Last Train to Clarkeville?

Andrew Sullivan is on vacation, John Kerry’s vacation is about to conclude, and Glenn Reynolds got back to work on Monday.

With that in mind, we turn to the blogosphere’s continuing coverage of the Richard Clarke revelations. Today’s topic: Vice President Dick Cheney’s appearance on Rush Limbaugh.

In the beginning of the interview Cheney stated that Clarke “wasn’t in the loop, frankly, on a lot of this stuff.” Kevin Drum and Josh Marshall find this hard to believe. Drum spouts off, “What’s more, it’s hardly plausible that the administration’s top counterterrorism guy was “out of the loop” on what was supposedly the administration’s biggest counterterrorism initiative. And given his background and his known intensity toward fighting terrorism, it’s also unlikely to the point of lunacy to think that if the Bushies had been planning a bigger and far more extensive anti-terrorism program than Clinton’s — no more “swatting flies”! — that Clarke would have opposed it. He probably would have been dancing in the streets.”

If Clarke was out dancing in the streets, and not partaking in the high level meetings, as Cheney suggested, “Consider what that means,” Josh Marshall suggests,”Clarke, as we’ve said, was the counter-terrorism coordinator at NSC. That means he ran the inter-agency process on terrorism issues. Cheney says Clarke wasn’t in the loop; but that means that he actually ran the loop. If he was out of the loop on the central points of what the White House was doing on terrorism that means there was a complete breakdown of the interagency process.”

Atrios and Brad Delong linked to this Center for American Progress press release that takes on Cheney’s comments. Is it fair? Decide for yourself.

Amidst all this grumbling, the Rhodes Scholars at OxBlog sets the bar for Clarke’s allegations to make a difference come November. “But when it comes down to getting votes, I think there are only two questions that really matter: Did Bush ignore (and then withhold) compelling evidence that Al Qaeda was preparing a major attack? And did Bush knowingly lie about Iraq’s possession of chemical and biological (not nuclear) weapons? Unless Clarke can answer one or both of those questions in the affirmative, his revelations won’t amount to much more than a very loud footnote.”

Thomas Lang

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Thomas Lang was a writer at CJR Daily.