March 22, 2004

JOURNALISTIC ETHICS: I’ve missed the Richard Clarke hype, but now Drudge is reporting that CBS, which pumped Clarke’s book hard on “60 Minutes,” didn’t disclose a financial stake in the book’s success.

UPDATE: Well, I haven’t been following it, but somebody has:

Richard Clarke is a bitter, discredited bureaucrat who was an integral part of the Clinton administration’s failed approach to terrorism, was demoted by President Bush, and is now an adjunct to John Kerry’s presidential campaign.

Ouch. Roger Simon says it’s all about the Benjamins for Clarke, and Stephen F. Hayes wonders why Clarke is giving Clinton — who had a lot more time than Bush to focus on Al Qaeda, but didn’t — a pass.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Hmm. Clarke seems to have had trouble deciding who to worry about, despite his claims now. And here’s Condi Rice’s response. Meanwhile Hugh Hewitt observes:

Al Qaeda took root in Afghanistan and metastasized during the Clinton party. Repeated strikes on the U.S. abroad, culminating in the bombing of the Cole, went unpunished except for the symbolism of tossing some cruise missiles into the Afghan mountains. The attempt to pin blame on the eight months of Bush Administration control on the basis of “warnings” delivered is transparent posturing from the same gang that gave Osama a pass for eight years while his camps trained and dispersed thousands of fanatics throughout the world.

The political operation on the Democratic side is in chaos, repeatedly attempting to rewrite the national security situation and repeatedly failing. Their focus groups and polls must be telling them that they have to move public opinion on this issue or lose big in the fall. But that’s like trying to move Mount McKinley from Alaska to Hawaii. The perception that the Democrats are weak on defense and hesitant to engage the terrorists is out there because the Democrats are weak on defense and hesitant to engage the terrorists.

Well, I’d give Clinton a bit more of a pass on this than Hewitt does. I think a lot of people — including me — viewed Islamic terrorism in the 1990s as a minor threat that could be contained until it collapsed under the weight of its own stupidity. That was wrong, but I don’t blame the Clinton people for getting it wrong. (Clarke, by the way, spent the 1990s worrrying publicly about cyberterrorism). I do, however, blame them intensely for trying to rewrite history now for partisan political reasons while a war is going on.

I’d also like to believe — as Andrew Sullivan is hoping — that a Kerry Administration would be more serious about this sort of thing. But so far, “hope” is the operative term.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Phil Carter is skeptical of the White House’s response to Clarke. That’s reasonable enough — I myself have been repeatedly skeptical of the absurd claim, made earlier but happily not repeated this go-round, that no one could have foreseen the 9/11 attacks. In fact, some people (and not just Tom Clancy) did. On the other hand, Clarke wasn’t one of those people, and his assault seems rather political in nature.

MORE: Reader T.J. Lynn emails:

We’ve finally managed to find the guy who actually lost his job over 9/11.

And now he’s written a book blaming everyone else for what he was specifically charged with preventing.

Heck, is there any wonder why Bush didn’t clean house? Can you imagine the breathless coverage?

Interesting take.

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