Richard Clarke is Wrong – Sort Of

Republican apologists were thrilled to discover a 2001 article by liberal journalist John Pilger that seems to destroy Richard Clarke’s claim that the Bush administration was obsessed with Iraq and ignored al Qaeda prior to 9/11:

Pakistan’s former foreign minister Niaz Naik has revealed that he was told by senior American officials in mid-July that military action against Afghanistan would go ahead by the middle of October. The US secretary of state, Colin Powell, was then travelling in central Asia, already gathering support for an anti-Afghanistan war “coalition”.

The claim by Niaz Naik was reported by The Guardian in the U.K. the day after 9/11:

“The Americans indicated to us that in case the Taliban does not behave and in case Pakistan also doesn’t help us to influence the Taliban, then the United States would be left with no option but to take an overt action against Afghanistan,” said Niaz Naik, a former foreign minister of Pakistan, who was at the meeting.

“I told the Pakistani government, who informed the Taliban via our foreign office and the Taliban ambassador here.”

The three Americans at the Berlin meeting were Tom Simons, a former US ambassador to Pakistan, Karl “Rick” Inderfurth, a former assistant secretary of state for south Asian affairs, and Lee Coldren, who headed the office of Pakistan, Afghan and Bangladesh affairs in the state department until 1997.

So if the US was getting tough with al Qaeda two months before 9/11, then Richard Clarke is lying, right?

Not necessarily. He may have been out the loop for good reason, at least from the administration’s standpoint.

The president’s defenders have, so far as I’ve seen, ignored the rest of Pilger’s article:

For Washington, the real problem with the Taliban was not human rights; these were irrelevant. The Taliban regime simply did not have total control of Afghanistan: a fact that deterred investors from financing oil and gas pipelines from the Caspian Sea, whose strategic position in relation to Russia and China and whose largely untapped fossil fuels are of crucial interest to the Americans.

So Clarke was wrong about the administration’s approach to al Qaeda–but the real purpose was to secure trans-Afghan pipeline rights for Unocal.

Normally I’d take John Pilger’s accusations with a grain of salt, because his political slant is definitely far to the left. But the same case is made by Paul Sperry in the book Crude Politics. Sperry is the Washington Bureau Chief of WorldNetDaily, a news organization that is anything but liberal.

What it boils down to is this: 9/11 was at best a convenient excuse for the US to attack Afghanistan, which the president was planning to do anyway.

Unthinkable? No more so than FDR deliberately keeping information about the impending Japanese attack from Admiral Husband E. Kimmel at Pearl Harbor, or the “Project Northwoods” proposals–one of which involved shooting down an American passenger plane and blaming it on Castro–floated by the Pentagon during the Kennedy administration to justify a war on Cuba.

Scales are falling from my eyes again. Just like the day Clinton got outed by a stained dress.

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