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April 12, 2004

RICHARD CLARKE will be working for ABC News. This has left some people unimpressed. I'd say that Clarke moved just in time, as his credibility is facing new challenges:

Disputing Clarke's claim, Rice testified customs agents "weren't actually on alert."

At least one of the agents who helped apprehend Ressam sides with Rice's version of events.

Moreover, others involved in the Ressam case say Clarke's book contains factual errors and wrongly implies national-security officials knew of Ressam's plan to set a bomb at Los Angeles International Airport long before they actually did.

More in this report. And consistent with the poll I linked yesterday, showing that the 9/11 hearings seem to have helped Bush, a reader sends this story:

A growing number of Americans say they believe the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush did everything that could be expected to stop the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to two new polls.

A Time/CNN survey taken yesterday showed that 48 percent of Americans said they believe the Bush administration did all it could to prevent the attacks, up from 42 percent in a poll taken March 26-28. A CBS News poll, also conducted yesterday, showed 32 percent of Americans said the administration did everything possible to stop the attacks, up from 22 percent the previous week.

The two polls follow the testimony of U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and former Bush and Clinton administration counterterrorism adviser Richard Clarke before an independent commission investigating the terrorist attacks.

Ouch.

UPDATE: More on Ressam here. It seems that he was actually a casualty of the war on drugs, as Customs agents, rather than looking for a terrorist, thought he was a smuggler:

They peered in and saw no spare tire. In its place were several green bags that appeared to filled with white powder, as well as four black boxes, two pill bottles and two jars of brown liquid. A drug dealer, perhaps? . . .

Johnson took a sample of the white powder from the trunk to test. Was it heroin, speed, cocaine? Negative on each. As he shook the jars of brown liquid, Noris, who could see Johnson from the patrol car, ducked down to the floor.

Within a couple of days, the inspectors would learn that the brown liquid Johnson had shaken was a powerful, highly unstable relative of nitroglycerin that could have blown them all to bits.

(Emphasis added.) Doesn't sound like this was because of a terrorist alert to me, and it suggests that Clarke is rewriting history again. I doubt he'll do a lot for ABC's reputation.

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