Condi's "historical" statements on 9/11

Cover Up to Protect Lies?
More 9/11 Warnings Revealed

Martin Rowson cartoon showing Condi saying, "as I was saying Isn't Democracy Wonderful with Iraq and Iran in the background
Martin Rowson

I would move heaven and earth to protect my husb...
errr.. President Bush!
by Balz

BEN-VENISTE: Isn't it a fact, Dr. Rice, that the August 6 PDB warned against possible attacks in this country? And I ask you whether you recall the title of that PDB?

RICE: I believe the title was, "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States."

Condi's "historical" statements on 9/11

As we noted yesterday, there are some unanswered questions regarding a previously undisclosed section of the 9/11 report out this week -- both the timing of its release and what it says about Condoleezza Rice's sworn public testimony before the 9/11 Commission last year.

A 9/11 widow offers a few thoughts in the Independent today:

"Kristin Bretweiser, whose husband was killed in the World Trade Centre, said yesterday the newly released details undermined testimony from Condoleezza Rice, the former national security adviser, who told the commission that information about al-Qa'ida's threats seen by the administration was 'historical in nature' She told The Independent: 'There were 52 threats that were mentioned. These were present threats -- they were not historical. There were steps that could have been taken. Marshals could have been put on planes that spring. Condoleezza Rice's testimony is undermined.' To the consternation of members of the commission who published the original report last year, the administration has been blocking the release of the latest information. An unclassified copy of this additional appendix was passed to the National Archives two weeks ago with large portions blacked out."

As first reported by the New York Times late Wednesday, the latest pages from the report show that of the FAA's 105 daily intelligence summaries between April 1, 2001 and Sept. 10 2001, 52 of them mentioned Osama bin Laden, al-Qaida, or both. The report also concludes that officials did not expand the use of in-flight air marshals or tighten airport screening for weapons. It determined that FAA officials were more concerned with reducing airline congestion, lessening delays and easing airlines' financial problems than thwarting a terrorist attack.

Are we any safer in the hands of the FAA now? In August 2004, Salon's Kevin Berger reported in depth on the disastrous security failings inside the agency prior to 9/11 -- and why it may still be failing to protect us today.-- Mark Follman [11:06 EST, Feb. 11, 2005

Protocol for Lying/A tale of two senators

To read Erin Aubrey Kaplan's article about Rice, click

Boxer's Match - A tale of two senators

On one morning, in one Capitol Hill hearing room, two senators from one state displayed starkly different approaches to handling the powerful of Washington. The occasion was the confirmation hearing of Condoleezza Rice, George W. Bush's pick to replace Colin Powell as secretary of state. Senator Barbara Boxer confronted her; Senator Dianne Feinstein coddled her. The respective performances of California's two U.S. senators - both Democrats - illuminated a divide in Washington. There are those in town who participate in and preside over the clubby atmosphere of a Washington establishment that fosters a we're-all-honorable-men-and-women conceit. And there are those who realize that governments don't make bad policies, people do, and that such officials - especially when they engage in dishonest policymaking - do not deserve respect or hors d'oeuvres.

When Rice came before the Senate foreign-affairs committee, Boxer showed that on this day she cared more for policy and politics - perhaps even for truth - than for the faux politeness that animates many of Washington's official spectacles. Feinstein, however, demonstrated an allegiance to personal bonds, not to holding government leaders accountable for their missteps and misdeeds. In a way, the two reflected alternative modes of opposition available to the Democrats: Kick the GOPers whenever possible and afford them and their agenda not a scintilla of respect, or agree to disagree and confront the Republicans when practical without challenging their motives, intent or character.

Boxer's grilling of Rice - that is, the reasonable and forceful sort of questioning that passes for a grilling in Washington - drew much notice. So let's start with Feinstein. The hearing began with Feinstein introducing Rice. It is often customary for a senator from the home state of an appointee to escort him or her to a confirmation hearing and say kind words, even if the two hail from opposing parties. (Rice grew up in Birmingham; after serving as a professor and provost at Stanford, she considers herself a Californian.) But DiFi did more than provide Rice, a friend, a senatorial courtesy. She gushed like Old Faithful. She informed the senators on the committee that Rice had been a brilliant 3-year-old, a piano-playing child prodigy, that her father had called her "Little Star," that the first President Bush, for whom Rice had worked, considered her "brilliant," that she has "the skill, the judgment, and the poise and leadership to lead in these difficult times," that she is a "remarkable woman," and that as a young girl she stood before the gates of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. and told her father, "Daddy, I'm barred out of there now because of the color of my skin, but one day I'll be in that house." Feinstein observed, "If Dr. Rice's past performance is any indication . . . we can rest easy."

No mention of Iraq, not a whisper about WMD. It's not that Feinstein has been a Bush backer since the invasion. Last October - after Charles Duelfer, the administration's WMD hunter, released a report noting that Iraq possessed no weapons of mass destruction and no active WMD programs before the war - Feinstein declared, "Considering the statements that were being made by the administration [prior to the war] and the intelligence that was presented to the Congress which said otherwise, this is quite disturbing and points once again to failures in the analysis, collection and use of intelligence."

But who was a co-conspirator in this "disturbing" effort that misused intelligence and produced false administration statements? National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. She led the phony WMD charge. For instance, Rice claimed the administration had solid evidence that Saddam Hussein had revived his nuclear-weapons program when intelligence analysts were in disagreement over this information. She also made comments suggesting that Hussein was in cahoots with al Qaeda, even though the administration possessed no evidence of any alliance. If Feinstein was disturbed by the absence of WMD, why was she not disturbed by the role her pal played in this disturbing episode? Feinstein spoke more about what Rice did at Stanford - Feinstein's alma mater - than what she had done at the White House these past four years. She gave Rice a pass. She told the San Francisco Chronicle that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld - not Rice - is responsible for the mess in Iraq.

Boxer was not swayed by Rice's supposed charm. She walloped Rice for participating in the White House's cynical effort to use a trumped-up WMD case to sell the war. An angry Boxer confronted Rice with uttering contradictory statements about Iraq and nuclear weapons after the invasion. Rice replied with controlled indignation: "I would hope that we can have this conversation . . . without impugning my credibility or integrity." Boxer replied, "I'm not. I'm just quoting what you said." But in a way, she was challenging Rice's honor, and Boxer might have justifiably said, "Come to think of it, I am impugning your credibility." The next day, she pressed Rice further. Boxer challenged Rice's prewar exaggerations about the alleged connection between Hussein and al Qaeda and Hussein's (nonexistent) nuclear-weapons program. On the latter point in particular, Boxer clearly showed that Rice had doled out falsehoods. She accused Rice of providing the public only half-truths and of "gaming the American people . . . because the mission - the zeal of selling the war - was so important."

Boxer could have gone further. She could have questioned Rice on her key role in the controversy stemming from the administration's use of the unproven charge that Hussein had tried to purchase uranium in Niger. She could have asked why Rice did not ensure that adequate plans for the post-invasion period were crafted before the invasion. But she had only so much time. Rice was bruised by Boxer - though not nearly enough to threaten her confirmation. Shortly after Boxer finished with Rice, all the Democrats on the committee - with the exception of her and John Kerry - voted in favor of Rice's appointment.

Political commentators have pointed to Boxer's recent 20-point re-election win and her lone vote in the Senate against certifying the Electoral College vote (due to irregularities in Ohio) as signs that she is now free to position herself aggressively as one of the leading liberals of the Senate. That may be so. But Boxer demonstrated a willingness to ignore the collegial niceties of institutional Washington and to raise impolite and inconvenient questions. And, after all, what's wrong with impugning the credibility of someone who you believe misled the nation into war? If a legislator holds such a belief, isn't it his or her responsibility to pursue the matter? On Fox News, Feinstein was asked if Boxer went too far. "I'm not going to comment on that," she said. "Each one of us, you know, marches to the sound of our own drummer. And each one of us has strong feelings on various issues from time to time, and sometimes all the time." This is indeed a difference. Feinstein was listening to a drumbeat (perhaps the rhythm of the Stanford fight song). Boxer was creating a drumbeat. emocrats ought to be able to figure out who set the better example.

Protocol for Lying - The senators let Condi Rice slide

Even by the accounts of people inclined to hate her, Senator Barbara Boxer delivered a fierce argument on January 18 against Condoleezza Rice's nomination for secretary of state. But if all the news you caught the next morning was in the headlines on National Public Radio, you wouldn't have known that. In the distilled world of audio broadcast, the only reference to the Rice-Boxer exchange was a 10-second clip, with Rice telling Boxer, "I would ask you to refrain from impugning my integrity," and Boxer responding, " I'm not."

It's hard to know who selects these bits, and why. Presumably, a 10-second excerpt is meant to capture the overall tone of the proceedings it's culled from, to give the listener a sense of a longer story in a very short time. But the impression one got from this segment was of a patient doyenne condescending to a nippy little harpy. It was not a representative excerpt: It was as if NPR had chosen to highlight Joe Biden's initial breathlessness, or Dianne Feinstein's tripping repeatedly over the word "Czechoslovakia." It represented Boxer at her worst, Woman at her worst, and whatever else Boxer had accomplished earlier in the day, what millions of listeners took away was this: Scrappy Boxer had launched a scud that landed inert at her opponent's pedicured feet.

That the text and context of Boxer's speech in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that day was much, much different was something you'd only find out had you stayed glued to CNN or C-SPAN during the hearing, or flipped channels after Morning Edition and heard the highlights of the day's dissent on Amy Goodman's Democracy Now! In the longer version, Boxer had asked Rice for "a candid discussion," to account for discrepancies between her words and the president's, her words and her other words, her words and the facts as documented in reports by Charles Duelfer and the 9/11 commission. Such an accounting would have required Rice to admit that many of the administration's reasons for invading Iraq were bunk. Rice would never do this, of course - she reaffirms repeatedly that Bush and she speak with one voice - and Boxer knew it. And so Boxer's request that Rice account for these discrepancies served only one purpose: To establish for the committee, and for the world, that Rice is a liar. In other words, to impugn her integrity.

As well it deserved to be impugned: In the words of Hans Blix, "It took much twisted evidence, including a forged uranium contract, to conjure up a revived Iraqi nuclear threat, even one that was somewhat distant," and yet there was Rice in the run-up to the war, talking about mushroom clouds. Or as returned-to the-chambers Senator John Kerry observed in the January 18 hearing, despite Rice's justification for the war as a pre-emptive attack on a country readying WMD, U.S. troops had not even bothered to guard a large cache of ammunition that was later used against them.

In statements throughout the proceedings she dodged, obfuscated and boldly rewrote history, responding cagily to questions from Senator Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island about her hypocritical disdain for Venezuela ("We hope that the government of Venezuela will continue to recognize what has been a mutually beneficial relationship on energy," she said); dismissing questions from Senator Joe Biden about whether the U.S. initially committed sufficient forces to secure Iraq ("I do believe that the plan and the forces we went in with were appropriate to the task," Rice told him); and stringing together a series of end runs around Senator Christopher Dodd's questions about what Rice believes constitutes torture - "Water-boarding?" Nudity? ("I don't want to comment on any specific interrogation techniques," she demurred. "I don't think that would be appropriate." Dodd called this "disappointing." You got the feeling Rice could have endorsed the decapitation of her critics, and the senators would have called it "disappointing.") Rice's answers were a triumph of insinuation as a substitute for facts. To impugn her integrity should have been uncontroversial.

This past Tuesday, before the full Senate, Senator Mark Dayton almost did, even using the word lying. "I really don't like being lied to repeatedly, flagrantly, intentionally," he said. "It's dangerous." It sounded profound. So why didn't Boxer do the same in her own fateful moment? When I called her office to find out, I felt a little like Howard Stern's Stuttering John asking Gennifer Flowers whether Clinton used a condom. "She didn't call her any names," insisted Boxer's press secretary, David Sandretti. "She never called her a liar, she never said ŒYou're not telling the truth.' She said,Œ You said this on this day, and you contradicted yourself on that day.' Excuse me, but doesn't that mean Boxer was calling Rice a liar? Sandretti didn't think so. "She was hoping to get satisfactory explanations about what she said, when she said and why she said it," he insisted. "[If she had said] Œwe had faulty information, we made a mistake' - those would have been acceptable answers, and had [Rice] given them, her integrity would have remained intact."

But certainly it was clear by the time of the fateful exchange that Rice was not going to give such answers. And despite a groundswell of support from other Democrats on Tuesday, Boxer still felt the need to introduce her otherwise forceful presentation to the full Senate with a 15-minute preamble devoted to defending her right to speak up, invoking Hamilton, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the tens of thousands of constituents who signed a
petition asking her to oppose Rice's nomination. "I am doing my job," Boxer said. "It's as simple as that."

"She was responding to all the people questioning her motives," Sandretti said. "Because when the chief of staff at the White House says you're playing petty politics and you should just go along and get along - she just felt that was wrong."

Much has been written about the Bush administration's aversion to dissent in its own ranks; Ron Suskind's best-selling The Price of Loyalty details a raft of stories in which people lost their jobs when they dared to dissent. Rice herself has promised that she and the president will "speak to the world with a single voice." Less has been said about how the current administration and its Republican allies have silenced dissent among the people they can't fire: not by fairly disputing their views, but by pretending to sneer at their bad-mannered ways - by branding them" obstructionist" and "unconstructive." The process played itself out in miniature in that final exchange on January 18 between the famously Sphinx-like Rice and her more emotional opponent: "Senator, we can have this discussion in any way you want," said Rice, the implication being that right here, right now, this discussion is a violation of protocol. It is shameful.

As the Senate wrapped up its last full day of debate on the matter this week, Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama took the floor to gripe in an exasperated drawl how "inappropriate" it was that "those people on the Œhard left' had to express all their views"; Senator John Cornyn of Texas shook his head and called last week's grilling and the day's questions "a crying shame." Neither man addressed any of the the very real questions their fellow senators on both sides of the aisle had raised about the integrity of the well-coifed woman destined to be our next secretary of state - the woman who played piano at 3, who never missed an opportunity to remind the committee of her cultural superiority ("You'll provoke me to respond in Russian," she told Dodd when he welcomed her to the committee in Spanish), and yet could not bring herself to categorically condemn the practice of interrogating a human prisoner by forcing him into a tank of water until he panics on the verge of drowning. That, and not the responsible expression of political speech in the Senate chamber, for which no one should apologize, is the more horrifying, crying shame.

A 9/11 question for Condoleezza Rice

No one could have predicted it.

That's what Condoleezza Rice said about 9/11. Yes, George W. Bush received a Presidential Daily Brief on Aug. 6, 2001, and yes, that brief was headlined, "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." But Rice and other administration officials have long maintained that no one could have predicted that terrorists would hijack a plane and try to use it as a weapon. "I don't think anybody could have predicted . . . that they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile," Rice said at a press briefing in May 2002.

Well, that's not quite true. Someone could have predicted it, and someone actually did. As we mentioned last night, today's New York Times brings news of a previously undisclosed report from the 9/11 Commission. According to the Times, the report says that the Federal Aviation Administration "had indeed considered the possibility that terrorists would hijack a plane and use it as a weapon," and that it actually warned U.S. airports in 2001 that terrorists might hijack an airplane in order to "commit suicide in a spectacular explosion."

Rice didn't see fit to mention any of this in her sworn public testimony before the 9/11 Commission last year. Asked about her pronouncement about the unpredictability of a planes-as-missiles scheme, Rice backtracked a bit, saying that the idea actually had been raised in reports within the "intelligence community" in 1998 and 1999. She didn't mention that the FAA had issued a warning about such an attack in the spring of 2001, just months before 9/11.

The Times says that the Bush administration "blocked" the public release of the newly disclosed 9/11 Commission for "more than five months" -- against the wishes of 9/11 Commissioner members -- but finally "provided both the classified report and a declassified, 120-page version to the National Archives two weeks ago."

Two weeks ago? Two weeks ago would be 'round about Jan. 27, and Jan. 27 would be the day after the U.S. Senate confirmed Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state. Maybe the timing is a coincidence, and we certainly wouldn't want to suggest otherwise. That might amount to "impugning" Rice's "integrity" and "credibility." And that would be wrong, wouldn't it? -- Tim Grieve [08:53 EST, Feb. 10, 2005]

Bush team tried to suppress pre-9/11 report into al-Qa'ida
By Andrew Buncombe in Washington
11 February 2005

Federal officials were repeatedly warned in the months before the 11 September 2001 terror attacks that Osama bin Laden and al-Qa'ida were planning aircraft hijackings and suicide attacks, according to a new report that the Bush administration has been suppressing.

Critics say the new information undermines the government's claim that intelligence about al-Qa'ida's ambitions was "historical" in nature.

The independent commission investigating the attacks on New York and Washington concluded that while officials at the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) did receive warnings, they were "lulled into a false sense of security". As a result, "intelligence that indicated a real and growing threat leading up to 9/11 did not stimulate significant increases in security procedures".

The report, withheld from the public for months, says the FAA was primarily focused on the likelihood of an incident overseas. However, in spring 2001, it warned US airports that if "the intent of the hijacker is not to exchange hostages for prisoners but to commit suicide in a spectacular explosion, a domestic hijacking would probably be preferable".

Kristin Bretweiser, whose husband was killed in the World Trade Centre, said yesterday the newly released details undermined testimony from Condoleezza Rice, the former national security adviser, who told the commission that information about al-Qa'ida's threats seen by the administration was "historical in nature".

She told The Independent: "There were 52 threats that were mentioned. These were present threats - they were not historical. There were steps that could have been taken. Marshals could have been put on planes that spring. Condoleezza Rice's testimony is undermined." To the consternation of members of the commission who published the original report last year, the administration has been blocking the release of the latest information. An unclassified copy of this additional appendix was passed to the National Archives two weeks ago with large portions blacked out.

The latest pages note that of the FAA's 105 daily intelligence summaries between 1 April 2001 and 10 September 2001, 52 of them mentioned Osama bin Laden, al-Qa'ida, or both. The report also concludes that officials did not expand the use of in-flight air marshals or tighten airport screening for weapons. It said FAA officials were more concerned with reducing airline congestion, lessening delays and easing air carriers' financial problems than thwarting a terrorist attack.

Laura Brown, a spokeswoman for the FAA, said the agency received intelligence from other agencies, which it passed on to airlines and airports. "[But] we had no specific information about means or methods that would have enabled us to tailor any countermeasures," she said. "We were spending $100m a year to deploy explosive detection equipment."

The commission's report, issued last summer, detailed missed opportunities that, had law enforcement agencies acted differently, may have provided a chance to prevent the attacks. It also listed recommendations to prevent further attacks. It said the administrations of George Bush and Bill Clinton could have done more to stand up to al-Qa'ida.

But the details, first obtained by The New York Times, are the strongest evidence yet of the widespread warnings and officials' failure to take action. They also support claims by whistleblower Sibel Edmonds, a former FBI translator, who said she saw evidence that showed officials were aware of the al-Qa'ida threat before 9/11.

Attta and Al-Omari walk into U.S.
Mohamed Atta and Abdulaziz Al-Omari at the Portland, Maine, airport on Sept. 11, 2001.

The last line of defense
The 9/11 commission report and aviation security experts paint a damning picture of how America's airline security failed -- and is still failing.
By Kevin Berger

Aug. 3, 2004 | So far, media coverage of the 9/11 commission report has been dominated by story lines out of John le Carré novels. We've learned that the CIA failed to penetrate al-Qaida in the Middle East and capture the deadly hijackers, how the FBI gave short shrift to an internal memo warning that suspected terrorists were taking flight lessons in the United States, and how President Bush let slide a daily briefing that an emboldened bin Laden planned to attack American shores.

The focus on the wrenching series of failures among intelligence groups is important and justified. But all of the international intrigue, not to mention partisan sniping over what president or government agency was at fault, has deflected attention from the one culprit that gets a universal thrashing in the 9/11 report: the Federal Aviation Administration.

Still more troubling, the 9/11 report portrays the successor to the beleaguered FAA, the Transportation Security Administration, as infected with a host of similar problems -- a charge amplified by a host of former FAA security analysts and aviation security experts.

"Look at security measures before 9/11 and look at them after 9/11," says Michael Boyd, president of the Boyd Group, an aviation consultant firm based in Colorado. "The flaws are still there."

The FAA -- the guardian of American skies and airports, with a special writ to protect travelers from criminal acts, including terrorism -- should have been the last line of defense. Instead, 19 terrorists slipped through its porous shield.

Here are just a few ways the 9/11 report gives the FAA an unequivocal thumbs-down:

• Each layer of the FAA "relevant to hijackings -- intelligence, passenger prescreening, checkpoint screening, and onboard security -- was seriously flawed."

• Jane Garvey, who guided the FAA from 1997 to 2002, did not review daily intelligence. As a result, she was "unaware of a great amount of hijacking threat information from her own intelligence unit."

• Although government watchlists contained the names of tens of thousands of known terrorists, the FAA's own "no-fly" list contained names of just 12 terrorist suspects (including mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed).

In a rare moment of hyperbole, the report calls the discrepancy between the extensive terrorist roster and the meager FAA list, the one that airline clerks perused, an "astonishing mismatch."

Indeed, reading how the hijackers slipped through cracks in security on Sept. 11 is astonishing. Four of the five hijackers on American Flight 11, the first jet to hit the World Trade Center, were flagged as suspect by airline clerks at check-in counters; their luggage was examined, no explosives were found, and they were sent on their way. Two of the hijackers on American Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon, set off the security gate alarm -- but the screeners didn't bother to resolve what caused the buzz. The hijackers were hand-wanded, cleared and allowed to march onto the planes.

And that's just the airports. Revelations abound about what happened in the sky, beginning with the first chapter, "We have some planes," a reference to the first thing an FAA controller overheard a hijacker say on Flight 11. Thirty minutes passed before the controller figured out the significance of that statement. Things could have gone very differently had officials realized immediately that more than one plane was in the hands of terrorists.

White House Aug. 6, 2001, al-Qaida briefing
Reuters - Updated: 7:19 p.m. ET April 10, 2004

WASHINGTON - The following is the full text of an Aug. 6, 2001, intelligence briefing for President George W. Bush that outlined al-Qaida plans to strike within the United States.

It was released on Saturday by the White House.

Declassified and Approved for Release, 10 April 2004

Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US

Clandestine, foreign government, and media reports indicate Bin Ladin since 1997 has wanted to conduct terrorist attacks in the US. Bin Ladin implied in US television interviews in 1997 and 1998 that his followers would follow the example of World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef and "bring the fighting to America."

After US missile strikes on his base in Afghanistan in 1998, Bin Ladin told followers he wanted to retaliate in Washington, according to a ...(redacted portion) ... service.

An Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) operative told an ... (redacted portion) ... service at the same time that Bin Ladin was planning to exploit the operative's access to the US to mount a terrorist strike.

The millennium plotting in Canada in 1999 may have been part of Bin Ladin's first serious attempt to implement a terrorist strike in the US. Convicted plotter Ahmed Ressam has told the FBI that he conceived the idea to attack Los Angeles International Airport himself, but that Bin Ladin lieutenant Abu Zubaydah encouraged him and helped facilitate the operation. Ressam also said that in 1998 Abu Zubaydah was planning his own US attack.

Ressam says Bin Ladin was aware of the Los Angeles operation.

Although Bin Ladin has not succeeded, his attacks against the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 demonstrate that he prepares operations years in advance and is not deterred by setbacks. Bin Ladin associates surveilled our Embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam as early as 1993, and some members of the Nairobi cell planning the bombings were arrested and deported in 1997.

Al-Qa'ida members -- including some who are US citizens --have resided in or traveled to the US for years, and the group apparently maintains a support structure that could aid attacks. Two al-Qa'ida members found guilty in the conspiracy to bomb our Embassies in East Africa were US citizens, and a senior EIJ member lived in California in the mid-1990s.

A clandestine source said in 1998 that a Bin Ladin cell in New York was recruiting Muslim-American youth for attacks. We have not been able to corroborate some of the more sensational threat reporting, such as that from a ... (redacted portion) ... service in 1998 saying that Bin Ladin wanted to hijack a US aircraft to gain the release of "Blind Shaykh" 'Umar 'Abd al-Rahman and other US-held extremists.

Nevertheless, FBI information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.

The FBI is conducting approximately 70 full field investigations throughout the US that it considers Bin Ladin-related. CIA and the FBI are investigating a call to our Embassy in the UAE in May saying that a group of Bin Ladin supporters was in the US planning attacks with explosives.

National Security Advisor Holds Press Briefing
Press Briefing by National Security Advisor Dr. Condoleezza Rice
The James S. Brady Briefing Room - 4:10 P.M. EDT

DR. RICE: Good afternoon. I'm going to give you a chronology of the events that occurred during the spring and summer of 2001. But I want to start with a little definitional work. When we talk about threats, they come in many varieties. Very often we have uncorroborated information; sometimes we have corroborated but very general information. But I can tell you that it is almost never the case that we have information that is specific as to time, place, or method of attack.

In the period starting in December 2000, the intelligence community started reporting increase in traffic concerning terrorist activities. In the April-May time frame, there was specific threat reporting about al Qaeda attacks against U.S. targets or interest that might be in the works.

Now, there was a clear concern that something was up, that something was coming, but it was principally focused overseas. The areas of those concern were the Middle East, the Arabian Peninsula, and Europe.

In the June time frame, arrests for the Millennium plot, there was testimony by the participants in the Millennium plot that Abu Zabeda had said that there might be interest in attacking the United States. And this comes out of testimony that was there as a result of the Millennium plot. And then in June -- on June 26th, there was a threat spike, and as a result, again focusing overseas, the State Department issued a worldwide caution. Again, that was June 26th, and you probably remember that caution.

Now, the FAA was also concerned of threats to U.S. citizens such as airline hijackings, and therefore, issued an information circular -- and an information circular goes out the private carriers from law enforcement -- saying that we have a concern. That was a June 22nd information circular.

At the end of June, there was a status of threat and action meeting that the -- what we call the Counterterrorism Security Group -- it is a group that is interagency that meets on the direction of an NSC Special Assistant, Dick Clarke at that time. There was a meeting of that, and Dick Clarke reported to me that steps were being taken by the CSG.

On July 2nd, as a result of some of that work, the FBI released a message saying that there are threats to be worried about overseas, but we cannot -- while we cannot foresee attacks domestically, we cannot rule them out. This is an inlet, and again, an inlet goes out to law enforcement from the FBI.

On July 2nd, the FAA issued another IC, saying that Ressam -- again associated with the Millennium plot -- said that there was an intention of using explosives in an airport terminal. This was a very specific IC.

On July 5th, the threat reporting had become sufficiently robust, though not, again, very specific, but sufficiently robust, there was a lot of chatter in the system, that in his morning meeting the President asked me to go back and to see what was being done about all of the chatter that was there. Andy Card and I met that afternoon with Dick Clarke, and Dick Clarke informed us that he had already had a meeting of the CSG core group and that he was holding another meeting that afternoon that would be focused on threats, and that would bring the domestic agencies into the CSG.

On July 6th, the CSG core players met again because there was concern about -- very high concern about potential attacks in Paris, Turkey, Rome, and they acted to go so far as to suspend non-essential travel of U.S. counterterrorism staff. So this is a period in which, again, attacks -- potential attacks overseas were heightened enough that there was almost daily meeting now, sometimes twice a day, of either the CSG or its subgroups. Contingency planning was done on how to deal with multiple, simultaneous attacks around the world.

The period in mid-July was a point of another major threat spike, and it all related to the G-8 summit that was coming up. And in fact, there was specific threat information about the President. There was a lot of work done with liaison services abroad; in fact, the CIA went on what I think you would call a full-court press to try and deal with these potential attacks, and indeed, managed through these intelligence activities and liaison activities to disrupt attacks in Paris, Turkey and Rome.

On July 18th, the FAA issued another IC, saying that there were ongoing terrorist threats overseas, and that although there were no specific threats directed at civil aviation, they told the airlines, "we urge you to use the highest level of caution."

On July 18th also, the FBI issued another inlet on the Millennium plot conviction, reiterating its July 2nd message saying we're concerned about threats as a result of the Millennium plot conviction.

At the end of July, the FAA issued another IC, which said, there's no specific target, no credible info of attack to U.S. civil aviation interests, but terror groups are known to be planning and training for hijackings, and we ask you, therefore, to urge -- to use caution.

Throughout July and August, several times a week, there were meetings of the CSG, reviewing information at hand. There was no specific new information that came in in that period of time after the end of July and sort of in August, leading up to September. But the agencies were still at a heightened state of alert. Particularly overseas. I think the military actually had dropped its state of alert, but everybody was still on a heightened state of alert.

On August 1st, the FBI issued another inlet on the upcoming third East Africa bombing anniversary, and again reiterated the message that had been in the July 2nd inlet.

Now, on August 6th, the President received a presidential daily briefing which was not a warning briefing, but an analytic report. This analytic report, which did not have warning information in it of the kind that said, they are talking about an attack against so forth or so on, it was an analytic report that talked about UBL's methods of operation, talked about what he had done historically, in 1997, in 1998. It mentioned hijacking, but hijacking in the traditional sense, and in a sense, said that the most important and most likely thing was that they would take over an airliner, holding passengers and demand the release of one of their operatives. And the blind sheikh was mentioned by name as -- even though he's not an operative of al Qaeda, but as somebody who might be bargained in this way.

I want to reiterate, it was not a warning. There was no specific time, place or method mentioned. What you have seen in the run-up that I've talked about is that the FAA was reacting to the same kind of generalized information about a potential hijacking as a method that al Qaeda might employ, but no specific information saying that they were planning such an attack at a particular time.

There is one other FAA IC in this period, issued on August 16th, where the FAA issued an IC on disguised weapons. They were concerned about some reports that the terrorists had made breakthroughs in cell phones, key chains and pens as weapons.

There are a number of other ICs that were also issued; we don't think they were germane to this, but I'm sure you can get the full record of all of the ICs that were released from Transportation.

I want to reiterate that during this time, the overwhelming bulk of the evidence was that this was an attack that was likely to take place overseas. The State Department, the Defense Department were on very high states of alert. The embassies were -- have very clear protocols on how to button up; so does the military. That was done. But at home, while there was much less reporting or chatter at home, people were thinking about the U.S. and the FBI was involved in a number of investigations of potential al Qaeda personnel operating in the United States.

And that's my opening, and I'll take questions. Ron.

Q Why didn't the American public know about these facts before they got on planes in the summer and fall of last year?

DR. RICE: It is always, as you've learned since September 11th, a question of how good the information is and whether or not putting the information out is a responsible thing to do. I've emphasized that this was the most generalized kind of information. There was no time, there was no place, there was no method of attack. It simply said, these are people who train and seem to talk possibly about hijackings -- that you would have risked shutting down the American civil aviation system with such generalized information. I think you would have had to think five, six, seven times about that very, very hard.

Steps were taken, and I'm sure security steps were taken. But you have to realize that when you're dealing with something this general, there's a limit to the amount that you can do.

Q What security steps --

DR. RICE: Again, the FAA asked security personnel, ground personnel to have a heightened state of alert because there were tensions in the Middle East --

Q -- in any security --

DR. RICE: There were tensions in the Middle East that were leading to terrorists who had sympathies with those Middle East events. There were various trials going on, and it was the association with all that was going on that said, look, these are people who talk from time to time about -- and train for hijacking; you should take a look at your security procedures and try to respond. But this was very generalized information.

Q Specifically, after this August 6th analytic report briefing that the President had, what did he do? What did other people in the administration do? What did he make of it? What action was taken? And why didn't he ever tell the American people about it?

DR. RICE: Well, the action was being taken, because, if you notice, what is briefed to him in kind of a summary way -- and I should say, he had said to his briefer, I'd like you from time to time to give me summaries of what you know about potential attacks. And this was an analytic piece that tried to bring together several threads -- in 1997, they talked about this; in 1998, they talked about that; it's been known that maybe they want to try and release the blind Sheikh -- I mean, that was the character of it. And so the actions were being taken in response to the generalized information that was being reported here, too. And the President was aware that there were ongoing efforts that were being taken.

Q -- any specific information just prior to August 6th that raised concerns about hijacking of U.S. planes?

DR. RICE: Again, this was generalized information that put together the fact that there were terrorist groups who were unhappy about things that were going on in the Middle East, as well as al Qaeda operatives, which we'd been watching for a long time -- that there was more chatter than usual, and that we knew that they were people who might try a hijacking. But, you know, again, that terrorism and hijacking might be associated is not rocket science.

Q Why shouldn't this be seen as an intelligence failure, that you were unable to predict something happening here?

DR. RICE: Steve, I don't think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center, take another one and slam it into the Pentagon; that they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile. All of this reporting about hijacking was about traditional hijacking. You take a plane -- people were worried they might blow one up, but they were mostly worried that they might try to take a plane and use it for release of the blind Sheikh or some of their own people.

But I think that there's always a fine balance, but even in retrospect, even in hindsight, there was nothing in what was briefed to the President that would suggest that you would go out and say to the American people, look, I just read that terrorists might hijack and aircraft. They talk about hijacking an aircraft once in a while, but have no specifics about when, where, under what circumstances.


Q Condi, this analytic report that the President received sounds like it wasn't his ordinary morning brief. Was it something that he had requested because of the various elements that had come up? Was it something you had requested? And just to follow up on Terry's point here, was the hijacking mentioned here based on any new intelligence that had been developed between these meetings that you mentioned in the July 5th-6th time frame, or was it simply -- did it come out of the Philippines experience?

DR. RICE: It was actually summarizing the kind of intelligence that they'd been acting on. I think it's a little strong to actually call it intelligence -- the interpretation that was there that these were people who might try hijacking.

It was -- very often as a part of his normal brief, David, he will get things that have been prepared for him because he's asked for a specific kind of document. And as I said, he frequently says, you know, I'd like to see everything you know about X; or I'd like you to summarize -- because, as you can imagine, you get intelligence in little snippets, it's helpful from time to time to put it together.

Q And did this also include then the unified FBI findings? Of course, the Phoenix memo had been through the FBI in July -- did it include concerns about Moussaoui? And how much did this bring in the other agencies?

DR. RICE: This did not include the issues that you just talked about, it did not.

Q Was that a failure to your mind? Should it have?

DR. RICE: Look, let me just speak to the Moussaoui and the so-called Phoenix memorandum. As you might imagine, a lot of things are prepared within agencies; they're distributed internally, they're worked internally. It's unusual that anything like that would get to the President. He doesn't recall seeing anything, I don't recall seeing anything of this kind.

Q On Phoenix or on Moussaoui --

DR. RICE: On either. Prior to September 11th. But I've asked George Tenet and I've asked Bob Mueller and I've asked my own people to spend some time really going in depth and seeing whether or not it was possible that it got to the President.

Q Condi, officials who are familiar with the President's briefing have suggested that the information about hijackings was so vague and so general that you could read it from the podium without any danger to sources and methods. Could you read us those couple of lines about hijackings?

DR. RICE: I'm not going to read you the couple of lines, but I will tell you, Jim, that it was very vague. The one piece that had any texture at all was that it might be for the purpose of freeing an operative like the blind Sheikh.

But again, most of what people were acting on was these were terrorist groups who were dissatisfied. We had reasons to believe that there was more chatter, more talk of attacks. Hijackings seemed one possibility. They train and seemed to be interested in that, but nothing more specific than that.

Q I've been led to believe that hijacking was actually a minor part of that briefing. You're suggesting it was an analytical look at all of the kinds of things that al Qaeda was considering and working on?

DR. RICE: I would say that most of it was actually historical. It was not a catalogue of, they might use this, they might use this, they might use this, they might use that. That was not the character. But it was mostly historical, going back to things that happened in '97, things that happened in '98, kind of methods of operation in the embassy bombings, might they return to some of those methods. It was that kind of thing.

Q So, two questions. No discussion at all then in this analytical briefing about either the information during the investigation in the Philippines about possibly flying a plane into the CIA building, or the investigation overseas about possibly flying a plane into the Eiffel Tower? No analytical information discussing those options at all?

And, B, you know that you would not be here today if it weren't eight months after the attack we hear for the first time that, even in a general sense, the word "hijacking" and "al Qaeda" was before the President prior to September 11th. Why is it that in all the questioning of administration officials -- the President, the Vice President, yourself and others, did you have any hint, did you have any clue, that nobody simply said, you know, we didn't; there was this general talk once of hijacking, but we looked into it, it had nothing to do with this, there was no connection?

DR. RICE: John, this all came out as a result of our preparations to help the committees on the Hill that are getting ready to review the events. It wasn't -- frankly, it didn't pop to the front of people's minds, because it's one report among very, very many that you get.

And so it's out of that review that it became clear that this was there. I will say that, again, hijacking before 9/11 and hijacking after 9/11 do mean two very, very different things. And so focusing on it before 9/11 -- perhaps it's clear that after 9/11 you would have looked at this differently, but certainly not before 9/11.

Q And no discussion in this briefing, or any others, about the possibility of al Qaeda hijacking, and the fact that there have been active investigations into the possibility of a CIA building plot, or an Eiffel Tower plot. Never came up?

DR. RICE: It did not come up.

Q Was that an intelligence failure, that nobody said, you know, there has been talk about doing this elsewhere?

DR. RICE: We knew that there were -- that there were discussions of hijacking. We knew that there were -- that they had thought about hijackings in a number of places. But, again, the information that was there in the PDB, which is the reference point here, was not about those activities.

Q When did the White House hear about the Phoenix memorandum? You said it was before -- not before September 11th. When did you finally hear about the Phoenix memorandum?

DR. RICE: No, what I said -- let me be very clear, because we're going to be certain of our facts here. And as you might imagine, it takes a little time to make sure of the facts. Neither the President, nor I have recollection of ever hearing about the Phoenix memo in the time prior to September 11th. We've asked FBI, CIA, our own people, to go back and see whether or not it's possible that it somehow came to him. I personally became aware of it just recently.

Q And the second question, Dr. Rice. Many members of Congress, of both parties, are expressing some anger or saying they weren't informed about these briefings, or intelligence readings, or whatever was being held in the White House in August and September. Was that a valid point in July and August?

DR. RICE: Well, the general threat information of the kind that I've been talking about -- heightened sense of alert, concerns that al Qaeda might be plotting something, particularly, overseas -- it is my understanding that on a regular basis, the intelligence committees were told about the concerns of the intelligence agencies about these kinds of activities.

Again, this is principally -- these were all principally pretty general, with the exception I think of the overseas threat that had to do with the G-8, which was more specific than anything else that we had.

Q Dr. Rice, can you tell us whether you had conversations with Mr. Clarke expressly about what the potential impact on American commercial aviation would be in the event of a hijacking and the taking of hostages? You said earlier that the impact could have been extraordinary. Could you elaborate? And what did you and Mr. Clarke discuss as to --

DR. RICE: I'm sorry, that it could have been extraordinary?

Q That you'd considered issuing a warning.

DR. RICE: No, I didn't say that. I said, you always have to consider whether or not from some incredibly general information you want to try and issue a warning, because this was very, very general information. I don't think we ever thought a warning made sense in this context. It was not like post 9/11, when even then people have said, well, you issued a really general warning, what are people supposed to do?

In the pre 9/11 period, we really never even considered issuing a warning. I was saying that if it had been considered, you would have had to consider very carefully what kind of impact you would have. But it was actually never considered. What was done was to get the FAA in the room so that they could do the things that they thought appropriate under these circumstances.

Q Did you meet directly with --

DR. RICE: I did not.

Q Going back to the August 6th briefing that he had, that's the very first time that the President hears both the term hijacking and UBL together. Did he respond at all? And secondly, were those two linked in any way in briefings that he got after that, until September 11th?

DR. RICE: Well, there are a couple of other times that hijacking and terrorism are mentioned in this --

Q How many?

DR. RICE: I think a couple. I mean, it's not -- it doesn't feature prominently in the reporting, because again, it was not based on information that they were planning a particular hijacking at a particular point in time. Certainly nothing like we were looking at that there might be attacks against the G-8 leadership, there might be attacks against the President. It might be in Rome. A lot of chatter around Rome. Nothing like that. This was an analytic piece about methods that they had available to them.

Q As a follow-up to that, between August 6th and September 11th, this was somehow kept on the President's plate, in front of the President a bit. Was it kept on your plate, as well?

DR. RICE: Certainly what was -- first of all, kept on the plate of the agencies was that a number of these ICs were still in force. So there was a continued alert level. As I've said, the one place where I think we've determined that there was a lowering of alert level was the military came down kind of one-half level. As you know, it's very hard for them to stay on extremely high alert.

We continued to monitor and follow this. There are threat conferences, threat warning conferences, meetings of the CSG, civets, as we call them, by teleconference several times a week. And that continued in this period. But there was no new information that suggested something more was afoot.

Q Dr. Rice, there are a lot of widows and widowers and family members of the victims of September 11th who are listening to this, and thinking today that the government let them down, that there were intelligence failures. As the person who is supposed to connect the dots with the NSC for the President, what would you like to say to them today?

DR. RICE: This government did everything that it could in a period in which the information was very generalized, in which there was nothing specific to which to react. And had this President known of something more specific, or known that a plane was going to be used as a missile, he would have acted on it. But the fact is, this, in retrospect even, looks hard to put together. At the time, we were looking at something very different. To the degree that hijacking was an issue, it was traditional hijacking.

The threats -- al Qaeda -- you know, you did have the FBI actively pursuing leads and trying to run this down. You did get the disruption of attacks in Rome and Paris and in Turkey. But this President, who takes extremely seriously the security of the United States, was doing everything that he could in this period, as were the rest of the public servants in this government.

Q Dr. Rice, I'd like to know a little bit more about the August 6th meeting. It was at the ranch. Were you there? And was the analytic report the only subject discussed in the briefing? Was it an oral presentation, was it a document? How lengthy was the document? Was there only one mention of hijacking in that document?

DR. RICE: It is a document, Judy. There were other things briefed that day. I don't actually know what they were. The President's daily briefing is usually several briefings on various subjects. I was here in Washington, not in Crawford, but I did talk with the -- I always talk to the President immediately after his briefings.

The President and I talked all the time during this period of time about al Qaeda. He was particularly concerned not just about threats to -- that they might be threatening us, but how we went after them. And so there was a lot of work going on in this entire period also to try and put together a strategy to bring them down.

Q How long was the document, and was there, in fact, only one sentence that mentioned hijacking?

DR. RICE: The word, "hijacking" is mentioned once in the specific way that I've talked about and one other time kind of in summary. It's a page and a half document.

Q You said that all of this came out as you prepared documents for upcoming committee hearings. Was this a document that you had intended would get out in the public forum of committee hearings, or had you asked them to keep it classified?

DR. RICE: We had not made any determination as to what documents were going forward, the nature of that. We're working with the committee right now to try to make sure that they have access to the information. I mean, after all, it is important that the full story get out there. The American people deserve that; the administration wants that. And we are working with the committee on these documents.

Q Had this document actually gone to Capitol Hill?

DR. RICE: I don't know the answer to that, John. I don't think so -- no, this document had not.

Q Dr. Rice, when the information was passed on from the FAA to the airline carriers, did any of that information include specifically a reference to al Qaeda or Osama bin Laden? Because terrorists are terrorists, but this group obviously was viewed even by the government as a more serious threat. Did those warnings -- were they specific enough to say, not just worry about hijacks, or worry about terrorist hijacking, but did they say bin Laden?

DR. RICE: We were worried about al Qaeda, and al Qaeda was clearly at the top of the heap. But there were other terrorist organizations that we were also worried about in this period of time. The EIJ, for instance, because it was -- the blind Sheikh's organization was that organization. So I think that what you saw was that the concern about terrorism, or about terrorists, was actually broader than just al Qaeda. Al Qaeda was one of organization that might use this particular method. So it said "terrorist."

Q Dr. Rice, forgive me, this page and a half document on August 6th, I know you say it was non-specific, and I know you say it's a compendium and an analytical report -- how can you say it wasn't a warning? Are you not telling the President that there's danger ahead?

DR. RICE: No. A warning -- there was nothing that said this is going to happen, or this might happen. It said, this is a method that these people might be considering. That was the nature of this. And it was very non-specific. In the sense that -- you know, if -- going again, comparing it to what we were seeing, for instance, on the G-8, this was an analytic piece that looked at methods that they might use.

Everybody knew that terrorists and hijacking have been associated -- for time immemorial. And how many hijackings have there been by terrorists? In that sense, there was nothing really new here. And in fact, since it was mentioned a couple of other times that there might be hijackings -- again, non-specific -- I think it would be very hard to characterize this as a warning.

Q Dr. Rice, are you aware of the reports at the time that -- was in Washington on September 11th, and on September 10th, $100,000 was wired to Pakistan to this group here in this area? While he was here meeting with you or anybody in the administration?

DR. RICE: I have not seen that report, and he was certainly not meeting with me.

Q Dr. Rice, on the issue of connecting the dots, you talked about a number of things here -- the possibility of a CIA building, the Eiffel Tower, Moussaoui, Phoenix, all those other dots that are out there. Where do you think those dots should have come together? Should the briefer who prepared the document for the President have known about all those things? Is there a place where this should have come together?

DR. RICE: Well, I think that one of the important questions is how we go forward, organizationally, to deal with some scenes. And I thought Director Mueller's testimony yesterday to this effect, that called for reorganization that would cause great fusion of intelligence from different sources, and particularly from domestic and foreign sources, is probably right.

But let me just say, we've already begun to make some of those changes. There is an Office of Homeland Security. And I think that's an important change. Secondly, every day now, in the morning, the President sits with the Vice President, with Andy Card, with me, with George Tenet, with Bob Mueller, and with Tom Ridge -- and often with John Ashcroft -- and there's a kind of fusion going on at the top. And the challenge is going to be to build down into the system that same kind of bringing together of information. And I think that's what Bob Mueller and George Tenet and others are looking at. And it's one reason that we have every reason to want to look at -- fully at what happened.

Q On the G-8 plot -- could you just say something more about the G-8 plot? Wasn't that an airplane filled with explosives? Wasn't that plane --

DR. RICE: There were many different potential methods described concerning the G-8. Many. The most troubling was not a specific method with a specific place, but specific targets, like the President.

Q -- want to ask about, was there any link to bin Laden in those threats? And how serious did you take them? How specific were they?

DR. RICE: We took the threats very seriously, because they were somewhat more specific. Again, when I say more specific, it didn't say, on July this date, at this place, at this time, so- and-so will happen. But there was greater texture, there was certainly more information. It's one reason that George Tenet went out of his way to, I would say, tell the agency to go to the ramparts out in the field, to really stir up our liaison services. And I think it was successful, because there were several disruptions.

Campbell, you have got the last question.

Q I just want to go back to the issue of hijacking. You said the FAA in July did issue a kind of warning or an alert of sorts to the
airlines, saying that terror groups were planning or training for hijacking, did you not -- at the end of July? You were taking us through the time line. I just want to be clear that, isn't it unusual that you would make the decision to bring the FAA into this? That there was enough concern that hijackings would be a problem that you would say, you need to let the airlines know and --

DR. RICE: The FAA was one of only -- only one of the domestic agencies brought in. Customs was brought in; INS was brought in. So this was an effort to bring in domestic agencies that might have potential vulnerabilities. But, again, let me read it, because it's extremely important, because, again, they were acting on general information, and therefore, the IC is very general.

And it says, "The target is not clear" -- this is July 31 -- "The target is not clear. The FAA has no credible info to attack U.S. civil aviation interests. Nevertheless, some of the current active groups are known to plan and train for hijackings. FAA encourages all U.S. carriers to exercise prudence and demonstrate a high degree of alertness."

So, again, the operative words here, that "some of the current active groups are known to plan and train for," not, they're planning a particular hijacking.

Q But you went through a list of these. I mean, is it possible -- how do you get the airlines to pay attention to them, if you're putting them out periodically, and if it is something general like this, what do you really expect them to do?

DR. RICE: Well, the problem, as I was explaining when somebody asked me, why didn't we go public with some of these alerts -- or some of this information -- is that when you're dealing with very general information, all you can do is tell people it's very general. And I -- you would have to refer to the Transportation Department and the FAA to get a better sense for what protocols are followed, or how this is all done. But the FAA issued these ICs that, again, were based on very general information and were intended just to alert people that these were organizations that were angry, there was a lot of threat reporting about them, and hijacking was considered to be one of their methods. And that was the extent of it.

Q What was the date of that IC you just read?

DR. RICE: 31 July.

Thank you.
END 4:47 P.M. EDT

"I would have moved mountains"

Remember President Bush's repeated declaration that he would have "moved mountains" to stop the terrorist attacks against America on Sept. 11th if he'd had any inkling of the plot?

A report from the 9/11 commission, previously undisclosed, indicates that under Bush the F.A.A. put out specific warnings about hijackings in the months before the attacks -- quite a few of them. From the New York Times:

"In the months before the Sept. 11 attacks, federal aviation officials reviewed dozens of intelligence reports that warned about Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, some of which specifically discussed airline hijackings and suicide operations.

"The [9/11] report discloses that the Federal Aviation Administration, despite being focused on risks of hijackings overseas, warned airports in the spring of 2001 that if 'the intent of the hijacker is not to exchange hostages for prisoners, but to commit suicide in a spectacular explosion, a domestic hijacking would probably be preferable.'

"The Bush administration has blocked the public release of the full, classified version of the report for more than five months, officials said, much to the frustration of former commission members who say it provides a critical understanding of the failures of the civil aviation system. The administration provided both the classified report and a declassified, 120-page version to the National Archives two weeks ago and, even with heavy redactions in some areas, the declassified version provides the firmest evidence to date about the warnings that aviation officials received concerning the threat of an attack on airliners and the failure to take steps to deter it.

"Among other things, the report says that leaders of the F.A.A. received 52 intelligence reports from their security branch that mentioned Mr. Bin Laden or Al Qaeda from April to Sept. 10, 2001. That represented half of all the intelligence summaries in that time." -- Mark Follman [22:16 EST, Feb. 9, 2005]

President Bush Speaks to Reporters at Fort Hood, Texas
Remarks by the President to the Travel Pool Fort Hood, Texas 10:15 A.M. CDT

THE PRESIDENT: Happy Easter to everybody. It's our honor to have celebrated this holy day with family members whose loved one is in Iraq. Fort Hood has made a mighty contribution to freedom in Iraq and to security for the country. I value my time with the family members and those who sacrifice on behalf of the country.

Today I ask for God's blessings for our troops overseas, may He protect them and may He continue to bless our country.

I'll answer a couple of questions. Scott.

Q Thank you, Mr. President. We're coming off a week in which dozens of American soldiers have died. We've seen images of incredible violence and chaos. Should Americans brace for weeks, or months of this? Do you expect it to abate soon? And, also, what's General Abizaid telling you about how many more troops he'll need, if any?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I've spoken to General Abizaid twice in the last four or five days. He knows full well that when he speaks to me that if he needs additional manpower he can ask for it. He believes, like I believe, that this violence we've seen is part of a few people trying to stop progress toward democracy. Fallujah, south of Baghdad, these incidents were basically thrust upon the innocent Iraqi people by gangs, violent gangs.

And our troops are taking care of business. Their job is to make Iraq more secure so that a peaceful Iraq can emerge. And they're doing a great job. And it was a tough week last week, and my prayers and thoughts are with those who paid the ultimate price for our security. A free Iraq will make the world more peaceful. A free Iraq is going to change the world. And it's been tough, and our troops are -- our troops are performing brilliantly and bravely.

Q Do you think it's right to add --

THE PRESIDENT: It's hard to tell. I just know this, that we're plenty tough and we'll remain tough. Now, listen, obviously, we're open minded to suggestions -- members of the Governing Council wanted a chance to move into Fallujah and see if they could bring some order to the gangs and violence. And as you can tell, our military is giving them a chance to do so. Obviously, I pray every day there's less casualty.

But I know what we're doing in Iraq is right. It's right for long-term peace. It's right for the security of our country. And it's hard work. And today, on bended knee, I thank the good Lord for protecting those of our troops overseas, and our coalition troops and innocent Iraqis who suffer at the hands of some of these senseless killings by people who are trying to shake our will.

Yes, sir.

Q Mr. President, could you tell us, did you see the presidential -- the President's Daily Brief from August of '01 as a warning --

THE PRESIDENT: Did I see it? Of course I saw it; I asked for it.

Q No, no, I'm sorry -- did you see it as a warning of hijackers? And how did you respond to that?

THE PRESIDENT: My response was exactly like then as it is today, that I asked for the Central Intelligence Agency to give me an update on any terrorist threats. And the PDB was no indication of a terrorist threat. There was not a time and place of an attack. It said Osama bin Laden had designs on America. Well, I knew that. What I wanted to know was, is there anything specifically going to take place in America that we needed to react to?

As you might recall, there was some specific threats for overseas that we reacted to. And as the President, I wanted to know whether there was anything, any actionable intelligence. And I looked at the August 6th briefing, I was satisfied that some of the matters were being looked into. But that PDB said nothing about an attack on America. It talked about intentions, about somebody who hated America -- well, we knew that.

Yes, Dave.

Q Just to follow up on that, Mr. President. There was, in that PDB, specific information about activity that may speak to a larger battle plan, even if it wasn't specific. So I wonder if you could say what specifically was done, and do you think your administration should have done anything more?

THE PRESIDENT: David, look, let me just say it again: Had I known there was going to be an attack on America, I would have moved mountains to stop the attack. I would have done everything I can. My job is to protect the American people. And I asked the intelligence agency to analyze the data to tell me whether or not we faced a threat internally, like they thought we had faced a threat in other parts of the world. That's what the PDB request was. And had there been actionable intelligence, we would have moved on it.

I'm not exactly sure what you're referring to in the PDB, but if you're referring to the fact that the FBI was investigating things, that's great, that's what we expect the FBI to do.

Q Wasn't that current threat information? That wasn't historical, that was ongoing.

THE PRESIDENT: Right, and had they found something, they would have reported it to me. That's -- we were doing precisely what the American people expects us to do: run down every lead, look at every scintilla of intelligence, and follow up on it. But there was -- again, I can't say it as plainly as this: Had I known, we would have acted. Of course we would have acted. Any administration would have acted. The previous administration would have acted. That's our job.

Q Are you satisfied, though, that each agency was doing everything it should have been doing?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, that's what the 9/11 Commission should look into, and I hope it does. It's an important part of the assignment of the 9/11 Commission. And I look forward to their recommendations, a full analysis of what took place. I am satisfied that I never saw any intelligence that indicated there was going to be an attack on America -- at a time and a place, an attack. Of course we knew that America was hated by Osama bin Laden. That was obvious. The question was, who was going to attack us, when and where, and with what. And you might recall the hijacking that was referred to in the PDB. It was not a hijacking of an airplane to fly into a building, it was hijacking of airplanes in order to free somebody that was being held as a prisoner in the United States.

Okay, thank you all. Happy Easter to everybody. Thank you.
END 10:22 A.M. CDT

9/11 Report Cites Many Warnings About Hijackings
Published: February 10, 2005

WASHINGTON, Feb. 9 - In the months before the Sept. 11 attacks, federal aviation officials reviewed dozens of intelligence reports that warned about Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, some of which specifically discussed airline hijackings and suicide operations, according to a previously undisclosed report from the 9/11 commission.

But aviation officials were "lulled into a false sense of security," and" intelligence that indicated a real and growing threat leading up to 9/11 did not stimulate significant increases in security procedures," the commission report concluded.

The report discloses that the Federal Aviation Administration, despite being focused on risks of hijackings overseas, warned airports in the spring of 2001 that if "the intent of the hijacker is not to exchange hostages for prisoners, but to commit suicide in a spectacular explosion, a domestic hijacking would probably be preferable."

The report takes the F.A.A. to task for failing to pursue domestic security measures that could conceivably have altered the events of Sept. 11, 2001, like toughening airport screening procedures for weapons or expanding the use of on-flight air marshals. The report, completed last August, said officials appeared more concerned with reducing airline congestion, lessening delays, and easing airlines' financial woes than deterring a terrorist attack.

The Bush administration has blocked the public release of the full, classified version of the report for more than five months, officials said, much to the frustration of former commission members who say it provides a critical understanding of the failures of the civil aviation system. The administration provided both the classified report and a declassified, 120-page version to the National Archives two weeks ago and, even with heavy redactions in some areas, the declassified version provides the firmest evidence to date about the warnings that aviation officials received concerning the threat of an attack on airliners and the failure to take steps to deter it.

Among other things, the report says that leaders of the F.A.A. received 52 intelligence reports from their security branch that mentioned Mr. bin Laden or Al Qaeda from April to Sept. 10, 2001. That represented half of all the intelligence summaries in that time.

Five of the intelligence reports specifically mentioned Al Qaeda's training or capability to conduct hijackings, the report said. Two mentioned suicide operations, although not connected to aviation, the report said.

A spokeswoman for the F.A.A., the agency that bears the brunt of the commission's criticism, said Wednesday that the agency was well aware of the threat posed by terrorists before Sept. 11 and took substantive steps to counter it, including the expanded use of explosives detection units.

"We had a lot of information about threats," said the spokeswoman, Laura J. Brown. "But we didn't have specific information about means or methods that would have enabled us to tailor any countermeasures."

She added: "After 9/11, the F.A..A. and the entire aviation community took bold steps to improve aviation security, such as fortifying cockpit doors on 6,000 airplanes, and those steps took hundreds of millions of dollars to implement."

The report, like previous commission documents, finds no evidence that the government had specific warning of a domestic attack and says that the aviation industry considered the hijacking threat to be more worrisome overseas.

"The fact that the civil aviation system seems to have been lulled into a false sense of security is striking not only because of what happened on 9/11 but also in light of the intelligence assessments, including those conducted by the F.A.A.'s own security branch, that raised alarms about the growing terrorist threat to civil aviation throughout the 1990's and into the new century," the report said.

In its previous findings, including a final report last July that became a best-selling book, the 9/11 commission detailed the harrowing events aboard the four hijacked flights that crashed on Sept. 11 and the communications problems between civil aviation and military officials that hampered the response. But the new report goes further in revealing the scope and depth of ntelligence collected by federal aviation officials about the threat of a terrorist attack.

The F.A.A. "had indeed considered the possibility that terrorists would hijack a plane and use it as a weapon," and in 2001 it distributed a CD-ROM presentation to airlines and airports that cited the possibility of a suicide hijacking, the report said. Previous commission documents have quoted the CD's reassurance that "fortunately, we have no indication that any group is currently thinking in that direction."

Aviation officials amassed so much information about the growing threat posed by terrorists that they conducted classified briefings in mid-2001 for security officials at 19 of the nation's busiest airports to warn of the threat posed in particular by Mr. bin Laden, the report said.

Still, the 9/11 commission concluded that aviation officials did not direct adequate resources or attention to the problem.

"Throughout 2001, the senior leadership of the F.A.A. was focused on congestion and delays within the system and the ever-present issue of safety, but they were not as focused on security," the report said.

The F.A.A. did not see a need to increase the air marshal ranks because hijackings were seen as an overseas threat, and one aviation official told the commission said that airlines did not want to give up revenues by providing free seats to marshals.

The F.A.A. also made no concerted effort to expand their list of terror suspects, which included a dozen names on Sept. 11, the report said. The former head of the F.A.A.'s civil aviation security branch said he was not aware of the government's main watch list, called Tipoff, which included the names of two hijackers who were living in the San Diego area, the report said.

Nor was there evidence that a senior F.A.A. working group on security had ever met in 2001 to discuss "the high threat period that summer," the report said.

Jane F. Garvey, the F.A.A. administrator at the time, told the commission "that she was aware of the heightened threat during the summer of 2001," the report said. But several other senior agency officials "were basically unaware of the threat," as were senior airline operations officials and veteran pilots, the report said.

The classified version of the commission report quotes extensively from circulars prepared by the F.A.A. about the threat of terrorism, but many of those references have been blacked out in the declassified version, officials said.

Several former commissioners and staff members said they were upset and disappointed by the administration's refusal to release the full report publicly.

"Our intention was to make as much information available to the public as soon as possible," said Richard Ben-Veniste, a former Sept. 11 commission member.

Transcript of Rice's 9/11 commission statement
Wednesday, May 19, 2004 Posted: 12:25 AM EDT (0425 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- National security adviser Condoleezza Rice testified Thursday under oath and in public before the independent National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States investigating the attacks of September 11, 2001. The White House initially refused to allow Rice's public testimony but reversed its position after pressure from relatives of 9/11 victims, commission members and politicians.

Following is a transcript of Rice's testimony before the commission:

RICE: I thank the commission for arranging this special session. Thank you for helping to find a way to meet the nation's need to learn all we can about the September 11 attacks, while preserving important constitutional principles.

This commission, and those who appear before it, have a vital charge. We owe it to those we lost, and to their loved ones, and to our country, to learn all we can about that tragic day, and the events that led to it. Many families of the victims are here today, and I thank them for their contributions to the Commission's work.

The terrorist threat to our nation did not emerge on September 11, 2001. Long before that day, radical, freedom-hating terrorists declared war on America and on the civilized world. The attack on the Marine barracks in Lebanon in 1983, the hijacking of the Achille Lauro in 1985, the rise of al Qaeda and the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993, the attacks on American installations in Saudi Arabia in 1995 and 1996, the East Africa embassy bombings of 1998, the attack on the USS Cole in 2000, these and other atrocities were part of a sustained, systematic campaign to spread devastation and chaos and to murder innocent Americans.

The terrorists were at war with us, but we were not yet at war with them. For more than 20 years, the terrorist threat gathered, and America's response across several administrations of both parties was insufficient. Historically, democratic societies have been slow to react to gathering threats, tending instead to wait to confront threats until they are too dangerous to ignore or until it is too late.

Despite the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915 and continued German harassment of American shipping, the United States did not enter the First World War until two years later. Despite Nazi Germany's repeated violations of the Versailles Treaty and its string of provocations throughout the mid-1930s, the Western democracies did not take action until 1939.

The U.S. government did not act against the growing threat from Imperial Japan until the threat became all too evident at Pearl Harbor. And, tragically, for all the language of war spoken before September 11, this country simply was not on a war footing.

Since then, America has been at war. And under President Bush's leadership, we will remain at war until the terrorist threat to our Nation is ended. The world has changed so much that it is hard to remember what our lives were like before that day. But I do want to describe the actions this administration was taking to fight terrorism before September 11, 2001.

After President Bush was elected, we were briefed by the Clinton administration on many national security issues during the transition. The president-elect and I were briefed by George Tenet on terrorism and on the al Qaeda network. Members of Sandy Berger's NSC staff briefed me, along with other members of the new national security team, on counterterrorism and al Qaeda.

This briefing lasted about one hour, and it reviewed the Clinton administration's counterterrorism approach and the various counterterrorism activities then underway. Sandy and I personally discussed a variety of other topics, including North Korea, Iraq, the Middle East and the Balkans.

Because of these briefings and because we had watched the rise of al Qaeda over the years, we understood that the network posed a serious threat to the United States. We wanted to ensure there was no respite in the fight against al Qaeda.

On an operational level, we decided immediately to continue pursuing the Clinton administration's covert action authorities and other efforts to fight the network. President Bush retained George Tenet as director of central intelligence, and Louis Freeh remained the director of the FBI. I took the unusual step of retaining Dick Clarke and the entire Clinton administration's counterterrorism team on the NSC staff.

I knew Dick to be an expert in his field, as well as an experienced crisis manager. Our goal was to ensure continuity of operations while we developed new and more aggressive policies.

At the beginning of the administration, President Bush revived the practice of meeting with the director of central intelligence almost every day in the Oval Office -- meetings which I attended, along with the vice president and the chief of staff. At these meetings, the president received up-to-date intelligence and asked questions of his most senior intelligence officials.

From January 20 through September 10, the president received at these daily meetings more than 40 briefing items on al Qaeda, and 13 of these were in response to questions he or his top advisers had posed. In addition to seeing DCI Tenet almost every morning, I generally spoke by telephone every morning at 7:15 with Secretaries Powell and Rumsfeld. I also met and spoke regularly with the DCI about al Qaeda and terrorism.

Of course, we also had other responsibilities. President Bush had set a broad foreign policy agenda. We were determined to confront the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. We were improving America's relations with the world's great powers.

We had to change an Iraq policy that was making no progress against a hostile regime which regularly shot at U.S. planes enforcing U.N. Security Council resolutions. And we had to deal with the occasional crisis, for instance, when the crew of a Navy plane was detained in China for 11 days.

We also moved to develop a new and comprehensive strategy to eliminate the al Qaeda terrorist network. President Bush understood the threat, and he understood its importance. He made clear to us that he did not want to respond to al Qaeda one attack at a time. He told me he was "tired of swatting flies."

This new strategy was developed over the Spring and Summer of 2001, and was approved by the president's senior national security officials on September 4. It was the very first major national security policy directive of the Bush administration -- not Russia, not missile defense, not Iraq, but the elimination of al Qaeda.

Although this National Security Presidential Directive was originally a highly classified document, we arranged for portions to be declassified to help the Commission in its work, and I will describe some of those today. The strategy set as its goal the elimination of the al Qaeda network.

It ordered the leadership of relevant U.S. departments and agencies to make the elimination of al Qaeda a high priority and to use all aspects of our national power -- intelligence, financial, diplomatic, and military -- to meet this goal. And it gave Cabinet Secretaries and department heads specific responsibilities.

For instance: It directed the secretary of state to work with other countries to end all sanctuaries given to al Qaeda. It directed the secretaries of the treasury and state to work with foreign governments to seize or freeze assets and holdings of al Qaeda and its benefactors.

It directed the director of central intelligence to prepare an aggressive program of covert activities to disrupt al Qaeda and provide assistance to anti-Taliban groups operating against al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

It tasked the director of OMB with ensuring that sufficient funds were available in the budgets over the next five years to meet the goals laid out in the strategy.

And it directed the secretary of defense to -- and I quote -- "ensure that the contingency planning process include plans: against al Qaeda and associated terrorist facilities in Afghanistan, including leadership, command-control-communications, training, and logistics facilities; against Taliban targets in Afghanistan, including leadership, command-control, air and air defense, ground forces, and logistics; to eliminate weapons of mass destruction which al Qaeda and associated terrorist groups may acquire or manufacture, including those stored in underground bunkers."

This was a change from the prior strategy -- Presidential Decision Directive 62, signed in 1998 -- which ordered the secretary of defense to provide transportation to bring individual terrorists to the U.S. for trial, to protect DOD forces overseas, and to be prepared to respond to terrorist and weapons of mass destruction incidents.

More importantly, we recognized that no counterterrorism strategy could succeed in isolation. As you know from the Pakistan and Afghanistan strategy documents that we made available to the Commission, our counterterrorism strategy was part of a broader package of strategies that addressed the complexities of the region.

Integrating our counterterrorism and regional strategies was the most difficult and the most important aspect of the new strategy to get right. Al Qaeda was both client of and patron to the Taliban, which in turn was supported by Pakistan. Those relationships provided al Qaeda with a powerful umbrella of protection, and we had to sever them. This was not easy.

Not that we hadn't tried. Within a month of taking office, President Bush sent a strong, private message to President Musharraf urging him to use his influence with the Taliban to bring Bin Laden to justice and to close down al Qaeda training camps. Secretary Powell actively urged the Pakistanis, including Musharraf himself, to abandon support for the Taliban.

I met with Pakistan's Foreign Minister in my office in June of 2001. I delivered a very tough message, which was met with a rote, expressionless response.

America's al Qaeda policy wasn't working because our Afghanistan policy wasn't working. And our Afghanistan policy wasn't working because our Pakistan policy wasn't working. We recognized that America's counterterrorism policy had to be connected to our regional strategies and to our overall foreign policy.

To address these problems, I made sure to involve key regional experts. I brought in Zalmay Khalilzad, an expert on Afghanistan who, as a senior diplomat in the 1980s, had worked closely with the Afghan Mujahedeen, helping them to turn back the Soviet invasion.

I also ensured the participation of the NSC experts on South Asia, as well as the secretary of state and his regional specialists. Together, we developed a new strategic approach to Afghanistan. Instead of the intense focus on the Northern Alliance, we emphasized the importance of the south -- the social and political heartland of the country.

Our new approach to Pakistan combined the use of carrots and sticks to persuade Pakistan to drop its support for the Taliban. And we began to change our approach to India, to preserve stability on the subcontinent.

While we were developing this new strategy to deal with al Qaeda, we also made decisions on a number of specific anti-al Qaeda initiatives that had been proposed by Dick Clarke. Many of these ideas had been deferred by the last administration, and some had been on the table since 1998.

We increased counterterror assistance to Uzbekistan; we bolstered the Treasury Department's activities to track and seize terrorist assets; we increased funding for counterterrorism activities across several agencies; and we moved quickly to arm Predator unmanned surveillance vehicles for action against al Qaeda.

When threat reporting increased during the Spring and Summer of 2001, we moved the U.S. Government at all levels to a high state of alert and activity. Let me clear up any confusion about the relationship between the development of our new strategy and the many actions we took to respond to threats that summer. Policy development and crisis management require different approaches. Throughout this period, we did both simultaneously.

For the essential crisis management task, we depended on the Counterterrorism Security Group chaired by Dick Clarke to be the interagency nerve center. The CSG consisted of senior counterterrorism experts from CIA, the FBI, the Department of Justice, the Defense Department (including the Joint Chiefs of Staff), the State Department, and the Secret Service.

The CSG had met regularly for many years, and its members had worked through numerous periods of heightened threat activity. As threat information increased, the CSG met more frequently, sometimes daily, to review and analyze the threat reporting and to coordinate actions in response. CSG members also had ready access to their Cabinet Secretaries and could raise any concerns they had at the highest levels.

The threat reporting that we received in the spring and summer of 2001 was not specific as to time, nor place, nor manner of attack. Almost all of the reports focused on al Qaeda activities outside the United States, especially in the Middle East and North Africa.

In fact, the information that was specific enough to be actionable referred to terrorist operations overseas. More often, it was frustratingly vague. Let me read you some of the actual chatter that we picked up that spring and summer: "Unbelievable news coming in weeks," "Big event ... there will be a very, very, very, very big uproar," "There will be attacks in the near future."

Troubling, yes. But they don't tell us when; they don't tell us where; they don't tell us who; and they don't tell us how. In this context, I want to address in some detail one of the briefing items we received, since its content has frequently been mischaracterized.

On August 6, 2001, the president's intelligence briefing included a response to questions that he had earlier raised about any al Qaeda intentions to strike our homeland.

The briefing item reviewed past intelligence reporting, mostly dating from the 1990s, regarding possible al Qaeda plans to attack inside the United States. It referred to uncorroborated reporting that from 1998 that terrorists might attempt to hijack a U.S. aircraft in an attempt to blackmail the government into releasing U.S.-held terrorists who had participated in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. This briefing item was not prompted by any specific threat information. And it did not raise the possibility that terrorists might use airplanes as missiles.

Despite the fact that the vast majority of the threat information we received was focused overseas, I was concerned about possible threats inside the United States. On July 5, chief of staff Andy Card and I met with Dick Clarke, and I asked Dick to make sure that domestic agencies were aware of the heightened threat period and were taking appropriate steps to respond, even though we did not have specific threats to the homeland.

Later that same day, Clarke convened a special meeting of his CSG, as well as representatives from the FAA, the INS, Customs, and the Coast Guard. At that meeting, these agencies were asked to take additional measures to increase security and surveillance.

Throughout this period of heightened threat information, we worked hard on multiple fronts to detect, protect against, and disrupt any terrorist plans or operations that might lead to an attack. For instance, the Department of Defense issued at least five urgent warnings to U.S. military forces that al Qaeda might be planning a near-term attack, and placed our military forces in certain regions on heightened alert.

The State Department issued at least four urgent security advisories and public worldwide cautions on terrorist threats, enhanced security measures at certain embassies, and warned the Taliban that they would be held responsible for any al Qaeda attack on U.S. interests.

The FBI issued at least three nationwide warnings to Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies, and specifically stated that, although the vast majority of the information indicated overseas targets, attacks against the homeland could not be ruled out.

The FBI also tasked all 56 of its U.S. field offices to increase surveillance of known or suspected terrorists and reach out to known informants who might have information on terrorist activities.

The FAA issued at least five Civil Aviation Security Information Circulars to all U.S. airlines and airport security personnel, including specific warnings about the possibility of hijackings.

The CIA worked round the clock to disrupt threats worldwide. Agency officials launched a wide-ranging disruption effort against al Qaeda in more than 20 countries.

During this period, the vice president, DCI Tenet, and the NSC's counterterrorism staff called senior foreign officials requesting that they increase their intelligence assistance and report to us any relevant threat information.

This is a brief sample of our intense activity over the Summer of 2001.

Yet, as your hearings have shown, there was no silver bullet that could have prevented the 9/11 attacks. In hindsight, if anything might have helped stop 9/11, it would have been better information about threats inside the United States, something made difficult by structural and legal impediments that prevented the collection and sharing of information by our law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

So the attacks came. A band of vicious terrorists tried to decapitate our government, destroy our financial system, and break the spirit of America. As an officer of government on duty that day, I will never forget the sorrow and the anger I felt. Nor will I forget the courage and resilience shown by the American people and the leadership of the president that day.

Now, we have an opportunity and an obligation to move forward together. Bold and comprehensive changes are sometimes only possible in the wake of catastrophic events -- events which create a new consensus that allows us to transcend old ways of thinking and acting.

Just as World War II led to a fundamental reorganization of our national defense structure and to the creation of the National Security Council, so has September 11 made possible sweeping changes in the ways we protect our homeland.

President Bush is leading the country during this time of crisis and change. He has unified and streamlined our efforts to secure the American homeland by creating the Department of Homeland Security, established a new center to integrate and analyze terrorist threat information, directed the transformation of the FBI into an agency dedicated to fighting terror, broken down the bureaucratic walls and legal barriers that prevented the sharing of vital threat information between our domestic law enforcement and our foreign intelligence agencies, and, working with the Congress, given officials new tools, such as the Patriot Act, to find and stop terrorists. And he has done all of this in a way that is consistent with protecting America's cherished civil liberties and with preserving our character as a free and open society.

But the president recognizes that our work is far from complete. More structural reform will likely be necessary. Our intelligence gathering and analysis have improved dramatically in the last two years, but they must be stronger still. The president and all of us in his administration welcome new ideas and fresh thinking. We are eager to do whatever is necessary to protect the American people. And we look forward to receiving the recommendations of this commission.

We are at war and our security as a nation depends on winning that war. We must and we will do everything we can to harden terrorist targets within the United States. Dedicated law enforcement and security professionals continue to risk their lives every day to make us all safer, and we owe them a debt of gratitude. And, let's remember, those charged with protecting us from attack have to succeed 100 percent of the time. To inflict devastation on a massive scale, the terrorists only have to succeed once, and we know they are trying every day.

That is why we must address the source of the problem. We must stay on offense, to find and defeat the terrorists wherever they live, hide, and plot around the world. If we learned anything on September 11, 2001, it is that we cannot wait while dangers gather.

After the September 11 attacks, our Nation faced hard choices. We could fight a narrow war against al Qaeda and the Taliban or we could fight a broad war against a global menace. We could seek a narrow victory or we could work for a lasting peace and a better world. President Bush chose the bolder course.

He recognizes that the war on terror is a broad war. Under his leadership, the United States and our allies are disrupting terrorist operations, cutting off their funding, and hunting down terrorists one-by-one. Their world is getting smaller. The terrorists have lost a home-base and training camps in Afghanistan. The governments of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia now pursue them with energy and force.

We are confronting the nexus between terror and weapons of mass destruction. We are working to stop the spread of deadly weapons and prevent then from getting into the hands of terrorists, seizing dangerous materials in transit, where necessary. Because we acted in Iraq, Saddam Hussein will never again use weapons of mass destruction against his people or his neighbors. And we have convinced Libya to give up all its WMD-related programs and materials.

And as we attack the threat at its sources, we are also addressing its roots. Thanks to the bravery and skill of our men and women in uniform, we removed from power two of the world's most brutal regimes -- sources of violence, and fear, and instability in the region.

Today, along with many allies, we are helping the people of Iraq and Afghanistan to build free societies. And we are working with the people of the Middle East to spread the blessings of liberty and democracy as the alternatives to instability, hatred, and terror.

This work is hard and dangerous, yet it is worthy of our effort and our sacrifice. The defeat of terror and the success of freedom in those nations will serve the interests of our Nation and inspire hope and encourage reform throughout the greater Middle East.

In the aftermath of September 11, those were the right choices for America to make -- the only choices that can ensure the safety of our Nation in the decades to come.

RICE: Thank you very much. And now I'm happy to take your questions.

KEAN: Thank you very much, Dr. Rice. I appreciate your statement, your attendance and your service.

I have a couple of questions. As we understand it, when you first came into office, you just been through a very difficult campaign. In that campaign, neither the president nor the opponent, to the best of my knowledge, ever mentioned al Qaeda. There had been almost no congressional action or hearings about al Qaeda, very little bit in the newspapers.

And yet, you walk in and Dick Clarke is talking about al Qaeda should be our number-one priority. Sandy Berger tells you you'll be spending more time on that than anything else.

What did you think, and what did you tell the president, as you get that kind of, I suppose, new information for you?

RICE: Well, in fact, Mr. Chairman, it was not new information. I think we all knew about the 1998 bombings. We knew that there was speculation that the 2000 Cole attack was al Qaeda. There had been, I think, documentaries about Osama bin Laden.

I, myself, had written for an introduction to a volume on bioterrorism done at Sanford that I thought that we wanted not to wake up one day and find that Osama bin Laden had succeeded on our soil.

It was on the radar screen of any person who studied or worked in the international security field.

But there is no doubt that I think the briefing by Dick Clarke, the earlier briefing during the transition by Director Tenet, and of course what we talked with about Sandy Berger, it gave you a heightened sense of the problem and a sense that this was something that the United States had to deal with.

I have to say that of course there were other priorities. And indeed, in the briefings with the Clinton administration, they emphasized other priorities: North Korea, the Middle East, the Balkans.

RICE: One doesn't have the luxury of dealing only with one issue if you are the United States of America. There are many urgent and important issues.

But we all had a strong sense that this was a very crucial issue. The question was, what do you then do about it?

And the decision that we made was to, first of all, have no drop- off in what the Clinton administration was doing, because clearly they had done a lot of work to deal with this very important priority.

And so we kept the counterterrorism team on board. We knew that George Tenet was there. We had the comfort of knowing that Louis Freeh was there.

And then we set out -- I talked to Dick Clarke almost immediately after his -- or, I should say, shortly after his memo to me saying that al Qaeda was a major threat, we set out to try and craft a better strategy.

But we were quite cognizant of this group, of the fact that something had to be done.

I do think, early on in these discussions, we asked a lot of questions about whether Osama bin Laden himself ought to be so much the target of interest, or whether what was that going to do to the organization if, in fact, he was put out of commission. And I remember very well the director saying to President Bush, "Well, it would help, but it would not stop attacks by al Qaeda, nor destroy the network."

KEAN: I've got a question now I'd like to ask you. It was given to me by a number of members of the families.

Did you ever see or hear from the FBI, from the CIA, from any other intelligence agency, any memos or discussions or anything else between the time you got into office and 9/11 that talked about using planes as bombs?

RICE: Let me address this question because it has been on the table.

I think that concern about what I might have known or we might have known was provoked by some statements that I made in a press conference. I was in a press conference to try and describe the August 6 memo, which I've talked about here in my opening remarks and which I talked about with you in the private session.

And I said, at one point, that this was a historical memo, that it was -- it was not based on new threat information. And I said, "No one could have imagined them taking a plane, slamming it into the Pentagon" -- I'm paraphrasing now -- "into the World Trade Center, using planes as a missile."

As I said to you in the private session, I probably should have said, "I could not have imagined," because within two days, people started to come to me and say, "Oh, but there were these reports in 1998 and 1999. The intelligence community did look at information about this."

To the best of my knowledge, Mr. Chairman, this kind of analysis about the use of airplanes as weapons actually was never briefed to us.

I cannot tell you that there might not have been a report here or a report there that reached somebody in our midst.

Part of the problem is -- and I think Sandy Berger made this point when he was asked the same question -- that you have thousands of pieces of information -- car bombs and this method and that method -- and you have to depend to a certain degree on the intelligence agencies to sort to tell you what is actually relevant, what is actually based on sound sources, what is speculative.

RICE: And I can only assume or believe that perhaps the intelligence agencies thought that the sourcing was speculative.

All that I can tell you is that it was not in the August 6 memo, using planes as a weapon. And I do not remember any reports to us, a kind of strategic warning, that planes might be used as weapons. In fact, there were some reports done in '98 and '99. I was certainly not aware of them at the time that I spoke.

KEAN: You didn't see any memos to you or any documents to you?

RICE: No, I did not.

KEAN: Some Americans have wondered whether you or the president worried too much about Iraq in the days after the 9/11 attack and perhaps not enough about the fight ahead against al Qaeda.

We know that at the Camp David meeting on the weekend of September 15 and 16, the president rejected the idea of immediate action against Iraq. Others have told that the president decided Afghanistan had to come first.

We also know that, even after those Camp David meetings, the administration was still readying plans for possible action against Iraq.

So can you help us understand where, in those early days after 9/11, the administration placed Iraq in the strategy for responding to the attack?

RICE: Certainly. Let me start with the period in which you're trying to figure out who did this to you.

And I think, given our exceedingly hostile relationship with Iraq at the time -- this is, after all, a place that tried to assassinate an American president, was still shooting at our planes in the no-fly zone -- it was a reasonable question to ask whether, indeed, Iraq might have been behind this.

RICE: I remember, later on, in a conversation with Prime Minister Blair, President Bush also said that he wondered could it have been Iran, because the attack was so sophisticated, was this really just a network that had done this.

When we got to Camp David -- and let me just be very clear: In the days between September 11 and getting to Camp David, I was with the president a lot. I know what was on his mind. What was on his mind was follow-on attacks, trying to reassure the American people.

He virtually badgered poor Larry Lindsey about when could we get Wall Street back up and running, because he didn't want them to have succeeded against our financial system. We were concerned about air security, and he worked very hard on trying to get particularly Reagan reopened. So there was a lot on our minds.

But by the time that we got to Camp David and began to plan for what we would do in response, what was rolled out on the table was Afghanistan -- a map of Afghanistan.

And I will tell you, that was a daunting enough task to figure out how to avoid some of the pitfalls that great powers had in Afghanistan, mostly recently the Soviet Union and, of course, the British before that.

There was a discussion of Iraq. I think it was raised by Don Rumsfeld. It was pressed a bit by Paul Wolfowitz. Given that this was a global war on terror, should we look not just at Afghanistan but should we look at doing something against Iraq? There was a discussion of that.

The president listened to all of his advisers. I can tell you that when he went around the table and asked his advisers what he should do, not a single one of his principal advisers advised doing anything against Iraq. It was all to Afghanistan.

RICE: When I got back to the White House with the president, he laid out for me what he wanted to do. And one of the points, after a long list of things about Afghanistan, a long list of things about protecting the homeland, the president said that he wanted contingency plans against Iraq should Iraq act against our interests.

There was a kind of concern that they might try and take advantage of us in that period. They were still -- we were still flying no-fly zones. And there was also, he said, in case we find that they were behind 9/11, we should have contingency plans.

But this was not along the lines of what later was discussed about Iraq, which was how to deal with Iraq on a grand scale. This was really about -- we went to planning Afghanistan, you can look at what we did. From that time on, this was about Afghanistan.

KEAN: So when Mr. Clarke writes that the president pushed him to find a link between Iraq and the attack, is that right? Was the president trying to twist the facts for an Iraqi war, or was he just puzzled about what was behind this attack?

RICE: I don't remember the discussion that Dick Clarke relates. Initially, he said that the president was wandering the situation room -- this is in the book, I gather -- looking for something to do, and they had a conversation. Later on, he said that he was pulled aside. So I don't know the context of the discussion. I don't personally remember it.

But it's not surprising that the president would say, "What about Iraq," given our hostile relationship with Iraq. And I'm quite certain that the president never pushed anybody to twist the facts.

KEAN: Congressman Hamilton?

HAMILTON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Dr. Rice, you've given us a very strong statement, with regard to the actions taken by the administration in this pre-9/11 period, and we appreciate that very much for the record.

I want to call to your attention some comments and some events on the other side of that question and give you an opportunity to respond.

You know very well that the commission is focusing on this whole question of, what priority did the Clinton administration and the Bush administration give to terrorism?

The president told Bob Woodward that he did not feel that sense of urgency. I think that's a quote from his book, or roughly a quote from Woodward's book.

The deputy director for central intelligence, Mr. McLaughlin, told us that he was concerned about the pace of policymaking in the summer of 2001, given the urgency of the threat. The deputy secretary of state, Mr. Armitage, was here and expressed his concerns about the speed of the process. And if I recall, his comment is that, "We weren't going fast enough." I think that's a direct quote.

There was no response to the Cole attack in the Clinton administration and none in the Bush administration.

Your public statements focused largely on China and Russia and missile defense. You did make comments on terrorism, but they were connected -- the link between terrorism and the rogue regimes, like North Korea and Iran and Iraq.

HAMILTON: And by our count here, there were some 100 meetings by the national security principals before the first meeting was held on terrorism, September 4. And General Shelton, who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said that terrorism had been pushed farther to the back burner.

Now, this is what we're trying to assess. We have your statements. We have these other statements. And I know, as I indicated in my opening comments, how difficult the role of the policymaker is and how many things press upon you.

But I did want to give you an opportunity to comment on some of these other matters.

RICE: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

Let me begin with the Woodward quote, because that has gotten a lot of press. And I actually think that the quote, put in context, gives a very different picture.

The question that the president was asked by Mr. Woodward was, "Did you want to have bin Laden killed before September 11?" That was the question.

The president said, "Well, I hadn't seen a plan to do that. I knew that we needed to -- I think the appropriate word is 'bring him to justice.' And, of course, this is something of a trick question in that notion of self-defense which is appropriate for..."

I think you can see here a president struggling with whether he ought to be talking about pre-9/11 attempts to kill bin Laden. And so, that is the context for this quote.

And, quite frankly, I remember the director sitting here and saying he didn't want to talk about authorities on assassination. I think you can understand the discomfort of the president.

RICE: The president goes on. When Bob Woodward says, "Well, I don't mean it as a trick question; I'm just trying to your state of mind," the president says, "Let me put it this way. I was not -- there was a significant difference in my attitude after September 11. I was not on point, but I knew he was a menace and I knew he was a problem. I knew he was responsible. We felt he was responsible for bombings that had killed Americans. And I was prepared to look at a plan that would be a thoughtful plan that would bring him to justice and would have given the order to do just that.

"I have no hesitancy about going after him, but I didn't feel that sense of urgency and my blood was not nearly as boiling. Whose blood was nearly as boiling prior to September 11?"

And I think the context helps here.

It is also the case that the president had been told by the director of central intelligence that it was not going to be a silver bullet to kill bin Laden, that you had to do much more.

And, in fact, I think that some of us felt that the focus, so much focus, on what you did with bin Laden, not what you did with the network, not what you did with the regional circumstances, might, in fact, have been misplaced.

So I think the president is responding to go a specific set of questions.

All that I can tell you is that what the president wanted was a plan to eliminate al Qaeda so he could stop swatting at flies. He knew that we had in place the same crisis-management mechanism, indeed the same personnel, that the Clinton administration, which clearly thought it a very high priority, had in place.

And so, I think that he saw the priority as continuing the current operations and then getting a plan in place.

Now, as to the number of PCs. I'm sorry, there is some difference in our records here.

RICE: We show 33 Principals Committee meetings during this period of time, not 100. We show that three of those dealt at least partially with issues of terrorism not related to al Qaeda. And so we can check the numbers, but we have looked at our files and we show 33, not 100.

The quotes by others about how the process is moving, again, it's important to realize that had parallel tracks here. We were continuing to do what the Clinton administration had been doing under all the same authorities that were operating. George Tenet was continuing to try to disrupt al Qaeda. We were continuing the diplomatic efforts.

But we did want to take the time to get in place a policy that was more strategic toward al Qaeda, more robust. It takes some time to think about how to reorient your policy toward Pakistan. It takes some time to think about how to have a more effective policy toward Afghanistan. It particularly takes some time when you don't get your people on board for several months.

So I understand that there are those who have said they felt it wasn't moving along fast enough. I talked to George Tenet about this at least every couple of weeks, sometimes more often. How can we move forward on the Predator? What do you want to do about the Northern Alliance? So I think we were putting the energy into it.

And I should just make one other point, Mr. Hamilton, if you don't mind, which is that we also moved forward on some of the specific ideas that Dick Clarke had put forward prior to completing the strategy review. We increased assistance to Uzbekistan, for instance, which had been one of the recommendations. We moved along the armed Predator, the development of the armed Predator. We increased counterterrorism funding.

RICE: But there were a couple of things that we did not want to do.

I'm now convinced that, while nothing that in this strategy would have done anything about 9/11, if we had, in fact, moved on the things that were in the original memos that we got from our counterterrorism people, we might have even gone off course, because it was very Northern Alliance-focused. That was going to cause a huge problem with Pakistan. It was not going to put us in the center of action in Afghanistan, which is the south.

And so, we simply had to take some time to get this right. But I think we need not confuse that with either what we did during the threat period where we were urgently working the operational issues every day or with the continuation of the Clinton policy.

HAMILTON: Well, I thank you for a careful answer.

Another question. At the end of the day, of course, we were unable to protect our people. And you suggest in your statement -- and I want you to elaborate on this, if you want to -- that in hindsight it would have been -- better information about the threats would have been the single -- the single most important thing for us to have done, from your point of view, prior to 9/11, would have been better intelligence, better information about the threats.

Is that right? Are there other things that you think stand out?

RICE: Well, Mr. Chairman, I took an oath of office on the day that I took this job to protect and defend. And like most government officials, I take it very seriously. And so, as you might imagine, I've asked myself a thousand times what more we could have done.

I know that, had we thought that there was an attack coming in Washington or New York, we would have moved heaven and earth to try and stop it. And I know that there was no single thing that might have prevented that attack.

RICE: In looking back, I believe that the absence of light, so to speak, on what was going on inside the country, the inability to connect the dots, was really structural. We couldn't be dependent on chance that something might come together.

And the legal impediments and the bureaucratic impediments -- but I want to emphasize the legal impediments. To keep the FBI and the CIA from functioning really as one, so that there was no seam between domestic and foreign intelligence, was probably the greatest one. The director of central intelligence and I think Director Freeh had an excellent relationship. They were trying hard to bridge that seam. I know that Louis Freeh had developed legal attaches abroad to try to help bridge that.

But when it came right down to it, this country, for reasons of history and culture and therefore law, had an allergy to the notion of domestic intelligence, and we were organized on that basis. And it just made it very hard to have all of the pieces come together.

We've made good changes since then. I think that having a Homeland Security Department that can bring together the FAA and the INS and Customs and all of the various agencies is a very important step.

I think that the creation of the terrorism threat information center, which brings together all of the intelligence from various aspects, is a very important step forward.

Clearly, the Patriot Act, which has allowed the kind of sharing, indeed demands the kind of sharing between intelligence agencies, including the FBI and the CIA, is a very big step forward.

I think one thing that we will learn from you is whether the structural work is done.

HAMILTON: Final question would be: One of your sentences kind of jumped out at me in your statement, and that was on page 9, where you said, "We must address the source of the problem."

I'm very concerned about that. I was pleased to see it in your statement. And I'm very worried about the threat of terrorism, as I know you are, over a very long period of time -- a generation or more.

There are a lot of very, very fine -- 2 billion Muslims. Most of them, we know, are very fine people. Some don't like us; they hate us. They don't like what modernization does to their culture. They don't like the fact that economic prosperity has passed them by. They don't like some of the policies of the United States government. They don't like the way their own governments treat them.

And I'd like you to elaborate a little bit, if you would, on how we get at the source of the problem. How do we get at this discontent, this dislocation, if you would, across a big swathe of the Islamic world?

RICE: I believe very strongly, and the president believes very strongly, that this is really the generational challenge. The kinds of issues that you are addressing have to be addressed, but we're not going to see success on our watch.

We will see some small victories on our watch. One of the most difficult problems in the Middle East is that the United States has been associated for a long time, decades, with a policy that looks the other way on the freedom deficit in the Middle East, that looks the other way at the absence of individual liberties in the Middle East. And I think that that has tended to alienate us from the populations of the Middle East.

RICE: And when the president, at White Hall in London, said that that was no longer going to be the stance of the United States, we were expecting more from our friends, we were going to try and engage those in those in those countries who wanted to have a different kind of Middle East, I believe that he was resonating with trends that are there in the Middle East. There are reformist trends in places like Bahrain and Jordan. And recently there was a marvelous conference in Alexandria in Egypt, where reform was actually was on the agenda.

So it's going to be a slow process. We know that the building of democracy is tough. It doesn't come easily. We have our own history. When our Founding Fathers said, "We the people," they didn't mean me. It's taken us a while to get to a multiethnic democracy that works.

But if America is avowedly values-centered in its foreign policy, we do better than when we do not stand up for those values.

So I think that it's going to be very hard. It's going to take time.

One of the things that we've been very interested, for instance, in is issues of educational reform in some of these countries. As you know, the madrassas are a big difficulty. I've met, myself, personally two or three times with the Pakistani -- a wonderful woman who's the Pakistani education minister.

We can't do it for them. They have to have it for themselves, but we have to stand for those values.

And over the long run, we will change -- I believe we will change the nature of the Middle East, particularly if there are examples that this can work in the Middle East.

And this is why Iraq is so important. The Iraqi people are struggling to find a way to create a multiethnic democracy that works. And it's going to be hard.

RICE: And if we stay with them, and when they succeed, I think we will have made a big change -- they will have made a big change in the middle of the Arab world, and we will be on our way to addressing the source.

HAMILTON: Thank you, Dr. Rice.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

KEAN: Thank you.

Commissioner Ben-Veniste.


RICE: Good morning.

BEN-VENISTE: Nice to see you again.

RICE: Nice to see you.

BEN-VENISTE: I want to ask you some questions about the August 6, 2001, PDB. We had been advised in writing by CIA on March 19, 2004, that the August 6 PDB was prepared and self-generated by a CIA employee. Following Director Tenet's testimony on March 26 before us, the CIA clarified its version of events, saying that questions by the president prompted them to prepare the August 6 PDB.

Now, you have said to us in our meeting together earlier in February, that the president directed the CIA to prepare the August 6 PDB.

The extraordinary high terrorist attack threat level in the summer of 2001 is well-documented. And Richard Clarke's testimony about the possibility of an attack against the United States homeland was repeatedly discussed from May to August within the intelligence community, and that is well-documented.

You acknowledged to us in your interview of February 7, 2004, that Richard Clarke told you that al Qaeda cells were in the United States.

BEN-VENISTE: Did you tell the president, at any time prior to August 6, of the existence of al Qaeda cells in the United States?

RICE: First, let me just make certain...

BEN-VENISTE: If you could just answer that question, because I only have a very limited...

RICE: I understand, Commissioner, but it's important...

BEN-VENISTE: Did you tell the president...

RICE: ... that I also address...

It's also important that, Commissioner, that I address the other issues that you have raised. So I will do it quickly, but if you'll just give me a moment.

BEN-VENISTE: Well, my only question to you is whether you...

RICE: I understand, Commissioner, but I will...

BEN-VENISTE: ... told the president.

RICE: If you'll just give me a moment, I will address fully the questions that you've asked.

First of all, yes, the August 6 PDB was in response to questions of the president -- and that since he asked that this be done. It was not a particular threat report. And there was historical information in there about various aspects of al Qaeda's operations.

Dick Clarke had told me, I think in a memorandum -- I remember it as being only a line or two -- that there were al Qaeda cells in the United States.

Now, the question is, what did we need to do about that?

And I also understood that that was what the FBI was doing, that the FBI was pursuing these al Qaeda cells. I believe in the August 6 memorandum it says that there were 70 full field investigations under way of these cells. And so there was no recommendation that we do something about this; the FBI was pursuing it. I really don't remember, Commissioner, whether I discussed this with the president.

BEN-VENISTE: Thank you.

RICE: I remember very well that the president was aware that there were issues inside the United States. He talked to people about this. But I don't remember the al Qaeda cells as being something that we were told we needed to do something about.

BEN-VENISTE: Isn't it a fact, Dr. Rice, that the August 6 PDB warned against possible attacks in this country? And I ask you whether you recall the title of that PDB?

RICE: I believe the title was, "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States."

Now, the...

BEN-VENISTE: Thank you.

RICE: No, Mr. Ben-Veniste...

BEN-VENISTE: I will get into the...

RICE: I would like to finish my point here.

BEN-VENISTE: I didn't know there was a point.

RICE: Given that -- you asked me whether or not it warned of attacks.

BEN-VENISTE: I asked you what the title was.

RICE: You said, did it not warn of attacks. It did not warn of attacks inside the United States. It was historical information based on old reporting. There was no new threat information. And it did not, in fact, warn of any coming attacks inside the United States.

BEN-VENISTE: Now, you knew by August 2001 of al Qaeda involvement in the first World Trade Center bombing, is that correct? You knew that in 1999, late '99, in the millennium threat period, that we had thwarted an al Qaeda attempt to blow up Los Angeles International Airport and thwarted cells operating in Brooklyn, New York, and Boston, Massachusetts.

As of the August 6 briefing, you learned that al Qaeda members have resided or traveled to the United States for years and maintained a support system in the United States.

And you learned that FBI information since the 1998 blind sheikh warning of hijackings to free the blind sheikh indicated a pattern of suspicious activity in the country up until August 6 consistent with preparation for hijackings. Isn't that so?

RICE: Do you have other questions that you want me to answer as a part of the sequence?

BEN-VENISTE: Well, did you not -- you have indicated here that this was some historical document. And I am asking you whether it is not the case that you learned in the PDB memo of August 6 that the FBI was saying that it had information suggesting that preparations -- not historically, but ongoing, along with these numerous full field investigations against al Qaeda cells, that preparations were being made consistent with hijackings within the United States?

RICE: What the August 6 PDB said, and perhaps I should read it to you...

BEN-VENISTE: We would be happy to have it declassified in full at this time, including its title.

RICE: I believe, Mr. Ben-Veniste, that you've had access to this PDB. But let me just...

BEN-VENISTE: But we have not had it declassified so that it can be shown publicly, as you know.

RICE: I believe you've had access to this PDB -- exceptional access. But let me address your question.

BEN-VENISTE: Nor could we, prior to today, reveal the title of that PDB.

RICE: May I address the question, sir?

The fact is that this August 6 PDB was in response to the president's questions about whether or not something might happen or something might be planned by al Qaeda inside the United States. He asked because all of the threat reporting or the threat reporting that was actionable was about the threats abroad, not about the United States.

This particular PDB had a long section on what bin Laden had wanted to do -- speculative, much of it -- in '97, '98; that he had, in fact, liked the results of the 1993 bombing.

RICE: It had a number of discussions of -- it had a discussion of whether or not they might use hijacking to try and free a prisoner who was being held in the United States -- Ressam. It reported that the FBI had full field investigations under way.

And we checked on the issue of whether or not there was something going on with surveillance of buildings, and we were told, I believe, that the issue was the courthouse in which this might take place.

Commissioner, this was not a warning. This was a historic memo -- historical memo prepared by the agency because the president was asking questions about what we knew about the inside.

BEN-VENISTE: Well, if you are willing...

RICE: Now, we had already taken...

BEN-VENISTE: If you are willing to declassify that document, then others can make up their minds about it.

Let me ask you a general matter, beyond the fact that this memorandum provided information, not speculative, but based on intelligence information, that bin Laden had threatened to attack the United States and specifically Washington, D.C.

There was nothing reassuring, was there, in that PDB?

RICE: Certainly not. There was nothing reassuring.

But I can also tell you that there was nothing in this memo that suggested that an attack was coming on New York or Washington, D.C. There was nothing in this memo as to time, place, how or where. This was not a threat report to the president or a threat report to me.

BEN-VENISTE: We agree that there were no specifics. Let me move on, if I may.

RICE: There were no specifics, and, in fact, the country had already taken steps through the FAA to warn of potential hijackings. The country had already taken steps through the FBI to task their 56 field offices to increase their activity. The country had taken the steps that it could given that there was no threat reporting about what might happen inside the United States.

BEN-VENISTE: We have explored that and we will continue to with respect to the muscularity and the specifics of those efforts.

The president was in Crawford, Texas, at the time he received the PDB, you were not with him, correct?

RICE: That is correct.

BEN-VENISTE: Now, was the president, in words or substance, alarmed or in any way motivated to take any action, such as meeting with the director of the FBI, meeting with the attorney general, as a result of receiving the information contained in the PDB?

RICE: I want to repeat that when this document was presented, it was presented as, yes, there were some frightening things -- and by the way, I was not at Crawford, but the president and I were in contact and I might have even been, though I can't remember, with him by video link during that time.

The president was told this is historical information. I'm told he was told this is historical information and there was nothing actionable in this. The president knew that the FBI was pursuing this issue. The president knew that the director of central intelligence was pursuing this issue. And there was no new threat information in this document to pursue.

BEN-VENISTE: Final question, because my time has almost expired.

Do you believe that, had the president taken action to issue a directive to the director of CIA to ensure that the FBI had pulsed the agency, to make sure that any information which we know now had been collected was transmitted to the director, that the president might have been able to receive information from CIA with respect to the fact that two al Qaeda operatives who took part in the 9/11 catastrophe were in the United States -- Alhazmi and Mihdhar; and that Moussaoui, who Dick Clarke was never even made aware of, who had jihadist connections, who the FBI had arrested, and who had been in a flight school in Minnesota trying to learn the avionics of a commercial jetliner despite the fact that he had no training previously, had no explanation for the funds in his bank account, and no explanation for why he was in the United States -- would that have possibly, in your view, in hindsight, made a difference in the ability to collect this information, shake the trees, as Richard Clarke had said, and possibly, possibly interrupt the plotters?

RICE: My view, Commissioner Ben-Veniste, as I said to Chairman Kean, is that, first of all, the director of central intelligence and the director of the FBI, given the level of threat, were doing what they thought they could do to deal with the threat that we faced.

There was no threat reporting of any substance about an attack coming in the United States.

RICE: And the director of the FBI and the director of the CIA, had they received information, I am quite certain -- given that the director of the CIA met frequently face to face with the president of the United States -- that he would have made that available to the president or to me.

I do not believe that it is a good analysis to go back and assume that somehow maybe we would have gotten lucky by, quote, "shaking the trees." Dick Clarke was shaking the trees, director of central intelligence was shaking the trees, director of the FBI was shaking the trees. We had a structural problem in the United States.

BEN-VENISTE: Did the president meet with the director of the FBI?

RICE: We had a structural problem in the United States, and that structural problem was that we did not share domestic and foreign intelligence in a way to make a product for policymakers, for good reasons -- for legal reasons, for cultural reasons -- a product that people could depend upon.

BEN-VENISTE: Did the president meet with the director of...

KEAN: Commissioner, we got to move on...

BEN-VENISTE: ... the FBI between August 6 and September 11?

KEAN: ... to Commissioner Fielding.

RICE: I will have to get back to you on that. I am not certain.

KEAN: Commissioner Fielding?


Dr. Rice, good morning.

RICE: Good morning.

FIELDING: Thank you for being here, and thank you for all your service presently and in the past to your country.

RICE: Thank you.

FIELDING: As you know, our task is to assemble facts in order to inform ourselves and then ultimately to inform the American public of the cause of this horrible event, and also to make recommendations to mitigate against the possibility that there will ever be another terrorist triumph on our homeland or against our people.

FIELDING: And as we do this with the aid of testimony of people like yourself, of course there will be some discrepancies, as there always will, and we will have to try as best we can to resolve those discrepancies. And obviously that's an important thing for us to do.

But as important as that ultimately might be, it also is our responsibility to really come up with ways, and valid ways, to prevent another intelligence failure like we suffered. And I don't think anybody will kid ourselves that we didn't suffer one.

So we must try to look at the systems and the policies that were in place and to evaluate them and to see -- getting a view of the landscape, and I know it's difficult to do it through a pre-9/11 lens, but we must try to do that, so that we can do better the next time.

And I'd like to follow up with a couple of areas with that sort of specificity, and one is the one that you were just discussing with Commissioner Ben-Veniste.

[NOTE: Setting up the CIA as 'the fall guy' for something that was planned years in advance by Neocons to divert attention from the undisclosed facts? ]

We've all heard over the years the problem between the CIA, the FBI, coordination, et cetera. And you made reference to an introduction you'd done to a book, but you also, in October 2000, while you were a part of the campaign team for candidate Bush, you told a radio station, WJR, which is in Detroit, you're talking about the threat and how to deal with al Qaeda.

And if I may quote, you said, "Osama bin Laden, the first is you really have to get intelligence agencies better organized to deal with the terrorist threat to the United States itself. One of the problems that we have is kind of a split responsibility, of course, between the CIA and foreign intelligence and the FBI and domestic intelligence. There needs to be better cooperation, because we don't want to wake up one day and find that Osama bin Laden has been successful on our territory," end of your quote.

Well, in fact, sadly, we did wake up and that did happen.

FIELDING: And obviously, there is a systemic problem.

And what I'd really like you to address right now is what steps were taken by you and the administration, to your knowledge, in the first several months of the administration to assess and address this problem?

RICE: Well, thank you.

We did have a structural problem, and structural problems take some time to address.

We did have a national security policy directive asking the CIA, through the foreign intelligence board, headed by Brent Scowcroft, to review its intelligence activities, the way that it gathered intelligence. And that was a study that was to be completed.

The vice president was, a little later in, I think, in May, tasked by the president to put together a group to look at all of the recommendations that had been made about domestic preparedness and all of the questions associated with that; to take the Gilmore report and the Hart-Rudman report and so forth and to try to make recommendations about what might have been done.

We were in office 233 days. And the kinds of structural changes that have been needed by this country for some time did not get made in that period of time.

I'm told that after the millennium plot was discovered, that there was an after-action report done and that some steps were taken. To my recollection, that was not briefed to us during the transition period or during the threat spike.

But clearly, what needed to be done was that we needed systems in place that would bring all of this together. It is not enough to leave this to chance.

If you look at this period, I think you see that everybody -- the director of the CIA -- Louis Freeh had left, but the key counterterrorism person was a part of Dick Clarke's group. And with meeting with him and, I'm sure, shaking the trees and doing all of the things that you would want people to do, we were being given reports all the time that they were doing everything they could. But there was a systemic problem in getting that kind of shared intelligence. One of the first things that Bob Mueller did post-9/11 was to recognize that the issue of prevention meant that you had to break down some of the walls between criminal and counterterrorism, between criminal and intelligence.

RICE: The way that we went about this was to have individual cases where you were trying to build a criminal case, individual offices with responsibility for those cases. Much was not coming to the FBI in a way that it could then engage the policymakers.

So these were big structural reforms. We did some things to try and get the CIA reforming. We did some things to try and get a better sense of how to put all of this together.

But structural reform is hard, and in seven months we didn't have time to make the changes that were necessary. We made them almost immediately after September 11.

FIELDING: Well, would you consider the problem as solved today?

RICE: I would not consider the problem solved. I believe that we have made some very important structural changes.

The creation of a Department of Homeland Security is an absolutely critical issue, because the Department of Homeland Security brings together INS and the Customs Department and the border people and all of the people who were scattered -- Customs and Treasury and INS and Justice and so forth -- brings them together in a way that a single secretary is looking after the homeland every day.

He's looking at what infrastructure needs to be protected. He's looking at what state and local governments need to do their work. That is an extremely important innovation.

I hope that he will have the freedom to manage that organization in a way that will make it fully effective, because there are a lot of issues for Congress in how that's managed.

We have created a threat terrorism information center, the TTIC, which does bring together all of the sources of information from all of the intelligence agencies -- the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security and the INS and the CIA and the DIA -- so that there's one place where all of this is coming together.

And of course the Patriot Act, which permits the kind of sharing that we need between the CIA and the FBI, is also an important innovation.

But I would be the first to tell you -- I'm a student of institutional change. I know that you get few chances to make really transformative institutional change. And I think that when we've heard from this commission and others who are working on other pieces of the problem, like, for instance, the issues of intelligence and weapons of mass destruction, that this president will be open to new ideas.

I really don't believe that all of our work is done, despite the tremendous progress that we've made thus far.

FIELDING: Well, I promise you that we're going to respond to that, because that is really a problem that's bothering us, is that it doesn't appear to us, even with the changes up until now, that it's solved the institutional versus institutional issues, which -- maybe it has, but, you know, it's of grave concern to us.

I would also ask -- I don't want to take the time today, but I would ask that you provide our commission, if you would with your analysis on the MI-5 issue. As you know, it's something we're going to have to deal with, and we're taking all information aboard that we may. So we'd appreciate that if you could supply that to us.

RICE: I appreciate that.

I want to be very clear. I think that we've made very important changes. I think that they are helping us tremendously.
Every day now in the Oval Office in the morning, the FBI director and the CIA director sit with the president, sharing information in ways that they would have been prohibited to share that information before.

So very important changes have taken place. We need to see them mature. We need to know how it's working. But we also have to be open to see what more needs to be done.

FIELDING: It may be solved at the top. We've got to make sure it's solved at the bottom.

RICE: I agree completely.

FIELDING: And kind of related to that, we've heard testimony, a great deal of it, about the coordination that took place during the millennium threat in 1999 where there were a series of principals meetings and a lot of activity, as we are told, which stopped and prevented incidents. It was a success. It was an intelligence success. And there had to be domestic coordination with foreign intelligence, but it seemed to work.

The time ended, the threat ended, and apparently the guard was let down a little, too, as the threat diminished.

FIELDING: Now, we've also heard testimony about what we would call the summer threat, the spike threat, whatever it is in 2001. A lot of chatter -- you shared some of it with us directly -- a lot of traffic, and a lot of threats.

And during that period -- actually you put in context, I guess it was the first draft of the NSPD was circulated to deputies. But right then, when that was happening, the threats were coming in, and it's been described as a crescendo and hair on fire and all these different things.

At that time the CSG handled the alert, if you will. And we've heard testimony about Clarke warning you and the NSC that State and CIA and the Pentagon had concerns and were convinced there was going to be a major terrorist attack.

On July 5th, I believe it was, domestic agencies, including the FBI and the FAA, were briefed by the White House. Alerts were issued. The next day, the CIA told the CSG participants, and I think they said they believed the upcoming attack would be spectacular, something quantitatively different from anything that had been done to date.

So everybody was worried about it. Everybody was concentrating on it. And then later the crescendo ended, and again it abated.

But of course, that time the end of the story wasn't pleasant.

FIELDING: Now, during this period of time, what -- and I'd like you to just respond to several points -- what involvement did you have in this alert? And how did it come about that the CSG was handling this thing as opposed to the principals?

Because candidly it's been suggested that the difference between the 1999 handling and this one was that you didn't have the principals dealing with it; therefore, it wasn't given the priority; therefore, the people weren't forced to do what they would otherwise have done, et cetera. You've heard the same things I've heard.

And would it have made a real difference in enhancing the exchange of intelligence, for instance, if it had been the principals?

I would like your comments, both on your involvement and your comments to that question. Thank you.

RICE: Of course. Let me start by talking about what we were doing and the structure we used. I've mentioned this.

The CSG, yes, was the counterterrorism group, was the nerve center, if you will. And that's been true through all crises. I think it was, in fact, a nerve center as well during the millennium, that they were the counterterrorism experts, they were able to get together. They got together frequently. They came up with taskings that needed to be done.

I would say that if you look at the list of taskings that they came up with, it reflected the fact that the threat information was from abroad. It was that the agencies like the Department of State needed to make clear to Americans traveling abroad that there was a danger, that embassies needed to be on alert, that our force protection needed to be strong for our military forces.

The Central Intelligence Agency was asked to do some things. It was very foreign policy or foreign threat-based as well. And of course, the warning to the FBI to go out and task their field agents.

RICE: The CSG was made up of not junior people, but the top level of counterterrorism experts. Now, they were in contact with their principals.

Dick Clarke was in contact with me quite frequently during this period of time. When the CSG would meet, he would come back usually through e-mail, sometimes personally, and say, here's what we've done. I would talk everyday, several times a day, with George Tenet about what the threat spike looked like.

In fact, George Tenet was meeting with the president during this period of time so the president was hearing directly about what was being done about the threats to -- the only really specific threats we had -- to Genoa, to the Persian Gulf, there was one to Israel. So the president was hearing what was being done.

The CSG was the nerve center. But I just don't believe that bringing the principals over to the White House every day and having their counterterrorism people have to come with them and be pulled away from what they were doing to disrupt was a good way to go about this. It wasn't an efficient way to go about it.

I talked to Powell, I talked to Rumsfeld about what was happening with the threats and with the alerts. I talked to George. I asked that the attorney general be briefed, because even though there were no domestic threats, I didn't want him to be without that briefing.

It's also the case that I think if you actually look back at the millennium period, it's questionable to me whether the argument that has been made that somehow shaking the trees is what broke up the millennium period is actually accurate -- and I was not there, clearly.

But I will tell you this. I will say this. That the millennium, of course, was a period of high threat by its very nature. We all knew that the millennium was a period of high threat.

And after September 11, Dick Clarke sent us the after-action report that had been done after the millennium plot and their assessment was that Ressam had been caught by chance -- Ressam being the person who was entering the United States over the Canadian border with bomb-making materials in store.

RICE: I think it actually wasn't by chance, which was Washington's view of it. It was because a very alert customs agent named Diana Dean and her colleagues sniffed something about Ressam. They saw that something was wrong. They tried to apprehend him. He tried to run. They then apprehended him, found that there was bomb- making material and a map of Los Angeles.

Now, at that point, you have pretty clear indication that you've got a problem inside the United States.

I don't think it was shaking the trees that produced the breakthrough in the millennium plot. It was that you got a -- Dick Clarke would say a "lucky break" -- I would say you got an alert customs agent who got it right.

And the interesting thing is that I've checked with Customs and according to their records, they weren't actually on alert at that point.

So I just don't buy the argument that we weren't shaking the trees enough and that something was going to fall out that gave us somehow that little piece of information that would have led to connecting all of those dots.

In any case, you cannot be dependent on the chance that something might come together. That's why the structural reforms are important.

And the president of the United States had us at battle station during this period of time. He expected his secretary of state to be locking down embassies. He expected his secretary of defense to be providing force protection.

RICE: He expected his FBI director to be tasking his agents and getting people out there. He expected his director of central intelligence to be out and doing what needed to be done in terms of disruption, and he expected his national security advisor to be looking to see that -- or talking to people to see that that was done.

But I think we've created a kind of false impression -- or a not quite correct impression -- of how one does this in the threat period. I might just add that during the China period, the 11 days of the China crisis, I also didn't have a principals meeting.

FIELDING: Thank you, Dr. Rice.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

KEAN: Thank you, Commissioner Fielding.

Commissioner Gorelick?

JAMIE S. GORELICK, COMMISSION MEMBER: Dr. Rice, thank you for being here today.

I'd like to pick up where Fred Fielding and you left off, which is this issue of the extent to which raising the level to the Cabinet level and bringing people together makes a difference.

And let me just give you some facts as I see them and let you comment on them.

First of all, while it may be that Dick Clarke was informing you, many of the other people at the CSG-level, and the people who were brought to the table from the domestic agencies, were not telling their principals.

Secretary Mineta, the secretary of transportation, had no idea of the threat. The administrator of the FAA, responsible for security on our airlines, had no idea. Yes, the attorney general was briefed, but there was no evidence of any activity by him about this.

You indicate in your statement that the FBI tasked its field offices to find out what was going on out there. We have no record of that. The Washington field office international terrorism people say they never heard about the threat, they never heard about the warnings, they were not asked to come to the table and shake those trees. SACs, special agents in charge, around the country -- Miami in particular -- no knowledge of this.

And so, I really come back to you -- and let me add one other thing. Have you actually looked at the -- analyzed the messages that the FBI put out?

RICE: Yes.
GORELICK: To me, and you're free to comment on them, they are feckless. They don't tell anybody anything. They don't bring anyone to battle stations.

And I personally believe, having heard Coleen Rowley's testimony about her frustrations in the Moussaoui incident, that if someone had really gone out to the agents who were working these issues on the ground and said, "We are at battle stations. We need to know what's happening out there. Come to us," she would have broken through barriers to have that happen, because she was knocking on doors and they weren't opening.

So I just ask you this question as a student of government myself, because I don't believe it's functionally equivalent to have people three, four, five levels down in an agency working an issue even if there's a specialist. And you get a greater degree of intensity when it comes from the top. And I would like to give you the opportunity to comment on this, because it bothers me.

RICE: Of course.

First of all, it was coming from the top because the president was meeting with his director of central intelligence. And one of the changes that this president made was to meet face to face with his director of central intelligence almost every day.

I can assure you, knowing government, that that was well understood at the Central Intelligence Agency, that now their director, the DCI had direct access to the president.

Yes, the president met with the director of the FBI -- I'll have to see when and how many times -- but of course he did, and with the attorney general and with others.

But in a threat period -- and I don't think it's a proper characterization of the CSG to say that it was four or five levels down, these were people who had been together in numerous crises before and it was their responsibility to develop plans for how to respond to a threat.

RICE: Now, I would be speculating, but if you would like, I will go ahead and speculate to say that one of the problems here was there really was nothing that looked like it was going to happen inside the United States.

The threat reporting was -- the specific threat reporting was about external threats: about the Persian Gulf, about Israel, about perhaps the Genoa event.

It is just not the case that the August 6 memorandum did anything but put together what the CIA decided that they wanted to put together about historical knowledge about what was going on and a few things about what the FBI might be doing.

And so, the light was shining abroad. And if you look at what was going -- I was in constant contact to make sure that those things were getting done with the relevant agencies -- with State, with Defense and so forth.

We just have a different view of this.

GORELICK: Yes, I understand that. But I think it's one thing to talk to George Tenet, but he can't tell domestic agencies what to do.

Let me finish.

RICE: Yes.

GORELICK: And it is clear that you were worried about the domestic problem, because, after all, your testimony is you asked Dick Clarke to summons the domestic agencies.

Now, you say that -- and I think quite rightly -- that the big problem was systemic, that the FBI could not function as it should, and it didn't have the right methods of communicating with the CIA and vice versa.

At the outset of the administration, a commission that was chartered by Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich, two very different people covering pretty much the political spectrum, put together a terrific panel to study the issue of terrorism and report to the new administration as it began. And you took that briefing, I know.

That commission said we are going to get hit in the domestic, the United States, and we are going to get hit big; that's number one. And number two, we have big systemic problems. The FBI doesn't work the way it should, and it doesn't communicate with the intelligence community.

GORELICK: Now, you have said to us that your policy review was meant to be comprehensive. You took your time because you wanted to get at the hard issues and have a hard-hitting, comprehensive policy. And yet there is nothing in it about the vast domestic landscape that we were all warned needed so much attention.

Can you give me the answer to the question why?

RICE: I would ask the following. We were there for 233 days. There had been recognition for a number of years before -- after the '93 bombing, and certainly after the millennium -- that there were challenges, if I could say it that way, inside the United States, and that there were challenges concerning our domestic agencies and the challenges concerning the FBI and the CIA.
We were in office 233 days. It's absolutely the case that we did not begin structural reform of the FBI.

Now, the vice president was asked by the president, and that was tasked in May, to put all of this together and to see if he could put together, from all of the recommendations, a program for protection of the homeland against WMD, what else needed to be done. And in fact, he had hired Admiral Steve Abbot to do that work. And it was on that basis that we were able to put together the Homeland Security Council, which Tom Ridge came to head very, very quickly.

But I think the question is, why, over all of these years, did we not address the structural problems that were there, with the FBI, with the CIA, the homeland departments being scattered among many different departments?

RICE: And why, given all of the opportunities that we'd had to do it, had we not done it?

And I think that the unfortunate -- and I really do think it's extremely tragic -- fact is that sometimes until there is a catastrophic event that forces people to think differently, that forces people to overcome all customs and old culture and old fears about domestic intelligence and the relationship, that you don't get that kind of change.

And I want to say just one more thing, if you don't mind, about the issue of high-level attention.

The reason that I asked Andy Card to come with me to that meeting with Dick Clarke was that I wanted him to know -- wanted Dick Clarke to know -- that he had the weight not just of the national security advisor, but the weight of the chief of staff if he needed it. I didn't manage the domestic agencies. No national security advisor does.

And not once during this period of time did my very experienced crisis manager say to me, "You know, I don't think this is getting done in the agencies. I'd really like you to call them together or make a phone call."

In fact, after the fact, on September 15, what Dick Clarke sent me -- and he was my crisis manager -- what he sent me was a memorandum, or an e-mail that said, "After national unity begins to break down" -- again, I'm paraphrasing -- "people will ask, did we do all that we needed to do to arm the domestic agencies, to warn the domestic agencies and to respond to the possibility of domestic threat?"

That, I think, was his view at the time. And I have to tell you, I think given the circumstances and given the context and given the structures that we had, we did.

GORELICK: Well, I have lots of other questions on this issue. But I am trying to get out what will probably be my third and last question to you. So if we could move through this reasonably quickly.

I was struck by your characterization of the NSPD, the policy that you arrived at at the end of the administration, as having the goal of the elimination of al Qaeda.

Because as I look at it -- and I thank you for declassifying this this morning, although I would have liked to have known it a little earlier, but I think people will find this interesting reading -- it doesn't call for the elimination of al Qaeda.

And it may be a semantic difference, but I don't think so. It calls for the elimination of the al Qaeda threat. And that's a very big difference, because, to me, the elimination of al Qaeda means you're going to go into Afghanistan and you're going to get them.

And as I read it, and as I've heard your public statements recently, there was not, I take it, a decision taken in this document to put U.S. troops on the ground in Afghanistan to get al Qaeda. Is that correct?

RICE: That is correct.

GORELICK: Now, you have pointed out that in this document there is a tasking to the Defense Department for contingency planning as part of this exercise -- contingency planning, and you've listed the goals of the contingency plans.

And you have suggested that this takes the policy, with regard to terrorism for our country, to a new level, a more aggressive level.

Were you briefed on Operation Infinite Resolve that was put in place in '98 and updated in the year 2000?

Because as I read Infinite Resolve, and as our staff reads Infinite Resolve, it was a plan that had been tasked by the Clinton administration to the Defense Department to develop precisely analogous plans. And it was extant at the time.

GORELICK: And so I ask you -- and there are many, many places where you indicate there are differences between the Clinton program and yours. This one jumps out at me.

Was there a material difference between your view of the military assignment and the Clinton administration's extant plan? And if so, what was it?

RICE: Yes, I think that there were significant differences.

First of all, Secretary Rumsfeld, I think, has testified that he was briefed on Infinite Resolve. It would have been highly unusual for me to me to be briefed on military plans were we not, in fact, planning to use them for employment. And so I'm not surprised... GORELICK: Well, except that you were tasking them -- pardon me for interrupting -- you were tasking the military to do something as part of this seven-and-a-half-month process. So it would strike me as likely that you would have wanted to know what the predicate was.

RICE: We were tasking the secretary of defense, who in fact had been briefed on Infinite Resolve, to develop within the context of a broader strategy military plans that were now linked to certain political purposes.

I worked in the Pentagon. I worked for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. There are plans and plans and plans. And the problem is that unless those plans are engaged by the civilian leadership on behalf of the president, unless those plans have an adequate political basis and political purpose in mind, those plans simply sit and they in fact rarely get used.

Now, the whole tortured history of trying to use military power in support of counterterrorism objectives has been, I think, very admirably and adequately discussed by your staff in the military paper.

RICE: And what is quite clear from that paper is that, from the time of Presidential Directive 62, which keeps the Defense Department focused on force protection and rendition of terrorists and so forth, all the way up through the period when we take office, this issue of military plans and how to use military power with counterterrorism objectives just doesn't get addressed.

What we were doing was to put together a policy that brought all of the elements together. It tasked the secretary of defense within the context of a plan that really focused not just on al Qaeda and bin Laden, but also on what we might be able to do against the Taliban. And that gave the kind of regional context that might make it possible to use military force more robustly, to work plans in that context.

I think without that context, you're just going to have military plans that never get used.

I read Sandy Berger -- or saw Sandy Berger's testimony. He talked about the fact whenever they started to look at the use of military plans, the issue of whether you would get regional cooperation always arose. That was precisely what I was saying, when I said that we had to get the regional context right.

I am not going to tell that we were looking to invade Afghanistan during that seven months. We were not.

But we were looking in the context of a plan that gave you a better regional context that looked to eliminate the al Qaeda threat or al Qaeda that looked to eliminate Taliban support for them -- how to use military power within that context.

KEAN: Last follow-up.

GORELICK: In order to keep us to our schedule, I'll just make this comment, and we'll, I think, profitably follow up with you in a private session.

PDD 62, which was the presidential directive in the Clinton administration, was not the only way in which the Defense Department was tasked. I mean, Infinite Resolve went well beyond what you describe PDD 62 as doing. That's number one.

And number two, however good it might have been to change the text in which the military planning was ongoing, neither I, nor, I think, our staff, can find any functional difference between the two sets of plans. I'll leave it to my colleagues.

RICE: Well, thank you very much. But I continue to believe that unless you can tell the military in the context what it is they're going after and for what purpose, you're going to have military plans that, every time you ask for the briefing, turn out to be unusable.

GORELICK: I'm sure that this debate will continue.

RICE: Yes.

KEAN: Senator Gorton?

SLADE GORTON, COMMISSION MEMBER: Before 9/11, did any adviser to you, or to your knowledge to this administration or to its predecessor, counsel the kind of all-out war against the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan that the United States actually conducted after 9/11?

RICE: No, sir. No one counseled an all-out war against Afghanistan of the kind that we did after 9/11.

RICE: There was a good deal of talk about the inadequacy of military options to go after al Qaeda. Dick Clarke was quite clear in his view that the very things that had been tasked were inadequate to the task.

And so, people were looking for other kinds of military options. But no, an all-out invasion of Afghanistan, it was not recommended.

GORTON: Was it possible to conduct that kind of war in Afghanistan without the cooperation of Pakistan?

RICE: It was absolutely not possible.

And this goes also to the point that I was making to Commissioner Gorelick. You can have lots of plans but unless -- since the United States sits protected by oceans, or no longer protected -- the United States sits across oceans -- unless you find a way to get regional cooperation from Pakistan, from the Central Asian countries, you're going to be left with essentially stand-off options, meaning bombers and cruise missiles, because you're not going to have the full range of military options.

GORTON: Now, your written and oral statement spoke of a frustrating and unproductive meeting with the president of Pakistan in June. Let me go beyond that. How much progress had the United States made toward the kind of necessary cooperation from Pakistan by say the 10th of September, 2001?

RICE: The United States had a comprehensive plan that the deputies had approved that would have been coming to the principals shortly -- and I think approved easily, because the deputies are, of course, very senior people who have the consonance of their principals -- that was going to try to unravel this overlapping set of sanctions that were on Pakistan. Some because of the way Musharraf had come to power, some because of nuclear issues. We were looking to do that.

Rich Armitage tells me that when he approached the Pakistanis after September 11, he did presage that we would try and do this also with a positive side, but the plans were not in place. Changing Pakistan's strategic direction was going to take some time.

GORTON: Would the program recommended on September 4th have prevented 9/11 had it been adopted in, say, February or March of 2001?

RICE: Commissioner, it would not have prevented September 11 if it had been approved the day after we came to office.

GORTON: Now, in retrospect, and given the knowledge that you had, you and the administration simply believed that you had more time to meet this challenge of al Qaeda than was in fact the case. Is that not true?

RICE: It is true that we understood that to meet this challenge it was going to take time. It was a multiyear program to try and meet the challenge of al Qaeda.

That doesn't mean that when you get immediate threat reporting that you don't do everything that you can to disrupt at that particular point in time.

But in terms of the strategy of trying to improve the prospects of Pakistan withdrawing support from Taliban, with presenting the Taliban with possible defeat because you were dealing not just with the Northern Alliance but with the southern tribes, that, we believed, we going to take time.

GORTON: It turned out, in retrospect, you didn't have the time to do it.

RICE: We didn't. Although, I will say that the document that was then approved by the president after September 11, what happened was that the NSPD was then forwarded to the president in a post- September 11 context, and many of the same aspects of it were used to guide the policy that we actually did take against Afghanistan.

And the truth of the matter is that, as the president said on September 20th, this is going to take time. We're still trying to unravel al Qaeda. We're still trying to deal with worldwide terrorist threats.

So it's obvious that, even with all of the force of the country after September 11, this is a long-term project.

GORTON: One subject that certainly any administration in your place would not like to bring up but I want to bring up in any event is, the fact is that we've now gone two and a half years and we have not had another incident in the United States even remotely comparable to 9/11.

GORTON: In your view -- there have been many such horrific incidents in other parts of the world, from al Qaeda or al Qaeda lookalikes.

In your view, have the measures that have been taken here in the United States actually reduced the amount of terrorism, or simply displaced it and caused it to move elsewhere?

RICE: I believe that we have really hurt the al Qaeda network. We have not destroyed it. And it is clear that it was much more entrenched and had relationships with many more organizations than I think people generally recognize.

I don't think it's been displaced. But they realize that they are in an all-out war. And so you're starting to see them try to fight back. And I think that's one reason that you're getting the terrorist attacks that you are.

But I don't think it's been displaced; I think it's just coming to the surface.

GORTON: Well, maybe you don't understand what I mean by displacement. Do you not think that al Qaeda and these terrorist entities are now engaged in terrorism where they think it's easier than it would be in the United States? That's what I mean about displacement.

RICE: Oh, I see. I'm sorry. I didn't understand the question.

I think that it is possible that they recognize the heightened security profile that we have post-September 11, and I believe that we have made it harder for them to attack here.

I will tell you that I get up every day concerned because I don't think we've made it impossible for them.

RICE: We're safer, but we're not safe.

And as I said, they have to be right once; we have to be right 100 percent of the time.

But I do think some of the security measures that we have taken, some of the systemic and systematic security measures that we have taken, have made it a lot harder for them.

GORTON: I think, in one sense, there are three ways in which one can deal with a threat like this, and I would like your views on how well you think we've done in each of them and maybe even their relative importance. So one is hardening targets, like kind of disruptions we have every time we try to travel on an airplane.

The second is prevention. And a lot has been spoken here about that, whether we're better able to find out what their plans are and frustrate those plans.

And the third is one that you talked about in your opening statement: preemption, going at the cause.

How do you balance, in a free society, those three generic methods of going after terrorism?

RICE: I sincerely hope that one of the outcomes of this commission is that we will talk about balance between those, because we want to prevent the next terrorist attack. We don't want to do it at the expense of who we are as an open society.

And I think that, in terms of hardening, we've done a lot. If you look at the airport security now, it's considerably very much different than it was prior. And there's a transportation security agency that's charged with that.

Tom Ridge and his people have an actual unit that sits around and worried about critical infrastructure protection and works with local and state governments to make sure the critical infrastructure is protected.

I think we're making a lot of progress in hardening. In terms of -- but we're never going to be able to harden enough to prevent every attack.

We have, in terms of prevention, increased the worldwide attention to this problem.

When Louis Freeh put together the Legat System, the Legal Attache System, abroad, it was -- and I'm sure that you, Commissioner Gorelick, as a former deputy attorney general, will remember that -- it became a very important tool also post-9/11 to be able to work with the law enforcement agencies abroad now married up with foreign intelligence in a way that helps us to be able to disrupt abroad in ways that I think we were not capable of disrupting before.

RICE: Many of our democratic partners are having some of the same debates that we are about how to have prevention without issues of civil liberties being exposed.

We think the Patriot Act gets just the right balance and that it's extremely important to prevention because it makes law enforcement -- usually in law enforcement you wait until a crime is committed and then you act. We cannot afford in terrorism to wait until a crime is committed.

And finally, in terms of preemption, I have to say that the one thing I've been struck by in the hearings is when I was listening to the former secretaries and the current secretaries the other day, is the persistent argument, the persistent question of whether we should have acted against Afghanistan sooner.

Given that the threats were gathering, given that we knew al Qaeda had launched attacks against us, why did we wait until you had a catastrophic attack to use strategic military power -- not tit for tat, not a little tactical military strike -- but strategic military power against this country.

And the president has said many times that after September 11, we have learned not to let threats gather. And yet we continue to have a debate about whether or not you have to go against threats before they fully materialize on your soil.

GORTON: Well, Ms. Rice, one final comment.

I asked both the secretary of state and secretary of defense that question about whether or not they didn't think we had more time than we were actually granted the luxury of having; they both ducked the question totally. You at least partly answered it.

Thank you very much.

RICE: Thank you.

KEAN: Thank you, Senator.

Senator Kerrey?

BOB KERREY, COMMISSION MEMBER: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

And thank you, Dr. Rice.

Let me say at the beginning I'm very impressed, and indeed I'd go as far as to say moved by your story, the story of your life and what you've accomplished. It's quite extraordinary.

And I want to say at the outset that, notwithstanding perhaps the tone of some of my questions, I'm not sure had I been in your position or Sandy Berger's position or President Bush or President Clinton's position that I would have done things differently. I simply don't know.

But the line of questioning will suggest that I'm trying to ascertain why things weren't done differently.

Let me ask a question that -- well, actually, let me say -- I can't pass this up. I know it'll take into my 10-minute time. But as somebody who supported the war in Iraq, I'm not going to get the national security adviser 30 feet away from me very often over the next 90 days, and I've got to tell you, I believe a number of things.

I believe, first of all, that we underestimate that this war on terrorism is really a war against radical Islam. Terrorism is a tactic. It's not a war itself.

Secondly, let me say that I don't think we understand how the Muslim world views us, and I'm terribly worried that the military tactics in Iraq are going to do a number of things, and they're all bad. One is...

No, please don't -- please do not do that. Do not applaud.

I think we're going to end up with civil war if we continue down the military operation strategies that we have in place. I say that sincerely as someone that supported the war in the first place.

Let me say, secondly, that I don't know how it could be otherwise, given the way that we're able to see these military operations, even the restrictions that are imposed upon the press, that this doesn't provide an opportunity for al Qaeda to have increasing success at recruiting people to attack the United States.

KERREY: It worries me. And I wanted to make that declaration. You needn't comment on it, but as I said, I'm not going to have an opportunity to talk to you this closely.

And I wanted to tell you that I think the military operations are dangerously off track. And it's largely a U.S. Army -- 125,000 out of 145,000 -- largely a Christian army in a Muslim nation. So I take that on board for what it's worth.

Let me ask you, first of all, a question that's been a concern for me from the first day I came on the commission, and that is the relationship of our executive director to you.

Let me just ask you directly, and you can just give me -- keep it relatively short, but I wanted to get it on the record.

Since he was an expert on terrorism, did you ask Philip Zelikow any questions about terrorism during transition, since he was the second person carded in the national security office and had considerable expertise?

RICE: Philip and I had numerous conversations about the issues that we were facing. Philip, as you know, had worked in the campaign and helped with the transition plans, so yes.

KERREY: Yes, you did talk to him about terrorism?

RICE: We talked -- Philip and I over a period of -- you know, we had worked closely together as academics...

KERREY: During the transition, did you instruct him to do anything on terrorism?

RICE: Oh, to do anything on terrorism?


RICE: To help us think about the structure of the terrorism -- Dick Clarke's operations, yes.

KERREY: You've used the phrase a number of times, and I'm hoping with my question to disabuse you of using it in the future.

You said the president was tired of swatting flies.

KERREY: Can you tell me one example where the president swatted a fly when it came to al Qaeda prior to 9/11?

RICE: I think what the president was speaking to was...

KERREY: No, no. What fly had he swatted?

RICE: Well, the disruptions abroad was what he was really focusing on...

KERREY: No, no...

RICE: ... when the CIA would go after Abu Zubaydah...

KERREY: He hadn't swatted...

RICE: ... or go after this guy...

KERREY: Dr. Rice, we didn't...

RICE: That was what was meant.

KERREY: We only swatted a fly once on the 20th of August 1998. We didn't swat any flies afterwards. How the hell could he be tired?

RICE: We swatted at -- I think he felt that what the agency was doing was going after individual terrorists here and there, and that's what he meant by swatting flies. It was simply a figure of speech.

KERREY: Well, I think it's an unfortunate figure of speech because I think, especially after the attack on the Cole on the 12th of October, 2000, it would not have been swatting a fly. It would not have been -- we did not need to wait to get a strategic plan.

Dick Clarke had in his memo on the 20th of January overt military operations. He turned that memo around in 24 hours, Dr. Clarke. There were a lot of plans in place in the Clinton administration -- military plans in the Clinton administration.

In fact, since we're in the mood to declassify stuff, there was -- he included in his January 25 memo two appendices -- Appendix A: "Strategy for the elimination of the jihadist threat of al Qaeda," Appendix B: "Political military plan for al Qaeda."

So I just -- why didn't we respond to the Cole?

RICE: Well, we...

KERREY: Why didn't we swat that fly?

RICE: I believe that there's a question of whether or not you respond in a tactical sense or whether you respond in a strategic sense; whether or not you decide that you're going to respond to every attack with minimal use of military force and go after every -- on a kind of tit-for-tat basis.

By the way, in that memo, Dick Clarke talks about not doing this tit-for-tat, doing this on the time of our choosing.

I'm aware, Mr. Kerrey, of a speech that you gave at that time that said that perhaps the best thing that we could do to respond to the Cole and to the memories was to do something about the threat of Saddam Hussein.

That's a strategic view...

And we took a strategic view. We didn't take a tactical view. I mean, it was really -- quite frankly, I was blown away when I read the speech, because it's a brilliant speech. It talks about really...

... an asymmetric...

KERREY: I presume you read it in the last few days?

RICE: Oh no, I read it quite a bit before that. It's an asymmetric approach.

Now, you can decide that every time al Qaeda...

KERREY: So you're saying that you didn't have a military response against the Cole because of my speech?


KERREY: That had I not given that speech you would have attacked them?

RICE: No, I'm just saying that I think it was a brilliant way to think about it.

KERREY: I think it's...

RICE: It was a way of thinking about it strategically, not tactically. But if I may answer the question that you've asked me.

The issue of whether to respond -- or how to respond to the Cole -- I think Don Rumsfeld has also talked about this. Yes, the Cole had happened. We received, I think on January 25, the same assessment -- or roughly the same assessment -- of who was responsible for the Cole that Sandy Berger talked to you about.

It was preliminary. It was not clear. But that was not the reason that we felt that we did not want to, quote, "respond to the Cole."

We knew that the options that had been employed by the Clinton administration had been standoff options. The president had -- meaning missile strikes or perhaps bombers would have been possible, long-range bombers. Although getting in place the apparatus to use long-range bombers is even a matter of whether you have basing in the region.

RICE: We knew that Osama Bin Laden had been, in something that was provided to me, bragging that he was going to withstand any response and then he was going to emerge and come out stronger.

KERREY: But you're figuring this out. You've got to give a very long answer.

RICE: We simply believed that the best approach was to put in place a plan that was going to eliminate this threat, not respond to an attack.

KERREY: Let me say, I think you would have come in there if you said, "We screwed up. We made a lot of mistakes." You obviously don't want to use the M-word in here. And I would say fine, it's game, set, match. I understand that.

But this strategic and tactical, I mean, I just -- it sounds like something from a seminar. It doesn't...

RICE: I do not believe to this day that it would have been a good thing to respond to the Cole, given the kinds of options that we were going to have.

And with all due respect to Dick Clarke, if you're speaking about the Delenda plan, my understanding is that it was, A, never adopted, and that Dick Clarke himself has said that the military portion of this was not taken up by the Clinton administration.

KERREY: Let me move into another area.

RICE: So we were not presented -- I just want to be very clear on this, because it's been a source of controversy -- we were not presented with a plan.

KERREY: Well, that's not true. It is not...

RICE: We were not presented. We were presented with...

KERREY: I've heard you say that, Dr. Clarke, that 25 January, 2001, memo was declassified, I don't believe...

RICE: That January 25 memo has a series of actionable items having to do with Afghanistan, the Northern Alliance.

KERREY: Let me move to another area.

RICE: May I finish answering your question, though, because this is an important...

KERREY: I know it's important. Everything that's going on here is important. But I get 10 minutes.

RICE: But since we have a point of disagreement, I'd like to have a chance to address it.

KERREY: Well, no, no, actually, we have many points of disagreement, Dr. Clarke, but we'll have a chance to do in closed session. Please don't filibuster me. It's not fair. It is not fair. I have been polite. I have been courteous. It is not fair to me.
I understand that we have a disagreement.

RICE: Commissioner, I am here to answer questions. And you've asked me a question, and I'd like to have an opportunity to answer it.

The fact is that what we were presented on January the 25th was a set of ideas and a paper, most of which was about what the Clinton administration had done and something called the Delenda plan which had been considered in 1998 and never adopted. We decided to take a different track.

RICE: We decided to put together a strategic approach to this that would get the regional powers -- the problem wasn't that you didn't have a good counterterrorism person.

The problem was you didn't have an approach against al Qaeda because you didn't have an approach against Afghanistan. And you didn't have an approach against Afghanistan because you didn't have an approach against Pakistan. And until we could get that right, we didn't have a policy.

KERREY: Thank you for answering my question.

RICE: You're welcome.

KERREY: Let me ask you another question. Here's the problem that I have as I -- again, it's hindsight. I appreciate that. But here's the problem that a lot of people are having with this July 5th meeting.

You and Andy Card meet with Dick Clarke in the morning. You say you have a meeting, he meets in the afternoon. It's July 5th.

Kristen Breitweiser, who's a part of the families group, testified at the Joint Committee. She brings very painful testimony, I must say.

But here's what Agent Kenneth Williams said five days later. He said that the FBI should investigate whether al Qaeda operatives are training at U.S. flight schools. He posited that Osama bin Laden followers might be trying to infiltrate the civil aviation system as pilots, security guards and other personnel. He recommended a national program to track suspicious flight schools. Now, one of the first things that I learned when I came into this town was the FBI and the CIA don't talk. I mean, I don't need a catastrophic event to know that the CIA and the FBI don't do a very good job of communicating.

And the problem we've got with this and the Moussaoui facts, which were revealed on the 15th of August, all it had to do was to be put on Intelink. All it had to do is go out on Intelink, and the game's over. It ends. This conspiracy would have been rolled up.

KERREY: And so I...

RICE: Commissioner, with all due respect, I don't agree that we know that we had somehow a silver bullet here that was going to work.

[Note: Once again, Rice taking no responsibility and casting blame on the CIA]

What we do know is that we did have a systemic problem, a structural problem between the FBI and the CIA. It was a long time in coming into being. It was there because there were legal impediments, as well as bureaucratic impediments. Those needed to be overcome.

Obviously, the structure of the FBI that did not get information from the field offices up to FBI Central, in a way that FBI Central could react to the whole range of information reports, was a problem.

KERREY: But, Dr. Rice, everybody...

RICE: But the structure of the FBI, the restructuring of the FBI, was not going to be done in the 233 days in which we were in office...

KERREY: Dr. Rice, everybody who does national security in this town knows the FBI and the CIA don't talk. So if you have a meeting on the 5th of July, where you're trying to make certain that your domestic agencies are preparing a defense against a possible attack, you knew al Qaeda cells were in the United States, you've got to follow up.

And the question is, what was your follow-up? What's the paper trail that shows that you and Andy Card followed up from this meeting, and...

RICE: I followed...

KERREY: ... made certain that the FBI and the CIA were talking?

RICE: I followed up with Dick Clarke, who had in his group, and with him, the key counterterrorism person for the FBI. You have to remember that Louis Freeh was, by this time, gone. And so, the chief counterterrorism person was the second -- Louis Freeh had left in late June. And so the chief counterterrorism person for the FBI was working these issues, was working with Dick Clarke. I talked to Dick Clarke about this all the time.

RICE: But let's be very clear, the threat information that we were dealing with -- and when you have something that says, "something very big may happen," you have no time, you have no place, you have no how, the ability to somehow respond to that threat is just not there.

Now, you said...

KERREY: Dr. Clarke, in the spirit of further declassification...

RICE: Sir, with all...

KERREY: The spirit...

RICE: I don't think I look like Dick Clarke, but...

KERREY: Dr. Rice, excuse me.

RICE: Thank you.

KEAN: This is the last question, Senator.

KERREY: Actually it won't be a question.

In the spirit of further declassification, this is what the August 6 memo said to the president: that the FBI indicates patterns of suspicious activity in the United States consistent with preparations for hijacking.

That's the language of the memo that was briefed to the president on the 6 of August.

RICE: And that was checked out and steps were taken through FAA circulars to warn of hijackings.

But when you cannot tell people where a hijacking might occur, under what circumstances -- I can tell you that I think the best antidote to what happened in that regard would have been many years before to think about what you could do for instance to harden cockpits.

That would have made a difference. We weren't going to harden cockpits in the three months that we had a threat spike.

The really difficult thing for all of us, and I'm sure for those who came before us as well as for those of us who are here, is that the structural and systematic changes that needed to be made -- not on July 5th or not on June 25th or not on January 1st -- those structures and those changes needed to be made a long time ago so that the country was in fact hardened against the kind of threat that we faced on September 11.

The problem was that for a country that had not been attacked on its territory in a major way in almost 200 years, there were a lot of structural impediments to those kinds of attacks.

RICE: Those changes should have been made over a long period of time. I fully agree with you that, in hindsight, now looking back, there are many things structurally that were out of kilter. And one reason that we're here is to look at what was out of kilter structurally, to look at needed to be done, to look at what we already have done, and to see what more we need to do.

But I think it is really quite unfair to suggest that something that was a threat spike in June or July gave you the kind of opportunity to make the changes in air security that could have been -- that needed to be made.

KEAN: Secretary Lehman?


Dr. Rice, I'd like to ask you whether you agree with the testimony we had from Mr. Clarke that, when asked whether if all of his recommendations during the transition or during the period when his, quote, "hair was on fire," had been followed immediately, would it have prevented 9/11, he said no. Do you agree with that?

RICE: I agree completely with that.

LEHMAN: In a way, one of the criticisms that has been made -- or one of the, perhaps, excuses for an inefficient hand-off of power at the change, the transition, is, indeed, something we're going to be looking into in depth.

Because of the circumstances of the election, it was the shortest handover in memory. But in many ways, really, it was the longest handover, certainly in my memory. Because while the Cabinet changed, virtually all of the national and domestic security agencies and executive action agencies remained the same -- combination of political appointees from the previous administration and career appointees -- CIA, FBI, JCS, the CTC, the Counter-Terrorism Center, the DIA, the NSA, the director of operations in CIA, the director of intelligence.

LEHMAN: So you really up almost until, with the exception of the INS head leaving and there be an acting, and Louis Freeh leaving in June, you essentially had the same government.

Now, that raises two questions in my mind.

One, a whole series of questions. What were you told by this short transition from Mr. Berger and associates and the long transition leading up to 9/11 by those officials about a number of key issues?

And I'd like to ask them quickly in turn.

And the other is, I'm struck by the continuity of the policies rather than the differences.

And both of these sets of questions are really directed toward what I think is the real purpose of this commission. While it's certainly a lot more fun to be doing the, "Who struck John?" and pointing fingers as which policy was more urgent or more important, so forth, the real business of this commission is to learn the lessons and to find the ways to fix those dysfunctions. And that's why we have unanimity and true nonpartisanship on this commission. So that's what's behind the rhetoric that's behind the questioning that we have.

First, during the short or long transition, were you told before the summer that there were functioning al Qaeda cells in the United States?

RICE: In the memorandum that Dick Clarke sent me on January 25th, he mentions sleeper cells. There is no mention or recommendation of anything that needs to be done about them. And the FBI was pursuing them.

And usually when things come to me, it's because I'm supposed to do something about it, and there was no indication that the FBI was not adequately pursuing the sleeper cells.

LEHMAN: Were you told that there were numerous young Arab males in flight training, had taken flight training, were in flight training?

RICE: I was not. And I'm not sure that that was known at the center.

LEHMAN: Were you told that the U.S. Marshal program had been changed to drop any U.S. marshals on domestic flights?

RICE: I was not told that.

LEHMAN: Were you told that the red team in FAA -- the red teams for 10 years had reported their hard data that the U.S. airport security system never got higher than 20 percent effective and was usually down around 10 percent for 10 straight years?

RICE: To the best of my recollection, I was not told that.

LEHMAN: Were you aware that INS had been lobbying for years to get the airlines to drop the transit without visa loophole that enabled terrorists and illegals to simply buy a ticket through the transit-without- visa-waiver and pay the airlines extra money and come in?

RICE: I learned about that after September 11.

LEHMAN: Were you aware that the INS had quietly, internally, halved its internal security enforcement budget?

RICE: I was not made aware of that. I don't remember being made aware of that, no.

LEHMAN: Were you aware that it was the U.S. government established policy not to question or oppose the sanctuary policies of New York, Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, San Diego for political reasons, which policy in those cities prohibited the local police from cooperating at all with federal immigration authorities?

RICE: I do not believe I was aware of that.

LEHMAN: Were you aware -- to shift a little bit to Saudi Arabia -- were you aware of the program that was well established that allowed Saudi citizens to get visas without interviews?

RICE: I learned of that after 9/11.

LEHMAN: Were you aware of the activities of the Saudi ministry of religious affairs here in the United States during that transition?

RICE: I believe that only after September 11 did the full extent of what was going on with the ministry of religious affairs became evident.

LEHMAN: Were you aware of the extensive activities of the Saudi government in supporting over 300 radical teaching schools and mosques around the country, including right here in the United States?

RICE: I believe we've learned a great deal more about this and addressed it with the Saudi government since 9/11.

LEHMAN: Were you aware at the time of the fact that Saudi Arabia had and were you told that they had in their custody the CFO and the closest confidant of al Qaeda -- of Osama bin Laden, and refused direct access to the United States?

RICE: I don't remember anything of that kind.

LEHMAN: Were you aware that they would not cooperate and give us access to the perpetrators of the Khobar Towers attack?

RICE: I was very involved in issues concerning Khobar Towers and our relations with several governments concerning Khobar Towers.

LEHMAN: Thank you.

Were you aware -- and it disturbs me a bit, and again, let me shift to the continuity issues here.

Were you aware that it was the policy of the Justice Department -- and I'd like you to comment as to whether these continuities are still in place -- before I go to Justice, were you aware that it was the policy and I believe remains the policy today to fine airlines if they have more than two young Arab males in secondary questioning because that's discriminatory?

RICE: No, I have to say that the kind of inside arrangements for the FAA are not really in my...

LEHMAN: Well, these are not so inside.

Were you aware that the FAA up until 9/11 thought it was perfectly permissible to allow four-inch knife blades aboard?

RICE: I was not aware.


Back to Justice. I was disturbed to hear you say on the continuity line that President Bush's first reaction to 9/11 and the question of al Qaeda's involvement was we must bring him to justice, because we have had dozens and dozens of interviewees and witnesses say that a fundamental problem of the dysfunction between CIA and Justice was the criminal -- the attitude that law enforcement was what terrorism was all about and not prevention and foreign policy.

I think that there was at the time a very strictly enforced wall in the Justice Department between law enforcement and intelligence and that repeatedly, there are many statements from presidents and attorneys general and so forth that say that the first priority is bring these people to justice, protect the evidence, seal the evidence and so forth.

LEHMAN: Do you believe this has changed?

RICE: I certainly believe that that has changed, Commissioner Lehman.

Let me just go back for one second, though, on the long list of questions that you asked.

I think another structural problem for the United States is that we really didn't have anyone trying to put together all of the kinds of issues that you raised, about what we were doing with INS, what we were doing with borders, what we were doing with visas, what we were doing with airport security. And that's the reason that, first, the Homeland Security Council, and then Tom Ridge's initial job, and then the Homeland Security Department is so important, because you can then look at the whole spectrum of protecting our borders from all kinds of threats and say, what kinds of policies make sense and what kinds of policies don't?

And they now actually have someone who looks at critical infrastructure protection, looks at airport security, understands in greater detail than I think the national security adviser could ever understand all of the practices of what is going on in transportation security. That's why it is important that we made the change that we did.

As to some of the questions concerning the Saudis: I think that we have had, really, very good cooperation with Saudi Arabia since 9/11, and since the May 12th attacks on Riyadh even greater cooperation, because Saudi Arabia is I think fully enlisted in the war on terrorism. And we need to understand that there were certain things that we didn't even understand were going on inside the United States.

RICE: It's not terribly surprising that the Saudis didn't understand some of the things that were going on in their country.

As to your last question, though, I think that that's actually where we've had the biggest change. The president doesn't think of this as law enforcement. He thinks of this as war.

And for all of the rhetoric of war prior to 9/11 -- people who said we're at war with the jihadist network, people who said that they've declared war on us and we're at war with them -- we weren't at war. We weren't on war footing. We weren't behaving in that way.

We were still very focused on rendition of terrorists, on law enforcement. And, yes, from time to time we did military plans, or use the cruise missile strike here or there, but we did not have a sustained systematic effort to destroy al Qaeda, to deal with those who harbored al Qaeda.

One of the points that the president made in his very first speech on the night of September 11 was that it's not just the terrorists, it's those who harbor them, too. And he put states on notice that they were going to be responsible if they sponsor terrorists or if they acquiesced in terrorists being there.

And when he said, "I want to bring them to justice," again, I think there was a little bit of nervousness about talking about exactly what that means.

But I don't think there's anyone in America who doesn't understand that this president believes that we're at war, it's a war we have to win, and that it is a war that cannot be fought on the defensive. It's a war that has to be fought on the offense.

LEHMAN: Thank you. Are you sure that the...

KEAN: Last question, Secretary.

LEHMAN: As a last question, tell us what you really recommend we should address our attentions to to fix this as the highest priority. Not just moving boxes around, but what can you tell us in public here that we could do, since we are outside the legislature and outside the executive branch and can bring the focus of attention for change? Tell us what you recommend we do.

RICE: My greatest concern is that, as September 11 recedes from memory, that we will begin to unlearn the lessons of what we've learned.

RICE: And I think this commission can be very important in helping us to focus on those lessons and then to make sure that the structures of government reflect those lessons, because those structures of government now are going to have to last us for a very long time.

I think we've done, under the president's leadership, we've done extremely important structural change. We've reorganized the government in a greater way than has been done since the 1947 National Security Act created the Department of Defense, the CIA and the National Security Council.

I think that we need to -- we have a major reorganization of the FBI, where Bob Mueller is trying very hard not to just move boxes but to change incentives, to change culture. Those are all very hard things to do.

I think there have been very important changes made between the CIA and FBI. Yes, everybody knew that they had trouble sharing, but in fact, we had legal restrictions to their sharing. And George Tenet and Louis Freeh and others have worked very hard at that. But until the Patriot Act, we couldn't do what we needed to do.

And now I hear people who question the need for the Patriot Act, question whether or not the Patriot Act is infringing on our civil liberties. I think that you can address this hard question of the balance that we as an open society need to achieve between the protection of our country and the need to remain the open society, the welcoming society that we are. And I think you're in a better position to address that than anyone.

And I do want you to know that when you have addressed it, the president is not going to just be interested in the recommendations. I think he's going to be interested in knowing how we can press forward in ways that will make us safer.

The other thing that I hope you will do is to take a look back again at the question that keeps arising. I think Senator Gorton was going after this question. I've heard Senator Kerrey talk about it, which is, you know, the country, like democracies do, waited and waited and waited as this threat gathered.

RICE: And we didn't respond by saying, "We're at war with them. Now we're going to use all means of our national assets to go against them." There are other threats that gather against us.

And what we should have learned from September 11 is that you have to be bold and you have to be decisive and you have to be on the offensive, because we're never going to be able to completely defend.

LEHMAN: Thank you very much.

KEAN: Congressman Roemer?


Welcome, Dr. Rice. And I just want to say to you you've made it through 2 1/2 hours so far with only Governor Thompson to go. And if you'd like a break of five minutes, I'd be happy to yield you some of Governor Thompson's time.

Dr. Rice, you have said in your statement, which I find very interesting, "The terrorists were at war with us, but we were not at war with them."

Across several administrations of both parties, the response was insufficient. And tragically, for all the language of war spoken before September 11, this country simply was not on a war footing.

You're the national security advisor to the president of the United States. The buck may stop with the president; the buck certainly goes directly through you as the principal advisor to the president on these issues.

And it really seems to me that there were failures and mistakes, structural problems, all kinds of issues here leading up to September 11 that could have and should have been done better.

Doesn't that beg that there should have been more accountability? That there should have been a resignation or two? That there should have been you or the president saying to the rest of the administration, somehow, somewhere, that this was not done well enough?

RICE: Mr. Roemer, by definition, we didn't have enough information, we didn't have enough protection, because the attack happened -- by definition. And I think we've all asked ourselves, what more could have been done?

I will tell you if we had known that an attack was coming against the United States, that an attack was coming against New York and Washington, we would have moved heaven and earth to stop it.

But you heard the character of the threat report we were getting: something very, very big is going to happen. How do you act on "something very, very big is going to happen" beyond trying to put people on alert? Most of the threat reporting was abroad.

I took an oath, as I've said, to protect...

ROEMER: I've heard it -- I've heard you say this....

RICE: And I take it very seriously. I know that those who attacked us that day -- and attacked us, by the way, because of who we are, no other reason, but for who we are -- that they are the responsible party for the war that they launched against us...

ROEMER: But Dr. Rice...

RICE: ... the attacks that they made, and that our responsibility...

ROEMER: You have said several times...

RICE: ... that our responsibility is to...

ROEMER: You have said several times that your responsibility, being in office for 230 days, was to defend and protect the United States.

RICE: Of course.

ROEMER: You had an opportunity, I think, with Mr. Clarke, who had served a number of presidents going back to the Reagan administration; who you'd decided to keep on in office; who was a pile driver, a bulldozer, so to speak -- but this person who you, in the Woodward interview -- he's the very first name out of your mouth when you suspect that terrorists have attacked us on September the 11. You say, I think, immediately it was a terrorist attack; get Dick Clarke, the terrorist guy.

ROEMER: Even before you mentioned Tenet and Rumsfeld's names, "Get Dick Clarke."

Why don't you get Dick Clarke to brief the president before 9/11? Here is one of the consummate experts that never has the opportunity to brief the president of the United States on one of the most lethal, dynamic and agile threats to the United States of America.

Why don't you use this asset? Why doesn't the president ask to meet with Dick Clarke?

RICE: Well, the president was meeting with his director of central intelligence. And Dick Clarke is a very, very fine counterterrorism expert -- and that's why I kept him on.

And what I wanted Dick Clarke to do was to manage the crisis for us and help us develop a new strategy. And I can guarantee you, when we had that new strategy in place, the president -- who was asking for it and wondering what was happening to it -- was going to be in a position to engage it fully.

The fact is that what Dick Clarke recommended to us, as he has said, would not have prevented 9/11. I actually would say that not only would it have not prevented 9/11, but if we had done everything on that list, we would have actually been off in the wrong direction about the importance that we needed to attach to a new policy for Afghanistan and a new policy for Pakistan.

Because even though Dick is a very fine counterterrorism expert, he was not a specialist on Afghanistan. That's why I brought somebody in who really understood Afghanistan. He was not a specialist on Pakistan. That's why I brought somebody in to deal with Pakistan. He had some very good ideas. We acted on them.

RICE: Dick Clarke -- let me just step back for a second and say we had a very -- we had a very good relationship.

ROEMER: Yes. I'd appreciate it if you could be very concise here, so I can get to some more issues.

RICE: But all that he needed -- all that he needed to do was to say, "I need time to brief the president on something." But...

ROEMER: I think he did say that. Dr. Rice, in a private interview to us he said he asked to brief the president...

RICE: Well, I have to say -- I have to say, Mr. Roemer, to my recollection...

ROEMER: You say he didn't.

RICE: ... Dick Clarke never asked me to brief the president on counterterrorism. He did brief the president later on cybersecurity, in July, but he, to my recollection, never asked.

And my senior directors have an open door to come and say, "I think the president needs to do this. I think the president needs to do that. He needs to make this phone call. He needs to hear this briefing." It's not hard to get done.

But I just think that...

ROEMER: Let me ask you a question. You just said that the intelligence coming in indicated a big, big, big threat. Something was going to happen very soon and be potentially catastrophic.

I don't understand, given the big threat, why the big principals don't get together. The principals meet 33 times in seven months, on Iraq, on the Middle East, on missile defense, China, on Russia. Not once do the principals ever sit down -- you, in your job description as the national security advisor, the secretary of state, the secretary of defense, the president of the United States -- and meet solely on terrorism to discuss in the spring and the summer, when these threats are coming in, when you've known since the transition that al Qaeda cells are in the United States, when, as the PDB said on August, bin Laden determined to attack the United States.

Why don't the principals at that point say, "Let's all talk about this, let's get the biggest people together in our government and discuss what this threat is and try to get our bureaucracies responding to it"?

RICE: Once again, on the August 6 memorandum to the president, this was not threat-reporting about what was about to happen. This was an analytic piece that stood back and answered questions from the president.

But as to the principals meetings...

ROEMER: It has six or seven things in it, Dr. Rice, including the Ressam case when he attacked the United States in the millennium.

RICE: Yes, these are his...

ROEMER: Has the FBI saying that they think that there are conditions.

RICE: No, it does not have the FBI saying that they think that there are conditions. It has the FBI saying that they observed some suspicious activity. That was checked out with the FBI.

ROEMER: That is equal to what might be...


ROEMER: ... conditions for an attack.

RICE: Mr. Roemer, Mr. Roemer, threat reporting...

ROEMER: Would you say, Dr. Rice, that we should make that PDB a public document...

RICE: Mr. Roemer...

ROEMER: ... so we can have this conversation?

RICE: Mr. Roemer, threat reporting is: "We believe that something is going to happen here and at this time, under these circumstances." This was not threat reporting.

ROEMER: Well, actionable intelligence, Dr. Rice, is when you have the place, time and date. The threat reporting saying the United States is going to be attacked should trigger the principals getting together to say we're going to do something about this, I would think.

RICE: Mr. Roemer, let's be very clear. The PDB does not say the United States is going to be attacked. It says bin Laden would like to attack the United States. I don't think you, frankly, had to have that report to know that bin Laden would like to attack the United States.

ROEMER: So why aren't you doing something about that earlier than August 6?

RICE: The threat reporting to which we could respond was in June and July about threats abroad. What we tried to do for -- just because people said you cannot rule out an attack on the United States, was to have the domestic agencies and the FBI together to just pulse them and have them be on alert.

ROEMER: I agree with that.

RICE: But there was nothing that suggested there was going to be a threat...

ROEMER: I agree with that.

RICE: ... to the United States.

ROEMER: I agree with that.

So, Dr. Rice, let's say that the FBI is the key here. You say that the FBI was tasked with trying to find out what the domestic threat was.

We have done thousands of interviews here at the 9/11 Commission. We've gone through literally millions of pieces of paper. To date, we have found nobody -- nobody at the FBI who knows anything about a tasking of field offices.

We have talked to the director at the time of the FBI during this threat period, Mr. Pickard. He says he did not tell the field offices to do this.

And we have talked to the special agents in charge. They don't have any recollection of receiving a notice of threat.

Nothing went down the chain to the FBI field offices on spiking of information, on knowledge of al Qaeda in the country, and still, the FBI doesn't do anything.

Isn't that some of the responsibility of the national security advisor?

RICE: The responsibility for the FBI to do what it was asked was the FBI's responsibility. Now, I...

ROEMER: You don't think there's any responsibility back to the advisor to the president...

RICE: I believe that the responsibility -- again, the crisis management here was done by the CSG. They tasked these things. If there was any reason to believe that I needed to do something or that Andy Card needed to do something, I would have been expected to be asked to do it. We were not asked to do it. In fact, as I've...

ROEMER: But don't you ask somebody to do it? You're not asking somebody to do it. Why wouldn't you initiate that?

RICE: Mr. Roemer, I was responding to the threat spike and to where the information was. The information was about what might happen in the Persian Gulf, what might happen in Israel, what might happen in North Africa. We responded to that, and we responded vigorously.

Now, the structure...

ROEMER: Dr. Rice, let me ask you...

RICE: ... of the FBI, you will get into next week.

ROEMER: You've been helpful to us on that -- on your recommendation.

KEAN: Last question, Congressman.

ROEMER: Last question, Dr. Rice, talking about responses.

Mr. Clarke writes you a memo on September the 4th, where he lays out his frustration that the military is not doing enough, that the CIA is not pushing as hard enough in their agency. And he says we should not wait until the day that hundreds of Americans lay dead in the streets due to a terrorist attack and we think there could have been something more we could do.

ROEMER: Seven days prior to September the 11, he writes this to you.

What's your reaction to that at the time, and what's your response to that at the time?

RICE: Just one final point I didn't quite complete. I, of course, did understand that the attorney general needed to know what was going on, and I asked that he take the briefing and then ask that he be briefed.

Because, again, there was nothing demonstrating or showing that something was coming in the United States. If there had been something, we would have acted on it.

ROEMER: I think we should make this document public, Dr. Rice. Would you support making the August 6 PDB public?

RICE: The August 6 PDB has been available to you. You are describing it. And the August 6 PDB was a response to questions asked by the president, not a warning document.

ROEMER: Why wouldn't it be made public then?

RICE: Now, as to -- I think you know the sensitivity of presidential decision memoranda. And I think you know the great lengths to which we have gone to make it possible for this commission to view documents that are not generally -- I don't know if they've ever been -- made available in quite this way.

Now, as to what Dick Clarke said on September 4th, that was not a premonition, nor a warning. What that memorandum was, as I was getting ready to go into the September 4th principals meeting to review the NSPD and to approve the new NSPD, what it was a warning to me that the bureaucracies would try to undermine it.

Dick goes into great and emotional detail about the long history of how DOD has never been responsive, how the CIA has never been responsive, about how the Predator has gotten hung up because the CIA doesn't really want to fly it.

And he says, if you don't fight through this bureaucracy -- he says, at one point, "They're going to all sign on to this NSPD because they won't want to be associated -- they won't want to say they don't want to eliminate the threat of al Qaeda." He says, "But, in effect, you have to go in there and push them, because we'll all wonder about the day when thousands of Americans" and so forth and so on.

RICE: So that's what this document is. It's not a warning document. It's not a -- all of us had this fear.

I think that the chairman mentioned that I said this in an interview, that we would hope not to get to that day. But it would not be appropriate or correct to characterize what Dick wrote to me on September 4th as a warning of an impending attack. What he was doing was, I think, trying to buck me up, so that when I went into this principals meeting, I was sufficiently on guard against the kind of bureaucratic inertia that he had fought all of his life.

ROEMER: What is a warning, if August 6 isn't and September 4th isn't, to you?

RICE: Well, August 6 is most certainly an historical document that says, "Here's how you might think about al Qaeda." A warning is when you have something that suggests that an attack is impending.

And we did not have, on the United States, threat information that was, in any way, specific enough to suggest that something was coming in the United States.

The September 4th memo, as I've said to you, was a warning to me not to get dragged down by the bureaucracy, not a warning about September 11.

ROEMER: Thank you, Dr. Rice.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

KEAN: Thank you, Congressman, very, very much.

Our last questioner will be Governor Thompson.


Dr. Rice, first, thank you for your service to this nation and this president. I think you can fairly be described by all, whether they agree with you or not, on various issues, as devoted to the interests of the president and the country. And all Americans, I believe, appreciate that.

Thank you also for finally making it here.

THOMPSON: I know there was a struggle over constitutional principles. I don't think your appearance today signals any retreat by the president from the notion that the Congress should not be allowed to hail presidential aides down to the Capitol and question them.

We are not the Congress. We are not a congressional committee. That's why you gave us the PDBs.

And so, we appreciate your appearance and we appreciate the decision of the president to allow you to appear to not just answer our questions -- because you've done that for five hours in private -- but to answer the questions of Americans who are watching you today.

I'm going to go through my questions -- some of which have been tossed out because my brothers and sisters asked them before me -- as quickly as I can because we have to depart. And I would appreciate it if you would go through your answers as quickly as you could, but be fair to yourself.

I don't believe in beating dead horses, but there's a bunch of lame ones running around here today. Let's see if we can't finally push them out the door.

Please describe to us your relationship with Dick Clarke, because I think that bears on the context of this -- well, let's just take the first question.

He said he gave you a plan. You said he didn't give you a plan. It's clear that what he did give you was a memo that had attached to it, not only the Delenda plan -- or whatever you want to describe Delenda as -- but a December 2000 strategy paper.

Was this something that you were supposed to act on, or was this a compilation of what had been pending at the time the Clinton administration had left office but had not been acted on, or was this something he tried to get acted on by the Clinton administration and they didn't act on it?

THOMPSON: What was it? How did he describe it to you? What did you understand it to be?

RICE: What I understood it to be was a series of decisions, near-term decisions that were pending from the Clinton administration, things like whether to arm the Uzbeks -- I'm sorry -- whether to give further counterterrorism support to the Uzbeks, whether to arm the Northern Alliance -- a whole set of specific issues that needed decision. And we made those decisions prior to the strategy being developed.

He also had attached the Delenda plan, which is my understanding was developed in 1998, never adopted and, in fact, had some ideas. I said, "Dick, take the ideas that you've put in this think piece, take the ideas that were there in the Delenda plan, put it together into a strategy, not to roll back al Qaeda" -- which had been the goal of the Clinton -- of what Dick Clarke wrote to us -- "but rather to eliminate this threat." And he was to put that strategy together.

But by no means did he ask me to act on a plan. He gave us a series of ideas. We acted on those. And then he gave me some papers that had a number of ideas, more questions than answers about how we might get better cooperation, for instance, from Pakistan. We took those ideas. We gave him the opportunity to write a comprehensive strategy.

THOMPSON: I'd like to follow up on one of Commissioner Roemer's questions, the principals meetings.

With all due respect to the principals, Cabinet officers of the president of the United States, Senate confirmed, the notion that when principals gather the heavens open and the truth pours forth is, to borrow the phrase of one of my fellow commissioners, a little bit of hooey, I think.

THOMPSON: Isn't it a fact that when principals gather in principals meetings they bring their staffs with them? Don't they line the walls? Don't they talk to each other? Doesn't the staff speak up?

RICE: Well, actually when you have principals meetings they really sometimes are to tell -- for the principals to say what their staffs have said -- have told them to say.


RICE: I just have to say we may simply disagree on this with some of the commissioners. I do not believe that there was a lack of high-level attention. The president was paying attention to this. How much higher level can you get?

The secretary of state and the secretary of defense and the attorney general and the line officers are responsible for responding to the information that they were given and they were responding.

The problem is that the United States was effectively blind to what was about to happen to it and you cannot depend on the chance that some principal might find out something in order to prevent an attack. That's why the structural changes that are being talked about here are so important.

THOMPSON: What you say in your statement before us today on page 2 reminds me that terrorism had a different face in the 20th century than it does today. I just want to be sure I understand the attitude of the Bush administration, because you referenced the Lusitania and the Nazis and all these state-sponsored terrorist activities when we know today that the real threat is from either rogue states -- Iran, North Korea -- or from stateless terrorist organizations -- al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas. Does the Bush administration get this difference?

RICE: We certainly understand fully that there are groups, networks that are operating out there. The only thing I would say is that they are much more effective when they can count on a state either to sponsor them or to protect them or to acquiesce in their activities. That's why the policy that we developed was so insistent on sanctuaries being taken away from them. You do have to take away their territory. When they can get states to cooperate with them or when they can get states to acquiesce in their being on their territory, they're much more effective.

THOMPSON: The Cole -- why didn't the Bush administration respond to the Cole?

RICE: I think Secretary Rumsfeld has perhaps said it best.

We really thought that the Cole incident was passed, that you didn't want to respond tit-for-tat. As I've said, there is strategic response and tactical response.

And just responding to another attack in an insufficient way we thought would actually probably embolden the terrorists. They had been emboldened by everything else that had been done to them. And that the best course was to look ahead to a more aggressive strategy against them.

I still believe to this day that the al Qaeda were prepared for a response to the Cole and that, as some of the intelligence suggested, bin Laden was intending to show that he yet survived another one, and that it might have been counterproductive.

THOMPSON: I've got to say that answer bothers me a little bit because of where it logically leads, and that is -- and I don't like "what if" questions, but this is a "what if" question. What if, in March of 2001, under your administration, al Qaeda had blown up another U.S. destroyer? What would you have done and what -- would that have been tit-for-tat?

RICE: I don't know what we would have done, but I do think that we were moving to a different concept that said that you had to hold at risk what they cared about, not just try and punish them, not just try to go after bin Laden.

I would like to think that we might have come to an effective response. I think that in the context of war, when you're at war with somebody, it's not an issue of every battle or every skirmish; it's an issue of, can you do strategic damage to this organization? And we were thinking much more along the lines of strategic damage.

THOMPSON: Well, I'm going to sound like my brother Kerrey, which terrifies me somewhat. But blowing up our destroyers is an act of war against us, is it not?

THOMPSON: I mean, how long would that have to go on before we would respond with an act of war?

RICE: We'd had several acts of war committed against us. And I think we believed that responding kind of tit-for-tat, probably with inadequate military options because, for all the plans that might have been looked at by the Pentagon or on the shelf, they were not connected to a political policy that was going to change the circumstances of al Qaeda and the Taliban and therefore the relationship to Pakistan.

Look, it can be debated as to whether or not one should have responded to the Cole. I think that we really believed that an inadequate response was simply going to embolden them. And I think you've heard that from Secretary Rumsfeld as well, and I believe we felt very strongly that way.

THOMPSON: I'll tell you what I find remarkable. One word that hasn't been mentioned once today -- yet we've talked about structural changes to the FBI and the CIA and cooperation -- "Congress."

Congress has to change the structure of the FBI. The Congress has to appropriate funds to fight terrorism. Where was the Congress?

RICE: Well, I think that when I made the comment that the country was not on war footing, that didn't just mean the executive branch was not on war footing.

The fact is that many of the big changes, quite frankly, again, we were not going to be able to make in 233 days. Some of those big changes do require congressional action.

The Congress cooperated after September 11 with the president to come up with the Patriot Act, which does give to the FBI and the CIA and other intelligence agencies the kind of ability, legal ability, to share between them that was simply not there before.

RICE: You cannot depend on the chance that something might fall out of a tree. You cannot depend on the chance that a very good Customs agent, who's doing her job with her colleagues out in the state of Washington, is going to catch somebody coming across the border of the United States with bomb-making materials to be the incident that leads you to be able to respond adequately.

This is hard, because, again, we have to be right 100 percent of the time, they only have to be right once. But the structural changes that we've made since 9/11 and the structural changes that we may have to continue to make give us a better chance in that fight against the terrorists.

THOMPSON: I read this week, an interview with Newsweek, with your predecessor, Mr. Brzezinski, he seemed to be saying that there is a danger that we can obsess about al Qaeda and lose sight of equal dangers. For example, the rise of a nuclear state, Iran, in the Middle East, and the apparent connection to Hezbollah and Hamas, which may forecast even more bitter fighting, as we're now learning in Iraq. Or the ability of Hezbollah or Hamas to attack us on our soil, within the Untied States, in the same way al Qaeda did.

Are we keeping an eye on that?

RICE: We are keeping an eye and working actively with the international community on Iran and their nuclear ambitions.

I think the one thing that the global war on terrorism has allowed us to do is to not just focus on al Qaeda. Because we have enlisted countries around the world, saying that terrorism is terrorism is terrorism -- in other words, you can't fight al Qaeda and hug Hezbollah or hug Hamas -- that we've actually started to delegitimatize terrorism in a way that it was not before.

RICE: We don't make a distinction between different kinds of terrorism. And we're, therefore, united with the countries of the world to fight all kinds of terrorism. Terrorism is never an appropriate or justified response just because of political difficulty. So, yes, we are keeping an eye on it.

But it speaks to the point that we, the United States administration, cannot focus just on one thing. What the war on terrorism has done is it's given us an organizing principle that allows us to think about terrorism, to think about weapons of mass destruction, to think about the links between them, and to form a united front across the world to try and win this war.

THOMPSON: Last simple question. If we come forward with sweeping recommendations for change in how our law enforcement and intelligence agencies operate to meet the new challenges of our time, not the 20th century or the 19th century challenges we faced in the past, and if the president of the United States agrees with them, can you assure us that he will fight with all the vigor he has to get them enacted?

RICE: I can assure you that if the president agrees with the recommendations, and I think we'll want to take a hard look at the recommendations, we're going to fight.

Because the real lesson of September 11 is that the country was not properly structured to deal with the threats that had been gathering for a long period of time. I think we're better structured today than we ever have been. We've made a lot of progress. But we want to hear what further progress we can make.

And because this president considers his highest calling to protect and defend the people of the United States of America, he'll fight for any changes that he feels necessary.

THOMPSON: Thank you, Dr. Rice.

RICE: Thank you.

KEAN: I might announce, before I thank Dr. Rice, that there's a lot of discussion today about the PDB, the presidential daily briefing, of August 6.

This is not to do with Dr. Rice. But we have requested from the White House that that be declassified because we feel it's important that the American people get a chance to see it. We're awaiting an answer on our request, and hope by next week's hearing that we might have it.

Dr. Rice, thank you. You have advanced our understanding of key events. We thank you for all the time you've given us.

We have a few remaining classified matter that at some point we'd like to discuss with you in closed session, if we could...

RICE: Of course.

KEAN: We appreciate very much your service to the nation.

This concludes our hearing. The commission will hold its next hearing onApril 13 and 14 on law enforcement and the intelligence community.

Origin of "The Plan"
by Dahbud Mensch 322

The Project for the New American Century

"January 26, 1998

The Honorable William J. Clinton
President of the United States
Washington, DC

Dear Mr. President:

We are writing you because we are convinced that current American policy toward Iraq is not succeeding, and that we may soon face a threat in the Middle East more serious than any we have known since the end of the Cold War. In your upcoming State of the Union Address, you have an opportunity to chart a clear and determined course for meeting this threat. We urge you to seize that opportunity, and to enunciate a new strategy that would secure the interests of the U.S. and our friends and allies around the world. That strategy should aim, above all, at the removal of Saddam Hussein's regime from power. We stand ready to offer our full support in this difficult but necessary endeavor.

The policy of "containment" of Saddam Hussein has been steadily eroding over the past several months. As recent events have demonstrated, we can no longer depend on our partners in the Gulf War coalition to continue to uphold the sanctions or to punish Saddam when he blocks or evades UN inspections. Our ability to ensure that Saddam Hussein is not producing weapons of mass destruction, therefore, has substantially diminished. Even if full inspections were eventually to resume, which now seems highly unlikely, experience has shown that it is difficult if not impossible to monitor Iraq's chemical and biological weapons production. The lengthy period during which the inspectors will have been unable to enter many Iraqi facilities has made it even less likely that they will be able to uncover all of Saddam's secrets. As a result, in the not-too-distant future we will be unable to determine with any reasonable level of confidence whether Iraq does or does not possess such weapons.

Such uncertainty will, by itself, have a seriously destabilizing effect on the entire Middle East. It hardly needs to be added that if Saddam does acquire the capability to deliver weapons of mass destruction, as he is almost certain to do if we continue along the present course, the safety of American troops in the region, of our friends and allies like Israel and the moderate Arab states, and a significant portion of the world's supply of oil will all be put at hazard. As you have rightly declared, Mr. President, the security of the world in the first part of the 21st century will be determined largely by how we handle this threat.

Given the magnitude of the threat, the current policy, which depends for its success upon the steadfastness of our coalition partners and upon the cooperation of Saddam Hussein, is dangerously inadequate. The only acceptable strategy is one that eliminates the possibility that Iraq will be able to use or threaten to use weapons of mass destruction. In the near term, this means a willingness to undertake military action as diplomacy is clearly failing. In the long term, it means removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power. That now needs to become the aim of American foreign policy.

We urge you to articulate this aim, and to turn your Administration's attention to implementing a strategy for removing Saddam's regime from power. This will require a full complement of diplomatic, political and military efforts. Although we are fully aware of the dangers and difficulties in implementing this policy, we believe the dangers of failing to do so are far greater. We believe the U.S. has the authority under existing UN resolutions to take the necessary steps, including military steps, to protect our vital interests in the Gulf. In any case, American policy cannot continue to be crippled by a misguided insistence on unanimity in the UN Security Council.

We urge you to act decisively. If you act now to end the threat of weapons of mass destruction against the U.S. or its allies, you will be acting in the most fundamental national security interests of the country. If we accept a course of weakness and drift, we put our interests and our future at risk.


Elliott Abrams, Richard L. Armitage, William J. Bennett, Jeffrey Bergner, John Bolton, Paula Dobriansky, Francis Fukuyama, Robert Kagan, Zalmay Khalilzad, William Kristol, Richard Perle, Peter W. Rodman, Donald Rumsfeld, William Schneider, Jr., Vin Weber, Paul Wolfowitz, R. James Woolsey, Robert B. Zoellick"


Ex-AIPAC staffers say Condi leaked them classified info

by Ron Kampeas

Alexandria, Va. | Two former lobbyists for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee say Condoleezza Rice was their informant on sensitive national security matters.

The claim, laid out in a courtroom Friday, April 21, intensified the drama surrounding a trial that could further roil a Washington political establishment already consumed by cases involving "official" and "unofficial" leaks.

The trial date, originally scheduled to begin April 25, has now been set for Aug. 7, even as the judge in the case continues to suggest the case might not go to trial at all.

In last week's pretrial hearing, lawyers for Steve Rosen, AIPAC's former foreign policy director, and Keith Weissman, its former Iran analyst, persuaded federal Judge T.S. Ellis III to allow a subpoena for the secretary of state and three other current and former Middle East policy officials.

Rosen and Weissman were indicted last August on charges that they relayed classified information to fellow AIPAC staffers, journalists and diplomats at the Israeli Embassy in Washington.

The judge continued to express grave doubts about the government's case, sympathizing with defense claims that it could impinge on free speech rights, and that it lacked precedent.

When Kevin DiGregory, the lead prosecutor, pointed out that the First Amendment had never been cited in a similar case, Ellis chided him, saying: "Well, no case has been like this one."

Setting out a pretrial schedule, Ellis pointedly would not count out a dismissal before the start of the trial and several times qualified prospective dates, saying "if there is going to be a trial."

Rosen's lawyer, Abbe Lowell, said Rice had not merely been Rosen's interlocutor, but had leaked information identical to and at times more sensitive than examples cited in the indictment.

In addition, Lowell said, the information Rice provided was more "volatile" than the information described in the indictment. Lowell would not elaborate on what information he was referring to.

Lowell asked for an additional meeting with the judge - with no prosecutors present - to further describe the testimony he anticipated from Rice and others. Ellis said he looked forward to "a lot of juicy information."

Ellis had to rule on the request because the subpoenas fell under special rules of the district court in Alexandria, Va., that require subpoenas for Cabinet members, ambassadors and generals to be approved by the presiding judge.

Lowell said that another six subpoenas had already been sent to prospective witnesses.

Rice's testimony is not yet guaranteed. The State Department must clear subpoenas to its staff, and witnesses have a right to ask subpoenas to be squashed. But Lowell made it clear he would not let the government off the hook, likening this case to the recent controversy over leaks on the Iraq war President Bush has defended as "authorized" and those he has attacked as illegal.

Also at the hearing, called on a few days' notice, the judge sided with the defense's claim that the case is unprecedented.

Government lawyers have striven to show that prosecution under a 1917 statute that criminalizes the receipt of classified information is not unprecedented. Lowell said the government had failed to show true precedent and had instead "cut and pasted" elements of four or five unrelated cases to establish precedent.

Ellis agreed, calling Lowell's arguments "substantial."

It was not all good news for the defense. Lowell wanted Ellis to order depositions from three Israeli diplomats who allegedly received information from Rosen and Weissman. The defense has been unable to persuade the diplomats to voluntarily comply.

Ellis refused, saying he did not see the point because his orders carried no weight in Israel, where the diplomats now reside.

Lowell acknowledged as much, but apparently hoped a formal order from the judge would embarrass the Israelis into volunteering; ever since the Jonathan Pollard spy case in the late 1980s, Israeli officials want to be seen as cooperative with American legal cases.


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