As the strategy started taking shape in earnest — a personal request from President Clinton to Sheikh Zayed, Abu Dhabi’s ruler, seeking help to get bin Laden coupled with a $5 billion pan-Arab Afghan Development Fund that would be offered in return for bin Laden taking residence under house arrest in Abu Dhabi, with the possibility of extraditing him later to the United States — Mr. Clarke again scuttled the deal by opting instead for the militaristic solution. He pushed for armed CIA predator drones to hunt bin Laden in the remote mountains of northeastern Afghanistan.
Abu Dhabi was left with a black eye. The Taliban became even more aggressive in allowing al Qaeda to plan and carry out terrorist operations from Afghan soil. Another chance to capture the world’s most notorious terrorist had been lost.
Mr. Clarke’s selective memory serves no interest but his own agenda. He personifies the politicizing of intelligence by pointing fingers during the political high season for failures that not only occurred on his watch but also were due partly to his grand vision he would one day personally authorize a drone operation to kill bin Laden.
Mr. Clarke, as he testifies today, should remember he served at the pleasure of the American people. He was appointed to defend us against the very terrorists he repeatedly assessed inaccurately. A grateful nation recognizes the difficulty of his task but we ask that he stick to facts rather than inject vitriol and untruths into a debate that must yield answers to help protect our children in the future.
Mansoor Ijaz is chairman of Crescent Investment Management in New York.
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