Merits and motivation of Clarke, O'Neill, et al
Regarding Daniel Schorr's April 2 column "Clarke: Bush's John Dean?": I am very grateful to those "disgruntled memoirists" for getting their books out before the next election. These authors are disclosing serious problems that affect the future of the nation. There has been no other way to learn about the decisionmaking environment at the White House, given the secretiveness of this administration. I thank those who have dared to lift the veil, knowing full well the attacks that would follow. They are real patriots.
It's interesting that these "disgruntled memoirists" come out of the woodwork after something terrible happens, but while things are sweet and rosey they continue to support the presidents they committed themselves to help. What George Bush did or did not do before 9/11 as it relates to terror was not "criminal." For the sake of the nation, let's not forget who are enemies are.
Like many Americans, I see Richard Clarke as an opportunist. He was with the Clinton administration for eight years, and yet he chose to ignore the fact that nothing was done, even when there were opportunities to capture Osama bin Laden.
Daytona Beach, Fla.
In your April 1 article "New glimpses of Bush worldview" Robert Pfaltzgraff says, "It's a whole new world that we only began to understand after 9/11." The events of Sept. 11 marked a turning point in the war on terrorism. But the 1998 bombings of the American Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania surely made Americans and US policymakers very much aware of the determination and danger of Osama bin Laden and his terrorist partners. The weak efforts to catch or kill bin Laden after the 1998 bombings allowed his agents to damage the US Navy destroyer USS Cole in 1999 and go on to the destruction of 9/11. At the time of Bush's inauguration, Al Qaeda should have been a policy priority. It wasn't. In hindsight, one has to ask why.
Your article doesn't seem to allow for the possibility that as significant a threat as Al Qaeda was, there were equal or potentially greater pre-9/11 threats. Among those were North Korea, Iran, and Iraq. Just because they hadn't attacked us does not mean that they wouldn't have if they'd had the opportunity. The Bush administration seems to have been developing a more aggressive plan for Al Qaeda than had President Clinton, and at the same time was working to protect against nuclear attack. You have to keep all the balls in the air because dropping any could be catastrophic.
Regarding Pat M. Holt's April 1 column "Democrats should shift campaign focus to foreign affairs." His gentle analysis of the US preemptive invasion of Iraq and his reasonable reminder that "the public deserves to hear - and to participate in - a thorough debate on these [foreign affairs] questions," deserves the exposure it received.
In Mr. Holt's suggestions to likely Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, however, he might have added a postscript urging Mr. Kerry and the Democrats to speak out for bold campaign reforms that would include public financing of elections. If John Kerry and the Democrats really want to lead, they must not just leave it up to Ralph Nader and the Green Party candidate to champion progressive change.
Mountain View, Calif.
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