Wes Clark on the Iraq War

June 23, 2007

Closing down Guantanamo

Filed under: Interviews, Investigations, Prisons, Terrorism — faithinwes @ 6:11 pm

MSNBC Joe Scarborough 6/22/07

Joe Scarborough: Hey, so, there’s news. I’m, I’m just so confused, and you know, I don’t usually get confused, but I’m so confused by all the news coming out of the White House. We, we hear an Associated Press report that there’s going to be an announcement that Gitmo is going to be closed down, and then we have a report that the White House is backing off of it. They were supposed be meeting today to discuss the closing down of Gitmo, and now we have a report that the Guantanamo meeting was cancelled after the report came out that the closure was near.

Thank God, THANK GOD, MSNBC got General Wesley Clark on their side. He’s going to tell us what’s really going on. General!

Thank you so much for being with us!

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Nice to be with you, Joe.

Joe Scarborough: What in the world’s going on? Are they going to shut this thing down or not?

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Well, I think that- I, I never guess what’s going on in the White House. It’s unpredictable, but I do think it’s a, it’d be a very good thing to get the Guantanamo monkey off the back of the United States. I’d like to see it turned over to an international organization, someone who can process those people in accordance with international law and international standards, get the ones that aren’t terrorists home, the ones that are terrorists, get them prosecuted, lay the evidence out and take it off the backs of the United States and especially off the United States Armed Forces.

Joe Scarborough: So, who do we trust to do that?

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Well, I think you can set up an organization. I think you could go to NATO to start with. I think you’d get a coalition of the willing. I think you’d get some Islamic countries in there so that they can’t duck the responsibility, so to speak, of, of the people that are there. I think it could all be put together, if there’s a will to do it.

Joe Scarborough: So, do we, do we take a lead role in it or, or do we just sit back and are we one among several countries that are all equals?

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Well, I think we have to do our share, but our share shouldn’t be guarding. It shouldn’t be providing the facility. We should set some timelines to say there’s a goal to get it closed down and people transferred by a certain date. Our role’s more to provide evidence at this point, and of course we got to protect our classified information, but there’s a way to sanitize it and provide it out there so the other nations can make a judgment about their own citizens. (more…)

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June 21, 2007

“The American people have a right to know, they have a need to know”

Filed under: Afghanistan, Interviews, Media, Military Commentator, Terrorism — faithinwes @ 3:25 pm

Countdown with Keith Olbermann 6/20/07

Keith Olbermann: On the other issue that has been made and raised, the argument that’s being made and criticizing news organizations for covering, at all, insurgent attacks, terrorist bombings in Iraq, in Afghanistan, that covering them only helps the insurgents. What…what’s your assessment of that charge?

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Well I think it’s an absurd charge. I think the truth is that the word on military successes and defeats is important in a democracy and that word’s going to get out whether a TV station covers it or not.

And the American people have a right to know, they have a need to know and the idea that you could sort of decide not to show this because it might be discouraging or whatever, that’s the kind of…that’s the kind of censorship that undercuts faith not only in news organizations, but in governments. We’ve always believed in the truth. I think if you lay out the truth, if your policies are sound, if your motivations are correct, if your policies are honorable and legal, then the truth is the best policy. If it isn’t, if those aren’t your policies, maybe you’ve got something to hide.

Keith Olbermann: Amen. Let me ask you…this is more of a philosophical question, an assessment question than a breaking news question, but given that we had to do that, that there was an attack looking for an al Qaeda high-level target on the loose in Afghanistan, not to mention bin Laden and it’s 5 ½ years after the attacks of 9/11, and the start of a war in Afghanistan, do you think we are devoting our resources as we should when it comes to fighting what the administration calls the war on terror?

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Absolutely not. It’s…it’s been mistaken almost from the beginning. We went into Afghanistan as we should. We did not have a plan for success in Afghanistan to get al Qaeda. We didn’t want to put the American troops in because the administration was already planning on going after Iraq even though there was no connection established between 9/11 and Saddam Hussein. So, we short-changed the operation in Afghanistan repeatedly. It was an economy of force mission, now we’re really committed in Iraq, the Taliban is coming back because basically, in that part of the world, there are forces and people that don’t want to see the Americans there. When you go in there, you have to have a plan for success, you have to get your success and you have to get out again. You cannot occupy these countries, it’s…we wouldn’t want to be occupied in America, either. And, so why we think we can stay there year after year and build friends, it’s backwards. You’ve got to have a plan for success at the outset, you’ve got to have enough resources to bring that success together and then you’ve got to turn it over to local people. That’s…we haven’t done that. In the meantime, al Qaeda’s using all our efforts as a recruiting incentive and so they’re training against us, they’re recruiting people against us…it’s, it’s trouble.

Keith Olbermann: Retired General Wesley Clark. We’re proud to have you with us on MSNBC and particularly on Countdown. We look forward to talking with you again soon, sir.

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Thank you, Keith.

June 18, 2007

“We have to find the right way to back out of this”

Filed under: Budget, Diplomacy, Interviews, Military Force, Occupation, Strategy, Withdrawal — faithinwes @ 3:26 pm

Ed Schultz radio show 6/18/07

Ed Schultz: General Wesley Clark here on the Ed Schultz Show. The website is securingamerica.com. General Clark, if things won’t improve by September, this means that the Congress is going to have to go back and fund, continually fund these operations. Is that correct?

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Well, I think even if it does improve in September, the Congress is going to continue to have to fund the operations.

Ed Schultz: We’re going to have this vote all over again then. Aren’t we?

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: We’re going to have this vote for the next few years unless something catastrophic happens that causes us to reconsider and pull the plug on the whole operation.

Ed Schultz: If we were to do that, pull the plug on the whole operation, what’s your prediction as to what would happen, General Clark?

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: We’d, um, we, we’d have a hard time disengaging from the region, Ed. We’ve got security responsibilities to the Gulf States. We’ve got Security interests with Israel. We’ve got friends in Lebanon. We’ve got many different issues that are effected by the outcome in Iraq. So, If we pull the plug on the operation, you could probably physically remove the troops in six to eight months in good order.

If you saw a larger war go, would you want to be back in? How ’bout if you saw Al Qaeda taking over provinces? How ’bout if you saw the collapse in the West Bank and aid flowing in through Syria from Iran and a corridor being cut across Iran, across Iraq by the Iranians to facilitate that, and you saw widespread deployment of, let’s say, Iranian Revolutionary Guards inside Iraq, would you want to be back in at that point? And so, I, there’s so many unpredictables in this that I’m one of those who’s counseled against just getting frustrated and pulling the plug.

I wouldnt’ve gone in in the first place. It was a huge strategic mistake. We have to find the right way to back out of this.

Ed Schultz: And doing that is almost impossible in your opinion. So, we’re, we’re in it, and we got to make the best of it somehow. And the best thing we can have happen is for the Iraqis to a-accept what’s going on governmentally and get involved in the process and, and Americans are feeling like that’s a pipe dream at this point. How could we have gotten all of this so wrong? And I’m just hearing you, General, say that, you know, we’re so, we’re into this so thick it- there are just few options that we have at this point.

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: And with each succeeding month, the options diminish. The people that we could talk to on the ground in Iraq are compromised. The leverage that we hold over Iran erodes. The strength of the Israeli position weakens. With each successive month, we’ve been getting weaker. Now, the Saudis put in a good strategic effort over the last eight months to try to salvage this. It hasn’t worked.

Ed Schultz: What about arming Sunni insurgents to fight Al Qaeda? Is that a good idea?

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Well, that’s one of the issues, and certainly if we can strengthen localities inside Iraq, and if we can be sure they’re actually fighting Al Qaeda, that’s a good thing. But what if, in doing that, they’re bringing Al Qaeda in and not simply strengthening the resistance to Al Qaeda? That’s what we don’t know about. Apparently, some of the weapons that were-, I’m told that some of the weapons that ended up in the refugee camps in Lebanon, that the Lebanese Army’s been fighting against, because the weapons were being used by Al Qaeda in Lebanon, those weapons were paid for as part of the Saudi initiative to arm the Sunnis to fight against Iran.

Ed Schultz: What a mess. What an absolute mess.

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: It is a mess. It’s a really difficult set of issues.

March 3, 2007

9/20/01: “We’ve made the decision we’re going to war with Iraq.”

AMY GOODMAN: Now, let’s talk about Iran. You have a whole website devoted to stopping war.

GEN. WESLEY CLARK: Www.stopiranwar.com.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you see a replay in what happened in the lead-up to the war with Iraq — the allegations of the weapons of mass destruction, the media leaping onto the bandwagon?

GEN. WESLEY CLARK: Well, in a way. But, you know, history doesn’t repeat itself exactly twice. What I did warn about when I testified in front of Congress in 2002, I said if you want to worry about a state, it shouldn’t be Iraq, it should be Iran. But this government, our administration, wanted to worry about Iraq, not Iran.

I knew why, because I had been through the Pentagon right after 9/11. About ten days after 9/11, I went through the Pentagon and I saw Secretary Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz. I went downstairs just to say hello to some of the people on the Joint Staff who used to work for me, and one of the generals called me in. He said, “Sir, you’ve got to come in and talk to me a second.” I said, “Well, you’re too busy.” He said, “No, no.” He says, “We’ve made the decision we’re going to war with Iraq.” This was on or about the 20th of September. I said, “We’re going to war with Iraq? Why?” He said, “I don’t know.” He said, “I guess they don’t know what else to do.” So I said, “Well, did they find some information connecting Saddam to al-Qaeda?” He said, “No, no.” He says, “There’s nothing new that way. They just made the decision to go to war with Iraq.” He said, “I guess it’s like we don’t know what to do about terrorists, but we’ve got a good military and we can take down governments.” And he said, “I guess if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem has to look like a nail.”

So I came back to see him a few weeks later, and by that time we were bombing in Afghanistan. I said, “Are we still going to war with Iraq?” And he said, “Oh, it’s worse than that.” He reached over on his desk. He picked up a piece of paper. And he said, “I just got this down from upstairs” — meaning the Secretary of Defense’s office — “today.” And he said, “This is a memo that describes how we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.” I said, “Is it classified?” He said, “Yes, sir.” I said, “Well, don’t show it to me.” And I saw him a year or so ago, and I said, “You remember that?” He said, “Sir, I didn’t show you that memo! I didn’t show it to you!” (more…)

February 20, 2007

“Al Qaeda’s got a stronger base area now”

Filed under: Afghanistan, Interviews, Military Commentator, Terrorism — faithinwes @ 3:19 pm

Fox & Friends, February 20, 2007

Brian Kilmeade: You heard it on Fox: President Bush announced that a, a NATO-led offensive will take place this spring in Afghanistan rather than be on the defensive, but with reports of Al Qaeda actively rebuilding in Pakistan, what can we do about it?

-snip

Brian Kilmeade: Do you take this report as credible – what was in the New York Times yesterday – saying that the Bin Laden and Zawahiri have reaffirmed control. They’ve opened up camps right in the Northern Waziristan area.

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Yes, because there, there has been movement in this direction for some time. In September, when Musharraf signed the agreement and basically let the tribes and, and Taliban alone, he lo- He had 70,000 people, 70,000 troops in the area. He’d had tremendous losses in the area. He was unable to get a grip on it, and he basically cut a deal, and they declared a truce. And after that, all the sort of mechanics of terrorism have come up and taken root, and they’re more visible now. They were there before, but Al Qaeda’s got a stronger base area now.

Gretchen Carlson: Yeah, because Musharraf is in a no-win situation in his own country. He has the people of his country-

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: He is.

Gretchen Carlson: -who don’t want him to have the fight along side with the Western, you know, with President Bush. So, what are we going to do about the situation there, because you have Karzai and Musharraf who don’t like each other, and how long can this continue without having complete unrest?

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Well it’s, -i-it’s going to have complete unrest, and we’ve got to work this as a classic insurgency situation inside Afghanistan.

Gretchen Carlson: Mm hm.

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: So, that means you’ve got to have the, what they call PRTs, the reconstruction teams out there that are military and economic and political everywhere, and they’ve got to stay in there and work the people, because the Taliban are coming back at night. They’re working through the relationships. And then, we’ve got to use our NATO allies to put more pressure on Musharraf. He’s got to tighten back down and make it more difficult. You’ll never cut it off, but you’ve got to make it more difficult so the people themselves-

Gretchen Carlson: Right.

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: -got to the Karzai government instead of relying on the Taliban.
Securing America

February 17, 2007

“We want people to take a stand”

Filed under: Congress, Interviews, Military Commentator — faithinwes @ 3:18 pm

Fox Big News Weekend 2/17/07

Julie Banderas:  Alright, let’s talk about today’s resolution. Yesterday the House votes then today the Senate votes.  Basically you know the Democrats are trying to express their discontent with the President’s war plan.  Many Republicans are even crossing the aisle with them, but nonetheless, it almost seems that yesterday and today made no difference because it seems we’re nowhere further than we were a week ago.

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK:  Well I think that what you got is a sense of the Congress.  Both houses of Congress – the United States House of Representatives and the Senate voted against the concept of the President’s surge.  I think that’s very significant.  That reflects the results of the election.  That’s what the American people asked Congress to do.  The election was a referendum on the war and the American people were unhappy, didn’t feel it was going well; Congress is reflecting their opinions so I think it’s significant.

Julie Banderas:  Okay.  And…and uh, Hillary today, among many other politicians had to kind of stop her schedule and go to DC to make this vote.  Do you think it was all worth it, before I let you go?

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK:  I think it’s important that our elected representatives get on record for what they stand for.  I think this question of Iraq is going to be with us for a long time, we’ve invested a lot of lives and treasure in this and we want to succeed but we want people to take a stand.

Securing America

February 2, 2007

“National Security policy is first and foremost the responsibility of the administration”

Filed under: Congress, Interviews, Military Commentator, Military Force, Strategy — faithinwes @ 3:26 pm

Fox News 2/2/07

WES CLARK: Some of the war’s staunchest supporters are admitting they were wrong. And others now call for poll-tested positions. I speak to you today as the only person who will take this podium before you to actually have done the things we need to succeed in Iraq, Afghanistan, and throughout the world.

Jamie Colby: General Wesley Clark addressing Democrats about political divisions on Iraq and the need for strong leadership. Addressing Democrats at their winter meeting. Foreign policy front and center in the campaign. Joining us now for more on today’s DNC meeting General Wesley Clark. Thanks for being with us General.

WES CLARK: Thank you. It’s good to be with you.

Jamie Colby: You talked about your experience and the fact that you understand how things work in Afghanistan and in Iraq. So would you have ideas you would want to put in place as President?

WES CLARK: Absolutely. Immediately. You see to win in these countries you have to build a whole foundation around the military forces that we’ve committed. It’s not enough to rely on great generals and great soldiers or marines. You’ve got to have the right diplomacy. You’ve got to be able to help governments meet the needs of their people. Sometimes you even have to mediate between quarreling governments in the region. And, actually what’s happened so much in this region over the last five years is that we have relied on our military but we haven’t done the rest of the government actions that need to be done. We haven’t had the strong diplomacy. We haven’t created the means to help the ministries work in these countries and bring government services to people. We haven’t really effected people’s lives in a positive sense and after a while the military impact of our soldiers just wears off.

-snip

Jamie Colby: Yes sir. Today you met with Democratic leaders in an exchange of ideas there. A number of people speaking including yourself. When you think of the Iraq Resolutions, I wanted to ask you why the Democrats have not necessarily gotten behind them. There is some division among the party, is there not?

WES CLARK: I think, many of the Republicans and all of the Democrats are looking for a way to continue to support the troops, but to force the president’s hand so that he gives us a strategy that will bring us success in this mission. Some people believe that a non-binding resolution is the right way to start. Other people believe that more has to be done to put the cards on the table with enough strength to get the president’s attention. But, there should be no mistake about it. National Security policy is first and foremost the responsibility of the administration to propose, and develop, and of course, to execute. In this case, the Congress is very involved in it because that’s the will of the American people. The elections in November were a rejection of the president’s leadership. And especially his leadership in Iraq. He’s come back to the Congress and said more of the same. So there’s a lot of anxiety to change that.

Securing America

June 9, 2006

“We had a full-court press on against Al Qaeda”

Filed under: 9.11, Intelligence, Interviews, Terrorism — faithinwes @ 9:29 pm

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: ‘This- Go back to our view.’ See, they, they, they didn’t want to learn. So, when they came to office- And here’s, here’s a point I want to leave you all with and, and focus on. Look, we knew Osama Bin Laden was a threat. I mean, my troops in Europe were on alert from August on, after those bombings in, in Tanzania and Kenya-

Ben Mankiewicz: Right.

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: -in 1998. We knew that was coming from Al Qaeda. We had a full-court press on against Al Qaeda. Probably should have done more than we did, but we did send Tomahawk missiles in there. I wasn’t in on the planning of that. I don’t know what the considerations were. It wasn’t, you know, my responsibility, and I couldn’t get access to it, but that’s the way it works in the military chain of command. You can’t do everything, but we sure knew about Osama Bin Laden. And we talked to the administration.

My friend Richard Clarke talked very clearly to Condeleeza and others, so did Sandy Berger when there was a transition period and after the 25th of Januray of 2001. And they chose to ignore the advice, the information, and the plans they were given.

They chose to ignore it, because it came from an administration that they didn’t respect. And that ignorance, to my view, constitutes command negligence by the President of the United States for failing to organize our government to take action on the intelligence and warnings we received about a potential threat to the United States that resulted in 9/11.

Cen Uygur: See, I don’t-

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: That’s, that’s the flaw. The Iraq war is a coverup of the failure that lead to 9/11.

Young Turks radio show 6/9/06

March 5, 2006

Evidence of misuse of intelligence clear to Clark

Filed under: 9.11, Intelligence, Interviews, Investigations — faithinwes @ 3:05 pm

The site Patriots Question 9/11 lists General Clark  in its section, “Senior Military, Intelligence, Law Enforcement, and Government Critics of 9/11 Commission Report

General Wesley Clark, U.S. Army (ret) – Former Commanding General of U.S. European Command, which included all American military activities in the 89 countries and territories of Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.  Additionally, Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), which granted him overall command of NATO military forces in Europe 1997 – 2001.  Awarded Bronze Star, Silver Star, and Purple Heart for his service in Viet Nam and numerous subsequent medals and citations.  Graduated valedictorian of his class at West Point. 

  • Video interview ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos 3/5/06 (at 1:57 of the segment) : “We’ve never finished the investigation of 9/11 and whether the administration actually misused the intelligence information it had.  The evidence seems pretty clear to me.  I’ve seen that for a long time.” http://www.youtube.com
  • Bio: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wesley_Clark

September 23, 2002

“Apparently there is no smoking gun evidence”

Filed under: Intelligence, Interviews, Iraq War Resolution (IWR), WMD — faithinwes @ 4:29 pm

Rose: General Wesley Clark is here. From 1997-2000 he was the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe. He led the NATO campaign in Kosovo in 1999. In the updated version of his book “Waging Modern War” he writes about the lessons of Kosovo and the challenges of the military in the post Cold War era and the war on terrorism. I am pleased to have you at this table. Welcome. Great to have you here.

I want to come to this book in a minute, but you, a military man, seem to be urging the President to go slow and not…and to be sure that they have evidence that Saddam has nuclear capabilities or.. or weapons of mass destruction. Too, don’t do it without NATO and don’t do it without the UN.

Clark: Well I am on that side of these issues because well for a lot of reasons, and I think fundamentally it’s a strategic issue for the United States. In other words, what is the greatest threat that we face and what’s the best way to come to terms with it? I think that the greatest threat is still Al Qaida.

We don’t know where Osama bin Ladin is and we don’t really have a good system for combating terrorism. Look, we walloped the Taliban and we know now that most of Al Qaida boogied out of there. Somehow they got over the mountains, they slipped back into Afghanistan and we’re still pursuing them. We know the finances have moved all around through uh Iran…

Rose: Sudan

Clark: and now they’re in Sudan apparently with gold. So I mean there are a lot of things about Al Qaida we don’t know how to beat yet but we’re…we’re very good at using our military power. The problem is that when you use military power, you make mistakes and you create enemies, and you end up then bogged in another situation. So keeping in mind strategic priorities- focus on Al Qaeda. Then, if necessary, you go after Saddam Hussein or his weapons of mass destruction capability. I think it’s high time we force Saddam Hussein to comply with the UN Security Council resolutions. But, in doing that, as always, the use of force should be a last resort, and you should use force only when you have to. We’re just, as far as I can see from the information available, not there yet.

Rose: Have you seen everything everybody else sees, you think?

Clark: No, and the thing I learned in the government was you never know what you don’t know. But…it…. Apparently there is no smoking gun evidence. There’s no indication at this moment that he’s about to (clasps hands) put the nuclear components together, stick them on top of one of his remaining SCUD missiles, and point it in the direction of Israel (unintelligible). And, he’s been trying to develop nuclear weapons for a long time. You know, the CIA said that he was about to get nukes in 6 months. Well that was 1991 and apparently it’s harder to get highly enriched uranium than we think. We’re pretty good at controlling that stuff.

Rose: And the administration seems to worry about the fact that if we wake up and he has them, then it may be too late because he may then use them in blackmail.

Clark: Well I think…..

Rose: So how do you go into that blue-gray area?

Clark: It’s a significant concern and if he has nuclear weapons, it definitely changes the political calculus for the United States and the countries in the region. It’s not just the nuclear blackmail, but what it really does is make it much more difficult for the United States to use its military power in the region, because it means we’re vulnerable to being struck.

He might or might not use these weapons. We don’t know whether we can deter Saddam Hussein or not. But I think everybody agrees that it’s much preferable to stop him before he gets the nuclear weapons.

Rose: Do you believe he would use them based off of what you know and what intelligence you had about him in your prior life? That he would use them in the first strike knowing that it would mean assured destruction of him and the Iraqi people?

Clark: Well I would say not. I would say unlikely. He’s calculating, he’s cunning, he’s a man dedicated to his own survival but there is about him a certain irrational ability- a certain messianic streak that’s reported by people who’ve followed his behavior for years. And you can’t rule out the possibility that he might just that thinking that he was going down or that it was the end of his life or whatever, or that the appointed hour had arrived that he might try to do something dramatic to bring the region to catastrophe.

Charlie Rose, September 23, 2002

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