Richard A. Clarke, "an internationally recognized expert on security, including homeland security, national security, cyber security, and counterterrorism, served in the United States government from 1973 to 2003, with a specialization in the issues of intelligence and terrorism. He was the counter-terrorism adviser on the U.S. National Security Council when the September 11 attacks occurred. He resigned in January 2003 as "anti-terrorism czar." after serving in the White House under three presidents (George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush). In 2004, he published a book, Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror--What Really Happened (ISBN 0743260244), which was highly critical of the Bush administration's handling of counterterrorism both before and after September 11.
Rand Beers, the official who succeeded Clarke after he left the White House, resigned in protest just one month later--five days before the Iraqi war started--for precisely the same reason that Clarke quit.
Prior to his White House years, Clarke served for 19 years in the Pentagon, the Intelligence Community, and State Department. During the presidential administration of George H.W. Bush, he coordinated diplomatic efforts to support the 1990-1991 Gulf War and the subsequent security arrangements. His positions inside the government included:
National Security Council, 1992-2003
Special Advisor 2001-2003
National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism, 1998-2000
U.S. Department of State ?-1992
Assistant Secretary of State for Politico-Military Affairs, 1989-1992
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence, ?-1988
Richard Clarke has also been Director, Office of Global Issues and Multilateral Affairs, National Security Council
Since leaving government, Clarke has been an on-air consultant for ABC News and Chairman of Good Harbor Consulting, LLC.
"Strong opinions are the norm when it comes to Dick Clarke," state Washington Post reporters Dan Eggen and Walter Pincus. "A 30-year veteran bureaucrat, Clarke rose to the uppermost ranks of the national security establishment under presidents of both parties but also managed to anger numerous colleagues with his brusque style and bursts of temper. His previous boss, former national security adviser Samuel R. Berger, has said he regularly had to turn down demands from colleagues that Clarke be fired.
Pincus and Eggen add, "Clarke's brash manner is on full display in Against All Enemies, a searing portrait of missteps and misjudgments in the war on terror. While laying some blame on the former Bush and Clinton administrations, Clarke is most explicit in his criticism of George W. Bush and his top advisers, particularly Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul D. Wolfowitz. They are portrayed as indifferent to al Qaeda but obsessed with Iraq and Saddam Hussein, even in the wake of attacks carried out by Osama bin Laden's terrorist organization."
The release of Clarke's book and a lengthy '60 Minutes' interview were timed to occur on the eve of hearings by the independent commission investigating the September 11, 2001, attacks. Clarke also testified in the hearings. "The timing is classic Clarke," observe Pincus and Eggen. "Former colleagues say Clarke is a wily tactician in the political world of Washington and would be well aware of the firestorm he would cause by the release of his book during a presidential campaign." However, "Most acquaintances do not regard him as a partisan. Clarke was viewed as a hawk and 'true believer' by many within the Clinton administration, and Clarke himself says he is an independent who is registered as a Republican."
In his book, Clarke contends that hawks in the Bush administration, including Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, pushed for an attack on Iraq rather than against al Qaeda in Afghanistan in the aftermath of September 11. He recounts a conversation with Wolfowitz:
Wolfowitz fidgeted and scowled ... "Well, I just don't understand why we are beginning by talking about this one man bin Laden."
"We are talking about a network of terrorist organizations called al Qaeda, that happens to be led by bin Laden, and we are talking about that network because it and it alone poses an immediate and serious threat to the United States," I answered. ...
Wolfowitz turned to me. "You give bin Laden too much credit. He could not do all these things like the 1999 attack on New York, without a state sponsor. Just because FBI and CIA have failed to find the linkages does not mean they don't exist." I could hardly believe it, but Wolfowitz was actually spouting the totally discredited Laurie Mylroie theory that Iraq was behind the 1993 truck bomb at the World Trade Center, a theory that had been investigated for years and found to be totally untrue.
Clarke's book also recounts a conversation on September 12, 2001, in which President Bush himself said:
"Go back over everything, everything. See if Saddam did this. See if he's linked in any way..."
I was once again taken aback, incredulous, and it showed. "But Mr. President, al Qaeda did this."
"I know, I know, but ... see if Saddam was involved. Just look. I want to know any shred ..."
"Absolutely, we will look ... again." I was trying to be more respectful, more responsive. "But, you know, we have looked several times for state sponsorship of al Qaeda and not found any real linkages to Iraq. Iran plays a little, as does Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia, Yemen."
Following the publication of Clarke's book, White House representative Stephen J. Hadley told the CBS 60 Minutes news program, "We cannot find evidence that this conversation between Mr. Clarke and the president ever occurred." According to Washington Post reporter Barton Gellman, however, "two people who were present confirmed Clarke's account. They said national security adviser Condoleezza Rice witnessed the exchange." Gellman also noted that Rice has written an opinion article for the Washington Post which confirms that the conversation occurred.
In March, 2001, Richard Clarke asked the national-security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, for a job change; he wanted to concentrate on computer security. "I was told, 'You've got to recommend somebody similar to be your replacement,' " Clarke recalled. "I said, 'Well, there's only one person who would fit that bill.' " For months, Clarke tried to persuade John P. O'Neill to become a candidate as his successor.
March 19, 2001: "The President intends to designate Richard A. Clarke to be Chair of the President's Critical Infrastructure Protection Board. Clarke was recently named Special Advisor to the President for Cyber Space Security and was previously the National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection and Counter-terrorism on the National Security Council. Clarke is a member of the Senior Executive Service, having begun his federal service in 1973. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Massachusetts Institute of Technology."
"Richard Clarke [served as] a career member of the Senior Executive Service, having begun his federal service in 1973 in the Office of the Secretary of Defense."
March 12, 2003: "Career highlights: Chairman, President's Critical Infrastructure Protection Board (resigned Jan. 31,); chaired interagency counterterrorism committee for nine years; served on National Security Council staff under President Bush and President Bill Clinton, covering U.N. peacekeeping, Haiti intervention, Persian Gulf security and international crime control; assistant secretary of state for politico-military affairs in first Bush administration, coordinating State Department support of the Persian Gulf War; deputy assistant secretary of state for intelligence in Reagan administration; joined State in 1979 as senior analyst for European arms control; analyst on nuclear weapons and European issues, Defense Department."