Richard Clarke: Osama is for Bush

Published October 30, 2004 4:06PM (EDT)

Throughout the campaign Bush officials and right-wing surrogates have bent over backwards to convince the public that al-Qaida is pulling for a Kerry presidency. The debate over the bin Laden "endorsement" could go on ad infinitum, and in some ways fast approaches the absurd. But there are probably few people more qualified than Richard Clarke, the former counterterrorism chief for the Clinton and Bush administrations, to make an educated guess. Last night Clarke told Ted Koppel on ABC's "Nightline" that Osama would prefer to see Bush relected, because a U.S. president aggressively on the war path in the Middle East keeps the al-Qaida recruits lining up and the coffers filling with funds from sympathizers throughout the Muslim world. Clarke also noted bin Laden's mocking of President Bush about the 9/11 attacks. [ed. note: transcription below is War Room's approximation.]

CLARKE: Bin Laden's a smart guy. If he attacks Bush [as he did in the new tape], it moves the American people toward Bush's side.

KOPPEL: Do you think we'll capture bin Laden?

CLARKE: I think we'll get him eventually. We could've gotten him in 2001 with the operations at Tora Bora. I know there's a controversy about that, but I was in the [Bush] government then and I know what went down. We let him get away. And now we're paying the price.

By Mark Follman

Mark Follman is Salon's deputy news editor. Read his other articles here.

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