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Count former White House anti-terrorism advisor  Richard A. Clarke as a voice of reason and candor, one in sharp contrast to the usual lies and obfuscation coming from the Bush Administration.

Clarke is quoted directly on a recent ABC news report by Brian Ross, offering such commentary on the recent National Intelligence Estime (NEA), Clark's area of expertise, as:

"What is left out of the version released publicly is the explicit statement that al Qaeda is back and has operations underway," Clarke says.  

The 2006 version of the National Intelligence Estimate claimed U.S. efforts had "seriously damaged the leadership of al-Qa'ida and disrupted its operations."

"That's no longer the case in 2007, and you have to read between the lines to understand how we have lost ground," Clarke says.

Expanding on these points, Clarke offers, in an op-ed in today's NY Daily News a column that is remarkable and important, and again, comes across as a voice of reason.

He begins with

The U.S. Intelligence Community, which is reported to cost taxpayers more than $40 billion a year, yesterday produced its flagship report, the National Intelligence Estimate, or NIE. Many in Washington first heard about NIEs in 2003, when one said that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

The new NIE says something more credible, and more obvious: that Al Qaeda "is and will remain the most serious terrorist threat to the homeland, as its central leadership continues to plan high-impact plots, while pushing others in extremist Sunni communities to mimic its efforts and to supplement its capabilities."

In this essay, Clarke makes the following points---

*The Bush Administration has, essentially, dropped the ball in going after Al Qaeda and thus, in defending the United States.
*Al Qaeda has recovered on Bush's watch, and yet Bush (and by implication, his enablers) has downplayed this recovery.
*We are - in spite of Bush's spin - not taking on Al Qaeda by "fighting them over there" in Iraq; "Al Qaeda in Iraq" is, as Clarke explains it, a totally different animal than the entity, based in Afghanistan and Pakistan, that did attack us in 9-11.
*Clarke reminds us that the Pakistani govt., provided with billions of $$ by the U.S. taxpayers, have dropped the ball on Al Qaeda; we should forget the GOP argument about pulling out of Iraq leading to Al Qaeda getting a sanctuary there; Al Qaeda already has gotten a sanctuary - under Bush's watch.

Such short and to-the-point comments are easy to remember and are likely very useful for refuting any wingnuts' claims about Bush's strong "leadership."

And Clarke's conclusions from this analysis? Let's just say, he doesn't shy away from the "I" word.

Most people in Washington think talk of impeachment of Vice President Cheney and then Bush is hyperventilating political hyperbole. But what will they all say the day after another Al Qaeda attack on the U.S.?

Maybe that Bush ignored warnings about the first attack six years ago and then, after half measures, pulled some intelligence and military resources off the hunt for Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda and shifted them to Iraq, then needlessly attacked Iraq, thereby creating a second Al Qaeda group, and funded the Pakistani government, which created a sanctuary for Al Qaeda where the group reconstituted.

The NIE doesn't say any of that either, but unfortunately it is all true.

Originally posted to Randian on Wed Jul 18, 2007 at 02:18 PM PDT.

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