02/09/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Richard Clarke: Bush Didn't Save Any Lives

In a New York Daily News editorial, former counterterrorism adviser Richard Clarke harshly criticizes his one-time boss for suggesting he saved American lives during his presidency. The idea that President Bush kept us safe (a cornerstone of his current legacy tour) is just "Karl Rove spin," Clarke writes.

There wasn't a second 9/11? That's obviously true, but it misses the point. First, we must remember that Al Qaeda terrorists are patient, deliberate planners who often wait years between strikes. Second, there was the first 9/11 - and it happened on Bush's watch. Without rehashing the entire 9/11 Commission Report, the historical record is pretty clear by now that Bush did virtually nothing about the repeated warnings to him that those cataclysmic attacks were coming. Unfortunately, I can personally attest to that as well.


Bush saved American lives? Tell that to the families of the 4,200 U.S. military personnel who have perished in the needless war in Iraq. While they served heroically and deserve the great thanks of the American people, the tragic truth is that they were engaged in a war we should not have been fighting and which was sold to the Congress, the media and American people with exaggerated and even false claims.


Let George Bush keep pushing the buttons on the spin machine. That cannot change the facts. His administration's actions on terrorism, including Iraq, killed many more Americans than U.S. intelligence agencies saved in the past eight years

Clarke recently said that Barack Obama's election has "taken the wind out of al Qaeda's sails." During the election, he criticized John McCain for being even more eager to go to war than Bush.