Hi. I'm Bill O'Reilly, reporting tonight from Washington. Thanks for watching us.
More blabbing here in the nation's capital. That is the subject of this evening's "Talking Points Memo."
As we opined last night, there is so much spin going on at the 9/11 hearings, even a spider would get dizzy. Everyone did everything they could to catch Usama. Nobody did anything wrong. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
Once again, the truth is that both the Clinton and the Bush administrations, as well as the CIA and the FBI, failed to effectively deal with Al Qaeda (search) before the attack. Period.
Former terror czar and book writer Richard Clarke (search) testified today, but the more I learn about this guy, the more I'm skeptical that he is now using his knowledge for political reasons.
There's no question that Clarke understood the al Qaeda threat, but his words did not get through the bureaucracy of both Clinton and Bush. We have two sound bites for you from Clarke, vis-a-vis Clinton and Bush. First, what he said today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD CLARKE, FORMER COUNTERTERRORISM ADVISER: My impression was that fighting terrorism in general and fighting al Qaeda in particular were an extraordinarily high priority in the Clinton administration. Certainly no higher priority. I believe the Bush administration in the first eight months considered terrorism an important issue, but not an urgent issue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'REILLY: All right. But that was quite different from what Clarke said in August of 2002 when he put forth that once President Bush took office in January, 2001, he stepped up the war against al Qaeda.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
CLARKE: In the first week in February, decided on 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. 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."
(END AUDIO CLIP)
O'REILLY: Rollback under Clinton. Rapid elimination under Bush.
So will the real Richard Clarke please stand up. We've got two sound bites. You just heard them. OK? Something going on here.
By the way, former Democratic Senator Bob Kerrey, a member of the commission, criticized Fox News for using that last sound bite of Clarke. So, Mr. Kerrey, are you looking out for the truth here, sir, or what?
The other thing that makes us suspicious about Clarke is that his publisher has not booked him on "The Factor." It's well known throughout the publishing industry that this program sells books big-time. Even Hans Blix (search) has recently came in here and held his own. Clarke has chosen the soft venues.
Finally, Mr. Clarke has been teaching at Harvard's Kennedy School [of Government] since I attended that institution. I'm curious about how's he presenting himself in the classroom. Does he have an agenda? In a moment, we'll find out.
But summing up, "The Washington Post" (search) editorial today was right. Blaming Bush for 9/11 is unfair and reflects poorly on Clarke. A debate is needed on 9/11, no question, but it must be fair, not driven by personal bitterness.
And that's "The Memo."
The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day
Time now for "The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day."
A theater chain in France is refusing to run Mel Gibson's movie about the death of Jesus, calling it, quote, "fascist propaganda," unquote. Marin Karmitz says he has always fought against fascism, therefore will not show the movie on his screens. Since fascism is a system whereby freedom of expression is denied, Mr. Karmitz may be more associated with it than he realizes.
Ridiculous? For us, of course. But, for France, we don't know what they're doing over there.
Now next week, we hope to have new information for you on the rapper-corporation ties, and it will not be ridiculous.