Bush ‘failed to act’ on terrorism

Richard Clarke, who has worked as the National Security Advisor for every US government since the Reagan era, said the leader virtually ignored the threat of al-Qaeda before the September 11 attacks.

Mr Clarke made the charges in his book Against All Enemies, which goes on sale later today in the US, and repeated the claims during an interview on US television.

“I found it outrageous that the president is running for re-election on the grounds that he’s done such great things about terrorism,” he said.

“He ignored it, he ignored terrorism for months, when maybe we could have done something to stop 9/11.”

Mr Clarke was Mr Bush’s top counter-terrorism expert before he resigned in February 2003.

“I think the way he has responded to al-Qaeda, both before 9/11 by doing nothing, and what he’s done after 9/11, has made us less safe,” said Mr Clarke.

He recalled the days after the attacks that brought down the World Trade Centre towers, when Mr Bush ordered him to investigate whether Saddam Hussein was linked in any way.

Despite insisting that it was most likely the work of al-Qaeda, he looked into whether any links existed, and found none.

Mr Clarke also revealed that US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld wanted to bomb Iraq just one day after September 11, insisting the country had a better array of targets than Afghanistan, home to al-Qaeda’s training camps at the time.

The White House has released a point-by-point rebuttal to his accusations.

“The president sought to determine who was responsible for the 9/11 attacks,” said the document.

“Given Iraq’s past support of terror, including an attempt by Iraqi intelligence to kill a former president, it would have been irresponsible not to ask if Iraq had any involvement in the attack.”

Mr Clarke is set to testify this week before the independent commission investigating the 2001 hijacked airplane attacks in New York and Washington that killed around 3,000 people.

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