Cheney Lashes Out: Richard Clarke Must Have Touched a Nerve

Just when you thought Dick Cheney had maxed out on self-righteousness, the former Vice President went and took it up a notch.  Cheney gave a speech on national security that was filled with “omissions, exaggerations, and misstatements;” he publicly backed away from his repeated assertion that Iraq had anything at all to do with 9/11; and he also attempted to soften expectations regarding the content of classified documents, two CIA memos which Cheney previously maintained would illustrate Bush administration enhanced interrogation successes.

All of this he did in the last two weeks, and he did it clinging to notion that none of his policy decisions were flawed.  “They kept us safe,” he said.

The issues mentioned above are not overly surprising, some even predictable, but attempting to blame the national security failures leading up to 9/11 on former counterterrorism czar, Richard A. Clarke, was flat out despicable:

Cheney’s flippant remark, “he obviously must have missed it,” is not just an insult to Clarke, but to the intelligence of us all.  The reality is, few, if any, did more to sound the alarm regarding al Qaeda’s intentions.  Ali Frick listed some of Clarke’s efforts in a June 1 Think Progress post:

In fact, it was Cheney who “missed” the warning signs, not Clarke. New York Times reporter Philip Shenon’s book, “The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation,” reprinted some of Clarke’s emphatic e-mails warning the Bush administration of the al Qaeda threat throughout 2001:

“Bin Ladin Public Profile May Presage Attack” (May 3)

“Terrorist Groups Said Co-operating on US Hostage Plot” (May 23)

“Bin Ladin’s Networks’ Plans Advancing” (May 26)

“Bin Ladin Attacks May Be Imminent” (June 23)

“Bin Ladin and Associates Making Near-Term Threats” (June 25)

“Bin Ladin Planning High-Profile Attacks” (June 30)

“Planning for Bin Ladin Attacks Continues, Despite Delays” (July 2)

Additionally, it was Clarke who was among the first to testify about US anti terrorism efforts before the 9/11 Commission (.pdf), where he first recounted his frustrated efforts under the Bush administration.  You can view Richard Clarke’s pre-9/11 memos and much more at George Washington University’s National Security Archive.

Cheney’s jab was a response to more recent criticism from Clarke, published May 31 in the Washington Post, “The Trauma of 9/11 Is No Excuse.”  Within his post, Clarke takes issue with Cheney’s and Condoleezza Rice’s propensity for accusing those critical of the Iraq invasion or the torture of enemy combatants of forgetting the pervasive tension in America following 9/11:

[Emphasis Added] …Yes, we went for days with little sleep, and we all assumed that more attacks were coming. But the decisions that Bush officials made in the following months and years — on Iraq, on detentions, on interrogations, on wiretapping — were not appropriate. Careful analysis could have replaced the impulse to break all the rules, even more so because the Sept. 11 attacks, though horrifying, should not have surprised senior officials. Cheney’s admission that 9/11 caused him to reassess the threats to the nation only underscores how, for months, top officials had ignored warnings from the CIA and the NSC staff that urgent action was needed to preempt a major al-Qaeda attack.

Thus, when Bush’s inner circle first really came to grips with the threat of terrorism, they did so in a state of shock — a bad state in which to develop a coherent response. Fearful of new attacks, they authorized the most extreme measures available, without assessing whether they were really a good idea.

Though it’s not in the above clip, Cheney was asked to comment about Clarke’s documented efforts to alert the Bush administration of al Qaeda’s intentions, pre 9/11.  His response was to laugh off the question, joking that he hadn’t read Clarke’s book.  Jon Stewart put it best during the June 3 broadcast of The Daily Show.  Stewart aired Cheney’s comments and said, “You never read his book!  That’s a good one, Mr. Cheney.  I guess you never read the memos either and then the planes hit.”  Spot on, Mr. Stewart.

What do you think?  Is Clarke correct in his assessment of Cheney?  Cheney has never been a big fan of Richard Clarke, but for the former VP to react the way he did, Clarke must have touched a nerve.  I imagine Clarke will soon respond in some way, and I’m looking forward to it.  It’s going to be a scorcher.

Clarke Memo Image from Flickr User: takomabibelot, by way of


Glenna Jones-kachtik
Glenna Kachtik8 years ago

You know, just out of curiosity, I looked up Triple Canopy. It was appointed to finish up a job in Iraq in 2005 - which would mean that it was BUSH who gave them a contract. Just because it was formed in Chicago does not mean that Barak Obama had anything to do with it. How tenuous are your connections? By your standards, everyone who lives in Chicago could be suspect... So, did these facts just come from your fertile imagination - or do you have any proof whatsoever at all for your allegations.
YOU AND THOSE LIKE YOU - are what is wrong in America today. It is OK to float any scenario as a fact, because there are always those who are intellectually challenged, non critical thinkers who will take it and run with it. They spread the lies, claiming they are facts without ever even using resources to look it up and see if it is true or not. Then, they are the dissatisfied - the "my guy didn't win"s - and they are looking at any means to make Obama go away.... In other words, instead of contributing to actual solutions they are really a major part of the problem!
If you have REAL FACTS, bring them on. If you are just trying to muck things up (and there is already too much muck) then perhaps you should just consider a writing career turning out spy novels. I think you have what it takes - do more research first tho...

Glenna Jones-kachtik
Glenna Kachtik8 years ago

Joe A - sources for these statements please? As others have pointed out it is Ann and, Atlas Shrugged was a work of FICTION. I guess everything Bush/Cheyney did was hunky dory according to you - Hey, are you writing a work of fiction too????

Dale Masters
Dale Masters8 years ago

Ask yourselves two questions:

1. When the Democrats were voted into control of Congress, why was a deal struck between Pelosi, the rest of the Democrats and the Bush Administration that promised said Administration that Dennis Kuchinsky's efforts to impeach Bush & his cronies would come to naught, and

2. that even with Obama in the White House and the acts of torture by the CIA being brought to light, no one is doing anything to punish the former Administration?

I should think that the answers to those questions would show everyone the exact nature of the Government we have "elected

"I love my Country, but I fear my Government"

Peg Boucher Murphy
Peg Murphy8 years ago

Hey Roberta, I'm sure that all the people (and their families) who were killed and/or made ill in the anthrax attacks in November of 2001 will be relieved to hear that there were no more attacks on our soil after 9/11. Of course, most of the affected people were mere postal workers, (and a tabloid reporter) - not people who were rich or famous or, you know, important. Please. Americans have such short memories.
As if 9/11 itself on their watch didn't count against Cheney and the rest of the Bush administration, the "there weren't any more attacks" line is just a blatant LIE. Stop falling for it, Roberta!

James C.
James C.8 years ago

They didn't just know it was going to happen, they covertly encouraged it in order to stoke-up enough public outrage for them to justify their war agenda in the Middle East. Remember that it was a US missile that hit the Pentagon, not an airliner, and Bush had the Twin Towers prepared with demolition explosives during the weeks prior to the attack. The evidence is already out there, but it may still be some time before The White House feels that the time is right to officially begin to release in information.

Shawn S.
Shawn S8 years ago

Finally, the truth about Cheney and Bush is out.
They knew about imminent attacks and let it happen!
Wake up America, we should all be infuriated about this.
When will they pay for these crimes that they have commited?
The time is now!

Sue Smiley
Susan Smiley8 years ago

Dick Cheney is running scared so he is saying a lot to save his skin, people the whole Bush administration should be tried for murder, and that is what Cheney is afraid of that is why we are hearing more from him than we did when he was in office, he is running very scared so speaks out as much as he can. He should be scared as so should all of the Bush Administration, they robbed all of the government's money and now left us the taxpayers very bad off and daily getting worse off. I do not want to see any more of Cheney on TV I want to see him in a striped suit

James M.
James M8 years ago

Speaking of the past, it is past time that this Congress and nation realize that CHENEY IS THE TERRORIST. He has used fear and terror tactics since his stint with Reagan and probably terrorized the Bush boy while in office. We know who was in control of that office on 9/11.
We have little to fear of the Guantanamo prisoners, should they be brought to this land. What we should be fearing is Cheney the TERRORIST.
He, his staff of lawyers who 'legalized' torture, those in command who put it into practice and those who 'patriotically' obeyed this murderous command, should all be placed in Guantanamo. THAT is the ONLY reason it should be help open.
NOW, let's move on the the present and end our illegal occupation of Iraq and invasion killing in Afghanistan.

tanya m.
tanya m8 years ago

We need to continually refer to the Project for a New American Century--the right wing group that Cheney is/was part of. Their document, which was posted online, clearly notes that they have everything in place to take over the country except for a major catastrophe on the magnitude of Pearl Harbor in order to scare the public into letting them do what they want. The Patriot Act was in place long before it was presented to Congress and then Congress was told NOT to read it and pressured into passing it 'quickly.'

Cheney and his gang were clearly complicit with the 9-11 disaster. The issue is that the disaster came from within, not from abroad. The evidence is so strongly saying that Bush/Cheney et al let 9-11 happen. It is also indicated very strongly that 9-11 was an inside job from beginning to end. The very fact that several of the so-called hijackers are alive and well in other countries needs to raise this question like a neon light flashing in our eyes all night when we try to sleep.

Isn't it about time we dealt with that flashing red neon light and put it out!!!!

Patrice M.
Patrice J8 years ago

Sorry! It's Bilderberg (sp) Group and you can read about the Bush family's "club" by going to the above link.