Does he think there is a possibility Osama bin Laden will be captured or killed this year? "There are a lot of military and CIA people who are surprisingly optimistic he will be found this year," he said. Even so, he noted, capturing or killing Osama, while gratifying, will be mostly "symbolic," because others among "the death worshippers" will take his place.
The senior official thinks press reports of nuclear suitcase bombs are exaggerated, but he cannot rule out the possibility.
Where was Clarke while all of these threats were developing? He was the chief advisor to President Clinton on terror. The Clinton administration approached terror as a law enforcement problem, not a national threat, which is precisely the strategy Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kerry would pursue were he to become president. At least that is the strategy he says he will employ today. Who knows what he'll propose tomorrow or next week?
The ineffective response to terrorism by the Clinton administration encouraged the terrorists to go for broke with such high-profile targets as the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the Capitol or the White House. We know that it was only because of the bravery of passengers on the fourth plane, which crashed into a field in Pennsylvania, that the horror was not greater.
If Clarke wants to cast blame for 9/11, he should look in a mirror. It was he, not the Bush administration, who controlled the power, strategy and direction of U.S. policy toward terrorism for the last decade. That we were hit hard on 9/11 was not the fault of George W. Bush, but of William Jefferson Clinton and his chief advisor on terrorism, Richard Clarke.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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