Richard Clarke, President George W. Bush's former "counterterrorism czar," accuses the Bush administration of seeking a tie between Iraq and 9/11, and pushing America into an ill-advised war in Iraq. Clarke claims that Bush attempted to "intimidate him" into finding evidence -- which Clarke maintains doesn't exist -- to establish a connection between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. Clarke accuses Bush of doing little to combat terrorism pre-9/11.
Fox News' Jim Angle disclosed a tape of an August 2002 briefing by then-Special Adviser to the President for Cyberspace Security Richard Clarke. There, Clarke gave a decidedly different version of the Bush administration's terrorism policy:
Clarke: . . . (T)he Clinton administration had . . . a number of issues on the table since 1998. . . . (T)he Bush administration decided . . . mid-January (2001), to do two things. One, vigorously pursue the existing policy, including all of the lethal covert action findings. . . . The second thing the administration decided to do is to initiate a process to look at those issues which had been on the table for a couple of years and get them decided. . . . (The Bush administration) decided in principle . . . in the spring to add to the existing Clinton strategy and to increase CIA resources, for example, for covert action, five-fold, to go after al Qaeda. (The Bush administration) changed the strategy from one of rollback with al Qaeda over the course (of) five years, which it had been, to a new strategy that called for the rapid elimination of al Qaeda. That is in fact the timeline. . . . (T)he Bush administration changed -- began to change Pakistani policy, by a dialogue that said we would be willing to lift sanctions. So we began to offer carrots, which made it possible for the Pakistanis, I think, to begin to realize that they could go down another path, which was to join us and to break away from the Taliban. So that's really how it started . . .
Question: What you're saying is that . . . there was no delay, and that actually the first changes since October of '98 were made in the spring months just after the administration came into office?
Clarke: You got it. That's right. . . . President Bush told us in March to stop swatting at flies and just solve this problem, then that was the strategic direction that changed the NSPD (National Security Presidential Directive) from one of rollback to one of elimination.