NY Times - Was an Official 'in the Loop'? It All Depends
"Ms. Rice painted a distinctly different picture of the involvement of Mr. Clarke, who has prompted furious responses since he asserted in a new book and in testimony on Capitol Hill that President Bush did not heed warnings before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. 'He was in every meeting that was held on terrorism,' Ms. Rice said. 'All the deputies' meetings, the principals' meeting that was held and so forth, the early meetings after Sept. 11.'
Well now. Finally some truth begins to emerge. I don't find Ms. Rice's statements in conflict with Mr. Cheney's statements at all. Mr. Clarke WAS out of the principals', Cheney's loop. She only mentions ONE TIME that Clarke was in such a meeting and conveniently neglects to say it was on 9/04/01. And that was precisely his beef with Ms. Rice because he felt that had he been in the regular principals' meetings, and if the president and Ms. Rice felt the same urgency, the information that we now know we had in the FBI most probably would have been brought to light.
Here is the whole matter as I now see it, given the testimony I've read/heard/seen and all the press and all the statements: The Bush Administration did not really care WHAT Richard Clarke had to say because they felt his approach to stopping terrorism was too small. They thought in grand designs, big pictures. They could see the broad outlines of history and human endeavors. You eliminate Saddam, install a democracy in Iraq as a shining beacon to the rest of the Arab world, and voila THERE is your end to terrorism. They make no bones about that. They told Clarke to continue with his daily meetings but at the deputies level. Oh sure they still met with Tenet, but he was CIA! THAT'S why they felt all the "chatter" about an impending attack was most likely going to occur in a foreign country. FBI/Justice is responsible for America. CIA is for everywhere else. And really, all they had to do was admit that their focus on Iraq from the start of the administration and their refusal to take the impending threat of an attack on American soil as likely was wrong early on after 9/11/01 and there would not have been a huge problem. But instead, they pressed on like they have never made a mistake in their lives. And we are all paying for it now.
We see this over and over and over in politics and really it's curious why no one has learned the lesson: admit your mistakes early on, get it out in the open and move on. If you cover it up, it will ALWAYS come back to haunt you and, possibly, to defeat you.