A Graduate Student's View of Richard Clarke

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," March 24, 2004 that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST:  Now for the top story tonight.  [Former Bush administration counterterrorism chief] Richard Clarke (search) and Rand Beers (search), an adviser to John Kerry (search), are announcing a course at Harvard entitled "Post-Cold War Security in Failed States."

Joining us now from Boston is Ed Walters, a student at the Kennedy School [of Government], who is taking that course.

So, Mr. Walters, you know, eight years ago I was sitting right where you are sitting there in the Kennedy school listening to these guys bloviate all over the place.

What is your impression of Richard Clarke, and do you believe that he's being sincere about George Bush?

ED WALTERS, STUDENT, KENNEDY SCHOOL OF GOVERNMENT:  You know, I think in the classroom both of these professors, Rand Beers and Richard Clarke, have been very professional for the most part.

However, this is a case study class, where students ask a lot of questions.  There's a lot of interaction.  So sometimes, you know, when questions are put up about the Bush administration -- for example, one student asked does the Bush administration -- or they asked it, does the White House really know what's going on in Afghanistan?

And he just sort of threw up his hands and sort of, you know, gave that smart guy laugh.

But for the most part I don't think they've come in with a hard line agenda, but it comes out when students ask questions.

O'REILLY:  Yes.  I mean, there's no question Richard Clarke has no use for George W. Bush (search) at all.

But as you just heard and the nation just heard and the world just heard, his comments today about Bush and the Clinton administration's approach to terrorism and his comments two years ago were quite different.

I'd like you to ask that question in the classroom next time Mr. Clarke walks in the room.  But does that, you know -- hearing that disturb you as much as it disturbs me?

WALTERS:  Well, I think it disturbs me because I don't think you're getting a fair and balanced approach here.

I mean, remember Bill Clinton appointed John Deutsche director of the CIA, and what a catastrophe that guy turned out to be and had to be pardoned.  So I think, you know, there are things that both administrations needed to do right.

But, you know, here's a guy -- and Rand Beers, you know, works -- is working for John Kerry in the campaign, but he comes across as a pretty nice guy, open to students' opinions, even when they differ.

I think Professor Clarke is a little bit more direct, a little bit more angry and a little bit more to the point.  So it doesn't surprise me, the type of personality that he has, that if he wasn't getting to see the president as frequently as he would have liked or if he wasn't getting promotioned (ph) or if he feels he was essentially demoted, that he might, you know, lash out.

O'REILLY:  He's taking it personally.  There's no question about it.

Well, nobody is saying that Clarke doesn't know what he's talking about.  I think the record proves that he does.  Under Reagan, under Bush the elder, under Clinton, and under W., Clarke understood the terrorist threat.

He couldn't get through the bureaucracy.  This is, you know, what the problem with our government is.  It's a huge bureaucracy, and people play games, and people have favorites.

But when he comes into the classroom, Clarke, and presents his material to you, Mr. Walters, do you see anything other than a personal grudge against Bush?  Has he become an ideologue of any kind, Clarke?

WALTERS:  No.  I mean, in the classroom we're looking at different case studies.  We're looking at Haiti.  We will be looking at Iraq.  So I think he isn't coming into the classroom trying to push that agenda.

But like I said, there's a lot of students in the class that are former Special Forces officers.  People that have worked within the Clinton administration are students.  So some of those opinions come out, and when he's pushed on it, he's pretty clear that he's not a big fan of President Bush.  It's very obvious.

O'REILLY:  Has he articulated -- has he articulated why, other than to throw up his hands and say, you know, the guy is a bum, he doesn't know what he is doing?  Has he taken the time to explain to the students under questioning what fundamental problem that he sees with President Bush is?  Has he taken the time to do that?

WALTERS:  No.  I think what he does is he makes comments about institutions.  So, for example, the intelligence institution and what needs to happen.  A lot of times when he's talking and not, you know, making a laugh or -- about President Bush, it is more or less about the administration and the White House.

So I don't think he's pushing any agendas that way, but I definitely do feel, yes, that he's -- he's angry.

O'REILLY:  He -- he doesn't like them, but I want you to ask him from me so you don't take the heat about the discrepancies in the two sound bites, number one, and I want you to tell him to come on The Factor, number two.

Mr. Walters, thanks very much.  We appreciate it.

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