Clarke re: Mylroie

Tim Dunlop, god bless him, is still scanning excerpts from Richard Clarke’s book. In Chapter 10, Clarke writes that he was having a hell of a time getting anybody in the Bush Admin to take his AQ warnings seriously. In fact, in the first days of the new Admin, Condi wanted him to move his CT operations team out of the NSC.

…I realized that Rice and her deputy, Steve Hadley, were still operating with the old Cold War paradigm from when they worked on the NSC….I tried to explain: “This office is new, you’re right. It’s post-Cold War security, not focused just on nation-state threats. The boundaries between domestic and foreign have blurred. Threats to the U.S. now are not Soviet ballistic missiles carrying bombs, they’re terrorists carrying bombs.”…….I did not succeed entirely in making the case. Over the next several months, they suggested, I should figure out how to move some of these issues out to some other organization.

Just as Digby surmised, the Bush team was so focused on state-sponsored terrorism, just as in the Cold War days, that they were blowing off his concern about renegades. Clarke seems to have thought this was a communications problem, so he kept trying to communicate.

Within a week of the Inauguration I wrote to Rice and Hadley asking “urgently” for a Principals, or Cabinet-level, meeting to review the imminent al Qaeda threat. Rice told me that the Principals Committee…would not address the issue until it had been “framed” by the Deputies. [This] meant months of delay.

Their lack of interest baffled him until finally, in April, he got to meet with some key defense officials and an exchange with Wolfowitz finally clued him into the real problem. As Tim put it, Wolfowitz began by attacking Clarke “for even mentioning Al Qaeda.”

Finally, Wolfowitz turned to me. “You give bin Laden too much credit. He could not do all these things like the 1993 attack on New York, not without a state sponsor. Just because FBI and CIA have failed to find linkages does not mean they don’t exist.” I could hardly believe it but Wolfowitz was actually spouting the totally discredited Laurie Mylroie theory that Iraq was behind the 1993 truck bomb at the World Trade Center, a theory that had been investigated for years and found to be totally untrue.

Why were they clinging to a “totally discredited” theory? Clarke thinks the answer is at the top, starting with Junior and his C-average, SAS mind.

When he focused, he asked the kinds of questions that revealed a results-oriented mind, but he looked for the simple solution, the bumper-sticker description of the problem. Once he had that, he could put energy behind a drive to achieve his goal. The problem was that many of the important issues, like terrorism, like Iraq, were laced with important subtlety and nuance. These issues needed real analysis and Bush and his inner circle had no real interest in the complicated analyses; on the issues that they cared about, they already knew the answers, it was received wisdom.

There you go. The same story everybody is telling, the picture we all put together from the outside since the invasion: they believe what they want to believe, damn the facts. Global warming, evolution, Iraq, AQ, the environment. the economy–they decide what they believe first and then they invent facts to back up what they’ve already decided.

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