"Good Morning America" news anchor Chris Cuomo touted Bush-bashing author and former anti-terrorism official Richard Clarke on Thursday's "Good Morning America." Cuomo lauded Clarke's first book, "Against All Enemies," as "great." (In that book, Clarke slammed the White House for focusing too heavily on Iraq.) The GMA host also attempted to pass off the ex-government official's liberal comments as simple, non-partisan advice from an expert.
During the course of the segment, Clarke lamented the lack of action on global warming, Bush's failure to capture Osama bin Laden and the war in Iraq. A telling indicator of Cuomo's agreement with some of Clarke's liberal points was the way in which the anchor mangled the title of Clarke's new book, "Your Government Failed You." The ABC journalist misstated, "But this is 'Your Government Lied to You' -- failed you, rather."
Cuomo also effusively praised Clarke's 2004 testimony to the 9/11 Commission in which the former terrorist czar, who was retained by Bush from the Clinton administration, apologized for the government's failure on September 11, 2001. Cuomo rhapsodized, "Not only was it the first time that kind of candor had come out, it was also the first time someone said enough blame, enough finger pointing." Continuing to build up the man who is also a former consultant of ABC, Cuomo fawned that the testimony was "the first time a high ranking figure said the buck stops here."
On another topic, the program did feature a rather fair interview with former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, who was defending the Bush administration over the charges leveled by fellow ex-press secretary Scott McClellan in his new anti-Bush book. Co-host Robin Roberts empathized to Fleischer: "It's hard to sit here and not notice how when you were watching the [ABC clips of McClellan] and just--...That you really feel betrayed...You were Scott McClellan's boss. And there is a feeling among you and others that you were betrayed." She also allowed Fleischer time to make this salient point about whether McClellan was out of the loop.
ARI FLEISCHER: One, it's not loop or no loop. It's whether Scott meant the things he said. If he can now so easily take them all back, it makes you question the convictions he held either now or when he stood at the podium. But as for whether he was or wasn't in the loop, the most salacious actions here deal with the lead-up to the war in Iraq and the war in Iraq. During that time I was press secretary. Scott was the deputy press secretary in charge of domestic issues. He shouldn't have been in those loops. He wouldn't have been in those loops. No deputy press secretary is for those type of meetings. But that's what he wrote a lot of this book about. That's a legitimate reflection on what role Scott had. He wouldn't have known a lot of those things. It wasn't his job.
A transcript of the May 29 Richard Clarke segment, which aired at 8:49am, follows:
CHRIS CUOMO: And now, who could forget the moment in the 9/11 investigation when the highest ranking anti-terrorist official said this?
RICHARD CLARKE (Fmr. White House Counter terrorism Chief): Your government failed you. Those entrusted with protecting you failed you. And I failed you. We tried hard, but that doesn't matter, because we failed.
CUOMO: Not only was it the first time that kind of candor had come out, it was also the first time someone said enough blame, enough finger pointing. The first time a high ranking figure said the buck stops here. That man is Richard Clarke, admitting to families of the 9/11 victims that the disaster could have been prevented. He expanded on that theory, in a book whose title has been taken from that emotional testimony called "Your Government Failed You." Mr. Clarke, of course, a former consultant of ABC News. Very happy to have you here today. The obvious question in this book, you say 9/11, the government failed you. You've seen it again in Iraq and Katrina, the same types of failure. Why does this keep happening?
CLARKE: It happens in all of these national security issues. And it happens in related issues like global warming and in cyberspace. It happens because no one at the highest level of government tries to fix the system. They worry about today's crisis. Well, if the system that you have to handle policy and to solve problems is never fixed, then you'll never get to actually solving the problems. And you can't just focus on today's crisis or on the blame game. It's not about Bush and Cheney and moving on beyond them. If you just replace the president and vice president and their team, the next team, no matter how good they are, is going to inherit a system that's broken.
CUOMO: System doesn't sound sexy. And you say that's a big reason there is no change?
CLARKE: That's right. And whether it's in intelligence or Homeland Security or cyber security or global warming, there are systemic problems in why the federal government doesn't work on national security, even though, Chris, we spend a trillion dollars a year, a trillion with a "T" on national security and still we have failure after failure after failure. So, this book goes beyond 9/11. This is what happened since 9/11 and why those failures happened.
CUOMO: So, obviously this isn't much we're hearing about in the political dialogue. But it is in the book, so thumbnail a couple potential solutions. What needs to happen?
CLARKE: Well, one thing we need to do is stop outsourcing the government. You know, in the last several years we've started taking inherently government jobs, whether it's intelligence analysis or even interrogating prisoners and giving them to for-profit companies. That has to have an effect on what the analysis is. It has to have an effect on the size and nature of the bureaucracy. We need to professionalize the civil service. Stop beating up on the government, and professional government employees. They're the ones who have been trying to fix things.
CUOMO: And the proof is in the pudding. Are we safer now then we were after 9/11, for all of the money and talk?
CLARKE: No, I don't think so. We're safer in certain areas. Passenger aircrafts are safer, not as safe as they should be. But if you look at the net net, we're not because we have invaded Iraq. We've not crushed al Qaeda, we've not got bin Laden. The CIA director just recently said that bin Laden's group, al Qaeda, is reconstituting in Pakistan and training terrorists in Pakistan to send back out. All these years after 9/11, we should have crushed al Qaeda and we haven' t. No, we're not safe enough by a long shot.
CUOMO: Richard Clarke. The book-- This is now your second book. "Against All Enemies" was a great book as well. But this is "Your Government Lied to You" -- failed you, rather. Thank you very much. Good luck with the book. Appreciate you being here. Always good to see you.