"I didn't get him," Clinton said. "But at least I tried. That's the difference in me and some, including all the right-wingers who are attacking me now. They ridiculed me for trying. They had eight months to try. They did not try. I tried. So I tried and failed. When I failed, I left a comprehensive anti-terror strategy and the best guy in the country, Dick Clarke, who got demoted."
After he made the statement, Bush had Condoleeza Rice defend him, denying that Clinton left a comprehensive strategy for fighting Bin Laden, and saying that "'What we did in the eight months (before 9/11) was at least as aggressive as what the Clinton administration did in the preceding years."
Except, of course, that it wasn't.
Yesterday afternoon, former 9/11 report commission member Richard Ben-Veniste revealed in an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer that the commission, which did a private, unrecorded interview with the President, asked Bush why he did not respond to the Cole attack. His response was that he did not want to launch a cruise missile attack against bin Laden for fear of missing him.
Many of those involved in the 9/11 commission wanted to release the full transcripts of the Bush and Clinton interviews of the 9/11 commission to the public in the report, but a slim majority of the commission refused to do so, based on a party-line vote.
It was only a few weeks ago that Ron Suskind revealed in his book, "The One Percent Doctrine," just how President Bush responded to being briefed on the al Qaeda threat, just a month before the attack. He documents an unnamed CIA briefer who flew to Bush's Texas ranch during the summer of 2001, to personally brief the president on the Aug. 6, 2001, memo titled 'Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US.' Bush listened to the briefer and replied: 'All right. You've covered your ass, now.'" No action was taken against Al Qaeda, however.