Unheeded warnings.

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Whenever Bush gets criticized, his palace guard descends upon the person who dares question his Highness.

That's the way it was when Paul O'Neill, Bush's former Treasury Secretary, said Bush wanted to go to war against Iraq way before 9/11. Within hours, the Bush goons were threatening O'Neill with prosecution for allegedly publicizing classified information.

That's the way it was when former ambassador Joseph Wilson went public with his account of how the Bush Administration played up the false story of uranium in Niger. Within days, the White House was outing Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, as a CIA officer, with Karl Rove reportedly saying, "His wife's now fair game."

And that's the way it is today, with Bush surrogates unloading on Richard A. Clarke.

Doing Bush's dirty work, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist slammed Clarke for being, in Frist's words, "consumed by the desire to dodge blame for the 9/11 attacks" and for "profiteering." But he didn't stop there. Frist went on to make unsubtle threats about prosecuting Clarke for perjury, alleging that Clarke lied to Congress.

Then the White House tried to blackball him. "He's not going to make another dime in Washington again," one White House staffer said, according to Clarke, who said he heard about that comment from a friend he still has there.

The White House guard wants to rule by fear and intimidation. Not since the most paranoid days of Richard Nixon has a group in the White House so abused its power.

There is good reason why the Bush Administration went all out against Clarke. His book, Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror, is a devastating critique of the one central issue that Bush and Rove want to run the election campaign on: the Administration's efforts to keep us safe.

From its first days in office, the Bush Administration showed a stunning disregard for the Al Qaeda threat and an obsession with going to war in Iraq, Clarke writes.

Even during the transition between the Clinton Administration and the Bush Administration, the new team took little interest in Al Qaeda, Clarke writes. "In January 2001, the new Administration really thought Clinton's recommendation that eliminating Al Qaeda be one of their highest priorities, well, rather odd."

Clarke says he briefed Condoleezza Rice, Dick Cheney, and Colin Powell about the danger. "My message was stark: Al Qaeda is at war with us, it is a highly capable organization, probably with sleeper cells in the U.S., and it is clearly planning a major series of attacks against us," he writes...

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