November 22, 2004


Scheuer v. Clarke: Why Michael Scheuer and Richard Clarke don't have nice things to say about one another. (Matthew Continetti, 11/22/2004, Weekly Standard)

MICHAEL SCHEUER doesn't have many friends. Former head of the CIA's bin Laden unit and author, under the pseudonym Anonymous, of Through Our Enemies' Eyes and Imperial Hubris, Scheuer has clashed with the likes of the late John O'Neill (who was the FBI's point man on terrorism in the 1990s, and died in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001), Sandy Berger (national security adviser under President Clinton), and former CIA Director George Tenet. Scheuer's conflicts with his employers grew so heated, in fact, that two weeks ago he left the agency forever. In Imperial Hubris, Scheuer criticizes the Bush administration, to be sure, but also senior intelligence officials, Clintonites, American "elites" in general, and much else. During his many public appearances throughout the last two weeks, Scheuer has leveled criticism at a new target: Richard Clarke, the former counterterrorism czar whose book Against All Enemies, released last spring, said the Bush administration dropped the ball on terrorism in the run-up to September 11, and then again in the aftermath.

Clarke is "self-serving" and "risk averse," Scheuer told reporters at a breakfast last Friday. He was echoing comments he made to CBS News correspondent Steve Kroft on 60 Minutes:

KROFT: Richard Clarke has said that you're really sort of a--a hot-head, a middle manager who really didn't go to any of the cabinet meetings in which important things were discussed, and that--that basically you are just uninformed.

SCHEUER: I certainly agree with the fact that I didn't go to the cabinet
meetings. But I'm certainly also aware that I'm much better informed than Mr. Clarke ever was about the nature of the intelligence that was available against Osama bin Laden, and which was consistently denigrated by himself and Mr. Tenet. I think Mr. Clarke had--had a tendency to interfere too much with the activities of--of the CIA, and our leadership at the senior level let him interfere too much. So criticism from him I kind of wear as a badge of honor.

The feud between Scheuer and Clarke first became public in a November Vanity Fair story on whether September 11 could have been averted. In the piece, Scheuer says Clarke "was an interferer of the first level, in terms of talking about thing that he knew nothing about and killing them." A 25-year veteran of the CIA, Scheuer was never a political appointee, and part of his disdain springs from what he views as Clarke's incessant politicking. "Mr. Clarke was an empire builder. He built the community, and it was his little toy." In Scheuer's view, Clarke's political aspirations interfered with important national security decision making. "He was always playing the FBI off against [the CIA] or [the CIA] against the NSA," Scheuer told Vanity Fair.

On the one hand, there's no one to root for here--on the other, they could fight to the death and no one would mind.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 22, 2004 2:12 PM

I don't know. After reading this he's starting to grow on me. Goss might think about bringing him back into the CIA as a shark in the herring barrel ... or as the twelve inch pianist. Don't ask.

Posted by: genecis at November 22, 2004 4:38 PM

genecis - I guess you didn't see his statements to Tim Russert on Meet the Press Sunday that Osama is a great man, an admirable man, who in another world would be invited to the White House as a freedom fighter.

He's another CIA isolationist who wants the agency to be free from accountability to anyone outside -- even other anti-Bush folk like Clarke.

Posted by: pj at November 22, 2004 5:55 PM

I look at Clarke and Scheuer as two guys, each of whom has long vied for the title of "Bush-Killer #1," which is why they despise each other.

Posted by: Nicholas Stix at November 22, 2004 6:18 PM