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Clarke: Charlie Black Basically Said To Terrorists, ‘Yes You Can Manipulate Our Politics, Come And Do It’

By Amanda Terkel

"Clarke: Charlie Black Basically Said To Terrorists, ‘Yes You Can Manipulate Our Politics, Come And Do It’"

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Yesterday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) distanced himself from chief strategist Charlie Black’s comments that a terrorist attack would be a “big advantage” to the McCain campaign. “If he said that, and I do not know the context, I strenuously disagree,” McCain told reporters.

Later in the day on MSNBC, former counterterrorism adviser Richard Clarke told Keith Olbermann that if McCain was serious in his outrage, he should fire Black immediately. He also criticized Black for basically encouraging terrorists such as Osama bin Laden to manipulate American politics:

CLARKE: Well, Charlie Black knows a lot about politics but he doesn’t know much about terrorism. If he did, he would know that Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and all the al Qaeda leadership, watch U.S. politics very closely. We’ve even had cases where in interviews, bin Laden quoted opinion polls from European public opinion polls.

So, yes, they understand that they can manipulate politics as they tried to in the Spanish election with the attacks there. And to say, “Yes, you can manipulate our politics, come and do it,” is an invitation that the McCain campaign shouldn’t be anywhere near.

Watch it:

Unfortunately, conservatives are often putting out such invitations. Last week, former U.N. ambassador John Bolton said that if Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) is elected president, the United States would “simply have more embassy bombings, more bombings of our warships like the Cole, more World Trade Center attacks.” Rep. Steve King (R-IA) claimed that such a result would lead to terrorists declaring “victory in this war on terror.”

Transcript:

RICHARD CLARKE, FMR. NSC COUNTERTERROR CHIEF: It`s great to be here, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Did Charlie Black just erase any remaining line between counterterrorism and scaring people for political gain?

CLARKE: I think that line was erased in 2004. It`s been erased in every election since 9/11. Now, what Charlie Black did is reveal their thinking, not that they wanted terrorist attack, but that they do plan to run by scaring us. They`re using the same playbook they`ve been using for years because it works.

And if McCain is sincere in saying that he`s shocked, that there`s gambling going on in his casino, then he ought to part with Charlie Black. I mean, Charlie Black ought to be gone tomorrow morning so that we can say, once and for all, that this campaign is not going to be a campaign about fear and about saying that one guy is soft on terrorism and if you vote for him, there will be another terrorist attack; all the sorts of things that we`ve heard in the past.

OLBERMANN: Yes, just somebody once saying, this is not going to be a mixture of politics, presidential politics and the necessary counterterrorism because this is the darkest part of it. You can argue the politics forever and blame game forever, but — the darkest part of this, I think, and I`d like your opinion on it, is that we`re necessarily faced with, if there are any legitimate warnings or any plots that come up between now and November, they now have to be seen through the prism of what Black has just said.

CLARKE: Well, that`s right. And the fact that we now know from Tom Ridge and others, that when there were threats released in 2004, well, they were largely exaggerated and blown up. So, we`re now in the situation where the American people won`t believe a warning, if there were a real one — but McCain can stop all of that. He can stop talking about Hamas has endorsed Obama; he can stop all of this sort of innuendoes and go to the issues-based campaign he said he was going to do.

And the way he does that is by tomorrow morning announcing the resignation of Charlie Black and saying that he wants to run on the issues and not as the “scare candidate,” not as the scaremonger and not as the scarecrow. [...]

CLARKE: Well, Charlie Black knows a lot about politics but he doesn’t know much about terrorism. If he did, he would know that Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and all the al Qaeda leadership, watch U.S. politics very closely. We’ve even had cases where in interviews, bin Laden quoted opinion polls from European public opinion polls.

So, yes, they understand that they can manipulate politics as they tried to in the Spanish election with the attacks there. And to say, “Yes, you can manipulate our politics, come and do it,” is an invitation that the McCain campaign shouldn’t be anywhere near.

‹ What’s Arabic For ‘Always At War’?

FLASHBACK: McCain Declared Osama Bin Laden Threats Are ‘Very Helpful’ To Bush’s Campaign ›

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