Richard Clarke
White House Head Of Counterterrorism 1992 - 2003

'Against All Enemies'
First Edition Published In Great Britain By The Free Press In 2004

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How The Bush Administration Turned 9/11 Into An Attack On Iraq

"Richard A. Clarke knows too much, and 'Against All Enemies' is too good to be ignored. The explosive details about President Bush's obsession with Iraq in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks captured the headlines in the days after the book's release, but ''Against All Enemies'' offers more.... By Sept. 11, 2001, Dick Clarke had become the ultimate White House insider; he was not only a Clinton holdover, he was a holdover from the first Bush administration and had served in the Reagan State Department. He had been working at the National Security Council for about a decade, and in 1998 had been named White House counterterrorism coordinator by President Clinton. He was asked to stay on in the same post by the second Bush administration. But he had quickly become frustrated by the new team's unwillingness to address the mounting threat from Osama bin Laden. While Clarke and his aides were holding down the fort in the Situation Room and the president was flying around the country on Air Force One, Vice President Cheney, his wife and aides were holed up in a little-known bunker in the East Wing of the White House called the PEOC, the Presidential Emergency Operations Center. At one point that morning, Clarke went to the bunker to see Cheney; navigating his way into the vault past grim, shotgun-toting guards, he found that Lynne Cheney had turned down the volume on the television hooked up to the secure videoconference so she could listen to CNN. The most controversial incident in 'Against All Enemies' deals with the president's eagerness to link the Sept. 11 attacks to Iraq, and comes on the night of Sept. 12. Clarke writes that he saw Bush wandering alone through the Situation Room. The president then stopped and asked Clarke and a few aides to 'go back over everything, everything. See if Saddam did this.'... After the president left, one of Clarke's aides said, 'Wolfowitz got to him.'.... the key allegation in the book -- that the Bush team was obsessed with Iraq even when faced with overwhelming evidence that it was Al Qaeda that was attacking the United States -- can't be dismissed by assertions that he was out of the loop. During those early days, Richard Clarke was the loop."
What Clarke Knew and When He Knew It
New York Times, 11 April 2004

"Now most Americans accept seven damning facts: (1) President Bush did little or nothing about terrorism before 9/11, (2) there was no Iraqi threat to the United States, (3) the Bush administration began plotting to invade Iraq early in their term, well before 9/11, (4) there is no evidence of an Iraqi hand in 9/11, or of any significant support to al Qaeda, (5) there were no weapons of mass destruction and the White House and Pentagon justified their claims about WMD by citing phony evidence from Iraqi exiles to whom they paid millions of dollars, (6) the Bush administration had no real plan to administer Iraq after the invasion, and (7) Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld ignored professional military advice and sent too few troops to Iraq to protect our forces.... There is at least one momentous error that is inescapable: President Bush has sowed the seeds of current and future terrorism against the United States by his needless, counterproductive, deceitful invasion of Iraq.... It pains me that so much of what I wrote in this book is coming to pass.... It is a war we are losing, as more and more of the Islamic world develops antipathy toward the United States and some even develop a respect for the jihadist movement."
Richard Clarke - White House Head Of Counterterrorism 1992 - 2003
Foreword To The Paperback Edition
'Against All Enemies'  - Edition first published in Great Britain by The Free Press in 2004

"We now know several things that were not public when this book first appeared. We know, for example, that George Tenet's daily briefings for the President mentioned al Qaeda on forty occasions, often with great urgency, prior to 9/11. The administration has made much of the fact that on one of those forty occasions, the President suggested we stop 'swatting flies'. Yet, as I outline in the book, and as the 9/11 Commission report makes painfully clear, the President did little else about terrorism prior to September 11 despite the alarm bells from George Tenet."
Richard Clarke - White House Head Of Counterterrorism 1992 - 2003
Foreword To The Paperback Edition
'Against All Enemies'  - Edition first published in Great Britain by The Free Press in 2004

"Much that is still classified as secret by the U.S. government is omitted in this book."
Richard Clarke - White House Head Of Counterterrorism 1992 - 2003
Preface To The Paperback Edition
'Against All Enemies'  - Edition first published in Great Britain by The Free Press in 2004

Extracts From 'Against All Enemies'


"I realized then that until today I had not ever briefed the President on terrorism, only Cheney, Rice, and Powell. We had finally had our first Principals meeting on terrorism only a week earlier. The next step was to have been a briefing to walk the President through our proposed National Security Presidential Directive [NSPD]...... to go after bin Laden and the al Qaeda leadership. Bush had never seen the plan, the pieces of which had first been briefed to Cheney, Rice, Powell, and others on his team in January.  It had taken since January to get the Cabinet-level meeting that I had requested 'urgently' within days of the inauguration to approve an aggressive plan to go after al Qaeda. The meeting had finally happened exactly one week earlier, on September 4."
Chapter 1, Evacuate The White House


"On the morning of the 12th [September 2001], DOD's [Department of Defense] focus was already beginning to shift from al Qaeda. CIA was explicit now that al Qaeda was guilty of the attacks, but Paul Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld's deputy, was not persuaded. It was too sophisticated and complicated an operation, he said, for a terrorist group to have pulled off by itself, with out a state sponsor - Iraq must have been helping them.

I had a flashback to Wolfowitz saying the very same thing in April when the administration had finally held its first deputy secretary-level meeting on terrorism. When I had urged action on al Qaeda then, Wolfowitz had harked back to the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, saying al Qaeda could not have done that alone and must have had help from Iraq. The focus on al Qaeda was wrong, he had said in April, we must go after Iraqi-sponsored terrorism. He had rejected my assertion and CIA's that there had been no Iraqi-sponsored terrorism since 1993. Now this line of thinking was coming back.

By the afternoon on Wednesday, Secretary Rumsfeld was talking about broadening the objectives of our response and 'getting Iraq.'...

... Later in the day, Secretary Rumsfeld complained that there were no decent targets for bombing in Afghanistan and that we should consider bombing Iraq, which, he said, had better targets. At first I thought he was joking. But he was serious and the President did not reject out of hand the idea of attacking Iraq. Instead, he noted that what we needed to do with Iraq was to change the government, not just hit it with more cruise missiles, as Rumsfeld had implied."
Chapter 1, Evacuate The White House


"Later, on the evening of the 12th, I left the Video Conferencing Center and there, wandering alone around the Situation Room, was the President. He looked like he wanted something to do. He grabbed a few of us and closed the door to the conference room. 'Look', he told us, 'I know you have a lot to do and all .... but I want you, as soon as you can, to go back over everything, everything. See if Saddam did this. See if he's linked in any way....'

'Look into Iraq, Saddam,' the President said testily and left us. Lisa Gordon-Hagerty stared after him with her mouth hanging open

Paul Kurtz walked in, passing the President on the way out. Seeing our expressions, he asked, 'Geez, what happened here.'

'Wolfowitz got to him, ' Lisa said shaking her head."
Chapter 1, Evacuate The White House


"....[After the1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait] President Bush was hesitant about how America should respond. His foreign policy alter ego, Secretary of State Jim Baker, and his Defense Secretary, Dick Cheney, were reluctant to act. National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft, however, thought that Iraq had just changed the strategic equation in a way that could not be permitted. So did British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The two argued that nothing stood between the advance of units of the Iraqi army in Kuwait and the immense Saudi oil fields. If we did nothing in response to Iraq's seizing Kuwait, Saddam Hussein would think that he could get away with seizing the Saudis' eastern oil fields. If that happened, Baghdad would control most of the world's readily available oil. They could dictate to America.

Reluctantly, Bush and his team decided that they needed to defend the Saudi oil fields, and do so quickly. They needed Saudi permission for the defensive deployment, but there were some in the Pentagon and White House who thought U.S. forces needed to protect the Saudi oil with or without Saudi approval.

The mission to persuade the Saudi King to accept U.S forces was given to Defense Secretary Dick Cheney. He assembled a small team, including Under Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Central Command head Norman Schwarzkopf, Sandy Charles of the NSC, and me, then the Assistant Secretary of State for Politico-Military Affairs...

Cheney concluded the presentation, promising that U.S forces would come only to defend the Kingdom. President Bush wanted the King to know that he had the President's word that the U.S. forces would leave as soon as the threat was over, or whenever ordered to do so by the King.

..... Unknown to the Americans at the time, the intelligence chief, Prince Turki, had been approached by the Saudi who had recruited Arabs to fight in the Afghan War against the Soviets, Usama Bin Laden....

.... When Kuwait was invaded, he offered to make them available to the King to defend Saudi Arabia, to drive Saddam out of Kuwait. After we left the palace, perhaps bin Laden was told of the King's decision.

His help would not be required. He could not believe it; letting nonbelievers into the Kingdom of the Two Holy Mosques was against the beliefs of the Wahhabist branch of Islam. Large numbers of American military in the Kingdom would violate Islam, the construction magnate's son thought. They would never leave."
Chapter 3, Unfinished Mission, Unintended Consequences


"America worked on a four-year electoral cycle and at the end of 2000, a new cycle was beginning. In the presidential campaign, terrorism had not been discussed. George Bush and Dick Cheney had mentioned the Antiballistic Missile Treaty with Russia. They had also talked about Iraq.

In January 2001, with the Florida fiasco behind us, I briefed each of my old friends and associates from the first Bush administration, Condi Rice, Steve Hadley, Dick Cheney, and Colin Powell.  My message was stark: al Qaeda is at war with us, it is a highly capable organization, probably with sleeper cells in the U.S., and it is clearly planning a major series of attacks against us; we must act decisively and quickly, deciding on the issues prepared after the attack on the [USS] Cole, going on the offensive.

Each person reacted differently. Cheney was, as ever, quiet and calm on the surface. The wheels were spinning behind the mask. He asked an aide to arrange for a visit to CIA to learn their view of the al Qaeda threat. That was fine by me because I knew that George Tenet would be even more alarmist than I had been about what al Qaeda was planning. Cheney did make the trip up the Parkway to CIA Headquarters, one of many he would make. Most of the visits focused on Iraq and left midlevel managers and analysts wondering whether the seasoned Vice President was right about the Iraqi threat; perhaps they should adjust their own analysis. In the first weeks of the Administration, however, Cheney had heard me loud and clear about al Qaeda. Now that he was attending meetings chaired by Condi Rice (something no Vice President had ever done), I hoped he would speak up about the urgency of the problem, put it on a short list for immediate action. He didn't.....

Now Condi Rice was in charge [of the National Security Council]. She appeared to have a closer relationship with the second President Bush than any of her predecessors had with the presidents they reported to. That should have given her some manuver room, some margin for shaping the agenda. The Vice President, however, had decided to be involved at the NSC Principals level. The Secretary of Defense also made clear he didn't care about anyone else's relationship with the President; he was doing what he wanted to do. As I briefed Rice on al Qaeda, her facial expression gave me the impression that she had never heard of the term before,  so I added, 'Most people think of it as Usama bin Laden's group, but it's much more than that. It's a network of affiliated terrorist organizations with cells in over fifty countries, including the U.S.

Rice looked skeptical. She focused on the fact that my office staff was large by NSC standards (twelve people) and did operational things, including domestic security issues.....

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 would 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.....

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...

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-panelled Situation Room conference room, did not go well....

Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld's deputy at Defense, fidgeted and scowled. Hadley asked him if he was alright. '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 organisations 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, at least as much. Iraqi terrorism for example,' Wolfowitz replied, looking not at me but at Hadley."
Chapter 10 - Before And After September 11


"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 [Condoleezza Rice's deputy] 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.' Then I said something I regretted as soon as I said it: 'They have published all of this and sometimes, as with Hitler in Mein Kampf, you have to believe that these people will actually do what they say they will do.'

Immediately Wolfowitz seized on the Hitler reference. 'I resent any comparison between the Holocaust and this little terrorist in Afghanistan.'

'I wasn't comparing the Holocaust to anything.' I spoke slowly. 'I was saying that like Hitler, bin Laden has told us in advance what he plans to do and we would make a big mistake to ignore it.'"
Chapter 10 - Before And After September 11


"The delay in the Deputies Committee continued in the spring of 2001, in part because of Hadley's methodical, lawyerly style. It was his idea to slowly build consensus that action was required, 'to educate the Deputies.' The truth was that the Principals Committee was meeting with a full agenda and a backlog of Bush priority issues: the Antiballistic Missile Treaty, the Kyoto environment agreement, and Iraq. There was no time for terrorism.....

George Tenet had also been asked to stay on from Clinton to Bush. He and I regularly commiserated that al Qaeda was not being addressed more seriously by the new administration... We agreed that Tenet would insure that the President's daily briefings would continue to be replete with threat information on al Qaeda.  President Bush, reading the intelligence every day and noticing that there was a lot about al Qaeda, asked Condi Rice why it was that we couldn't stop 'swatting flies' and eliminate al Qaeda. Rice told me about the conversation and asked how the plan to get al Qaeda was coming in the Deputies Committee. 'It can be presented to the Principals in two days, whenever we can get a meeting,' I pressed. Rice promised to get to it soon. Time passed.

For years George Tenet had called me directly when he read a piece of raw intelligence about a threat..... Now Tenet's calls to me about threatening intelligence reports became more frequent and the information was good. There were a growing number of reports that al Qaeda's operational pace was picking up..... The Italians had credible reports that there would be an attempt to attack the G-7 Summit in Genoa, causing the CSG to review plans for that meeting with Secret Service and DOD.

By late June, Tenet and I were convinced that a major series of attacks was about to come. 'It's my sixth sense, but I feel it coming. This is going to be the big one,' Tenet told me....

During the spring as initial policy debates in the Administration began, I e-mailed Condi Rice and NSC Staff colleagues that al Qaeda was trying to kill Americans, to have hundreds of dead in the streets of America. During the first week in July I convened the CSG and asked each agency to consider itself on full alert. I asked the CSG agencies to cancel summer vacations and official travel for the counterterrorism response staffs. Each agency should report anything unusual, even if a sparrow should fall from a tree. I asked FBI to send another warning to the 18,000 police departments, State to alert the embassies, and the Defense Department to go to Threat Condition Delta. The Navy moved ships out of Bahrain.

The next day I asked the senior security officials at FAA, Immigration, Secret Service, Coast Guard, Customs, and the Federal Protective Service to meet at the White House. I asked the FAA to send another security warning to the airlines and airports and requested special scrutiny at the ports of entry. We considered a broad public warning, but we had no proof or specificity.....

Somewhere in the CIA there was information that two al Qaeda terrorists had come to the United States.  Somewhere in the FBI there was information that strange things had been going on at flight schools in the United States.   I had asked to know if a sparrow fell from a tree that summer. What was buried in CIA and FBI was not a matter of one sparrow falling from a tree; red lights and bells should have been going off.  They had specific information about individual terrorists from which one could have deduced what was about to happen. None of that information got to me or the White House. It apparently did not even make it up the FBI chain to Dale Watson, the Executive Assistant Director in charge of counterterrorism."
Chapter 10 - Before And After September 11

"On September 4, 2001, the Principals Committee meeting on al Qaeda that I had called for 'urgently' on January 25 finally met.... The Principal's meeting, when it finally took place, was largely a nonevent. Tenet and I spoke passionately about the urgency and seriousness of the al Qaeda threat. No one disagreed....

Rumsfeld, who look distracted throughout the session, took the Wolfowitz line that there were other terrorist concerns, like Iraq, and whatever we did on this al Qaeda business, we had to deal with other sources of terrorism.

.... I doubted the process would be fruitful anytime soon. CIA had said it could not find a single dollar in any other program to transfer to the anti-al Qaeda efforts. It demanded additional funds from the Congress."
Chapter 10 - Before And After September 11

P239 - 242

"... After September 11, I thought the arguments would be over, that finally everyone would see what had to be done and go about doing it.....

Roger Cressey, my deputy at the NSC Staff, came to me in early October, after the time that I had intended to switch from the terrorism job to Critical Infrastructure Protection and Cyber Security. The switch had been delayed by September 11....

Replacing me as the senior NSC counterterrorism official was Wayne Downing, the retired four-star Army general who had led Special Operations Command.... Within months of replacing me, Wayne Downing quit the White House in frustration at the Administration's continued bureaucratic response to the threat.

Wayne was replaced by two people, John Gordon and Randy Beers...

Beers called from the White House months later and asked if he could stop by my house for a drink and some advice.... When Beers sat down next to me his first words were, 'I think I have to quit.'

I thought I knew why, but I asked. His answer flowed like a river at flood: 'They still don't get it. Insteada goin' all out against al Qaeda and eliminating our vulnerabilities at home, they wanna fuckin' invade Iraq again. We have a token force in Afghanistan, the Taliban are regrouping, we haven't caught bin Laden, or his deputy, or the head of the Taliban. And they aren't going to send more troops to Afghanistan to catch them or to help the government in Kabul secure the country. No, they're holding back, waiting to invade Iraq.  Do you know how much it will strengthen al Qaeda and groups like that if we occupy Iraq? There's no threat to us now from Iraq, but 70 percent of the American people think Iraq attacked the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. You wanna know why? Because that's what the Administration wants them to think!'"
Chapter 10 - Before And After September 11


"... thinking back to the ten months that I had served President Bush as his National Coordinator for Counterterrorism and Infrastructure Protection, I am still amazed that I had never been given the chance to talk with him about terrorism until September 11. In fact, during that time I had only three meetings where I developed the agenda and briefed him on issues, but each time on subjects other than terrorism. My proposal to brief the President on terrorism was deferred until 'after the Deputies Committee and Principals Committee completed their review.' ....

Bush was informed by talking with a small set of senior advisers."
Chapter 10 - Before And After September 11


"Far from addressing the popular appeal of the enemy that attacked us, Bush handed that enemy precisely what it wanted and needed, proof that America was at war with Islam, that we were the new Crusaders come to occupy Muslim land.

Nothing America could have done would have provided al Qaeda and its new generation of cloned groups a better recruitment device than our unprovoked invasion of an oil-rich Arab country."
Chapter 10 - Before And After September 11

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