Thursday, April 08, 2004

U.S.: Condi Rice on oath before the 9/11 Committee

Lee Hamilton opens with a brief statement.

Condi's sworn in. Cameras going crazy.

Condi's opening statement. Thanks to the Commission. Admission of responsibility to country to discover truth. Recognition of families.

Terrorist threat time line 1983 Marine Barracks to present. Wider history view of it all as part of same terrorism against Americans nobody answered.

Bob Kerrey looks either speculative or doubtful. Or could be just bad hair day.

Western democracies slow to respond to growing threats. U.S. not on war footing in spite of two decades of terrorist threats. Country now on a war footing.

Actions taken by Bush
Brief by Clinton Tenet, Berger on terrorism 1 hour long, Iraq Mid East Balkans. BA understood Al Qaeda posed threat to U.S.

Operationally, continue Clinton policies, with staff holdover, Clark and counter-terroism team at NSC Clintonian for continuity while new policies developed.

Bush returned to policy of talking to CIA daily. More than 40 briefs on AQ 13/30 in response to questions he himself posed. Condi met regularly w/Rumsfeld and others. Had other priorities as well. Changing Iraq policy to deal with fly over zone. Crisis in China to be dealt with. New strategy to eliminate Al Qaeda. No piecemeal approach.

Strategy developed over Spring/Summer. 1st major policy offensive developed by BA..

Goals: ellimination of AQ. Leadership of national agencies to use all powers to meet goal. Cabinet had specific responsibilities. Deny havens, seizure of assets, covert disruptive activities, setting aside budgetary funds to meet goal, defense plans against AQ and Taliban.

Change from Clinton strategy signed in 1998 which treated terrorism as law enforcement.

Strategy not isolated. Part of broader package of strategies to address complexities of region. AQ relation to Taliban, which related to Pakistan. Not easy. Tried. GWB sent message to Musharraf about Bin Laden.

AQ policy not working cuz Afghan policy not working which was because Pakistan policy not working. Involve key regional experts. Laying out her role in getting new strategic approach. Importance of south Afghanistan. Carrots and stick approach to Pakistan. Change approach to India for stability.

Increase counterterrorism assistance to Uzbekistan, armed predators. Threat reporting caused high alert in U.S. government. Threats of summer used crisis mgmt group chaired by Clarke: CIA, DOJ and others in CSG. Frequent meetings to review and analyze and coordinate action. CSG had access. Focus of threat reports of CSG was on AQ outside the U.S. Vague reports. "Very, very, very big uproar. Attacks in the future." Too non-specific to be useful to 9/11.

Ben Veniste looks to be chomping at the bit.

Vast majority of threat info focused overseas. Condi concerned about U.S., met Card, Clarke to ensure safeguards in place to increase security and surveillance. DoD issued warnings to forces. State issued public worldwide warnings, warn Taliban they're responsible for attack on U.S. interests. Homeland attacks not ruled out. Terrorists under surveillance by FBI.

We should not be hearing any of this. It tells how the system works. Bad idea to have Condi testify publicly.

No silver bullet that could've prevented 9/11. Better info about threats inside U.S. might have. Structural and legal impediments over info sharing made better info difficult.

Mentions the families, but no apology. Good. Move forward and look at how 9/11 changed way homeland secured. HSD established, transformation of FBI to focus it on fighting terror, breakdown of barriers to ensure coordination with foreign agencies. All done while preserving U.S.. as a free and open society. More structural reform necessary: intelligence gathering, for one. Administration open to ideas.

Emphasis: we are at war. Our security depends on us winning that war. Those charged with protecting from attack have to be right 100%, terrorists need to succeed only once.

We can't wait for dangers to gather. Pre-emption. Narrow war against AQ and Taliban, or wider war to seek global peace. GWB sees WOT as broader war, terrorists have lost bases globally. Focus on WMD and keeping them out of hands of terrorists. Ties in Iraq and Libya as part of the war. Roots of terror attacked via removal of Taliban and Saddam.

Bringing democracy to ME to serve U.S. interests.

Actions of Bush Admin right choice after 9/11.


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