BuzzFlash Reader Commentary
September 27, 2002
Was Time Wrong?
A BuzzFlash Reader Commentary by Chris Neptune
Remember the Time article about the Clinton administration's plans to "roll back" Al Qaeda?
Well, the story is now being dismissed by various right wing sources because of Sandy Berger's recent testimony before the House/Senate intelligence committees. Fox News tells us that Berger "contradicted published reports that the outgoing Clinton administration offered the incoming Bush team a war plan to go after Al Qaeda." http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,63639,00.html
And then of course, Andrew Sullivan eagerly picks it up and runs with it when he asks "Was Time wrong?" and goes on to note that "Sandy Berger says the Clinton administration did not hand over an al Qaeda document to the new Bush administration, as claimed in Time's recent cover-story." (http://www.andrewsullivan.com/)
This all sounds real good when you say it fast, but the problem is that Time never made such a claim. Time's article says that Berger set up a series of 10 briefings by his team for Condoleeza Rice. One of these meetings was the session that dealt with the Al Qaeda threat. The meeting was presented by Richard Clarke and was a breakdown, complete with a power point presentation (one slide was titled: "Response to al Qaeda: Roll back"), of the threat and a list of various proposals on what to do about it.
Which is exactly what Berger said in his recent testimony, according to Bob Somerby. Berger recalls:
"...we used that time very efficiently to convey to my successor the most important information-what was going on and what situations they faced.
Number one among those was terrorism and Al Qaida. And I told that to my successor. She has acknowledged that publicly, so I'm not violating any private conversation. We briefed them fully on what we were doing-on what else was under consideration and what the threat was. I personally attended part of that briefing to emphasize how important that was." http://www.dailyhowler.com/dh092302.shtml
Fox News and Sullivan, of course, don't tell you that part. There was a briefing during the transition, and Al Qaeda was discussed in great length. It was put together in a presentation by Clarke where he presented them with his proposals on how to deal with the threat.
There was never a formal plan handed to them, and Time never made that claim. So when Berger said that "there was no war plan that we turned over to the Bush administration," he was telling the truth.
So was Time magazine.
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