CLINTON ON TERRORISM….Via James Joyner, I see that the Washington Times has a story today trumpeting the news that Bill Clinton’s final policy paper on national security “makes no mention of al Qaeda and refers to Osama bin Laden by name just four times.” James says this belies “Richard Clarke?s argument that it was somehow THE focus of Clinton foreign policy.”
A couple of comments:
The full report is here. If you’re looking for the four references, note that OBL’s name is spelled “Usama bin Ladin.” Sure enough, he’s mentioned four times.
On the other hand, “terrorism” is mentioned seven times in the introduction alone and 58 times in the main section on “Implementing the Strategy.” What’s more, in the major section titled “Protecting the Homeland” there are seven primary issues discussed. Two of them are “Combating Terrorism” and “Domestic Preparedness Against Weapons of Mass Destruction.”
It’s also worth noting that far from considering terrorism a mere law enforcement activity, terrorism gets an entire paragraph in the section titled “Military Activities”:
We must continue to improve our program to combat terrorism in the areas of antiterrorism, counterterrorism, consequence management, and intelligence support to deter terrorism. We will deter terrorism through the increased antiterrorism readiness of our installations and forward forces, enhanced training and awareness of military personnel, and the development of comprehensive theater engagement plans. In counterterrorism, because terrorist organizations may not be deterred by traditional means, we must ensure a robust capability to accurately attribute the source of attacks against the United States or its citizens, and to respond effectively and decisively to protect our national interests. U.S. armed forces possess a tailored range of options to respond to terrorism directed at U.S. citizens, interests, and property. In the event of a terrorist incident, our consequence management ability to significantly mitigate injury and damage may likely deter future attacks. Finally, we will continue to improve the timeliness and accuracy of intelligence support to commanders, which will also enhance our ability to deter terrorism.
As far as I know, Clarke never suggested that counterterrorism was the Clinton administration’s highest priority, merely one of several high priorities. His complaint isn’t that Bush didn’t make it Job 1, but that he didn’t give it even as much attention as Clinton did.
I sorta doubt it was worth my time to go through all this, but there you have it.