Clarke is not alone:
In reporting for our book, "The Age of Sacred Terror," Steven Simon and I found that Clarke was not alone. Several top U.S. government officials agreed in interviews that the new administration had been unwilling to revise its understanding of America's security position and too slow to recognize the danger of Al Qaeda.
Brian Sheridan, President Clinton's outgoing assistant secretary of Defense for special operations and low intensity conflict, was astonished when his offers during the transition to bring the new Pentagon leadership up to speed on terrorism were brushed aside. "I offered to brief anyone, any time on any topic. Never took it up."
Even if one dismisses Sheridan's remarks as those of a political appointee, the same cannot be done for Don Kerrick. A three-star general, Kerrick had served at the end of the Clinton administration as deputy national security advisor, and he spent the final four months of his military career in the Bush White House. He sent a memo to the NSC's new leadership on "things you need to pay attention to." He wrote about Al Qaeda: "We are going to be struck again."
But he never heard back. "I don't think it was above the waterline. They were gambling nothing would happen," he said.
Go read the whole editorial.
This happens all the time in politics. I don't doubt the veracity of this man's comments, but who knows how much he really knew on the key issues in counterterrorism. More likely than not someone higher up than him with his knowledge plus did brief someone in the new administration. Furthermore, Clarke has been completely discredited in my view by the story dug up by Jim Angle and his own testimony before the commission. In the testimony, he essentially said "I lied, we all lie in Washington, it's our job." That just doesn't fly for credibility repair. Furthermore, I just read his book and it seems to say Clinton was more engaged on terrorism and most of the problem that led to 9/11 came on Bush's watch. There is no real evidence for these conclusions other than Clarke's personal knowledge (consider his trustworthiness). However, the idea that 9 months of republican big on defense Bush undid 8 years of hardcore terror fighting by globocop pacifist democrat Clinton seems contrary to the common sense of the subject. This doesn't make it untrue, but I think it would require some pretty convincing evidence.