Saturday, June 19, 2004

Do Overs

Other commission officials disclosed on Friday that the White House had sent a letter to the commission — stamped "secret" — on the eve of this week's hearings that demanded a variety of changes in its staff reports this week. But the officials said the White House letter did not seek any changes in the portions of the report that dispute any relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda.
NY Times, June 19, 2004

CLARKE: Yes. The president -- we were in the situation room complex -- the president dragged me into a room with a couple of other people, shut the door, and said, 'I want you to find whether Iraq did this.' Now he never said, 'Make it up.' But the entire conversation left me in absolutely no doubt that George Bush wanted me to come back with a report that said 'Iraq did this.'

STAHL: Didn't you tell him that you'd looked and there'd been no connection?

CLARKE: I said, 'Mr. President. We've done this before. We have been looking at this. We looked at it with an open mind. There's no connection.' He came back at me and said, "Iraq! Saddam! Find out if there's a connection.' And in a very intimidating way. I mean, that we should come back with that answer. We wrote a report.

STAHL: In other words, you did go back and look.

CLARKE: We went back again and we looked.

STAHL: You did. And was it a serious look? Did you really ... ?

CLARKE: It was a serious look. We got together all the FBI experts, all the CIA experts. We wrote the report. We sent the report out to CIA and down to FBI and said, 'Will you sign this report?' They all cleared the report and we sent it up to the president and it got bounced by the National Security Advisor or Deputy. It got bounced and sent back saying, 'Wrong answer.'

STAHL: Come on!

CLARKE: Do it again.

STAHL: Wrong answer?

CLARKE: Do it again.
CBS Sixty Minutes, March 21, 2004