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this week, CBS' Steve Kroft repeatedly pressed Obama about Hillary Clinton's use of private email when she was secretary of state.

But CBS was apparently far less interested in the pressing public policy issue of gun violence, which has dominated the news in recent weeks.

In their efforts to cast aspersions on his credibility, they sometimes seemed to contradict one another.

Clarke has countered by saying that the White House is engaging in character assassination rather than addressing the issues he raises.

The commission is investigating the circumstances surrounding the 9/11 attacks.

The star witness was Richard Clarke, the president's former counter-terrorism chief whose new book has become a best seller.

They were talking about it on 9/12," Clarke said in the CBS interview that was conducted as part of the promotion for his book."Against All Enemies: Inside the White House's War on Terror -- What Really Happened" is scheduled for release Monday by Simon & Schuster's Free Press. Clarke and O'Neill both say Bush was determined to oust the Iraqi leader and used the terrorist attacks as an excuse to remove him from power.

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CONDOLEEZZA RICE: Nothing would be better, from my point of view, than to be able to testify. ED BRADLEY: But there are some people who look at this and say, "But this - this was an unprecedented event.

"And Rumsfeld said, 'There aren't any good targets in Afghanistan, and there are lots of good targets in Iraq.' I said, 'Well, there are lots of good targets in lots of places, but Iraq had nothing to do with [the September 11 attacks].'"After O'Neill's book was published, Rumsfeld said the idea that Bush "came into office with a predisposition to invade Iraq, I think, is a total misunderstanding of the situation."Bush administration officials have noted that U. policy dating from the Clinton administration was to seek "regime change" in Iraq, though it focused on funding and training Iraqi opposition groups rather than military force.

It was evident before September 11, 2001, that Iraq was a concern for the Bush administration.

Clarke appeared under oath before the commission, and apologized to those families of 9/11 victims and its survivors by saying, "Your government failed you, those entrusted with protecting you failed you and I failed you." His testimony and apology touched some and offended others.

White House officials, including Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, and Colin Powell, all disputed his claims.

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