A few days ago, I alerted Michael Scheuer – the former head of the CIA's bin Laden unit – that former Terrorism Czar Richard Clarke was scheduled to be Bill Maher’s guest tonight on “Real Time”. Of course, this is the same Richard Clarke that refused to participate in last weekend’s “Fox News Sunday” panel discussion that Scheuer was a part of as addressed here. After all, why should Clarke go on a real news program where he can be asked real questions when there are hard-hitting journalists like Bill Maher around?
Anyway, this morning, Mr. Scheuer e-mailed me a list of questions that he would like to see Maher ask Clarke. This is the actual text supplied with his permission:
The available documentation supports what I have said about missed opportunities. I have written below a set of questions that would force Clarke to either tell the truth, lie, or obfuscate, and the latter would amount to a lie. They are all yes or no answers. The very least Maher should ask him follows:
1.) Did you or did you not call the UAE government in March 1999, at the direction of President Clinton, and advise them to get their hunting camp out of the desert southwest of Khandahar, and thereby cost the United States a chance to kill Osama bin Laden?
2.) And did you not write a memorandum of conversation with your UAE interlocutor that confirms you did indeed make that call, and likewise confirms the substance of the previous question?
3.) And is there not overhead imagery that confirms your warning to the UAE caused them to urgently close the hunting camp, an action that cost America an excellent opportunity to kill bin Laden?
4.) Why would you have warned the UAE if you, Mr. Berger, and Mr. Clinton, did not think that the intelligence about the target was so good that President Clinton would have to order a U.S. military attack on bin Laden if the target remained viable?
5.) And, finally, is there a chance that President Clinton authorized you to warn the UAE -- and perhaps save bin Laden's life -- because he was trying to protect the sale of $6-plus billion worth of U.S. fighter planes to the UAE?
I have held and read the memorandum of conversation noted above, Noel. I provided it to the 9/11 Commission, and, while I was working, I filed it in the official CIA records system -- which means it has a registration number in that system.
Noel, I am not eager to play any politics with this issue. But I think it is an important one for the American people to learn the truth about it. Selfishly, I also want to protect -- using truth as an avenging angel -- the CIA men and women who worked for me and who went in harm's way to give President Clinton chances to protect American lives.