Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice may have committed perjury
in her testimony before the 9/11 Commission in May of 2004. At a
minimum, her testimony was a convenient mishmash of half-truths
and omissions which served to paint the White House as innocent
bystanders as the attacks of 9/11 unfolded. Certainly, her
testimony omitted the fact that the two most senior intelligence
officials in the nation delivered a stern warning regarding an
impending terror attack two full months before 9/11.
10/03/06 - Video - Runtime 8 Minutes
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Condi Rice, 9/11 and
Another Nest of Lies
By William Rivers Pitt
0/02/06 "t r u t h o u t" -- -- Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice may have committed perjury in her testimony before
the 9/11 Commission in May of 2004. At a minimum, her testimony was
a convenient mishmash of half-truths and omissions which served to
paint the White House as innocent bystanders as the attacks of 9/11
unfolded. Certainly, her testimony omitted the fact that the two
most senior intelligence officials in the nation delivered a stern
warning regarding an impending terror attack two full months before
Sunday's edition of the Washington Post carried a story titled "Two
Months Before 9/11, an Urgent Warning to Rice." The story described
a desperate attempt by CIA chief George Tenet and CIA
counterterrorism chief J. Cofer Black to draw Rice's attention to
the looming threat of an al-Qaeda strike against the United States.
Tenet and Black insisted on a meeting with Rice on July 10, 2001.
This meeting was first reported by Bob Woodward in his new book,
"State of Denial."
"Tenet had the NSA review all the intercepts," read the Post story,
"and the agency concluded they were of genuine al-Qaeda
communications. On June 30, a top-secret senior executive
intelligence brief contained an article headlined 'Bin Laden Threats
Are Real.' Tenet hoped his abrupt request for an immediate meeting
would shake Rice. He and Black, a veteran covert operator, had two
main points when they met with her. First, al-Qaeda was going to
attack American interests, possibly in the United States itself ...
Second, this was a major foreign policy problem that needed to be
addressed immediately. They needed to take action that moment -
covert, military, whatever - to thwart bin Laden."
The meeting, according to Tenet and Black, went nowhere. "Tenet and
Black felt they were not getting through to Rice. She was polite,
but they felt the brush-off. President Bush had said he didn't want
to swat at flies," the Post story reported. "Rice seemed focused on
other administration priorities, especially the ballistic missile
defense system that Bush had campaigned on. She was in a different
"Tenet left the meeting feeling frustrated," continued the Post
story. "Though Rice had given them a fair hearing, no immediate
action meant great risk. Black felt the decision to just keep
planning was a sustained policy failure. Rice and the Bush team had
been in hibernation too long. Afterward, Tenet looked back on the
meeting with Rice as a tremendous lost opportunity to prevent or
disrupt the Sept. 11 attacks. Black later said, 'The only thing we
didn't do was pull the trigger to the gun we were holding to her
The Post story concluded with a remarkable Editor's Note: "How much
effort the Bush administration made in going after Osama bin Laden
before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, became an issue last week
after former president Bill Clinton accused President Bush's 'neocons'
and other Republicans of ignoring bin Laden until the attacks. Rice
responded in an interview that 'what we did in the eight months was
at least as aggressive as what the Clinton administration did in the
This comment suggests the entire Post story was inspired by former
President Clinton's remarkable denunciation of the Bush
administration's efforts to thwart bin Laden in a recent Fox News
interview. The seriousness of this meeting, however, goes far beyond
political sniping and gamesmanship.
Peter Rundlet served as counsel to the 9/11 Commission, and has
accused the White House of hiding the meeting between Tenet, Black
and Rice from the commission. Rundlet practiced at the influential
law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, and was formerly
associate counsel to the president and a White House Fellow, serving
in the Office of Chief of Staff to the President, before joining the
Writing for the online news magazine Think Progress, Rundlet stated,
"Many, many questions need to be asked and answered about this
revelation, questions that the 9/11 Commission would have asked, had
the commission been told about this significant meeting.
Suspiciously, the commissioners and the staff investigating the
administration's actions prior to 9/11 were never informed of the
meeting. As Commissioner Jamie Gorelick pointed out, 'We didn't know
about the meeting itself. I can assure you it would have been in our
report if we had known to ask about it.'"
This is a remarkable revelation in and of itself. The head of CIA
and the head of CIA's counterterrorism branch delivered a warning in
the strongest possible terms to Ms. Rice two months before the
attack, yet this meeting was not revealed to the 9/11 Commission. It
may well have remained a historical non-event had Woodward not
written about it.
Which brings us to Ms. Rice's sworn testimony in May 2004 before the
At one point in this hearing, Commission Vice-Chair Lee Hamilton
directly asked Rice about the so-called intelligence failures
leading up to 9/11: "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 responded, "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."
Not only did Rice fail to mention the dramatic warnings given to her
by Tenet and Black, she goes on to flatly state that neither she nor
the administration had a clue that an attack was coming. Further,
she claims that "no single thing could have prevented that attack."
"The July 10 meeting between Tenet, Black and Rice went unmentioned
in the various reports of investigations into the Sept. 11 attacks,"
read the Post report on Sunday, "but it stood out in the minds of
Tenet and Black as the starkest warning they had given the White
House on bin Laden and al-Qaeda."
Combined with the August 6, 2001, Presidential Daily Briefing
delivered to Bush, which explicitly stated that bin Laden intended
to attack the United States, the revelation of this meeting between
Tenet, Black and Rice indicates that the Bush White House should
have and could have made a far greater effort at thwarting the 9/11
attacks. Rice's testimony before the 9/11 Commission on the matter
may rise to the level of perjury. At a minimum, it exposes yet
another nest of lies delivered by a member of this administration.
"A mixture of shock, anger, and sadness overcame me," wrote Peter
Rundlet in his Think Progress article, "when I read about
revelations in Bob Woodward's new book about a special surprise
visit that George Tenet and his counterterrorism chief Cofer Black
made to Condi Rice, also on July 10, 2001. If true, it is shocking
that the administration failed to heed such an overwhelming alert
from the two officials in the best position to know."
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