What John Kerry should say about Clarke’s book

I don’t blame George W. Bush or his advisers for making what, in retrospect, look like mistakes in the months before 9-11. The Oval Office doesn’t come equipped with a crystal ball in which the President gets to see the future.

But the only way to avoid repeating mistakes is to figure out how they were made and fix the systems and processes that produced them. That is something this Administration has been stubbornly unwilling to do.

They’re far more interested in discrediting Richard Clarke — a fine, nonpartisan civil servant of three decades’ service, who was closer than almost anyone else to being right about al-Qaeda before 9-11 — than in understanding what he has to say and incorporating those lessons into new systems and processes.

Making mistakes is human. Refusing to learn from mistakes is unforgiveable.

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