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Clarke, Freeh & the JCS

1:52 PM, Oct 10, 2005 • By DANIEL MCKIVERGAN
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Today's New York Times reports on just how bad relations were between the head of the FBI and the counterterrorism chief.

Settling a score, Louis J. Freeh, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation under President Bill Clinton and in the first six months of the Bush presidency, asserts in a new book that Richard A. Clarke, the former White House counterterrorism chief, was 'basically a second-tier player' who had little access to power and was in no position to issue credible warnings in advance of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

'If he was rushing around the executive branch trying to make a case that we were in imminent danger of a terrorist attack on our shores, he wasn't trying to make that case with me,' Mr. Freeh writes of Mr. Clarke in a memoir to be published this week called 'My F.B.I.: Bringing Down the Mafia, Investigating Bill Clinton and Fighting the War on Terror.' The publisher is St. Martin's Press.

In his own book, 'Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror,' published last year, Mr. Clarke describes himself as a herald of the dangers of terrorism and paints a scathing picture of Mr. Freeh and the F.B.I., criticizing the former director and his agency as ignoring the possibility of terrorism in this country.

And Clarke's relations with two former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff weren't much better. In his 2004 memoir, "American Soldier," General Tommy Franks wrote:

When I mentioned that my staff had scheduled an afternoon office call with Richard Clarke, the counterterrorism specialist on the National Security Council, Hugh [Joint Chiefs Chairman Hugh Shelton] frowned….

'Clarke's been over at the NSC so long that he thinks he owns counterterrorism--and knows more about the subject than anybody in government,' Hugh added. 'He likes to talk, drops a lot of names, and thinks highly of himself. But in many ways he's not very practical. Be careful in dealing with him.'

… I was interested in destroying the al Qaeda threat. But my visit with Clarke had not moved me any closer to that objective. I left his office hoping that my emphasis on practical solutions to real problems would spur him to home in on some real targeting opportunities. But I suspected that Dick was better at identifying a problem than at finding a workable solution. (209-11)