SMEAR, SMEAR, SMEAR….The campaign to smear Dick Clarke reached Olympian heights today as Bill Frist released a blast of manufactured outrage rarely seen since the halcyon days of Joe McCarthy and the hunt for communist dentists in the Army:

It is awesomely self-serving for Mr. Clarke to assert that the United States could have stopped terrorism if only the three Presidents he served had better listened to his advice….The only common denominator throughout these 10 years of unanswered attacks was Mr. Clarke himself, a consideration that is clearly driving his effort to point fingers and shift blame.

….Mr. President, I do not know if Mr. Clarke’s motive for theses charges is partisan gain, personal profit, self promotion, or animus because of his failure to win a promotion in the Bush Administration….Mr. Clarke was clearly consumed by the desire to dodge any blame for the 9-11 attacks while at that same moment rescuers were still searching the rubble of the World Trade Center for survivors….A loyal Administration official?….If, in the summer of 2001, he saw the threat from al Qaeda as grave as he now says it was, and if he found the response of the Administration as inadequate as he now says it was, why did he wait until Sunday, March 21, 2004 to make his concerns known?

….Mr. President, if Mr. Clarke held his tongue because he was loyal, then shame on him for putting politics above principle. But if he has manufactured these charges for profit and political gain, he is a shame to this government.

….Mr. President, it is one thing for Mr. Clarke to dissemble in front of the media. But if he lied under oath to the United States Congress it is a far more serious matter….it is also clear that Mr. Clarke and his publishers adjusted the release date of his book in order to make maximum gain from the publicity around the 9-11 hearings….I find this to be an appalling act of profiteering, trading on his insider access to highly classified information and capitalizing upon the tragedy that befell this nation on September 11, 2001. Mr. Clarke must renounce any plan to personally profit from this book.

….In his appearance before the 9-11 Commission, Mr. Clarke’s theatrical apology on behalf of the nation was not his right, his privilege or his responsibility. In my view it was not an act of humility, but an act of supreme arrogance and manipulation. Mr Clarke can and will answer for his own conduct but that is all.

Wow. Clarke is greedy, egocentric, resentful, and angry ? that’s four of the seven deadly sins right there ? but also disloyal (or is it just the opposite?), deceitful, insincere, incompetent, uncaring, partisan, cowardly, shifty, arrogant, and manipulative. That’s quite an indictment.

I wonder if Frist will have time over the weekend to pause a bit and wonder if he might have gone a bit over the top here? After all, in the same speech in which he decries “finger pointing, blame shifting or political score settling,” he more or less accuses Clarke of being personally responsible for every major terrorist attack in the world between 1993 and 2000. Glass houses and all that, Mr. Frist….

UPDATE: Plus they’re actually going to try and declassify some of his earlier testimony in an effort to bring perjury charges? What an insane bluff ? and just another indication that classified information doesn’t mean much to these guys as long as it’s stuff that can help them. But if they do declassify this material, I’m with Bob Graham: declassify it all, not just the parts they think help their case. Let’s see everything and then we can decide who’s telling the truth and who’s covering up.