By DAVID E. SANGER
Published: October 31, 2003
WASHINGTON, Oct. 30 ? President Bush's national security adviser said on Thursday that the Clinton and other past administrations had ignored evidence of growing terrorist threats and that despite repeated attacks on American interests, "until Sept. 11, the terrorists faced no sustained, systematic and global response" from the United States.
"They became emboldened," the adviser, Condoleezza Rice, said of Al Qaeda, "and the result was more terror and more victims."
With these comments, in a speech in New York on Thursday evening to the National Legal Center for the Public Interest, Ms. Rice waded into what has become a central theme of the early days of the 2004 presidential race.
In recent weeks, most Democratic candidates have sharpened their arguments, contending that Mr. Bush's with-us-or-against-us approach ? an approach embodied in the "National Security Strategy of the United States" that Ms. Rice drafted ? has made the United States more vulnerable and alienated allies.
While never naming Mr. Clinton or other past presidents, she argued that Mr. Bush had no choice but to take a far more muscular approach to American security, given the world he inherited, one in which she said the biggest threats to America were never taken seriously enough.
She spoke more bluntly later Thursday night on "The Charlie Rose Show" on PBS.
"It wasn't working with North Korea," she said. "No, it wasn't working with Iran. No, having Iraq for 12 years defy the United Nations on 17 different resolutions ? it wasn't working. And we had to confront that."
Parts of Ms. Rice's speech could also be read as being critical of the Reagan administration and the administration of the president's father, George H. W. Bush, for not connecting the dots on earlier attacks.
"It is now undeniable that the terrorists declared war on America and on the civilized world many years before Sept. 11, 2001," she said in remarks delivered to the legal center at the Waldorf-Astoria. "The attack on the Marine barracks in Lebanon in 1983, the hijacking of the Achille Lauro in 1985, the bombing of Pan Am 103 in 1988, the World Trade Center in 1993, the attacks on American installations in Saudi Arabia in 1995 and 1996, the attack on the U.S.S. Cole in 2000: These and other atrocities were part of a sustained, systematic campaign to spread devastation and chaos. Yet until Sept. 11, the terrorists faced no sustained, systematic and global response." *************
Ms. Rice's comments make no reference to what the Bush administration itself did between Mr. Bush's inauguration on Jan. 20, 2001, and the Sept. 11 attacks.
In the past she has said that a detailed plan to counter Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups was on her desk, approved, when the attacks occurred. That plan became the basis for the decision to drive Al Qaeda out of Afghanistan and topple the Taliban.
But Mr. Bush himself made little reference to the threat of Al Qaeda, the need to topple the Taliban or other terrorism-related issues prior to the Sept. 11 attacks.
Similarly, asked in an interview with The New York Times the week before his inauguration whether Iraq had "bedeviled" his father's administration, he said. referring to Saddam Hussein, the former Iraqi ruler: "I wouldn't say it bedeviled the past Bush administration. I think the past Bush administration dealt with it very firmly and left a regime in place that isolated Saddam."
Ms. Rice appears to have a slightly different take on history. She said it had been clear for 12 years that Mr. Hussein was killing his own people, setting up torture centers and posing a threat to the Middle East.
"Let us be clear," she said. "Saddam was not going to go away of his own accord. For 12 years, he gave every indication that he would never disarm and never comply with the Security Council's just demands. In fact, he mocked those demands and made every effort to circumvent them through a massive program of denial and deception."
Her speech to the legal center dwelt at some length on what she views as mistakes of the 1990's, and she was specifically critical of Mr. Clinton's approach to North Korea and to Iran. She argued that Mr. Bush is now succeeding at forcing the countries to roll back their nuclear programs.
"The path of least resistance would have been for the United States to engage in bilateral talks with North Korea," she said, failing to add that the State Department had advised that the Bush administration do exactly that. "But this would have simply repeated the failed experience of the past, when North Korea accepted ? and then systematically violated ? an agreement offered in good faith by the United States." Ms. Rice referred to the 1994 accord that froze, but did not dismantle, North Korea's nuclear program.
Democrats note that in the case of both Iran and North Korea, it appears that weapons-making has accelerated in the first two and a half years of the Bush presidency.
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******* Hot damn, I wonder if everyone knows who the president was during a helluva lotta those years.
I wonder if Condi just thinks the Amurkin public is stupid.
Maybe she didnt read the Hart Rudman report, stressing to Bush that this was a problem that needed to be watched and acted upon.
"The Bush administration sat on a Clinton-era plan to attack al-Qaida in Afghanistan for eight months because of political hostility to the outgoing president and competing priorities, it was reported yesterday.
The plan, under which special forces troops would have been sent after Osama bin Laden, was drawn up in the last days of the Clinton administration but a decision was left to the incoming Bush team. "...
Here some more.. stolen from another source. I did not write the comments, but they are pretty spot on.:
In 1996 Bill Clinton proposed a very extensive anti-terrorism regulation. The Republicans in both congress and senate shredded this regulation, made fun of it, called it ?paranoid?, and patronized the president in every way possible. Orrin Hatch even called some of the threats of terrorism in the homeland a ?phony issue?. Shameless!
Al Gore also put together in 1996 a series of recommendations on airport security that the Republican congress called ?paranoid?, too harsh, and the airline industry (lobbying against it) considered too expensive and impractical to apply.
Bill Clinton signed an order to hunt Bin Laden after the attacks on the African embassies and the attack to the Cole.
They got really close to killing the bastard. Soon after, the Kosovo mess got started too. What did our Repubs congressmen and talking heads? Accused Clinton of ?wagging the dog?, ridiculed the efforts as a way to divert attention from Monica-gate, and denied the proper support for his actions. Trent Lott went as far as to say "You can support our troops without supporting the president," the type that statement that now Repubs will call treason.
Bill Clinton ordered the Hart-Rudman report on the potential dangers of terrorism in the homeland. The results of the research, which pointed at the possibility of something like the WTC tragedy happening, was ignored by Smirky and his gang. Ignored completely. Now we got the biggest terrorist attacks on US soil under his watch.