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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Former Anti-Terrorism Chief Comes Out Swinging

March 25, 2004

Re "9/11 Allegations Draw Bush's Fire," March 23:

President Bush's former top terrorism advisor, Richard Clarke, has described the Bush administration's incompetent treatment of terrorism both before and after 9/11. He says Iraq was a distraction from the real war on terror and has made us less safe.

Clarke served under presidents Reagan and Bush I, so he can't be called a partisan hack. The Bush administration is now out in force trying to do damage control, to save Bush's "signature issue" -- the war on terror -- from the fate of every other policy initiative it has tried to undertake: broken promises and ineffective leadership.

Cindy Tobisman

Los Angeles

It's interesting what a man will do to market his book. Clarke, a Clinton appointee, was asked to stay on in his post. He was on the inside during the bombings of our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the attack on the U.S. destroyer Cole and the build-up of Al Qaeda pre-9/11. Now, two years later, he makes public allegations without regard for truth or accuracy.

Clarke is an unhappy man making charges against the president. It's tragic: To what end will a person go for greed?

George H. Coffin III

Newport Beach

So, Vice President Dick Cheney claims Clarke was "out of the loop, frankly, on a lot of this stuff."

I find it alarming that our counterterrorism chief would be "out of the loop," if Cheney's assertion is even partially true. And, gee, didn't he say something similar about former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill after publication of a book that was also highly critical of Bush? Or does Cheney just not like former administration officials who tattle on Bush?

Terryl Pulliam Burd

Newport Beach

Re Cheney's statement: That's exactly the point of Clarke's criticism, isn't it?

Bush's chief of counterterrorism was not in the loop. Why? Because Bush only had eyes for Saddam.

Walt Petrovich

Glendale

Clarke must be pleased to see that Bush is indeed capable after all of responding to a threat -- just look at how well his team has gone to "battle stations" against Clarke's 30 years of bipartisan experience.

Joshua Touber

Pacific Palisades

Re "Blowing a Whistle on Bush's 9/11 Failures," Commentary, March 23: Can you please run the unedited copy of Robert Scheer's column? That would be the one that mentions Clarke's stellar performance as anti-terrorist czar for the Clinton administration.

It would mention how President Clinton and his team managed to stop the bombing of an Air Force barracks, a U.S. Navy ship and two embassies.

Oh ... wait a minute. I guess that column won't be coming anytime soon.

Chris Bisbee

Oxnard

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