What Clark actually said about 9-11

One sign of how afraid the Bush fan club is of the Wesley Clark candidacy is the extent to which his statements are being subjected to what Orwell called “abusive misrepresentation.”

For example, David Adesnik of Oxblog here and here takes a speech in which Gen. Clark says that President Bush, rather than the intelligence community, bears the final responsibility for the intelligence failures that made 9-11 possible and spins it as Clark having blamed Bush, rather than Osama bin Laden, for the attack.

Here’s what Clark said, according to the New York Times article Adesnik links to:

In a blistering review of President Bush’s national security policy, Gen. Wesley K. Clark said on Tuesday that the administration could not “walk away from its responsibilities for 9/11.”

“You can’t blame something like this on lower-level intelligence officers, however badly they communicated in memos with each other,” said the retired general, the latest entrant in the Democratic presidential field. “It goes back to what our great president Harry Truman said with the sign on his desk: ‘The buck stops here.’ And it sure is clear to me that when it comes to our nation’s national security, the buck rests with the commander in chief, right on George W. Bush’s desk.”

And here’s Adesnik’s spin:

“Did Wes Clark actually accuse Bush of letting 9/11 happen? … if a Democratic candidate is going to attack Bush on this front, he will need nothing short of a smoking gun in order to persuade the American public that Osama bin Laden deserves anything less than 100% of the blame for the September 2001 attacks.

Note that the idea of Bush’s “letting 9-11 happen” is entirely Adesnik’s fantasy, and that Adesnik converts Clark’s well-reasoned rebuke of Bush — for trying to blame the failure to notice that al-Qaeda had plans to use jetliners as missiles on lower-level intelligence personnel — into the absurd assertion that Bush, rather than bin Laden was responsible for the crime. Having put absurd words into Clark’s mouth, Adesnik is then stunned by their absurdity: Did he really say that?

Answer: No.

Are there any other questions?

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

3 thoughts on “What Clark actually said about 9-11”

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    Mark A. R. Kleiman: What Clark actually said about 9-11 Mark believes the Bushies are scared of Clark and makes a good case towards that belief: Note that the idea of Bush's "letting 9-11 happen" is entirely Adesnik's fantasy, and…

  2. Halloween Clarkbot

    Mark Kleiman says that Oxblog has twisted Clark's hard-hitting criticism of the intelligence failures that preceded 9/11 and Bush's unwillingness to investigate them and let the chips fall where they may. Fox in Portland likes Clark (hint: he's a perso…

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    David Adesnik and Josh Marshall go after Clark with a vengeance today. Adesnik first: Wes Clark seems to be blaming Bush for 9/11. No, not Iraq. 9/11. While the Administration has hardly been forthright about the intelligence failures that contributed…

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