Condi's "Comprehensive Plan," Plus the Real Reason the Cole Went Unavenged
ThinkProgress points out one of the lies in Condi "Historical Document" Rice's pathetic response to Clinton's interview, that, "We were not left a comprehensive strategy to fight al Qaeda." Think Progress quotes from the 9/11 Commission's finding that Richard Clarke put together a detailed plan which he had developed at the end of Clinton's term and which he attempted to get action on.
But I don't think that adequately shows how hard Rice is lying. So what if Clarke drew up a plan and Condi wouldn't listen? That just means there was a disconnect and she's telling the truth. There was a plan, she just never received it.
Except that later in the 9/11 Commission Report (pdf), we find a timeline showing what Condi knew, and when she knew it.
After Rice requested that all senior staff identify desirable major policy reviews or initiatives, Clarke submitted an elaborate memorandum on January 25, 2001. He attached to it his 1998 Delenda Plan and the December 2000 strategy paper. "We urgently need ...a Principals level review on the al Qida network," Clarke wrote.
But more pressing was the urgent need for the Bush Administration to come up with its own plan so they wouldn't have to share credit. So they spent five months basically starting from scratch. They did keep Clarke on because of his expertise in the area, but generally ignored his requests and suggestions.
Over a month later, the Clarke offered his comprehensive plan for a second time.
Hadley convened an informal Deputies Committee meeting on March 7, when some of the deputies had not yet been confirmed. For the first time, Clarke's various proposals "for aid to the Northern Alliance and the Uzbeks and for Predator missions" went before the group that, in the Bush NSC, would do most of the policy work.The Administration again goes over Clarke's plan for a third time:
On May 29, at Tenet's request, Rice and Tenet converted their usual weekly meeting into a broader discussion on al Qaeda ... Tenet emphasized the ambitious plans for covert action that the CIA had developed in December 2000. In discussing the draft authorities for this program in March, CIA officials had pointed out that the spending level envisioned for these plans was larger than the CIA's entire current budget for counterterrorism covert action.
The CIA official, "Richard," told us that Rice "got it."
What? She got something she never got? How can that be?
He said she agreed with his conclusions about what needed to be done, although he complained to us that the policy process did not follow through quickly enough.
So she agreed with the comprehensive plan she never received. Interesting. Now just switch some words around and it will be uniquely a Bush Administration strategy, with no taint of Clinton on it.
Rice and Hadley asked Clarke and his staff to draw up the new presidential directive. On June 7, Hadley circulated the first draft ...Finally, in answer to Wallace's question about the U.S.S. Cole, which he would have had if he had asked the right person or read the Report,
Rice viewed this draft directive as the embodiment of a comprehensive new strategy employing all instruments of national power to eliminate the al Qaeda threat. Clarke, however, regarded the new draft as essentially similar to the proposal he had developed in December 2000 and put forward to the new administration in January 2001.
Rice told us that there was never a formal, recorded decision not to retaliate specifically for the Cole attack. Exchanges with the President, between the President and Tenet, and between herself and Powell and Rumsfeld had produced a consensus that "tit-for-tat" responses were likely to be counterproductive. This had been the case, she thought, with the cruise missile strikes of August 1998. The new team at the Pentagon did not push for action. On the contrary, Rumsfeld thought that too much time had passed and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, thought that the Cole attack was "stale." Hadley said that in the end, the administration's real response to the Cole would be a new, more aggressive strategy against al Qaeda.
Why did the Bush Administration embolden bin Laden and decline to retaliate for the Cole, Chris Wallace?
It was stale, and they preferred to implement the comprehensive plan that Clinton had left for them.