Friday, March 26, 2004

This has been the week of former White House counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke. It's rare anymore that a public figure does something truly courageous, but Clarke has done just that -- he said what needed to be said.
He apologized for the government's failure to prevent 9/11.

This is a unique event in so many ways. As a former representative of the Clinton administration, an administration known for its disingenuous apologies, Clarke offers sincerity and credibility. As a former representative of the Bush administration, Clarke offers acknowledgement of failure -- something that administration is constitutionally incapable of doing, even when the evidence shows that they've made a terrible error.

Clarke has been smeared in the press, but it's important to point out that no one is contradicting his allegations -- they're attacking his character. The reasons for this are twofold: first, the Bush administration demands unflinching loyalty and destroys the reputations of anyone who criticizes them; and second, Clarke's allegations are true -- the historical record, as well as the accounts of other dissenters from the Bush administration, support what he claims.

In a time of partisan mudslinging, when the US is almost as politically and culturally divided as in the days preceding the Civil War, it's refreshing to see a career public servant who steps out of party lines and tells the honest truth.

Worth nothing is the reaction of the 9/11 families to Clarke's testimony, and the genuinely emotional meeting between them and the counterterrorism czar who failed them after the hearings ended. Clarke is the first to apologize to them, which is insane when you think of the fact that 9/11 occurred three years ago. They deserved better from our government -- from both the Bush people and the Clinton people.

And for having the courage to do that, Richard Clarke has earned himself a place in American history as a heroic whistleblower who stood up to the people in power and told the truth. Let's hope no one forgets.

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