Excerpt: 'Against All Enemies'

By Former Terrorism Adviser Richard Clarke

Richard Clarke was appointed by President Bill Clinton as the first national coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counterterrorism in May 1998, and continued in that position under George W. Bush.

Until March 2003, he was a career member of the Senior Executive Service, having begun his federal service in 1973 in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, as an analyst on nuclear weapons and European security issues.

In the Reagan administration, Clarke was deputy assistant secretary of state for Intelligence. In the first Bush administration, he was the assistant secretary of state for Politico-Military Affairs.

Read an excerpt from his book, "Against All Enemies," published by Free Press, a subsidiary of Simon & Schuster. Both CBSNews.com and Simon & Schuster are units of Viacom.
[Condoleezza] Rice viewed the NSC as a "foreign policy" coordination mechanism and not some place where issues such as terrorism in the U.S., or domestic preparedness for weapons of mass destruction, or computer network security should be addressed.

I realized that Rice, and her deputy, Steve Hadley, were still operating with the old Cold War paradigm from when they had worked on the NSC. Condi's previous government experience had been as an NSC staffer for three years worrying about the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Steve Hadley had also been an NSC staffer assigned to do arms control issues with the Soviet Union. He had then been an Assistant Secretary in the Pentagon, also concerned with Soviet arms control. It struck me that neither of them had worked on the new post-Cold War security issues.

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. Besides, the law that established the NSC in 1947 said it should concern itself with domestic security threats, too." 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.

Rice decided that the position of National Coordinator for Counterterrorism would also be downgraded. No longer would the Coordinator be a member of the Principals Committee. No longer would the CSG report to the Principals, but instead to a committee of Deputy Secretaries. No longer would the National Coordinator be supported by two NSC Senior Directors or have the budget review mechanism with the Associate Director of OMB. She did, however, ask me to stay on and to keep my entire staff in place. Rice and Hadley did not seem to know anyone else whose expertise covered what they regarded as my strange portfolio. At the same time, Rice requested that I develop a reorganization plan to spin out some of the security functions to someplace outside the NSC Staff.

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, which had been the first venue for terrorism policy discussions in the Clinton administration, would not address the issue until it had been "framed" by the Deputies. I assumed that meant an opportunity for the Deputies to review the agenda. Instead, it meant months of delay. The initial Deputies meeting to review terrorism policy could not be scheduled in February. Nor could it occur in March. Finally in April, the Deputies Committee met on terrorism for the first time. The first meeting, in the small wood-paneled Situation Room conference room, did not go well.

Rice's deputy, Steve Hadley, began the meeting by asking me to brief the group. I turned immediately to the pending decisions needed to deal with al Qaeda. "We need to put pressure on both the Taliban and al Qaeda by arming the Northern Alliance and other groups in Afghanistan. Simultaneously, we need to target bin Laden and his leadership by reinitiating flights of the Predator."

Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld's deputy at Defense, fidgeted and scowled. Hadley asked him if he was all right. "Well, I just don't understand why we are beginning by talking about this one man bin Laden," Wolfowitz responded.

I answered as clearly and forcefully as I could: "We are talking about a network of terrorist organizations called al Qaeda, that happens to be led by bin Laden, and we are talking about that network because it and it alone poses an immediate and serious threat to the United States."

"Well, there are others that do as well, as least as much. Iraqi terrorism, for example," Wolfowitz replied, looking not at me but at Hadley.

"I am unaware of any Iraqi-sponsored terrorism directed at the United States, Paul, since 1993, and I think FBI and CIA concur in that judgment, right, John?" I pointed at CIA Deputy Director John McLaughlin, who was obviously not eager to get in the middle of a debate between the White House and the Pentagon but nonetheless replied, "Yes, that is right, Dick. We have no evidence of any active Iraqi terrorist threat against the U.S."

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 the 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.

It was getting a little too heated for the kind of meeting Steve Hadley liked to chair, but I thought it was important to get the extent of the disagreement out on the table: "Al Qaeda plans major acts of terrorism against the U.S. It plans to overthrow Islamic governments and set up a radical multination Caliphate, and then go to war with non-Muslim states." ...

Hadley suggested a compromise. We would begin by focusing on al Qaeda and then later look at other terrorism, including any Iraqi terrorism. Because dealing with al Qaeda involved its Afghan sanctuary, however, Hadley suggested that we needed policy on Afghanistan in general and on the related issue of U.S.-Pakistani relations, including the return of democracy in that country and arms control with India. All of these issues were a "cluster" that had to be decided together. Hadley proposed that several more papers be written and several more meetings be scheduled over the next few months.







  • Rebecca Leung

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