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.

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

September 5, 2006

The Neo Con: Five Years In

Filed under: 9.11, Afghanistan, Iran, Terrorism — faithinwes @ 1:52 pm

Neil Cavuto: Alright, six days to 9/11, five years since America was attacked by terrorists, proof that the nation is more secure? Depends on who you talk to. Democratic leaders out with a report called “The Neo Con”. It claims that Bush Republicans have failed in the War on Terror.
(video of Harry Reid)

Neil Cavuto: Alright, to General Wesley Clark, right now his thoughts on that, part of this report issued today. General, we haven’t been attacked almost five years. That’s not bad.

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Well, I, I’m delighted that we haven’t, and I hope we’ll never be attacked. The attack on 9/11 occurred on the President’s watch. He took us into a war with Iraq we didn’t have to fight. It’s been used to incentivize recruiting in Al Qaeda. The number of people who are affiliated with Al Qaeda worldwide has more than doubled since 2001. Our Armed Forces are bogged down in Iraq. We haven’t been able to effectively engage with North Korea. We’re hearing the tom-toms beating for war with Iran. I think the American people can judge. This administration’s policy has been a mistake, and he’s not made us safer. He’s left us more vulnerable.

Neil Cavuto: Let me ask you, General, the folks we’re fighting in Iraq right now, if we weren’t fighting them in Iraq right now, where would they be?

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Well those, a lot of those folks who wouldn’t be fighting at all, because what we did is we incentivized a whole generation of young radical people to come and defend Islam against the United States. That’s the foreign terrorists that are there, anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 to 3,000. (more…)

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

June 15, 2004

Lack of decisive evidence tying Saddam Hussein to al Qaeda

Filed under: 9.11, Terrorism — faithinwes @ 11:06 pm

BLITZER: Despite that and the lack of decisive evidence tying Saddam Hussein to al Qaeda, polls have shown that a large number of Americans still believe Saddam Hussein was, in some way, connected to 9/11.

As the countdown continues to the June 30 handover in Iraq, the violence continuing as well. The Bush administration finding itself grappling with a growing terror threat also now in Saudi Arabia. Joining us now with his take on all these developments, the retired NATO supreme allied commander, General Wesley Clark. He is a former Democratic presidential candidate. He’s joining us from Little Rock. General Clark, thanks very much for joining us.

First of all, if you were president of the United States right now, what would you do if a videotape shows up showing this American being held, Paul Johnson, in Saudi Arabia and this demand from these terrorists saying you have 72 hours to start releasing prisoners in Saudi Arabia, otherwise, he’s dead. What do you do?

WESLEY CLARK (D), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We’ve been working for the last three years for Saudi Arabia to get a better grip on its own internal security. And I’m sure that there are people over there now from the FBI and from the Central Intelligence Agency trying to help the Saudis find the group. That’s the key. Find the group. No negotiations.

BLITZER: But you got 72 hours now. And clearly, finding that group in the next 72 hours or start to comply with the demands. That’s a very, very difficult conundrum.

CLARK: Well, I can’t imagine any American administration releasing terrorists in response to this kind of hostage taking.

BLITZER: So your policy would be you don’t negotiate with terrorists?

CLARK: Absolutely not.

BLITZER: That’s been the consistent U.S. policy. You would stick by it. What do you make of this other issue now before the president, handing over Saddam Hussein to the Iraqis after the June 30 of sovereignty?

CLARK: Well, frankly, I’m not sure I understand that issue. Saddam Hussein is going to be tried. He’s not going to be released. The government there has said they expect to bring him under trial. I’m not quite sure what we have here is a problem of physical security. In other words, how to keep Saddam Hussein from being assisted to escape, or whether it’s a problem that we don’t trust the interim Iraqi government to have the legal knowledge or the will to actually bring Saddam Hussein to trial. It’s not clear. This is a problem that suddenly has appeared that one would have thought it would have been discussed and covered long ago.

BLITZER: I think one of the problems is that, if you hand him over to the Iraqis, can you guarantee, let’s say, his safety? Maybe somebody will simply want to kill him before there is any trial.

CLARK: Well, you know, we’re handing the country back to the Iraqis. They’re supposed to have complete sovereignty. The securing of Saddam Hussein is far less difficult than trying to secure the country. Surely, in this vast country with all the people we’ve trained they can put together a team and find a location for Saddam Hussein, even if it involves asking a neighboring country to help secure Saddam Hussein.

BLITZER: The president and the vice president continue to insist there was a link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. You heard that in the piece we just had on the air. What do you say?

CLARK: Well, we know from the evidence that’s been released that there were communications back 10, 12 years ago. We know, as far as we can tell, those communications never went anywhere. They never established a linkage to 9/11. And they never established a linkage in which Saddam Hussein was giving orders or taking orders or providing material support to al Qaeda. It wouldn’t surprise me if lots of intelligence agencies from lots of countries around the Middle East have talked to people especially in the early ’90s who were associated with al Qaeda.

That’s what intelligence agencies do. They locate people sometimes on the other side of the issue and figure out who they are and what they stand for and they maintain relationships with them as a way of protecting themselves. So I don’t think that I could make too much and I could not agree with the position that President Bush and Vice President Cheney have taken.

And I particularly couldn’t use it as a pretext to justify the invasion of Iraq. I think the record shows that the invasion of Iraq was a distraction from the war on terror.

CNN Wolf Blitzer Reports 6/15/04

January 25, 2004

“Osama bin Laden still on the loose because we were distracted”

Filed under: 9.11, Terrorism — faithinwes @ 11:19 pm

MR. RUSSERT: You have talked extensively about leadership in your campaign as a former military general, and particularly on the issue of terrorism, this is how the Concord Monitor up here captured some of your comments: “Wesley Clark said the two greatest lies of the last three years are that Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks couldn’t have been prevented and that another attack is inevitable. He said a Clark administration would protect America in the future. `If I’m president of the United States,’ Clark said, `we are not going to have one of these incidents.'” How can you make an ironclad guarantee like that?

GEN. CLARK: I didn’t make a guarantee. What I said is, “We’re going to do a lot better.” What’s happened is this administration did not do everything it could have before 9/11 to prevent the terrorist strikes. And after 9/11, President Bush has taken us into a war that we didn’t have to fight, a war in Iraq, and we were still at threat condition orange over the holiday period because Osama bin Laden still on the loose because we were distracted. We’re going to really put the emphasis on going after Osama bin Laden, strengthening homeland security and making America safe. We’re the strongest nation in the world and we don’t have to live in fear.

MR. RUSSERT: Much of the planning about September 11 by the hijackers probably occurred during the Clinton administration. Isn’t that fair?

GEN. CLARK: Well, it goes back a long way, but here’s what’s striking about this. When the Bush administration came to office, they were warned that the biggest threat to the United States was the threat of terrorism and Osama bin Laden. And yet on the 10th of September there was still no U.S. government plan as to how to deal with it. Yet, a lot of effort had been invested in things like national missile defense. All of the experts on the outside and the inside kept telling this administration, “Don’t get sucked into national missile defense. Your biggest threat is terrorism.” And, yet, they didn’t want to listen. For them, it was a political issue. It was ideological. It was national missile defense rather than terrorism.

MR. RUSSERT: Well, General, when you say we are not going to have one of these incidents, are you giving false assurances to people that you can prevent another terrorist attack?

GEN. CLARK: I think when the administration says that another attack is inevitable, what they’re saying is, “We don’t want to be blamed,” and what I believe is that leadership has to stand up and be made accountable. This administration should be held accountable for not doing everything it could to protect America before 9/11. And I will do everything I can to protect America.

MR. RUSSERT: But if you became president, there could be another attack?

GEN. CLARK: No one can guarantee that there can’t be another attack. But what I can guarantee is that we’ll do everything possible to keep this country safe from terrorism, and we won’t use fear as a–in a political agenda.

Meet the Press 1/25/04

Clark accuses Cheney of putting politics before security

Filed under: 9.11, Intelligence, Investigations, Terrorism — faithinwes @ 7:19 pm

Clark, former supreme allied commander of NATO, said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” that by endorsing the Weekly Standard article, Cheney was essentially confirming the contents of leaked classified documents.

“Now, the standard rule on anything like this is, never to confirm it because if you confirm something like this, you’re giving away maybe sources and methods,” Clark said.

“The vice president said that that was the best explanation for the connection between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. So he’s essentially using a leaked memo to confirm his predisposition to believe that Saddam had something to do with 9/11. That’s playing politics with national security. It risks our intelligence community, our sources and methods; it’s wrong.”

Clark’s senior foreign policy adviser, James Rubin, a former assistant secretary of state in the Clinton administration, said Clark was calling for an investigation by the White House legal counsel into Cheney’s statements to the Rocky Mountain News.

“The president should call the vice president on the carpet and ask him why he was confirming a highly classified document in public and ask his legal department to see if any damage was done and what the appropriate response for government should be,” Rubin said.

-snip

Source: Scripps Howard News Service 1/25/04

December 15, 2003

Never Leave a Soldier Behind By General Wesley K. Clark

Filed under: Military Force, OpEds, Strategy, Terrorism, Troops & Vets — faithinwes @ 1:24 am

When you fight a war, there is one rule you always follow: you never, ever leave a soldier behind. For three years now, George W. Bush has been leaving our soldiers in the lurch and leaving our veterans behind. If you want to support the military as President Bush says he does, you don’t send troops into a war without an exit strategy, and you always take care of those soldiers who fought in earlier wars. Mr. Bush has failed on both scores.

First, I opposed the war in Iraq, but I am willing to give credit where credit is due. Mr. Bush was right to go to Baghdad on Thanksgiving Day. But he should have brought more than the turkey stuffing. He should have brought a success strategy to Iraq, so that we can end the occupation, protect our troops and eventually bring them home.

On September 11, 2001 terrorists attacked America. At first, the Administration went after the terrorists and their state sponsors in Afghanistan. I applauded that effort and, like many Americans, I was encouraged by President Bush’s determination. But then something happened — a regular bait-and-switch. Instead of pursuing Osama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda network, Mr. Bush turned his focus on Iraq and went after Saddam Hussein.

Now we’re in a mess in Iraq. We should be reducing our vulnerability to terrorism, but the Bush Administration has committed our troops and treasure to a misguided war. Saddam Hussein is a villain. We all know that. But he did not arrange to fly those planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Al Qaeda did. And Al Qaeda cells continue to threaten our society. This is not a good strategy for winning the war on terror.

After 9/11, the world stood with the United States in sympathy and solidarity. Today, our country is viewed as a bully. It didn’t have to be that way. (more…)

October 10, 2002

“Lack of a long-range plan for the chaos that would ensue”

Filed under: Project for a New American Century (PNAC), Strategy, Terrorism — faithinwes @ 9:33 pm

“Reflections on U.S. Policy Towards Iraq”

By Michael McPhee

ClarkWesley K. Clark, retired general of the US Army, was the distinguished guest of the John W. McCormack Institute of Public Affairs on October 10. Over seventy-five people came to hear the former Supreme Allied Commander of Europe discuss his reflections on the US policy towards Iraq.

Edmund Beard, director of the McCormack Institute, introduced Clark and gave an account of the general’s impressive military career, which includes command at every level from company to division. Clark is both a soldier and scholar, graduating first in his 1966 class of the United States Military Academy at West Point and holding a master’s degree in philosophy, politics, and economics from Oxford University, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar.

Clark, who was the NATO commander in charge of the effort to stop the crisis in Kosovo in 1999, spoke of his experiences in Bosnia, where he learned first-hand about the chaos of unleashed ethnic hatreds. It is exactly this chaos that has led Clark to raise a voice of concern over possible conflict with Iraq. Clark believes that a military war with Iraq could be over in as little as two weeks. He is concerned with the lack of a long-range plan for the chaos that would ensue among the Kurds, Shiites, and those factions loyal to Saddam Hussein, which Clark believes would play out on a much larger scale than what took place in Bosnia.

Clark spoke of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, seeing it as a time when the U.S. lost its adversaries and failed in its foreign policy strategy. At that time there were two groups in Washington debating the role of the military; one group saw the military merely as the fighter and winner of wars; another group, led by Madeleine Albright, saw the military as a useful tool in aiding third world countries.

In comparing the two most recent presidencies, Clark described the Clinton administration as pursuing a foreign policy of engagement and reaching out as opposed to the Bush administration’s preemption policy and striking out.

Clark, when asked where the push to invade Iraq was coming from, rejected the idea that it was the military that wanted to go to war. He blamed civilian advisors to President Bush who were pushing in that direction.

Clark stated his view that terrorism is the problem, not Iraq. He also voiced concern that Americans not blame Islam, and spoke of his belief that US interests are best served in reaching out to those who do not embrace the ideals of radical Islam.

University of Massachusettes, 10/10/02

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