By Heather Martin
Is it fitting that the one person who could have moved an investigation forward into the potential threat of a terrorist attack on the United States prior to the events on 9/11 is now set to receive the illustrious Green Jacket at Augusta National Golf Club? How is it that we reward people who through negligence or outright complicity in the murder of nearly 3,000 Americans on Sept 11, 2001 and many more Americans, Iraqi’s, Afghani’s including women and children?
It’s perhaps the American way to lavish gifts on the psychopaths (don’t even get me started on G.W. Bush – who has yet to face charges of crimes against Humanity in the US, let alone in Indonesia). It’s what so-called civilized society has become; preoccupied with the Honey boo-boo’s and Snooki’s and Lady Ga Ga’s of this world and frivolity is what U.S.A is all about.
But, being that we are leading up to the 11th Anniversary of 9/11 (numerologists you go crazy!), I wanted to take a quick look at the first woman to have the glory of wearing the Green Jacket in a club that for many generations was not only a males only club, but was also a whites only club. Her induction is not a coup for either ‘colored-people’ or women, as her legacy is of a person who failed miserably in her position as Secretary of State – a position that is supposed to forge ties of diplomacy and peace with foreign countries like Iraq which has seen itself attacked without provocation in the wake of 9/11.
Rice reveals the most when asked about what she knew about an impending attack on the U.S. and how the conversation went about the decision to attack Iraq. In essence, she pleads ignorance, which is laughable given her extensive education in political science. If anyone would have smelled a rat it, should have been her. The person closest to the President should have know what was going on and had the ability to speak up and ask questions. Why didn’t she? Well, it’s hard to be a woman in the White House after all.
GKEAN. 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 F.B.I., from the C.I.A., from any other intelligence agency, any memos, discussions or anything else between the time you were elected or got into office and 9/11 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 Aug. 6 memo, which I’ve talked about here in the – 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 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 missiles. As I said to you in the private session, I probably should have said, I could have not 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 that, 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 is actually relevant, what is actually based on sound sources, what is speculative. 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 Aug. 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 a weapon. In fact, there were some reports done in ’98 and ’99. I think I was – I was certainly not aware of them at the time that I spoke.
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 Sept. 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: 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 (see Oct 2002 WMD report- nie). It was all to 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 – 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.
Congressman Hamilton: 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. And by our count here there were some 100 meetings by the national security principals before the first meeting was held on terrorism, Sept. 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.
When asked by Hamilton about how to address the root causes of terrorism, Rice had this to say:
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. 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.
Next, Rice is questioned by Ben Veniste:
RICE. I remember very well that the president was aware that there were issues inside the United States. He’d 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 Aug. 6 P.D.B. warned against possible attacks in this country? And I ask you whether you recall the title of that P.D.B.
RICE. I believe the title was Bin Laden Determined To Attack Inside the United States. Now, the P.D.B. –
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, N.Y. and Boston, Mass. as of the Aug. 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 F.B.I. information since the 1998 blind sheik warning of hijackings to free the blind sheik indicated a pattern of suspicious activity in the country up until Aug. 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 P.D.B. memo of Aug. 6 that the F.B.I. 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 Aug. 6 P.D.B. 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 – I believe, Mr. Ben-Veniste, that you’ve had access to this P.D.B.
BEN-VENISTE. But we have not had it declassified so that it can be shown publicly, as you know.
RICE. But let me just – I believe you’ve had access to this P.D.B. – exceptional access. But let me address your question.
BEN-VENISTE. Nor could we, prior to today, reveal the title of that P.D.B.
RICE. May I – may I address the question, sir? The fact is that this Aug. 6 P.D.B. 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 P.D.B. 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. 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 – Rassam. It reported that the F.B.I. had full field investigations underway. 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. Now, we had already taken –
BEN-VENISTE. Well, if you were willing – if you were 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 P.D.B.?
RICE. Certainly not. There was nothing reassuring.
From the National Security Archive:
According to the CIA and the 9/11 commission, there were 40 other mentions of Al Qaeda or Bin Laden in the President’s Daily Briefs before 9/11. Most of those presumably came during what Dr. Rice called “the threat spike” of June and July 2001. The August 6 Brief came on the downside of that spike, so the other PDB reports may be more (or less) alarming. Until these are released – and Saturday’s release shows it can be done with minor deletions to protect sources – neither the American public nor the 9/11 commission can move on to the next question: “What did the President do and when did he do it?” Or, perhaps most important, how do we fix our vulnerabilities, rather than just hide them?
The last line of the pdb8-6-2001:
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 Laden supporters was in the U.S. planning attacks with explosives.
In addition, Rice was privy to information specific to the Al Qaeda threat to the U.S in a memo by Ramsey Clarke:
The crux of the issue is a January 25, 2001, memo on al-Qaeda from counterterrorism coordinator Richard Clarke to National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, the first terrorism strategy paper of the Bush administration. The document was central to the debate over pre-9/11 Bush administration policy on terrorism and figured prominently in the 9/11 hearings held in 2004.
In Rice’s own statement to the 9/11 commission, she acknowledges that she acted by increasing support to Uzbekistan, giving further proof that she had seen the memo by Clarke and was fully briefed on the threat posed by Al Qaeda.
Rice’s greatest failing was in not (or being prevented from) following up on the threat of foreign nationals in the U.S. who posed a threat to the U.S. and the role of Al Qaeda. She failed in putting 2 +2 together into a credible and imminent threat that deserved priority attention. However, her greatest defence is that the information amounted to much ado about nothing; an oversight that resulted in a legacy of 11 years of escalating wars and deteriorating relations in the Middle East. She is either hugely incompetent or willfully ignorant or a stealthy liar. None of these choices are a legacy worth celebrating.
In this bloggers opinion, no one complicit with the events of 9/11 (and it’s bloody aftermath) deserves the perks of a free and open society…. that includes a Green Jacket membership at Augusta.