US Terror Hearing 3
Former terrorism advisor Richard Clarke testifies
Story No.: 413178
Dateline: Washinton DC - 24 March 2004
Date: 03/25/2004 03:14 AM
1. Former White House Counter-terrorism Adviser, Richard Clarke walking into hearing room
2. Clarke sitting down at witness table, pan over to commission members
3. Clarke raises his right hand and takes oath
4. Commission Chair Thomas Kean
5. SOUNDBITE: (English) Richard Clarke, Former White House Counter-terrorism Adviser
"I also welcome the hearings because it is finally a forum where I can apologise to the loved ones of the victims of 9-11. To them who are here in the room, to those who are watching on television, your government failed you. Those entrusted with protecting you failed you, and I failed you. We tried hard, but that doesn't matter because we failed. And for that failure, I would ask, once all the facts are out, for your understanding and your forgiveness."
6. Various of hearing
7. SOUNDBITE: (English) Timothy Roemer, 9/11 Commission Member
"How high a priority was fighting al-Qaida in the Bush administration?"
8. SOUNDBITE: (English) Richard Clarke, Former White House Counter-terrorism Adviser
"I believe the Bush administration, in the first eight months, considered terrorism an important issue but not an urgent issue."
9. Wide shots of hearing
10. SOUNDBITE: (English) John Lehman, 9/11 Commission Member
"The inconsistency between what your promoters are putting out and what you said as late as August 05, you've got a real credibility problem. And because of my real genuine, long-term admiration for you, I hope you resolve that credibility problem, because I hate to see you become totally shoved to one side during a presidential campaign as an active partisan selling a book."
11. SOUNDBITE: (English) Richard Clarke, Former White House Counter-terrorism Adviser
"I've been accused of being a member of John Kerry's campaign team several times this week, including by the White House. The White House has said that my book is an audition for a high level position in the Kerry campaign. So let me say here as I am under oath, that I will not accept any position in the Kerry administration should there be one, on the record, under oath."
12. Mid shot of hearing
13. SOUNDBITE: (English) Richard Clarke, Former White House Counter-terrorism Adviser
"In the 15 hours of testimony, no one asked me what I thought about the president's invasion of Iraq. And the reason I am strident in my criticism of the president of the United States is because by invading Iraq - something I was not asked about by the commission, something I chose to write a lot about in the book - by invading Iraq, the president of the United States has greatly undermined the war on terrorism."
14. Wide pan of hearing
The US government's former top counterterrorism adviser apologised to the families of September 11 victims on Wednesday, saying "your government failed you."
Richard Clarke made the comments just before testifying before a bipartisan commission investigating the September 11, 2001, attacks.
It was the second day of hearings with Bush and Clinton administration officials as the commission tried to determine what went wrong in the efforts to stop al-Qaida before the 9/11 attacks.
Clarke, who has received much attention in recent days for the release of his book, which is highly critical of the Bush administration for its response to al-Qaida, delivered a sharp attack against President Bush and his top advisers.
He said although he continued to describe terrorism as an urgent problem, the Bush administration never treated it that way. In comparison, Clarke said the Clinton administration had "no higher priority" than combating terror.
Clarke said he was so frustrated by the Bush team's lack of urgency that he asked to be reassigned.
But Clarke drew sharp questioning from Republican commissioners, who said his pointed criticism of Bush officials in his book contradicted his praise for the administration's policies as late as fall 2002.
Clarke responded that he was not working for Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry and had no political motivations.
He said the reason he is "strident in his criticism of the president" is because he believes by invading Iraq, Bush "has greatly undermined the war on terrorism."
Earlier in the day, the commission released a written report saying that confusion about the scope of the CIA's authority to kill Osama bin Laden had hampered efforts to eliminate the head of al-Qaida.
But in testimony, CIA Director George Tenet said "decapitating one person - even bin Laden" would likely not have stopped the plot.