PANIC MODE….There’s no telling if Richard Clarke’s charges will end up making much difference in the long run, but the White House is sure acting like they have the potential to do some serious damage:

President Bush’s top aides launched a ferocious assault on the former White House counterterrorism official who accused Bush of failing to act on the al Qaeda threat before Sept. 11, 2001, and strengthening terrorists by pursuing a misguided focus on Iraq.

….Half a dozen top White House officials, departing from their policy of ignoring such criticism, took to the airwaves to denounce Clarke as a disgruntled former colleague and a Democratic partisan.

The Post article suggests that the White House normally ignores stuff like this, but I think that observation is out of date. It was true up until mid-2003 or so, but starting around the time of the yellowcake affair they seem to have lost their confidence and began to feel like they had to fight back on stuff like this. And they have.

In this case, I imagine that part of the strategy is not just to rebut Clarke, but to throw up enough smoke to convince everyone that this is just another partisan beltway slugfest and hope they tune the whole thing out. It might work, too, although they seem to be in enough of a panic mode that they might end up doing something stupid. We can always hope.

In any case, we’ve now seen books from both Paul O’Neill and Richard Clarke, but are there any others coming down the pike? Who else has resigned from the Bush administration in the last year or two?