The final policy paper on national security that President Clinton submitted to Congress — 45,000 words long — makes no mention of al Qaeda and refers to Osama bin Laden by name just four times.
The scarce references to bin Laden and his terror network undercut claims by former White House terrorism analyst Richard A. Clarke that the Clinton administration considered al Qaeda an “urgent” threat, while President Bush’s national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, “ignored” it.
The Clinton document, titled “A National Security Strategy for a Global Age,” is dated December 2000 and is the final official assessment of national security policy and strategy by the Clinton team. The document is publicly available, though no U.S. media outlets have examined it in the context of Mr. Clarke’s testimony and new book.
Miss Rice, who will testify publicly Thursday before the commission investigating the Bush and Clinton administrations’ actions before the September 11 attacks, was criticized last week for planning a speech for September 11, 2001, that called a national missile-defense system a leading security priority.
President Bush yesterday denied the accusation that his administration had made dealing with al Qaeda a low priority.
But but but… fighting terrorism was Clinton’s #1 priority says so Mr. Perfect Honest No Lies Clarke!!!
The full report is here. If you’re looking for the four references, note that OBL’s name is spelled “Usama bin Ladin.” Sure enough, he’s mentioned four times.
On the other hand, “terrorism” is mentioned seven times in the introduction alone and 58 times in the main section on “Implementing the Strategy.” What’s more, in the major section titled “Protecting the Homeland” there are seven primary issues discussed. Two of them are “Combating Terrorism” and “Domestic Preparedness Against Weapons of Mass Destruction.”
It’s also worth noting that far from considering terrorism a mere law enforcement activity, terrorism gets an entire paragraph in the section titled “Military Activities”:
We must continue to improve our program to combat terrorism in the areas of antiterrorism, counterterrorism, consequence management, and intelligence support to deter terrorism. We will deter terrorism through the increased antiterrorism readiness of our installations and forward forces, enhanced training and awareness of military personnel, and the development of comprehensive theater engagement plans. In counterterrorism, because terrorist organizations may not be deterred by traditional means, we must ensure a robust capability to accurately attribute the source of attacks against the United States or its citizens, and to respond effectively and decisively to protect our national interests. U.S. armed forces possess a tailored range of options to respond to terrorism directed at U.S. citizens, interests, and property. In the event of a terrorist incident, our consequence management ability to significantly mitigate injury and damage may likely deter future attacks. Finally, we will continue to improve the timeliness and accuracy of intelligence support to commanders, which will also enhance our ability to deter terrorism.
As far as I know, Clarke never suggested that counterterrorism was the Clinton administration’s highest priority, merely one of several high priorities. His complaint isn’t that Bush didn’t make it Job 1, but that he didn’t give it even as much attention as Clinton did.
Y’know, I saw Kevin Drum’s post that McCullough reprinted here this afternoon and filed it away, thinking: “Some dumbass is going to start throwing around this goofy non-story from the Unification Church Paper Of Record and it’ll be fun to spike it right back in their face.”
Seriously, Cherub. That was like throwing a hanging breaking pitch out over the plate to Albert Pujols. What’s it say about the strained arguments you and the party you support are making to cover your asses that they’re being swatted away before you can even broach them?
Hitchens isn’t worth treating seriously. He’s got that annoying British public school writing style (Andrew Sullivan does to a lesser degree) that drives the amount of work you need to debunk him to 100 times the amount he put into it. It’s not worth detangling the web of slander and lies.
As to details on how he lost his mind, I’d suggest reading blumenthal’s book, or if that’s too partisan for you, just poke around the web for “blumenthal+hitchens.”
Bob, at some point you’re going to realize just how badly jerked around you’ve been by this administration and right wing pundits. What surprises me is how long it’s taking some people. When it does dawn on them I’d think there’d be nobody as pissed off as they will be.
Huh, how is that getting owned? I posted that al Qaeda is not mentioned in the report. Guess what? It aint!
Osama mentioned 4 times in a 45,000 word report? So given he was the largest U.S. security threat at the time and known to be behind the 1993 WTC bombing, the USS Cole bombing, and numerous US Embassy bombings, he’s worthy of mentioning 4 times? You really aren’t that delusional are you?
Also, if you actually took the time to READ the report instead of reading some liberal slant analysis of it, you’d be shocked to see how much coverage Saddam gets. I thought according to you, Saddam was no threat at all. Just some peace-loving misunderstood dictator. But for some reason he gets a lot more coverage than Osama in Clinton’s final security report.
I don’t think anyone called Saddam a peace-loving misunderstood dictator…
Almost all the report’s references to Iraq and Saddam are in reference to containing Iraq to prevent it from threatening its neighbors or to a regime change policy focused on internal Iraqi politics. The most substantial discussion is relegated to the Integrated Regional Approaches chapter, in which each geographic area gets its due. (More paragraphs are devoted to Bosnia and Kosovo than Iraq. Does this mean that Clinton saw Kosovo as a bigger threat than Al Qaeda?) Terrorism is front and center in the threat assessment area and almost all the Homeland Security references are to the dangers posed by foreign terror groups.
Al Qaeda might not have been said, but there was reference to Bin Laden’s “terror network”. Does this count as a mention? (Steroids got twice as many mentions in the State of the Union as North Korea did. What does this mean?)
Word counting, which both sides of the debate over who-cared-most have been resorting to, strikes me as a silly little rhetorical device that sheds no light on anything in most cases. Where a word is and the context it is used in is much more important than playing gotcha with a browser “Find in this page” tool.