Self-Serving Goo–Useful as a Light Primer, June 17, 2008
Richard A. Clarke
Edit of 28 June to acknowledge Retired Reader’s comment in favor of the author. I yield to his more direct knowledge. In the larger context, however, all of our civil servants and flag officers failed to do their duty to the Constitution (as did Congress, abdicating on Article 1).
I was hoping for more from this book, but a close examination of the chapters, the notes, and the recommendations quickly established that this book is largely self-serving goo intended to make money and profit from one public moment that I thought was as contrived as Ollie North’s shaking his head over the dead Contra during Congressional testimony.
There is NOTHING is this book that has not been known to all of us who actually cared about intelligence reform and who did as much as humanly possible, especially in 1992, to get a National Security Act of 1992 passed, an Act that was destroyed by Senator John Warner (R-VA) and Dick Cheney, then Secretary of Defense.
I find this book especially annoying–to the point of anger–because both Senator Obama and Senator McCain are surrounded by very old dogs long overdue for total exile, and young to middle age staff pukes that are part of the “don’t make waves, go along with institutionalized insanity.” The next Administration, regardless of who wins, is going to have no one with a radical iconoclastic brain or an open mind. Voters should take great care in understanding with precision the money and the minds (I use the term loosely) that are “behind” the front running for President.
The idiocy and myopia of Clarke’s self-congratulatory and sanctimonious pontification can be readily discerned if one takes a moment to digest a few facts:
1) The world is unconquerable. Get over it.
2) The US is best friends with 42 of 44 dictators, ostensibly because they support the war on terror (a tactic, not an enemy) while sucking our treasury dry in getting arms and training for looting their own commonwealths and repressing their indigenous peoples.
3) There are ten high-level threats to humanity, as identified by LtGen Dr. Brent Scowcroft, USAF (Ret) and other members of the international panel, and I list them here to place the narrow, inflammatory, deceitfully presented Clarke book in perspective–note that terrorism is next to last in this list, and only because of the potential for catastrophic consequences:
I won’t bother to list the twelve core policies from Agriculture to Water, or the eight demographic challengers that must be wooed with an EarthGame that demonstrates how we can create a prosperous world at peace without repeating the mistakes of the West. Clarke has no clue how to manage a government, balance a budget, articulate reality to We the People, or stand up to those who wear their rank on their foreheads with little else in their brain housing group.
This is the last book I am going to buy by anyone who has served in this or any recent Administration. These are the losers that got us into today’s mess–losers who valued their jobs more than the truth, their perks more than our lives.
One cannot have a government that functions when Congress has abdicated its Article 1 authorities; the media is owned by those who would happily consent to 935 lies and 25 documented impeachable offenses by Dick Cheney, and a public that is oblivious to the perils, perils that escape them because the USA is no longer a smart industrious nation.
ENOUGH. It is time to take the 27 secessionist movements seriously, to have a Citizens’ Summit (Chicago, on Lincoln’s Birthday 2009) and to demand both an Electoral Reform Act and a Smart Nation-Multinational Information Sharing Act. Senators Hagel and Feingold, with their recent call for a commission to draw a new map of the world, are on the right track. Sadly, they are most likely to draw on all these self-congratulating peons who have been happy to be lions to the public, and ants in the White House.
Our government did not fail us. We failed our Republic, and gave it up for dismemberment. Our government did not fail us. The individuals who served in the highest elected, appointed, and civil service positions failed to honor their Oaths of Office and defense the Constitution against all enemies, domestic and foreign. It takes real guts to speak truth to power, and bet your livelihood on being honorable.
There are only a handful of truly honest and intelligent wizards left, and I can name them on one hand: Zinni, Nye, Oakley, Palmer, Hagel, and if I use the other, Bloomberg, Iacocca, Biden, Schoomaker, Cochran. Everyone else has sold out and betrayed the public trust, and I especially include the 9-11 Commissioners who put the icing on the whitewash cake with their pretentious and deliberately ineffective “road show.” A few, like Gates and Clapper, could be saved, but need to discover their innovative bones and their future sight–current ops is NOT where it’s at.
We the People are angry, very angry, and 2009 is going to see our anger in full display. The 2008 election is fradulent for having disenfranchised both third party candidates, and close to half the citizens eligible to vote.
2004, needs updating and a web site, July 28, 2008
Published in 2004, this is an extraordinary book for its combination of authoritative sources, visualizations, and the plain fact that water, not energy, is the Achilles’ heel of civilization.
The authors are extremely well-qualified, and I really appreciate their source references, many of which are online. Sadly, they have not created a web-site as a companion to the book, and so we are stuck with the best that analog hard copy can do, and no where near the power of digital interactive visualization and modeling.
Normally I would take one star away becuase the publisher has not done their job in listing this book at Amazon. They should have posted the table of contents at a minimum, and ideally also offered Amazon “inside the book” privileges. Below is the table of contents, the easiest way for me to both praise the book and inform prospective buyers.
Part 1: A Finite Resource Fresh Out of Water More People, Less Water Rising Demand Robbing the Bank
Part 2: Uses and Abuses Water at Home Water for Food Irrigation Agricultural Pollution Water for Industry Industrial Pollution Water for Power The Damned
Part 3: Water Health Access to Water Sanitation Dirty Water Kills Harbouring Disease Insidious Contamination
Part 4: Re-shaping the Natural World Diverting the Flow Draining Wetlands Groundwater Mining Expanding Cities Desperate Measures Floods Droughts
Part 5: Water Conflicts The Need for Cooperation Pressure Points Weapon of War
Part 6: Ways Forward The Water Business Conserving Supplies Setting Priorities Vision of the Future
Part 7: Tables Needs and Resources Uses and Abuses
Also, Winn Schwartau was there first, see the following books from the 1990’s; Winn, Peter Black, and I were among the first to talk about taking down America in 24 hours; Winn testified to Congress, and as they did with Peak Oil and the thermite evidence from 9-11, they ignored reality.
You cannot discuss 9-11 or Iraq, and be credible, without having read this book carefully and thoroughly (many of the other reviews strike me as glib, superficial, and not representative of having actually read the book).Clarke begins by pointing out that four US Presidents, not one, are responsible for the over-all failure.
Clarke strikes out at the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, throughout the book.
Clarke confirms both all the reports of CIA failing to tell FBI, FBI leaders ignoring their own field reports and consequently failing to tell the White House clearing house on terrorism, of any and all the indicators and warnings received from June 2001 to September 10 2001. Clarke confirms that as of January 2001, despite a decade or more of Al Qaeda activism, “most senior officials in the administration did not know the term.”
The historical review, going back to the Iranian revolution of 1979 (which overturned a CIA coup much earlier) and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (which mobilized global jihad), is quite helpful. The failure of the White House to kill the Republican Guard in the first Gulf War, and the post-Gulf War decision to put thousands and thousands of US contractors into Saudi Arabia, thus further inflaming Saudi dissidents, and the related misadventures in Lebanon as well as over-tolerance for Israeli aggression on the Palestinians, are all put into useful context. The book begins with a solid meticulous review unlike any other I have found.
CIA and FBI both take substantive and deserved beatings. The CIA Directorate of Operations–with the full backing of the DCI– cannot be considered to be anything other than “chickenshit” in the manner in which it blocked just about every proposed initiative including the arming of the Predators and the insertion of language-qualified personnel into Afghanistan.
Clarke lists four strategic mistakes: 1) CIA becoming overly dependent on the Pakistani intelligence service; 2) CIA importation to the Afghanistan jihad of Arab extremists it did not understand; 3) USG’s quick pull-out from Afghanistan without flooding them with water, food, medicine, and security first; and 4) US ignorance of and failure to help Pakistan stabilize itself and survive the deadly mix of millions of Afghan refugees and thousands of radicalized Arab Muslims.
The Saudi government’s sponsorship of Bin Laden as a religious revolutionary with a global mission beginning in 1989 cannot be denied. The book documents what we knew and when we knew it, and how we chose to ignore it.
1993-1994 were clearly turning point years–both the 1993 World Trade Center car bombing, and the discovery of a network of suicidal terrorists based in the US and tied to the blind Muslim preacher in Brooklyn, should have but did not lead to a nation-wide cleansing and appropriate border controls and foreign intelligence measures. Al Qaeda was formed in 1990. It would be five years before CIA and the FBI would realize this.
On page 84, Clarke makes my day by providing the ultimate OSINT (Open Source Intelligence) story. After ordering a strike on Iraqi intelligence headquarters, Clinton refused to go on TV until it was confirmed. The $35 billion a year intelligence community could not confirm it–no spies or agents on the ground, satellites out of position, etcetera. Bill Clinton, without telling anyone, called CNN, CNN called its Jordan bureau, whose cameraman had a cousin who lived near the intelligence headquarters, who confirmed the strike.” Got to love it–all money, no eyes. When will Congress get it!?
Clarke confirms the many ugly stories about CIA’s operational incompetence in Somalia (professionals will recall we sent old dogs without language skills, two of whom went nuts, literally, afterwards). The following quote should be hung in CIA’s entryway until we get a serious clandestine service: “They had nobody in the country when the Marines landed. Then they sent in a few guys who had never been there before. They swapped people out every few weeks and they stayed holed up in the U.S. compound on the beach, in comfy trailer homes that they had flown in by the Air Force.” Sure, there have been some improvements, but as CIA operations super-star Reuel Gerecht says, until diarrhea is accepted as part of the job description, the DO will never be real.
Clarke sums up the Clinton era by saying that policy was good, and intelligence bad. The bureaucracy was not willing to take terrorism seriously nor to work as a team. He sums up the Bush the Second era by saying that both were bad. Clarke slams George Tenet repeatedly, identifying 1994 as the year in which he blew the chance to nail Bin Laden and the Saudis early on.
Clarke fails Congress for failing America in 1995, when its oversight should have identified the failures of the past two years, and moved to correct them.
The Atlanta Olympics stand out as a major success story, and I emphasize this to note that there were successes, and there were extraordinary new means developed of planning, of inter-agency coordination, of rapid response. The Secret Service emerges from Clarke’s book with its reputation much enhanced.
Saudi mendacity and Canadian complacency (the latter fixed since 9-11, the former not) get special mention. Prince Bandar is labeled a liar on more than one occasion.
There are many other important points raised by this book, including specific recommendations for addressing our global vulnerability to terrorism, and they will not be listed here. Buy the book.
One final comment: this is a very intelligent man who has actually read books and done some cross-cultural historical thinking. He laments the fact that politicians with power tend to view visionaries with knowledge as nuts (page 131). This is a brilliant book that should be read in detail, not–as Rich Armitage confessed to the 9-11 Commission on C-SPAN–the way Washington reads: checking the index for one’s name. Washington has become stupid. Richard Clarke is not.