has safe haven at the border with Afghanistan. Yet we keep supporting Musharraf. Why?

Richard_Clarke: Because they can't figure out an alternative and are afraid of radical Islamists getting democratically elected. Yet there is only so much Musharraf will do to help us, and it’s not enough. He has created a sanctuary for al Qaeda by refusing to control the border provinces.

Pandachews: Why do people like Rick Santorum keep saying weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq? Where do they get this stuff from and is there any truth? How do you talk to people like this?

Richard_Clarke: They did find a few old, leaky, inoperable chemical weapon artillery rounds from the Iran-Iraq War...unusable and probably not even known to the Iraqi government. Santorum just further undermined his overall credibility by saying things like that...and it contributed to his landslide defeat.

Pandachews: Putting Bush aside, what now for Iraq? Should we redouble our efforts--massive spending, many more troops--because we broke it, so we bought it? Or do we withdraw because we're just making it worse? Some combo of the two?

Richard_Clarke: We should withdraw major combat units over the next year. Major combat units do not help create security there, they stimulate the terrorist attacks. We should have a residual presence of Special Forces, intelligence units, etc. The result may well be a mess when we leave, but that will be true whenever we leave: next year or five years from now.

4 Comments:

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At Thursday, February 01, 2007 4:56:00 PM, Blogger PatchesMom1973 said...

very interesting questions!

 
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At Tuesday, November 11, 2008 11:10:00 PM, Anonymous Martha said...

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