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Published: Thursday, 4/1/2004

President stands up for our freedom

Now that the political witch hunt, aka the federal 9/11 Commission, has concluded its hearings, it is time for a reality check.

After all of the testimony, statements, and outrageous accusations, the indisputable fact remains that the only person during the past 12 years who has stepped forward and taken decisive action against terrorism is George W. Bush. He has taken determined steps to stand up for freedom and protect and defend the American people.

None of those from the Clinton era who testified could make that claim for their administration. Instead, they were all reduced to covering their behinds.

Because of the President's decisive action, the Taliban and al-Qaeda were routed in Afghanistan, Iraq is free from 25 years of corrupt, barbaric, and ruthless dictatorship, Osama bin Laden hides in a cave, Saddam Hussein is behind bars, his sons are dead, and a constitutional form of government is at hand for both countries.

In addition, Libya has come clean on its nuclear weapons program, North Korea has toned down its saber-rattling, thousands of terrorists are dead or captured, and countless terrorist plots around the world and here at home have been thwarted.

Yet, the only response the left can offer is to line up their hatchet men in a relentless string of negative and hateful political and personal attacks on the President.

The American people understand that President Bush is the only one who has stood up for their freedom by making the tough decisions in the war on terror and that we have realized unbelievable accomplishments in just three years under his leadership. The reality, therefore, is that he is the only person qualified to lead us for the next four years.

RICHARD L. KETTEMAN

Sylvania

Richard Kerger's factual omissions, falsehoods, and illogical assertions in his March 27 Saturday Essay, "Suddenly, Clarke's the bad guy?" cry out for a response.

For eight years, counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke was accustomed to briefing President Clinton, who used every possible excuse to avoid aggressively countering terrorism in spite of several deadly attacks on the United States. This emboldened the terrorists; Osama bin Laden called the U.S. a "weak horse." Mr. Kerger seems unaware that President Bush changed Mr. Clarke's role, preferring briefings by CIA Director George Tenet and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, Mr. Clarke's boss.

Mr. Clarke was used to reporting directly to the President. His passive-aggressive response was to not attend meetings called by Ms. Rice and later make her a major target in his slanderous book.

Obviously, Mr. Clarke was out of the highest level loop, as Vice President Cheney has correctly asserted and Mr. Kerger has falsely ridiculed.

Mr. Kerger says that unreliable eyewitnesses are rebutting Mr. Clarke's accusations. This, too, is false. Mr. Clarke is being rebutted by documented evidence from Mr. Clarke himself. In a tape-recorded briefing to reporters in mid-2002, Mr. Clarke said that the Clinton administration had no real strategy against terrorism. In his recent book he says that Mr. Clinton's highest priority was peace in the Middle East. In his testimony last week before a congressional commission he said that terrorism was Mr. Clinton's highest priority. Which version are we to believe?

If Mr. Clarke were an honest whistleblower he would have resigned and publicized his accusations right after 9/11. Over the last 10 years, he has made political contributions only to Democrats.

Then, by waiting for the start of a presidential election cycle to publish an explosive political attack-book, he raises justifiable questions of profiteering and payback.

Mario Goveia

West Bancroft Street

After I listened to the two-day congressional hearings on the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the testimony of Richard Clarke stood out as being the most compelling and by far the most thorough.

Mr. Clarke has served the government for 30 years and it showed. As a non-politician, he was the only person testifying to humbly offer an apology to the many victims and their families. His testimony was a chilling indictment of an arrogant then-new administration that had other priorities than the real possibility of a terrorist attack on American soil.

Equally chilling and disgusting was the reaction from the President and many Republican politicians: Mr. Clarke must be a fool if he questions their priorities, so start the smear campaign against a loyal and dedicated public servant.

What a shame politicians are in charge of this country. Maybe we really do need a military hero and his sensitivities at the helm.

Evan J. Chase

Wildwood Road

During the 9/11 commission hearings the ex-anti-terrorism czar testified that President Bush's decision to go to war against Iraq was a major distraction from the war on terror. He is dead wrong.

Evidence has shown Saddam Hussein's regime to be complicit in the training and funding of terrorism operations. Removing him was but one strategic accomplishment in the overall campaign against international terrorism.

I would say that Richard Clarke's own outrageous performance before the commission has proven to be biggest distraction in the effort to discover our country's vulnerabilities and enhance national security.

At this perilous moment when the success of the coalition of the willing and the trust of the people hang in the balance, Mr. Clarke has chosen to misrepresent his own recollections of his service under two administrations, thereby corrupting the solemn impartial investigation into the circumstances surrounding the security failure of 9/11.

His contentious and highly questionable assumptions have completely disrupted the hearings and reduced this dignified forum to petty partisan bickering and blame shifting.

In his recriminations aimed solely at the Bush Administration, he offers no specific record, but relies entirely on his own obviously errant skills as a mind reader in interpreting facial expressions and ordinary conversation.

He should have taken a lesson from the Bush/Cheney administration. President George Bush is a gracious and noble gentleman who for the sake of national unity did not criticize the previous administration once he had assumed office, but instead chose to take responsibility and move on toward building a stronger more secure future for America.

Chuck Busch

Fredericktown, Ohio

As a parent of a child being confirmed at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Sylvania on April 3, I am disheartened to hear that members of the greater Toledo community, and especially the greater Toledo religious community, are planning to rally outside the church that day.

Confirmation is a very special experience in the life of many young Christians, Protestant as well as Catholic. Whatever your position on the Lathrop House issue, if you believe that a commitment to God is a vital step in a young person's life, then a day celebrating that commitment should be sacred. It would be wrong for this special day to be politicized because the bishop happens to be visiting the church.

Certainly any protesters who assemble are constitutionally entitled to do so, but perhaps there is a more appropriate time for them to express their views and incite the local media swarm that is sure to occur.

Beth Malczewski

Sylvania

When questioned by reporters at a cabinet meeting, the President said that "had my administration had any information that terrorists were going to attack New York City on Sept. 11, we would have acted." Duh!

Vice President Cheney said on the Rush Limbaugh show that Richard Clarke was "out of the loop." That is exactly what Mr. Clarke has been complaining about. These are the guys who are leading the greatest country in the world. Lord help us!

Thomas Gregory

Sylvania



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