Man Without Qualities

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Moore v. Clarke

Richard Clarke is a hero, right? A whistle-blower of the sort sainted by Michael Moore, right?


In an interview with The Hill yesterday, Richard Clarke claimed sole responsibility for authorizing the post-9/11 flight that allowed many of Osama bin Laden's relatives to leave the country.

The mystery of who authorized the flight has been a staple of the Michael Moore left for some time now, especially since 9/11 Commission Chairman Lee Hamilton mentioned publicly that the commissioners had asked the question at least "50 times" but had never gotten an answer. They have one now. Or do they?

In the interview Clarke said:

“I take responsibility for it. I don’t think it was a mistake, and I’d do it again...”

"It [authorization of the flight] didn’t get any higher than me. On 9-11, 9-12 and 9-13, many things didn’t get any higher than me. I decided it in consultation with the FBI.”

But Clarke's response seems to contradict his public testimony before the 9/11 Commission:

“The request came to me, and I refused to approve it,” Clarke testified. “I suggested that it be routed to the FBI and that the FBI look at the names of the individuals who were going to be on the passenger manifest and that they approve it or not. I spoke with the — at the time — No. 2 person in the FBI, Dale Watson, and asked him to deal with this issue. The FBI then approved … the flight.”

“That’s a little different than saying, ‘I claim sole responsibility for it now,’” Roemer said yesterday.

However, the FBI has denied approving the flight.

FBI spokeswoman Donna Spiser said, “We haven’t had anything to do with arranging and clearing the flights.”

“We did know who was on the flights and interviewed anyone we thought we needed to,” she said. “We didn’t interview 100 percent of the [passengers on the] flight. We didn’t think anyone on the flight was of investigative interest.”

When Roemer asked Clarke during the commission’s March hearing, “Who gave the final approval, then, to say, ‘Yes, you’re clear to go, it’s all right with the United States government,’” Clarke seemed to suggest it came from the White House.

“I believe after the FBI came back and said it was all right with them, we ran it through the decision process for all these decisions that we were making in those hours, which was the interagency Crisis Management Group on the video conference,” Clarke testified. “I was making or coordinating a lot of the decisions on 9-11 in the days immediately after. And I would love to be able to tell you who did it, who brought this proposal to me, but I don’t know. The two — since you press me, the two possibilities that are most likely are either the Department of State or the White House chief of staff’s office.”

Instead of putting the issue to rest, Clarke’s testimony fueled speculation among Democrats that someone higher up in the administration, perhaps White House Chief of Staff Andy Card, approved the flights.

“It couldn’t have come from Clarke. It should have come from someone further up the chain,” said a Democratic Senate aide who watched Clarke’s testimony.

Clarke’s testimony did not settle the issue for Roemer, either.

“It doesn’t seem that Richard Clarke had enough information to clear it,” Roemer said Monday.

“I just don’t think that the questions are resolved, and we need to dig deeper,” Roemer added. “Clarke sure didn’t seem to say that he was the final decisionmaker. I believe we need to continue to look for some more answers.”

There's more ... and Moore. Ah, ya' gotta love those Mooreian shadowy connections!

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