"Counterterrorism czar" Richard Clarke spent nearly 30 years in government service, including eight years in that capacity during the Clinton administration and briefly retained by the current Bush administration.
Now comes Clarke's book, "Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror," in which he accuses the Bush administration of ignoring the terror threat, yet claims that President Clinton gave terrorism the highest priority.
But during Bill Clinton's administration, when Clarke served during the entire time as "counterterrorism czar," Clinton failed to capture or kill Osama bin Laden. Indeed, on Clinton's watch, numerous extremist Islamic-inspired terrorist attacks occurred: 1993 attack on the World Trade Center; attempted assassination of President George H.W. Bush while visiting Kuwait in 1993; bombing of the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, as well as the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000.
Whatever failures for terrorism attributed to the pre-9/11 Bush administration, the president deserves credit for changing the approach of bin Laden from that of law enforcement to that of a military response, a response worthy of an act of war.
But the Clinton-bashers immediately hoisted Richard Clarke on their shoulders making him this year's Anita Hill. Turn on the TV set, anyone watching any of the general news/cable TV news programs would be hard-pressed not to find Richard Clarke stating his case.
Contrast Clarke's rave television reception to the virtual silence experienced by former FBI agent Gary Aldrich. Aldrich, in 1998, wrote "Unlimited Access: An FBI Agent Inside the Clinton White House," in which he criticized Bill Clinton for his inattention to national security. Aldrich, like Clarke, spent 30 years with government. I recently interviewed Aldrich, and we discussed Clarke's accusations, the media's reaction to his book, and the virtual shutout Aldrich experienced when he attempted to promote his book.
Elder: . . . Who in the White House referred to your book as a "book of lies"?
Aldrich: Well, Hillary Clinton . . . said that it was a "pack of lies," political fabrication that could not be believed . . . and Bill Clinton said he had no idea who I was or what I was saying, but it couldn't be true. Then George Stephanopoulous was the lead character who . . . came on ABC News and declared to the nation that I was a pathological liar. . . .
Elder: You write in your book that Clinton expressed an almost indifference toward national security. . . .
Aldrich: The book was designed to alert the public in 1996, before the election, that Bill Clinton was soft on national security and . . . and he had weakened the nation to the degree that I felt we were in danger of an attack. . . .
Elder: Richard Clarke, as you know, has said that the Clinton administration had no higher priority than combating terrorism -- true or false?
Aldrich: That would be absolutely false. The Clinton administration had many priorities somewhere on the list with terrorism, but it certainly wasn't at the top of the list. . . .
Elder: Tell us about your inability to promote your book versus the ability of Richard Clarke to promote his book. . . .
Aldrich: I don't think there's any question that this is one of the best examples that we've had recently of the bias in the mainstream media. . . . Not only was the mainstream media taking a hands-off approach to me, but politicians also steered clear of me because I was so controversial. . . . One thing (that) is different between Clarke and me is that I never changed my version of events. . . . His book is just out and already we have three different versions coming out of things that he has said about Bush and about Clinton. . . .
Elder: You had actually been booked on some major shows. And all of a sudden you get a phone call and they say, oops, sorry, can't have you.
Aldrich: I was supposed to be on "Larry King" for a full hour on Monday following the appearance I made on the Brinkley show on Sunday . . . The very first (statement) out of the mouth of one of the interviewers was, "If you can't prove that Clinton was a reckless womanizer as you claim in your book, then nothing else in your book can be perceived to be true. . . . "Once I couldn't prove (it) . . . I was dismissed, and all of the shows that I had been scheduled on suddenly evaporated. . . .
Elder: Now that you were vindicated by much of what we learned during the Monica Lewinsky investigation, now that we have 9/11 investigating lapses on Clinton's and on Bush's watch, I would have thought this would resurrect you as a credible guest for these shows. Has that happened?
Aldrich: No, it hasn't. As far as CBS is concerned . . . I'm a dead man walking.
A suggestion to Aldrich: Next time write a book flattering the Clinton administration. But, then, Aldrich apparently prefers non-fiction.