Matt Yglesias in TAPPED:
As part of the pushback, the administration needed to make it clear that they had, in fact, been working diligently on counterterrorism. So they put an administration official out on background to tell the press about all the hard work he’d been doing in this field, and the briefing was duly written up. What we learn today is that the official in question was Clarke. If anything, this corroborates, rather than undermines, what Clarke’s been saying over the past week. After all, he never denied that he was working hard on al-Qaeda issues; his charge is that his work wasn’t being taken seriously by the higher-ups. The fact that, when pressed before to demonstrate that they were doing a good job on this issue, the person the White House turned to was Clarke and this supports Clarke’s contention that he was waging a pretty lonely battle.
All this raises the larger question of what’s the point of going after Clarke’s credibility. Normally you go after someone’s credibility because he’s saying something and you’re saying it isn’t true. If you look at the officials who’ve testified under oath over the past two days, however, you’ll see that they’re all at great pains to avoid denying any of Clarke’s specific allegations. Instead they, like Scott McClellan and the rest of the gang, spend a lot of time impugning Clarke’s credibility. His credibility, however, isn’t really at issue if they’re not going to bother to come out and say which if the things he’s saying aren’t true. The only reasonable conclusion to draw from their failure to deny his charges is that the charges are true. This credibility business is just a smokescreen.
You do have to admire the extraordinary chutzpah of Bush administration officials, those paragons of truthfulness, calling someone a liar.