Buildup Begins as Rice Prepares for Testimony at 9/11 Panel
Buildup Begins as Rice Prepares for Testimony at 9/11 Panel
Mon Apr 5, 2004 14:17

Buildup Begins as Rice Prepares for Testimony at 9/11 Panel
Published: April 5, 2004

ohn Kerry is returning to the campaign trail this week with speeches and other appearances after his shoulder surgery. But it is the national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, who will have to bear much of the scrutiny given the intense focus on her testimony Thursday before the independent commission investigating Sept. 11.

"We expect it to be very exciting, because we want to know so much," Tom Kean, the former governor of New Jersey and the chairman of the panel, said during an appearance on the NBC News program "Meet the Press." on Sunday (Transcript).

Ms. Rice is scheduled to give at least two-and-a-half hours of testimony in what is looming as an important moment for President Bush's reputation as an antiterror warrior, the centerpiece of his argument for re-election. Mr. Bush got some early support Sunday from the former House speaker, Newt Gingrich, who during his tenure pushed for more money for intelligence services.

"The truth is that the Bush administration inherited an intelligence community that had been very badly weakened and that there was no strategic plan for going after Al Qaeda on January 20 of 2001," Mr. Gingrich said on "Fox News Sunday," adding that neither the government nor the public was aware of the extent of the Qaeda threat.

"It is not a partisan issue," he said. He added, in a reference to Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda's leader, "It was impossible, looking at every problem around the planet, to select out bin Laden as the highest priority."

Major reports in The New York Times on Sunday and The Washington Post painted a picture of the Bush administration before Sept. 11 as providing what The Times described as an "uneven" response to the terror threat, an area that will no doubt be deeply examined at the hearings.

"I'd like to know what happened during the summer of 2001," Bob Kerrey, the former Nebraska senator who sits on the commission, said on the CBS program "Face the Nation" (Transcript). "What kind of warnings came in over the transom and what did you do with those warnings?"

The buildup to the commission hearing is reaching such a point that Karen Hughes, a former close adviser to Mr. Bush, appearing on "Meet the Press," took it upon herself to defend the Clinton administration, a role she probably did not envision for herself.

"I don't believe that anyone in the Clinton administration either could have put together the pieces before the horror of September 11," she said. "I don't think we could have envisioned it and done anything to prevent it. If we could have in either administration, either in the eight years of the Clinton administration or the seven and a half months of the Bush administration, I'm convinced we would have done so."

This week's testimony will be watched to see if Ms. Rice is able to make that case as well.

Bush says Rice will `lay out the fact' in testimony before Sept. 11 commission
By Associated Press
Monday, April 5, 2004


9/11: For The Record By Condoleezza Rice

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