National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, in her effort to counter the charges of gross White House ineptitude leveled by former counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke, made 23 factually inaccurate statements when she appeared in public before the 9/11 Commission. A detailed chronicle of her prevaricating under oath was prepared by David Sirota of the Center for American Progress (See “It’s the Stupidity, Stupid” on page 15.) Here are seven examples:What Rice said “There really was nothing that looked like it was going to happen inside the United States. … There was nothing demonstrating or showing that something was coming in the United States.”What they did The Joint Congressional Inquiry into 9/11 noted, “In May 2001, the intelligence community obtained a report that Bin Laden supporters were planning to infiltrate the United States” to “carry out a terrorist operation using high explosives.” The report “was included in an intelligence report for senor government officials in August .” That same month, the Pentagon “acquired and shared with other elements of the Intelligence Community information suggesting that seven persons associated with bin Laden had departed various locations for Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States.”What Rice said “We increased funding for counterterrorism activities across several agencies.”What they did Upon taking office, the 2002 Bush budget proposed to slash more than a half-billion dollars from counterterrorism funding at the Justice Department.What Rice said “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.”What they did Gen. Henry H. Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff until October 1, 2001, said that during the summer of 2001, terrorism had moved “farther to the back burner” and he recounted how the Bush administration’s top two Pentagon appointees, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz, “shut down” a plan to weaken the Taliban. Similarly, Gen. Don Kerrick, who served in the Bush White House, sent a memo to the administration saying, “We are going to be struck again” by al Qaeda, but he never heard back from anyone (Los Angeles Times, March 30).What Rice said There was “nothing about the threat of attack in the U.S.” in the Presidential Daily Briefing the President received on August 6, 2001.What they did The Presidential Daily Briefing that Bush received was titled, “Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States,” as Rice testified.What Rice said “If we had known an attack was coming against the United States … we would have moved heaven and earth to stop it.”What they did Administration intelligence agencies told Rice “an attack was coming,” she testified, adding, “Let me read you some of the actual chatter that was picked up in that spring and summer: ‘Unbelievable news coming in weeks,’ said one.’Big event—there will be a very, very, very, very big uproar.’ ‘There will be attacks in the near future.’ ”What Rice said “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.”What they did The vice president’s task force never once convened a meeting. In the same time period, the vice president convened at least 10 meetings of his energy task force, and six meetings with Enron executives (Washington Post, January 20, 2002, and an August 2003 General Accounting Office Report).What Rice said “There was a discussion of Iraq. I think it was raised by Don Rumsfeld. It was pressed a bit by Paul Wolfowitz.”What they did Rice contradicted her previous statement that “Iraq was to the side” immediately after 9/11. Indeed, six days after 9/11, Bush signed “a two-and-a-half-page document marked ‘Top Secret’ ” that “directed the Pentagon to begin planning military options for an invasion of Iraq” (Washington Post, January 12).
Joel Bleifuss, a former director of the Peace Studies Program at the University of Missouri-Columbia, is the editor & publisher of In These Times, where he has worked since October 1986.