March 23, 2004


The Kid

The media did a poor job of describing Richard Clarke’s roles in the various administrations. He became the head counterintelligence (CI) guy during the Clinton administration and asserts that he was a proponent for a muscular response to terrorist strikes, but that his arguments fell on deaf ears. His effectiveness may have been diminished for a number of reasons having more to do with that administration’s attitudes than with his own effectiveness. I do, however, have the distinct impression that in the latter days of the Clinton administration and in the early days of the Bush administration he may not have been as prescient as he now avers, but rather found potential terrorist threats everywhere. I can see Condi Rice making him the Cybersecurity Czar to get him to focus his arguments and better articulate the threat in a way that specific offensive action – rather than defensive measures like firewalls and anti-virus programs – could be assessed.

Journalists are doing a lousy job of covering this administration because they don’t understand large organizations and management theory. Bush’s key appointments were made not for political reasons, but because he wanted to reestablish control over the critical intelligence and defense organizations that had become politicized in the very political town of Washington, DC. Rice, Cheney, and Rumsfeld were brought in to transform sluggish, risk-averse organizations into effective tools of foreign policy and national defense.

This article explains in part why special forces were not so special: http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/003/613twavk.asp

On NRO and the American Spectator Jed Babbin (deputy undersecretary of defense in the first Bush administration) has recounted some of the early challenges Rumsfeld encountered in getting the Pentagon top brass to take transformation seriously. While the other services saluted smartly, the Army under Shinseki’s leadership refused to give up bad ideas like Crusader and empower special forces.

Excerpt from this column: http://www.spectator.org/dsp_article.asp?art_id=5286
And he’s doing just that. After years of fighting future Hawaii senator, and temporary Army Chief of Staff, Eric Shinseki, Big Dog is rid of both Shinseki and Army Secretary Tom White, who was also a problem. That Spec Ops is the future is undeniably in Mr. Rumsfeld’s mind. He chose retired General Peter Schoomaker as the next Army Chief, a decision to be confirmed publicly this week. Schoomaker -- according to one of his War College classmates -- is as steady as they come. He should be. In his younger days, he was a Delta Force operator, and then commander of Delta and then of SOCOM itself.

And from this 7/30/2002 column: http://www.spectator.org/dsp_article.asp?art_id=4179
[Army Secretary Thomas] White and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Shinseki have been the most stubborn opponents of Defense Secretary Rumsfeld’s plan to modernize our armed services.

Perhaps Mr. Clarke realizes that the Bush administration is more ably composed to project the force that he may have argued for in the 1990s. That he’s resorted to cheap partisan tricks at this time in the election cycle does not earn him my respect.


Seems to me the reason the press is less concerned with an alleged failure to address Bin Laden et al earlier is because that also reflects poorly on Clinton, whom they like more than Bush and who had much more time and opportunity to do something. But the Iraq "obsession" does not reflect equally poorly (if it is a poor thing, they seem to think so, but I don't) on Clinton specifically or Democrats more generally, so they go there to maximize what they see as their best chance to hurt Bush without damage to the Democrats.




You and others will have a field day tomorrow when we see the headline items from the hearings today. I bet you could write tomorrows headlines today. Out of hours of testimony, it will all boil down to one or two "themes" And those themes will be the same ones we have seen.


I'm struck by Clarke's failure on he job when measured in his own terms.

In the fall of 2000 right up to 9/11, he was known as the cyberterrorism cassandra, warning of the dangers of hackers to national security. At the same time the 9/11 plotters were in the US, chatting openly in Arabic over the web with their masters in Al Quida about eh palns to attack the WTC.

Shouldn't a guy who was talking publicly about cybersecurity and privately about the threat from Al Quida have been able to pick up on that?


Seems to me the media focuses on the Iraq issue because prevention of September 11th would link too far in the past to the previous administration, and the immediacy would be lost. We mere viewers want the "hear and now" and are perceived to be too far removed from the tragedy of September 11 and focus more on perception of future attacks.

Harping on the previous President would set up a Bush v. Clinton situation, and refocus the game off of the current election coverage.

Also, the media has already been distorting the anti-war protests and movements, and this gives their coverage even more substance.


I'm listening to Jonathon Alter on Imus and he is going on about the great White House trashing machine, comparing what is being done to Clarke to what was done to Monica Lewinsky.

Wrong analogy. Better analogy: What some Democrats tried to do to Linda Tripp.

And if you don't think it's happening, you must never dip your foot in the sewer of the rabid right press -- NewsMax, Limbaugh.com, etc.


Actually I never have listened to Limbaugh. I think Ive read some News Max stuff, but Im not sure. But I doubt either count as mainstream, much less as part of the WHITE HOUSE'S machinery, even if they believe they are operating on the White House's behalf. And they clearly weren't what Alter was talking about: he was talking about the orchestrated WH strategy, and while the WH strategy clearly is coordinated, (Condi on five morning shows, Dan Bartlett saying very similiar things on evening shows) it just didnt strike me as the kind of personally destructive politics as what was done to Tripp, or, what's her name, Im blanking on it now, the woman from Arkansas who sued ocer the right to sue re. sexual harassment claims. Those strategies really were, I think, about questions of who the PERSON was, and pale in comparsison to "he's bitter."

BTW, in response to something said in an earlier comment: I think it is simply false that the press as a group liked the Clintons. You can argue that they press may have a liberal bias, but whether they do or whether they dont doesnt mean that they arent human beings with personal preferences who respond to other human beings, and who respond the same way any of us would to being treated well, to being treated with respect, or being treated with disrespect. The press corps could take Al Gore or leave him during the campaign, but by the end of Clinton's term I dont think there's any question that while they may well have liked his POLICIES they just LOATHED the Clinton's as people. Look at the amount of air time, during the first two or three months of the Bush administration, that were given over to covering the last few scandals of the CLINTON administration!

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