The Family Steering Committee Statement
Regarding Condoleezza Rice’s Testimony
March 30, 2004
The Family Steering Committee is pleased to learn that Condoleezza Rice will testify under oath in a public hearing.
This is good news and will undoubtedly make the 9/11 Commission’s Final Report more complete, comprehensive, and transparent in nature.
More than anything, the families want to know why our nation was so vulnerable to 19 hijackers on the morning of 9/11. We look forward to Ms. Rice answering questions about her priorities as National Security Advisor to the President, the processes used before, and after, 9/11 to share critical intelligence and other related data regarding this country’s counter terrorism activities within the government, her knowledge of Al-Qaeda, and her role, and the role of the NSC–leading up to, on, and after the morning of 9/11.
We are hopeful that the information gleaned from Ms. Rice’s public testimony can be used by the Commission as part of their investigation and be included in their Final Report and Recommendations to help minimize the chances of a future attack and thus, save lives.
Upon the signing of the 9/11 Commission into law, President Bush stated that the Commission’s work was their most solemn duty. He also stated that the Commission must go wherever the facts may lead. We hope that the following qualifying language presented in the letter to the Commission regarding Ms. Rice’s testimony does not now contradict these words:
“The Commission must agree in writing that it will not request additional public testimony from any White House official, including Dr. Rice. The National Security Advisor is uniquely situated to provide the Commission with information necessary to fulfill its statutory mandate. Indeed, it is for this reason that Dr. Rice privately met with the Commission for more than four hours on February 7, fully answered every question posed to her, and offered additional private meetings if necessary. Despite the fact that the Commission will therefore have access to all information of which Dr. Rice is aware, the Commission has nevertheless urged that public confidence in the work of the Commission would be enhanced by Dr. Rice appearing publicly before the Commission. Other White House officials with information relevant to the Commission’s inquiry do not come within the scope of the Commission’s rationale for seeking public testimony from Dr. Rice. These officials will continue to provide the Commission with information through private meetings, briefings, and documents, consistent with our previous practice.”
Consistent with Bush’s statement upon the formation of the Commission, the FSC sincerely hopes that the commission will be given full and unfettered access to any officials in the White House whom they feel it is necessary to interview under oath.
The above condition, which prohibits them from seeking further public testimony, is of particular concern because decisions made by those officials on the day of 9/11 are critically important to provide a full accounting to the American public.
Nevertheless, the families are cautiously optimistic that Dr. Rice’s public appearance before the Commission will enhance its ability to produce the kind of Final Report that the nation deserves.