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March 24, 2004

IT'S CLARKE V. CONASON NOW: This is almost starting to look like a Karl Rove setup.

UPDATE: Or maybe Clarke set himself up. Here's what he said in 2002:

January 2001, the incoming Bush administration was briefed on the existing strategy. They were also briefed on these series of issues that had not been decided on in a couple of years.

And the third point is the Bush administration decided then, you know, mid-January, to do two things. One, vigorously pursue the existing policy, including all of the lethal covert action findings, which we've now made public to some extent. . . .

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.

So, point five, that process which was initiated in the first week in February, uh, decided in principle, uh 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. . .

JIM ANGLE: You're saying that the Bush administration did not stop anything that the Clinton administration was doing while it was making these decisions, and by the end of the summer had increased money for covert action five-fold. Is that correct?

CLARKE: All of that's correct.

(Emphasis added.) So Clarke in 2002 says that the Bush Administration picked up the Clinton ball and ran with it, redoubling (er, quintupling!) effort. Clarke in 2004 -- an election year, with a book to sell -- says the opposite, that the Bush Administration ignored the problem.

Which Clarke do you believe?

ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader points out this excerpt from the same transcript:

ANGLE: So, just to finish up if we could then, so what you're saying is that there was no one, there was no [Clinton] plan; two, there was no delay; and that actually the first changes since October of '98 were made in the spring months just after the [Bush] administration came into office?

CLARKE: You got it. That's right.

It's hard for me to see how this leaves Clarke with any credibility at all.