'Violated a Serious Trust' -- Did We?

This is a partial transcript of "Special Report with Brit Hume", March 24 that has been edited for clarity.

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BRIT HUME, HOST: As Jim Angle reported earlier, today's version of former White House adviser, Richard Clarke (search) says what the Bush administration did about Al Qaeda differs from what he said in a briefing he gave reporters in August of 2002. Here are some extended excerpts from that briefing.


RICHARD CLARKE: "...the first point, I think the overall point is there was no plan on Al Qaeda that was passed from the Clinton administration to the Bush administration.

Second point is that the Clinton administration had a strategy in place, effectively dating from 1998. And there were a number of issues on the table since 1998. And they remained on the table when that administration went out of office. Issues like, aiding the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, changing our Pakistan policy, changing our policy toward Uzbekistan. And in January 2001, the incoming Bush administration was briefed on the existing strategy. They were also briefed on these series of issues that had not been decided on in a couple of years.

And the third point is the Bush administration decided then, in late January, to do two things. One, vigorously pursue the existing policy, including all of the lethal, covert action findings, which we've now made public to some extent. And the point is, while this big review was going on, there were still in effect, the lethal finding were still in effect.

The second thing the Bush administration decided to do is to initiate a process to look at those issues which had been on the table for a couple of years and get them decided.

So, Point 5, that process which was initiated in the first week in February, decided in principle in the spring, to add to the existing Clinton strategy and to increase CIA resources. For example, for covert action, five-fold to go after Al Qaeda. The sixth point, the newly appointed deputies -- and you had to remember, the deputies didn't get into office until late March, early April.

The deputies then tasked the development of the implementation details of these new decisions that they were endorsing, and sending out to the principals.

Over the course of the summer, the last point, they developed implementation details. The principals met at the end of the summer, approved them in their first meeting, changed the strategy by authorizing the increase in funding five-fold, changing the policy on Pakistan, changing the policy on Uzbekistan, changing the policy on Northern Alliance assistance. And then changed the strategy from one of rollback with al Qaeda over the course of five years. Which it had been, to a new strategy that called for the rapid elimination of al Qaeda. That is in fact the timeline."


HUME: As the questioning of Richard Clarke continued this afternoon, former Democratic U.S. Senator Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, a member of the commission, had some strong words for Fox News about making that audiotape public. Here's what he said.


BOB KERREY (D), FRM. NEBRASKA SENATOR: This document of Fox News earlier, this transcript that they had, this is a background briefing. All that it provided background briefings for the press before should beware. I mean Fox should say, occasionally fair and balanced, after putting something like this out because they violated a serious trust.




HUME: All right. Jim Angle is here with me now.

Jim, violated a serious trust, did we?

ANGLE: Well, here's the situation, Brit. Often White House officials speak on background, which means you can attribute it to a senior administration official.

HUME: But no name?

ANGLE: But no name. They do that for all sorts of reasons, often diplomatic niceties because they don't want to refer to another country. You wouldn't want to say Pakistan's a sanctuary for Al Qaeda, for instance, and have it be a White House official, because it sounds like an official pronouncement. In this particular case, this was on background. There was an argument about the sourcing on this. It was five reporters who were on a conference call. At the time, we argued about it. It was the NSC, not Clarke...

HUME: National Security Council.

ANGLE: It was a National Security Council spokesman, who had insisted that it be on background. Clarke himself has spoken publicly about this frequently. The NSC insisted that it be on background at the time, but let us identify him as a counter terrorism official.

HUME: Right. And then you found the tape. What happened?

ANGLE: I found the tape, went to them and said can we lift it? They agonized over it for a while and finally said yes. So the same people that put the restrictions on are the people who lifted the restrictions.

HUME: And we didn't use it until after the other restrictions had been lifted, correct?

ANGLE: That is correct. And all the other reporters who were on that call were also told the restrictions were now lifted.

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