Richard Clarke

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Richard A. Clarke (born 1951) provided national security advice to four U.S. presidents: Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, consulting on issues of intelligence and terrorism, from 1973 to 2003. Clarke's specialties are cyber security, counterterrorism and homeland security. He was the counter-terrorism adviser on the U.S. National Security Council when the September 11 attacks occurred.

He resigned in January of 2003 to work on his book, Against All Enemies, which came out in early 2004. He testified before the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States on March 24, 2004.



Richard Clarke was born in 1951, the son of a Pennsylvania factory worker. He studied at the Boston Latin School and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1972. In 1973, he began work in the Federal Government as an employee in the Department of Defense.

Starting in 1985, Clarke served in the Reagan Administration as Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence. During the presidential administration of George H.W. Bush, he coordinated diplomatic efforts to support the 1990-1991 Gulf War and the subsequent security arrangements. He also advised Madeleine Albright during the Rwanda crisis. His positions inside the government have included:

Since leaving government, Clarke has been an on-air consultant for ABC News and Chairman of Good Harbor Consulting, LLC.

Clarke and his communications with the Bush administration regarding bin Laden and associated terrorist plots targeting the United States were mentioned frequently in National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice's public interview by the 9/11 investigatory commission on April 8, 2004.

According to the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, Clarke gave the final okay for the members of the bin Laden family living in the U.S. to fly to Saudi Arabia on Sept. 14, 2001.


9/11 and the War on Terrorism

  • By invading Iraq, the president has greatly undermined the war on terrorism.
    • 9/11 Congressional Hearings, March 24, 2004
  • Frankly, I find it outrageous that the president is running for re-election on the grounds that he's done such great things about terrorism. He ignored it. He ignored terrorism for months, when maybe we could have done something to stop 9/11. Maybe. We'll never know.
    • 60 Minutes interview, March 21, 2004
  • I welcome these hearings because of the opportunity that they provide to the American people to better understand why the tragedy of 9/11 happened and what we must do to prevent a reoccurrence.

    I also welcome the hearings because it is finally a forum where I can apologize to the loved ones of the victims of 9/11.<p>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.<p>And for that failure, I would ask — once all the facts are out — for your understanding and for your forgiveness.<p>With that, Mr. Chairman, I'll be glad to take your questions.

Book: Against All Enemies

Main article: Against All Enemies

In March 2004, Clarke's published, Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror--What Really Happened (ISBN 0743260244). The book was critical of past and present presidential administrations for the way they handled the war on terror both before and after September 11, but focused much of its criticism on Bush for failing to take sufficient action to protect the country in the elevated-threat period before the September 11, 2001 attacks and for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which Clarke feels greatly hampered the war on terror, and was a distraction from the real terrorists.

Many of the events described in the book were also described by Clarke in his almost 20 hours of testimony under oath before the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (also known as the 9-11 Commission), a portion in its public hearings.

Clarke's testimony and tenor were vigorously attacked by conservatives and the Bush Administration. Some families of the victims of September 11 attacks were very supportive of him, while others felt he was self-aggrandizing and that his criticisms were misplaced. Some 36 family members critical of Clarke signed a letter written by Jim Boyle that stated, "few of the voices of September 11th have been critical of President Bush's campaign advertisements that, in a respectful way, recall the incredible challenges we all faced. These few voices do not speak for us." Opponents of Clarke's book also alleged that he had a bias against Bush, citing an interview in which Clarke stated that he voted for Gore in the 2000 presidential election.


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