Robert Novak

Clarke's experience with the Bush administration appeared to heighten his appreciation of Clinton. Whereas he had briefed Clinton, Bush was briefed by CIA Director George Tenet. Clarke found himself at "deputies" rather than "principals" meetings. The final indignity was his rejection by Secretary Tom Ridge for a high-ranking Homeland Security post.

While Clarke had worked closely with Clinton National Security Adviser Sandy Berger in bureaucratic maneuvers to further Clarke's anti-terrorist agenda, Condoleezza Rice as Berger's successor was not engaged. Clarke clearly had difficulty in relating to Rice, describing her to close associates as "shallow."

Beyond Rice, friends say, Clarke felt uncomfortable with the conservatives brought in by George W. Bush as he had not felt with George H.W. Bush's or certainly Clinton's team. The White House team is not hospitable to outsiders, and Clarke was surely an outsider.

Clarke since he left the government is described by friends as becoming much closer to Rand Beers, who succeeded him as chief terrorist official in the Bush administration. Beers shocked Washington last June when he quit his high-ranking post in the Bush administration to become Sen. John Kerry's foreign policy adviser. Since then, Clarke and Beers have been collaborating.

That Beers is a registered Democrat and Clarke says he is a registered (but never an active) Republican is inconsequential. Clarke's only political contributions in 2002 and 2004 were to two former colleagues on the Clinton National Security Council staff who are running for Congress as Democrats.

While Clarke testified under oath last week that he would not join a Kerry administration, he is now, in effect, part of the Kerry campaign. His book's publication was timed to coincide with his testimony, and his transformed posture is one of political partisan.

Robert Novak

Robert Novak (1931-2009) was a syndicated columnist and editor of the Evans-Novak Political Report.

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