Saturday, September 23, 2006

Clinton Smacks Down FOX News' Chris Wallace Over 9/11 Blame

This is good:

President Bill Clinton taped an interview with Fox News' Chris Wallace, which is scheduled to be aired Sunday. He was told the interview would focus on his nonpartisan efforts to raise over $7 billion to combat the world's biggest problems.

Early in the interview, Wallace attempted to smear Clinton with the same kind of misinformation contained in ABC's Path to 9/11. Clinton was having none of it.

ThinkProgress has obtained a transcript of the interview. Here are some highlights:

Wallace repeats Path to 9/11 misinformation, Clinton fights back:

WALLACE: When we announced that you were going to be on Fox News Sunday, I got a lot of email from viewers, and I got to say I was surprised most of them wanted me to ask you this question. Why didn't you do more to put Bin Laden and al Qaeda out of business when you were President? There's a new book out which I suspect you've read called the Looming Tower. And it talks about how the fact that when you pulled troops out of Somalia in 1993, Bin Laden said "I have seen the frailty and the weakness and the cowardice of US troops." Then there was the bombing of the embassies in Africa and the attack on the USS Cole.


WALLACE: ...may I just finish the question sir. And after the attack, the book says, Bin Laden separated his leaders because he expected an attack and there was no response. I understand that hindsight is 20/20.

CLINTON: No let's talk about...

WALLACE: ...but the question is why didn't you do more, connect the dots and put them out of business?

CLINTON: OK, let's talk about it. I will answer all of those things on the merits but I want to talk about the context of which this arises. I'm being asked this on the FOX network... ABC just had a right wing conservative on the Path to 9/11 falsely claim that it was based on the 9/11 Commission report with three things asserted against me that are directly contradicted by the 9/11 Commission report. I think it's very interesting that all the conservative Republicans who now say that I didn't do enough, claimed that I was obsessed with Bin Laden. All of President Bush's neocons claimed that I was too obsessed with finding Bin Laden when they didn't have a single meeting about Bin Laden for the nine months after I left office. All the right wingers who now say that I didn't do enough said that I did too much. Same people.

Clinton takes on Fox News bias:

WALLACE: Do you think you did enough sir?

CLINTON: No, because I didn't get him.

WALLACE: Right...

CLINTON: But at least I tried. That's the difference in me and some, including all the right wingers who are attacking me now. They ridiculed me for trying. They had eight months to try and they didn't... I tried. So I tried and failed. When I failed I left a comprehensive anti-terror strategy and the best guy in the country, Dick Clarke... So you did FOX's bidding on this show. You did you nice little conservative hit job on me. But what I want to know..

WALLACE: Now wait a minute sir...


WALLACE: I asked a question. You don't think that's a legitimate question?

CLINTON: It was a perfectly legitimate question but I want to know how many people in the Bush administration you asked this question of. I want to know how many people in the Bush administration you asked: Why didn't you do anything about the Cole? I want to know how many you asked: Why did you fire Dick Clarke? I want to know...

WALLACE: We asked...


WALLACE: Do you ever watch Fox News Sunday sir?

CLINTON: I don't believe you ask them that.

WALLACE: We ask plenty of questions of ...

CLINTON: You didn't ask that did you? Tell the truth.

WALLACE: About the USS Cole?

CLINTON: Tell the truth.

WALLACE: I... with Iraq and Afghanistan there's plenty of stuff to ask.

CLINTON: Did you ever ask that? You set this meeting up because you were going to get a lot of criticism from your viewers because Rupert Murdoch is going to get a lot of criticism from your viewers for supporting my work on climate change. And you came here under false pretenses and said that you'd spend half the time talking about...

WALLACE: [laughs]

CLINTON: You said you'd spend half the time talking about what we did out there to raise $7 billion dollars plus over three days from 215 different commitments. And you don't care.

Clinton on his priorities and the Bush administration priorities:

CLINTON: What did I do? I worked hard to try and kill him. I authorized a finding for the CIA to kill him. We contracted with people to kill him. I got closer to killing him than anybody has gotten since. And if I were still president we'd have more than 20,000 troops there trying to kill him. Now I never criticized President Bush and I don't think this is useful. But you know we do have a government that thinks Afghanistan is 1/7 as important as Iraq. And you ask me about terror and Al Qaeda with that sort of dismissive theme when all you have to do is read Richard Clarke's book to look at what we did in a comprehensive systematic way to try to protect the country against terror. And you've got that little smirk on your face. It looks like you've so clever...

WALLACE: [Laughs]

CLINTON: I had responsibility for trying to protect this country. I tried and I failed to get Bin Laden. I regret it but I did try. And I did everything I thought I responsibly could. The entire military was against sending special forces into Afghanistan and refueling by helicopter and no one thought we could do it otherwise... We could not get the CIA and the FBI to certify that Al Qaeda was responsible while I was President. Until I left office. And yet I get asked about this all the time and they had three times as much time to get him as I did and no one ever asks them about this. I think that's strange.


Blogger DrewL said...

Nice to see Clinton's not taking any of Wallace's typical Fox News crapola.

The reason Bush didn't catch bin Laden is that it didn't serve his purposes to catch him. The Bush administration's astounding disinterest in bin Laden and the terror threat before 9/11/01 speaks volumes. In fact, the silence during that period, in retrospect, was deafening.

They certainly were interested in Iraq. But how to get the U.S. citizenry riled up about sending troops to topple Saddam in Iraq? Hmmmm. Well, they needed a catalyzing event to stir up a bees nest here. Attacks on foriegn embassies? Nah. Attacks on U.S. military vessels? Nah. Hmmmm. How about an attack on civilians on U.S. soil? A big attack captured on national TV for all to see. Yeah, yeah...that's the ticket. That's sure to get 'em riled up. The world will be our oyster to slurp down in a most satisfying manner.

Done deal.

9/23/2006 3:06 PM  
Blogger Effwit said...


It is so rare these days to see any establishment figure stand up to the rethugs. I too am glad Clinton slapped Wallace around. Now that the transcript is all over the net, I figure that FOX cannot get away with creative editing of the interview.

Blaming Clinton for ignoring Bin Laden when the opposite is true is pretty slimy.

And you are indeed right about the desire of certain elements to have the catalyzing event. Think of how hard it would have been to rally the American people to support the long desired war with Iraq absent a provocation of some kind.

9/23/2006 3:35 PM  
Blogger Meatball One said...

Chris is Mike's son. Where's a condom when u need one.

9/23/2006 6:06 PM  
Blogger Effwit said...


No wonder Mike is now pro-withdrawal.

And not only on Iraq.

9/23/2006 6:25 PM  
Blogger DrewL said...

I don't think there's a lot of love lost between Mike and Chris, either. I think it was last year when they had a fairly public falling out over Mike's critical comments about Bush and company. Chris basically called his father a loon.

In fact, Mike is on the ball. Chris, on the other hand, has turned into a major league turd. Seems that the apple fell quite far from the tree in this case, and landed smack dab in the middle of a cow pasture. Pew!

9/24/2006 12:09 AM  
Blogger Effwit said...


Quite right about the hierarchy of smarts in the family.

If Chris wasn't Mike's son, there is no way he would have the well paid news gig.

9/24/2006 9:25 AM  

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