As chair of the interagency Counter-Terrorism Security Group (CSG), Clarke was known as a bit of an obsessive -- just the sort of person you want in a job of that kind. Since the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen on Oct. 12, 2000 -- an attack that left 17 Americans dead -- he had been working on an aggressive plan to take the fight to al-Qaeda. The result was a strategy paper that he had presented to Berger and the other national security "principals" on Dec. 20. But Berger and the principals decided to shelve the plan and let the next Administration take it up. With less than a month left in office, they did not think it appropriate to launch a major initiative against Osama bin Laden. "We would be handing (the Bush Administration) a war when they took office on Jan. 20," says a former senior Clinton aide. "That wasn't going to happen." Now it was up to Rice's team to consider what Clarke had put together.
December 2000 was a pivotal month.
Clarke was putting the finishing touches on his aggressive al-Qaeda strategy at the same time that Cheney's friend Scalia was putting Dubya in the White House.
If actions speak louder than words, then al-Qaeda was evidently not a Bush priority from the get-go — it would be another five months before Colin Powell delivered a $43 million grant to the Taliban.
While Clarke was completing the strategy that was soon to be disregarded by the Bushies, the World Trade Center was still standing and its occupants were still alive. Discrediting Clarke now doesn't bring those people back to life or make America any safer from repeat performances by the people who hate us.