The Richard Clarke revelations have reached a fevered pitch, with the fault lines drawn between those looking to use him to damage the White House’s credibility on terrorism versus those looking to use him to damage the nay-sayers.
The general complaints being held up behind a Times maganize commentary essentially miss the point. While the question of whether he embellished his quotes does matter, the true argument revolves around decision-making and the creation of policy.
As William Saletan notes in Slate, the Bushies world-think-view on Iraq, terrorism, and their clearly demonstrated disdain for any idea that may have come from the Clinton administration slowed the process of identifying potential terrorists and properly raising awareness of real-time occurrences (such as the so-called 20th hijacker) in the weeks and months prior to September 11th.
The other point these types of commentaries avoid is the question of whether Iraq was connected to al Qaeda and global terrorism in any meaningful way (generally accepted as no by intelligence analysts now), and whether the invasion of Iraq is a diversion from the more important war on terror and the general fundamentalist ideology. Given the current state of events in Afghanistan, where limited progress has been made but much remains, particularly in areas outside the capital where lawlessness still abounds and the political process is in danger.