Sunday, March 28

Meet The Press Transcript Online

It's up at MSNBC. Highlights:


(Videotape, Friday):

SEN. BILL FRIST, (R-TN): Mr. Clarke has told two entirely different stories under oath; two entirely different stories under oath. In July 2002 in front of the congressional joint inquiry on the September the 11th attacks, Mr. Clarke testified under oath that the administration actively sought to address the threat posed by al-Qaeda during its first seven months in office. Madam President, it is one thing for Mr. Clarke to dissemble in front of the media, in front of the press, but if he lied under oath to the United States Congress, it's a far, far more serious matter.

As I mentioned, the Intelligence Committee is seeking to have Mr. Clarke's previous testimony declassified so as to permit an examination of Mr. Clarke's two differing accounts. Loyalty to any administration will be no defense if it is found that he has lied before Congress.

(End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT: Your reaction?

MR. CLARKE: Well, I think that this is part of a general pattern of the White House and the Republican National Committee and the president's re-election committee distributing talking points like that to senators and to press and to media trying to make me the issue and trying to engage in character assassination. I'm not the issue. Now, we can talk about the specifics of their allegations.

MR. RUSSERT: Is there any inconsistency between your sworn testimony before the September 11 Commission last week and two years ago before the congressional committee?

MR. CLARKE: No, there isn't. And I would welcome it being declassified, but not just a little line here or there. Let's declassify all six hours of my testimony.

MR. RUSSERT: You would request this morning that it all be declassified?

MR. CLARKE: And I want more declassified. I want Dr. Rice's testimony before the 9-11 Commission declassified, and I want the thing that the 9-11 Commission talked about in its staff report this week declassified, because there's been an issue about whether or not a strategy or a plan or something useful was given to Dr. Rice in early January. And she says it wasn't. So we now have the staff report of the 9-11 Commission, and it says, "On January 25th, Clarke forwarded his December strategy paper to the new national security adviser, and it proposed covert action to the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, significantly increasing CIA funding, retaliating for the USS Cole, arming the Predator aircraft, going after terrorist fund raising."

Now, Dr. Rice has characterized this as not a plan, not a strategy, not a series of decisions which could be made right away, but warmed-over Clinton material. Let's declassify that memo I sent on January 25th and let's declassify the national security directive that Dr. Rice's committee approved nine months later on September 4th, and let's see if there's any difference between those two, because there isn't. And what we'll see when we declassify what they were given on January 25th and what they finally agreed to on September 4th, is that they're basically the same thing and they wasted months when we could have had some action.

MR. RUSSERT: But to be clear, Mr. Clarke, you would urge Congress, the intelligence committees, to declassify your sworn testimony before the congressional inquiry two years ago as well as your testimony before the September 11th Commission?

MR. CLARKE: Yes, and those documents I just referred to and Dr. Rice's testimony before the 9-11 Commission because the victims' families have no idea what Dr. Rice has said. There weren't in those closed hearings where she testified before the 9-11 Commission. They want to know. So let's take her testimony before the 9-11 Commission and make it part of the package of what gets declassified along with the national security decision directive of September 4 and along with my memo of January 25.

In fact, Tim, let's go further. The White House is selectively now finding my e-mails, which I would have assumed were covered by some privacy regulations, and selectively leaking them to the press. Let's take all of my e-mails and all of the memos that I've sent to the national security adviser and her deputy from January 20 to September 11 and let's declassify all of it.

MR. RUSSERT: As well as her responses?

MR. CLARKE: As well as her responses.

MR. RUSSERT: Now, when you resigned, you sent a very polite letter to the president: "It's been an enormous privilege to serve you these past 24 months. I will always remember the courage, determination, calm leadership you demonstrated on September 11. I thank you again for the opportunity to serve you. You have provided me"--was that just being polite?


MR. RUSSERT: Or are you now just being disloyal?

MR. CLARKE: No. Well, my mother taught me to be polite. Let me read another line from the letter, which I have. I don't know what you have over there. But this is the actual letter. "I will always have fond memories of our briefings for you on cybersecurity." Not on terrorism, Tim, because they didn't allow me to brief him on terrorism. You know, they're saying now that when I was afforded the opportunity to talk to him about cybersecurity, it was my choice. I could have talked about terrorism or cybersecurity. That's not true. I asked in January to brief him, the president, on terrorism, to give him the same briefing I had given Vice President Cheney, Colin Powell and Condi Rice. And I was told, "You can't do that briefing, Dick, until after the policy development process."

MR. RUSSERT: Who told you that?

MR. CLARKE: Condi Rice. And I said, "Well, can I brief him on cybersecurity?" "Oh, yes, you can brief him on that." Now, you read my letter to him. Let's read his letter back to me. Maybe you'd like to read it, if you can read this.

MR. RUSSERT: Go ahead, please.

MR. CLARKE: This is his writing. This is the president of the United States' writing. And when they're engaged in character assassination of me, let's just remember that on January 31, 2003: "Dear Dick, you will be missed. You served our nation with distinction and honor. You have left a positive mark on our government." This is not the normal typewritten letter that everybody gets. This is the president's handwriting. He thinks I served with distinction and honor. The rest of his staff is out there trying to destroy my professional life, trying to destroy my reputation, because I had the temerity to suggest that a policy issue should be discussed. What is the role of the war on terror vis-a-vis the war in Iraq? Did the war in Iraq really hurt the war on terror? Because I suggest we should have a debate on that, I am now being the victim of a taxpayer-paid--because all these people work for the government-- character assassination campaign.

(Videotape, March 26, 2004):

SEN. FRIST: Assuming the controversy around this series of events does, in fact, drive the sales of his book, Mr. Clarke will make a lot of money, a lot of money for exactly what he has done. I personally find this to be an appalling act of profiteering, of trading on insider access to highly classified information and capitalizing upon the tragedy that befell this nation on September the 11th, 2001. Mr. Clarke must renounce, I think, any plan to personally profit from this book.

(End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT: The book is dedicated to those who were murdered on September 11 and you apologize to the families. Would you consider giving the royalties or profits from the book to the children of those families who were murdered?

MR. CLARKE: Tim, long before Senator Frist said what he said, I planned to make a substantial contribution, not only to them but also to the widows and orphans of our Special Forces who have fought and died in Afghanistan and Iraq. And when we see the results of the book sales, we'll know how much we have to make donations. I also have to consider the fact that friends of mine in the White House, because I still have friends in the White House, having worked there for 11 years, are telling me that the word is out in the White House to destroy me professionally. One line that somebody overheard was "he's not going to make another dime again in Washington in his life." So I have to take that into account, too, this sort of vicious personal attack is also directed at my bank account. But this is not about me making money. It's about getting the truth out. And long before Senator Frist said what he said, I planned to make substantial donations, and I will make substantial donations.

MR. CLARKE: Well, I think it's obvious, but there are three major reasons. Who are we fighting in the war on terrorism? We're fighting Islamic radicals and they are drawing people from the youth of the Islamic world into hating us. Now, after September 11, people in the Islamic world said, "Wait a minute. Maybe we've gone too far here. Maybe this Islamic movement, this radical movement, has to be suppressed," and we had a moment, we had a window of opportunity, where we could change the ideology in the Islamic world. Instead, we've inflamed the ideology. We've played right into the hands of al-Qaeda and others. We've done what Osama bin Laden said we would do.

Ninety percent of the Islamic people in Morocco, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt, allied countries to the United States--90 percent in polls taken last month hate the United States. It's very hard when that's the game where 90 percent of the Arab people hate us. It's very hard for us to win the battle of ideas. We can arrest them. We can kill them. But as Don Rumsfeld said in the memo that leaked from the Pentagon, I'm afraid that they're generating more ideological radicals against us than we are arresting them and killing them. They're producing more faster than we are.


MR. RUSSERT: But Saddam is gone and that's a good thing?

MR. CLARKE: Saddam is gone is a good thing. If Fidel were gone, it would be a good thing. If Kim Il Sung were gone, it would be a good thing. And let's just make clear, our military performed admirably and they are heroes, but what price are we paying for this war on Iraq?

MR. RUSSERT: In 2004 you'll vote for John Kerry?

MR. CLARKE: I'm not going to endorse John Kerry. That's what the White House wants me to do. And they want to say I'm part of the Kerry campaign. I've already pledged I'm not part of the Kerry campaign and I will not serve in the Kerry administration.

MR. RUSSERT: Will you vote for him?

MR. CLARKE: That's my business.

MR. RUSSERT: Will you seek elective office?

MR. CLARKE: Never.


MR. CLARKE: I've done 30 years in the government as a senior executive. I don't want to do it any...

MR. RUSSERT: Would you like to come back in government in another capacity?

MR. CLARKE: Never. Not a day.


MR. CLARKE: Not a day.

MR. RUSSERT: It's over?

MR. CLARKE: Thirty years is enough.