News24.com – 2004-06-09 09:49:24
BERLIN (June 6, 2004) — Former White House counter-terrorism adviser Richard Clarke on Sunday accused members of the US administration of using terror warnings to manipulate voters ahead of the presidential election in November.
Clarke, who resigned last year, said the conflicting assessments of the risk of terror attacks presented by US Homeland Security Department Secretary Tom Ridge and US Attorney General John Ashcroft last week showed how some officials sought to inflate the threat for political gain.
“That was ass-covering, or perhaps, dare I say it, politics in an election year,” said Clarke, who was in Berlin on a book tour to promote his unflattering account of US President George W Bush’s anti-terrorism policies, entitled The Price of Loyalty.
He had been asked at a panel discussion whether frequent terror warnings by the US administration were “just bureaucratic ass-covering”. Clarke said Ashcroft had offered a far more alarmist view compared with Ridge’s remarks “saying ‘We’re going into the summer and we should have heightened security but we have no new intelligence about it.'”
At the end of May, Ashcroft told reporters: “Credible intelligence from multiple sources indicates that al-Qaeda plans to attempt an attack on the United States in the next few months. “This disturbing news shows a particular intention to hit the United States hard.”
The Washington Post later reported that Ridge allies within the Bush administration and members of Congress criticized Ashcroft for failing to co-ordinate that threat information with the White House and Homeland Security.
Clarke has been an outspoken critic of Bush’s anti-terrorism policies ahead of and after the attacks of September 11, 2001. He has accused Bush of failing to pay enough attention to the al-Qaeda threat after he took office in January 2001 and undermining the struggle against terrorism with a “counterproductive” war in Iraq.
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