Politics

Clarke On Iraq War Architects: ‘We Shouldn’t Let These People Back Into Polite Society’

Noting that “prominent Democrats” had ruled out impeachment, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann asked former counterterrorism adviser Richard Clarke on his show last night, what “remedy” there could be for the lies and misinformation highlighted in the new Senate Intelligence Committee reports on the Bush administration’s misuse of pre-war Iraq intelligence.

“Someone should have to pay in some way for the decisions that they made to mislead the American people,” said Clarke. He suggested that “some sort of truth and reconciliation commission” might be appropriate because, he said, we can’t “let these people back into polite society”:

CLARKE: Well, there may be some other kind of remedy. There may be some sort of truth and reconciliation commission process that’s been tried in other countries, South Africa, Salvador and what not, where if you come forward and admit that you were in error or admit that you lied, admit that you did something, then you’re forgiven. Otherwise, you are censured in some way.

Now, I just don’t think we can let these people back into polite society and give them jobs on university boards and corporate boards and just let them pretend that nothing ever happened when there are 4,000 Americans dead and 25,000 Americans grieviously wounded, and they’ll carry those wounds and suffer all the rest of their lives.

Watch it:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2008/06/clarketheylied.320.240.flv]

Unfortunately, as Clarke hints, most of the architects of the Iraq war are still fully embraced by “polite society.”

Some, like President Bush and Vice President Cheney, are still working in the White House. But for many of those who left, “the neocon welfare system” has been generous:

– Last fall, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was named a “distinguished visiting fellow” at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, where he focuses on “issues pertaining to ideology and terror.”

– After a controversial tenure as the president of the World Bank, former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz is a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank.

– Richard Perle, the chairman of Defense Policy Board during the run up to the Iraq war, also landed on the payroll of the American Enterprise Institute, where he is a resident fellow.

Despite their re-emergence into “polite society,” these war architects have largely refused to admit that they lied. In fact, some, like former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Doug Feith, insist that the American people only feel misled about Iraq because “they misremember a lot.”

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Transcript:

OLBERMANN: Democrats, prominent Democrats said today that impeachment was not a remedy to this, but can anyone argue with a straight face, post-Lewinsky that these lies, the blood and treasure that they cost us, don’t deserve some kind of remedy. And is there some other kind of remedy?

CLARKE: Well, there may be some other kind of remedy. There may be some sort of truth and reconciliation commission process that’s been tried in other countries, South Africa, Salvador and what not, where if you come forward and admit that you were in error or admit that you lied, admit that you did something, then you’re forgiven. Otherwise, you are censured in some way. Now, I just don’t think we can let these people back into polite society and give them jobs on university boards and corporate boards and just let them pretend that nothing ever happened when there are 4,000 Americans dead and 25,000 Americans grieviously wounded, and they’ll carry those wounds and suffer all the rest of their lives. Someone should have to pay in some way for the decisions that they made to mislead the American people.

OLBERMANN: Speaking of coming forward, I was wondering if there would be an opportunity to raise this issue with you because he’s so, he was so connected to you in a different context when your first criticisms became known around 2004 before the election, what — in a weird way, is Scott McClellan’s book kind of the passage way from this being a theoretical discussion to almost a text book saying how they managed to sell us this garbage?

CLARKE: Well, Scott McClellan’s book is further proof. It sort of the other end of this big Senate Intelligence report. But Scott, also, is asking for forgiveness. You know, he asked me, after he left your program and I bumped into him, literally coming through the revolving door in a hotel. Metaphorically, no really, he was coming through a revolving door and he asked me to forgive him and I think we do have to forgive people who ask for forgiveness. You know, the 9/11 families forgave me my inadequacies in dealing with al Qaeda and I greatly appreciated that. We do need to forgive people, but first they have to admit they lied.