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Excerpts from "Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror" by Richard A. Clarke
Following are excerpts from "Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror" by Richard A. Clarke:
On Preparing for Other Attacks
I expected to go back to a round of meetings examining what the next attacks could be, what our vulnerabilities were, what we could do about them in the short term. Instead, I walked into a series of discussions about Iraq. At first I was incredulous that we were talking about something other than getting Al Qaeda. Then I realized with almost a sharp physical pain that Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz were going to try to take advantage of this national tragedy to promote their agenda about Iraq. Since the beginning of the administration, indeed well before, they had been pressing for a war with Iraq. My friends in the Pentagon had been telling me that the word was we would be invading Iraq sometime in 2002.
On the morning of the 12th D.O.D.'s focus was already beginning to shift from Al Qaeda. C.I.A. 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, without a state sponsor Iraq must have been helping them.
On Links to Saddam Hussein
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."
I was once again taken aback, incredulous, and it showed. "But, Mr. President, Al Qaeda did this."
"I know, I know, but see if Saddam was involved. Just look. I want to know any shred"
"Absolutely, we will look again.` I was trying to be more respectful, more responsive. `But you know, we have looked several times for state sponsorship of Al Qaeda and not found any real linkages to Iraq. Iran plays a little, as does Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia, Yemen.`
"Look into Iraq, Saddam," the president said testily and left us.
On Condoleezza Rice
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 Osama bin Laden's group, but it's much more than that. It's a network of affiliated terrorist organizations with cells in over 50 countries, including the U.S."
Rice looked skeptical. She focused on the fact that my office staff was large by N.S.C. standards (12 people) and did operational things, including domestic security issues. She said, "The N.S.C. looks just as it did when I worked here a few years ago, except for your operation. It's all new. It does domestic things, and it is not just doing policy. . . . I'm not sure we want to keep all of this in the N.S.C."