Byron York exposes the pathetic nature of former president Clinton’s defense of his failure to take out Osama bin Laden. Clinton rests his defense on Richard Clarke’s book: “All I’m asking is if anybody wants to say I didn’t do enough, you read Richard Clarke’s book.” But even in Clarke’s pro-Clinton account, the former president comes across as hopelessly unserious. Here’s how Clarke sums things up:
Because of the intensity of the political opposition that Clinton engendered, he had been heavily criticized for bombing al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan, for engaging in ‘Wag the Dog’ tactics to divert attention from a scandal about his personal life. For similar reasons, he could not fire the recalcitrant FBI Director who had failed to fix the Bureau or to uncover terrorists in the United States. He had given the CIA unprecedented authority to go after bin Laden personally and al Qaeda, but had not taken steps when they did little or nothing. Because Clinton was criticized as a Vietnam War opponent without a military record, he was limited in his ability to direct the military to engage in anti-terrorist commando operations they did not want to conduct. He had tried that in Somalia, and the military had made mistakes and blamed him. In the absence of a bigger provocation from al Qaeda to silence his critics, Clinton thought he could do no more.So Clinton, who was quite popular by 1996 and remained popular even through the impeachment process, was unwilling to use his political capital to murder a man who was already responsible for killing Americans and who was known to be plotting to kill many more. Sure, presidents are expected to take tough and unpopular action from time to time, but pushing the bureucracy to kill the world’s leading terrorist was asking too much from Clinton.
The pro-Clinton Richard Clarke has managed to capture in a paragraph why Clinton, despite his enormous gifts, was unfit for high office, and why President Bush deserves credit for being willing to push the bureaucracy, ignore partisan criticism, and make the tough calls.