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Victims' families on Clarke

Families of some 9/11 victims have written an open letter taking issue with Richard Clarke. They don't think it's mere coincidence that the release of his book was timed for optimal political and financial gain, among other things.

It was very disturbing, then, to learn that Mr. Clarke would be releasing his book immediately before his scheduled public testimony before the 9/11 Commission.

We are well aware that the friends and family members of those killed in 9/11 do not speak with a single voice on all issues. Nonetheless, the notion of profiteering from anything associated with 9/11 is particularly offensive to all of us.

We find Mr. Clarke's actions all the more offensive especially considering the fact that there was always a high possibility that the 9/11 Commission could be used for political gain, especially now, with the presidential election less than eight months away.

Surely, Mr. Clarke knew this. Yet he decided to risk the actual and perceived impartiality of this important process to maximize book sales.

As family and friends of those killed on 9/11, we believe it inappropriate for Mr. Clarke to profit from and politicize 9/11, and further divide America, by his testimony before the 9/11 Commission.

Indeed, we are now seeing some partisans more interested in somehow laying blame for 9/11 at the feet of President Bush - even though what we heard from both Bush and Clinton administration officials confirms what we already believed: that while al Qaeda was a known threat, no one could have known that 19 terrorists already in the United States would hijack domestic aircraft and fly them in to the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

Had there been real evidence, "actionable" or otherwise, that this was being planned, we believe that President Bush, President Clinton - indeed, any president of the United States - would have done everything possible to prevent it.