Important Questions Condoloeezza Rice Won't Be Asked
Center for American Progress
Important Questions Condoleezza Rice Won't Be Asked
Wed Apr 7, 2004 15:04

Important Questions Condoleezza Rice Won't Be Asked
April 7, 2004

Why was it in our national interests for the Administration to facilitate the evacuation of Bin Laden family members and other prominent Saudis from the United States in the days immediately following 9/11?

While hundreds of other Arabs living in the United States were rounded up and detained after 9/11, raising concerns from civil liberties advocates, the Bush Administration authorized members of the Bin Laden family and other prominent Saudis to leave the country without first undergoing FBI interviews. In one instance, members of the Bin Laden family were allowed to leave the country on a private jet out of the very airport where two of the hijacked 9/11 planes had departed just days earlier (See Craig Unger's article, "Saving the Saudis," in the October 2003 issue of Vanity Fair).

Knowing that Afghanistan was a hotbed of terrorism, why didn't the Administration do more prior to 9/11 to increase security or plan to remove the Taliban?

Although the Administration knew that the Taliban were hosting al-Qaida recruits in Afghanistan and severely oppressing the Afghan people, the White House didn't adopt formal policies to combat the Taliban or al-Qaida in the country until after 9/11. The Administration also failed to fly Predator drones – unmanned aerial vehicles often used for reconnaissance – over Afghanistan during its first eight months in office.

Follow-up: Knowing Afghanistan is a hotbed for terrorism, why hasn't the Administration done more since 9/11 to increase security and promote stability in Afghanistan?

With the Administration shifting the majority of its focus to Iraq over the past year, Afghanistan is still not secure or free from terrorism today. Taliban attacks are on the rise, security is virtually non-existent outside Kabul, elections have been postponed, and the country produced three quarters of the world's illicit opium in 2003. The United Nations Development Program warned recently that Afghanistan is at risk for reverting to a "terrorist breeding ground" if more is not done.

Despite its obsession with Iraq before 9/11, immediately after 9/11 and since 9/11, why did the Administration fail to plan for the post-conflict transition in Iraq?

Six days after the 9/11 attacks, President Bush signed a secret directive ordering the Pentagon to begin drawing up Iraq invasion plans. Six months later, the U.S. launched the attack on Iraq. During that entire time period, no adequate plan for securing and rebuilding post-conflict Iraq was put in place by the Administration, and internal planning by the State Department and CIA was ignored.

As American Progress notes, there is still no plan for the post-handover administration of Iraq, militias have not been disarmed and continue to attack U.S. troops, adequate numbers of Iraqi army and police forces have yet to be trained, and the U.S. continues to bear the brunt of reconstruction costs despite the funds pledged at the October donors conference. Violence and insecurity continue to rock the country and claim U.S. lives.

What took so long for the Administration to agree to allow the 9/11 Commission to review thousands of pages of Clinton Administration records containing information about efforts against al-Qaida?

The Administration was withholding almost 75% of the pages of the Clinton records from the 9/11 Commission until its recent agreement to allow the Commission to review the documents was spurred by Commission members' protests. Although the White House has finally relented to a review, it hasn't agreed to let the Commission have copies of the documents.

If we have more questions in the course of our investigation, would you be willing to come testify under oath again?

In exchange for Dr. Rice's testimony, the White House forced the Commission to "accept in writing that it will not request additional public testimony from any White House official, including Dr. Rice." Thus, the American public will not be able to explore any serious questions arising from new developments that might show contradictions or conflicts with statements made by White House officials. Furthermore, the White House insisted on the Commission's private meeting with the President to be held jointly with the Vice President.


9/11 Commission: Opposition and Obfuscation

April 7, 2004

As National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice prepares to testify before the 9/11 Commission, the Center for American Progress presents the facts about the Bush Administration's record on the Commission. In creating the investigatory Commission to look into the attacks on America, the President said: "This Commission is not only important for this administration, this Commission will be important for future administrations, until the world is secure from the evildoers that hate what we stand for." The President's actions haven't lived up to his lofty rhetoric, however, as the White House has done everything it can to stall, impede and block the Commission from doing its vital work.

Fact Check: Condi Rice's 60 Minutes Interview

March 28, 2004
Download: DOC, RTF, PDF

National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice appeared on CBS's 60 Minutes in an effort to quell growing questions surrounding the Administration's inconsistent claims about its pre-9/11 actions. Not only did Rice refuse to take Richard Clarke's lead and admit responsibility for her role in the worst national security failure in American history, but she continued to make unsubstantiated and contradictory assertions:

RICE CLAIM: "The administration took seriously the threat" of terrorism before 9/11.

FACTS: President Bush himself acknowledges that, despite repeated warnings of an imminent Al Qaeda attack, before 9/11 "I didn't feel the sense of urgency" about terrorism. Similarly, Newsweek reports that Bush's attitude was reflected throughout an Administration that was trying to "de-emphasize terrorism" as an overall priority. As proof, just two of the hundred national security meetings the Administration held during this period addressed the terrorist threat, and the White House refused to hold even one meeting of its highly-touted counterterrorism task force. Meanwhile, the Administration was actively trying to cut funding for counterterrorism, and "vetoed a request to divert $800 million from missile defense into counterterrorism" despite a serious increase in terrorist chatter in the summer of 2001.

Source: "Bush At War" by Bob Woodward
Source: Newsweek & vetoed request -
Source: Refusal to hold task force meeting -
Source: Only two meetings out of 100 -

RICE CLAIM: "I don't know what a sense of urgency any greater than the one we had would have caused us to do anything differently. I don't know how...we could have done more. I would like very much to know what more could have been done?"

FACTS: There are many more things that could have been done: first and foremost, the Administration could have desisted from de-emphasizing and cutting funding for counterterrorism in the months before 9/11. It could have held more meetings of top principals to get the directors of the CIA and FBI to share information, especially considering the major intelligence spike occurring in the summer of 2001. As 9/11 Commissioner Jamie Gorelick said on ABC this morning, the lack of focus and meetings meant agencies were not talking to each other, and key evidence was overlooked. For instance, with better focus and more urgency, the FBI's discovery of Islamic radicals training at flight schools might have raised red flags. Similarly, the fact that "months before Sept. 11, the CIA knew two of the al-Qaeda hijackers were in the United States" could have spurred a nationwide manhunt. But because there was no focus or urgency, "No nationwide manhunt was undertaken," said Gorelick. "The State Department watch list was not given to the FAA. If you brought people together, perhaps key connections could have been made."

Source: Slash counterterrorism funding -
Source: CIA knew 2 hijackers in the U.S. -

RICE CLAIM: "Nothing would be better from my point of view than to be able to testify, but there is an important principle involved here it is a longstanding principle that sitting national security advisors do not testify before the Congress."

FACTS: Republican Commission John F. Lehman, who served as Navy Secretary under President Reagan said on ABC this morning that "This is not testimony before a tribunal of the Congress…There are plenty of precedents for appearing in public and answering questions…There are plenty of precedents the White House could use if they wanted to do this." 9/11 Commissioner Jamie Gorelick agreed, saying "Our commission is sui generis…the Chairman has been appointed by the President. We are distinguishable from Congress." Rice's remarks on 60 Minutes that the principle is limited to "sitting national security advisers" is also a departure from her statements earlier this week, when she said the "principle" applied to all presidential advisers. She was forced to change this claim for 60 Minutes after 9/11 Commissioner Richard Ben-Veniste "cited examples of non-Cabinet presidential advisers who have testified publicly to Congress." Finally, the White House is reportedly moving to declassify congressional testimony then-White House adviser Richard Clarke gave in 2002. By declassifying this testimony, the White House is breaking the very same "principle" of barring White House adviser's testimony from being made public that Rice is using to avoid appearing publicly before the 9/11 commission.

Source: Quote from Tony Snow Show -

RICE CLAIM: "Iraq was put aside" immediately after 9/11.

FACTS: According to the Washington Post, "six days after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, President Bush signed a 2-and-a-half-page document" that "directed the Pentagon to begin planning military options for an invasion of Iraq." This is corroborated by a CBS News, which reported on 9/4/02 that five hours after the 9/11 attacks, "Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was telling his aides to come up with plans for striking Iraq." In terms of resources, the Iraq decision had far-reaching effects on the efforts to hunt down Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. As the Boston Globe reported, "the Bush administration is continuing to shift highly specialized intelligence officers from the hunt for Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan to the Iraq crisis."

Source: September 17th directive -
Source: Rumsfeld orders Iraq plan -
Source: Shifting special forces -

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