President Bush’s former counterterrorism adviser objected Wednesday to the use of his name and critical comments about Bush in a new broadcast advertisement from a political group supporting Democratic candidate John Kerry.
Richard Clarke said he instructed his lawyer to ask the MoveOn.org Voter Fund to stop broadcasting the ad, which Clarke said was created without his knowledge or permission. The group said it wouldn’t pull the ad, and one outside legal expert said the ad was clearly permissible under U.S. copyright laws.
“I just don’t want to be used,” Clarke told The Associated Press. “I don’t want to be part of what looks like a political TV ad. I’m trying hard to make this not a partisan thing but a discussion of how we stop terrorism from happening in the future, keep this on a policy issue. I don’t want this to become any more emotional or personal than it has already.”
The campaigns director for MoveOn, Eli Pariser, said Clarke’s comments were presented fairly and accurately but acknowledged it didn’t speak with Clarke about the spot.
“This is a public statement that Clarke had made,” Pariser said. “We think it’s important to get what Clarke has to say out there.”
One copyright expert said Clarke had little legal recourse under copyright statutes protecting the publicity rights of celebrities or public figures.
“It’s very difficult to imagine any claim that a court would take seriously in this context,” said Susan Crawford, an assistant professor at Yeshiva University’s Cardoza Law School in New York. “I’m surprised he’s doing this. No one would assume that Richard Clarke encouraged them to do this.”
No comment from attorney
Clarke’s attorney, Robert B. Barnett, couldn’t be reached immediately for comment; his office said he was traveling.
The advertisement by MoveOn.org accuses Bush of “shamelessly” exploiting the September 2001 terrorism attacks against New York and Washington. It includes two audio excerpts from an interview with Clarke that CBS aired on “60 Minutes” on March 21, the day before Clarke’s book, “Against All Enemies,” went on sale.
In the interview excerpts, Clarke said it was “outrageous” that Bush was promoting his response to the terror attacks because “he ignored terrorism for months when maybe we could have done something to stop 9-11.”
A spokesman for CBS said the network didn’t know about the ad.
“CBS News was unaware that MoveOn.org was using CBS News copyrighted material without permission and to advocate a point of view,” spokesman Kevin Tedesco said. “We are exploring our options.”
Clarke’s scathing criticisms of the Bush administration’s response to terrorism provoked an extraordinary response by the White House, which derided Clarke’s assertions as false and irresponsible.
Clarke — whose closest friend is a top aide to Kerry — has sought to deflect charges that his complaints were politically motivated, pledging last week during congressional testimony not to accept any job offer from the Kerry campaign.
Clarke said it was unclear immediately whether he can legally demand that MoveOn stop airing the advertisement against Bush, since it includes remarks he made in a national news broadcast.
“The point is not whether they’re acting illegally, but I certainly want everyone to understand they are acting without my permission and distorting my message,” Clarke said.