The Importance of Gaining Access to the NSC – Archive

The Family Steering Committee for The 9/11 Independent Commission
Statement Regarding The Importance of Gaining Access to the NSC

February 9, 2004

In May 2002, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice made a statement that she did not know that planes could be used as missiles. She further stated that the United States government did not have specific information regarding the 9/11 attacks.

As National Security Advisor, it was Condoleezza Rice’s job to know that the historical record was replete with instances of terrorists planning to use planes as missiles. Yet, as admitted in her own words, she did not. Furthermore, as National Security Advisor, it was Condoleezza Rice’s job to coordinate information from the intelligence community and make policy decisions and recommendations to the President, in conjunction with other NSC members, about dealing with terrorist threats. By Ms. Rice’s own admission, she and her fellow NSC members apparently failed in this capacity, too.

The Clinton national security team gave three extensive briefings on the present danger of al Qaeda to the incoming Bush administration. Donald Kerrick, three star general, was Deputy National Security Adviser under President Clinton and served for the first four months of the Bush Administration on the National Security Council. General Kerrick has said that he wrote a memo for the Bush NSC stating, “we will be struck again.” General Kerrick states that he received no response to his memo and was not included in any meetings.

It has also been reported that Richard Clarke, head of counterrorism on the NSC, was very frustrated during the first nine months of the Bush Administration. Clarke was reportedly frustrated because he tried to get the principals committee (the central body of top national security figures in the Administration) to take up terrorism as an issue. The principals in the Bush Administration, according to Clarke, finally discussed terrorism only once when they decided against funding the unmanned predator drone plane over Afghanistan prior to 9/11.

Also reported in the media are the statements and facts regarding the Iraqi war plan. Paul O’Neill writes that the Bush Administration had the Iraq war plan drawn up and finalized in the first few weeks of the Bush Administration. The Bush Administration has not denied this fact. Rather, the Administration has anecdotally stated that every incoming Administration has a desk full of work to sift through, prioritize, and explore. Apparently, the Bush Administration made its number one priority the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. In doing so, Bin Laden and his al Qaeda network were ranked lower in priority. Why? Especially since we now know that Iraq was not an “imminent threat” while Al Qaeda apparently in the midst of planning an attack on 9/11 clearly was an imminent threat.

Once again, this issue revolves around the vital flow of intelligence information. Why was information detailing the clear and present danger of Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda “downplayed” by this Administration while at the very same time, apparently, the intelligence information regarding Saddam Hussein and Iraq was peppered up. Both of these facts regarding the Bush Administration’s clear failure to prioritize matters of national security have cost lives. Three thousand people were murdered on the morning of 9/11, and thousands have been killed in the war in Iraq.

President Bush aptly stated on Meet the Press (2/08/04) that it is the President’s most solemn responsibility to keep this country secure. President Bush also stated that commissions, in general, must take their time and learn lessons from the past because we live in a dangerous world. Asked if he would submit to questioning by the 9/11 Independent Commission, President Bush replied, “Perhaps, perhaps.” On Meet the Press, President Bush also said he was cooperating with the 9/11 Independent Commission, and specifically cited the agreement on Presidential Daily Briefs.

In light of President Bush’s admission of the importance of cooperation, the 9/11 Independent Commission must request President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Powell, and National Security Advisor Rice to testify in an open hearing while under oath to answer the following questions:

Questions that need to be answered:

  1. Why did the Bush Administration fixate, prioritize, and explore the necessity to go to war in Iraq, while ignoring the clear and present danger of Osama Bin Laden and al Qaeda who nine months later killed three thousand people on American soil? Was it the structure of the NSC that caused this failure?
  2. Who determined the prioritization of terrorism issues in the early months of the Bush Administration? Who was consulted regarding such policy decisions? Who wrote the Presidential Decisional Directives (PDDs) carrying out such policy decisions? More importantly, what was the nature and substance of those PDDs?
  3. Has the 9/11 Independent Commission adequately addressed this issue—namely the failure of the Bush Administration, its NSC, and its Cabinet to properly assess imminent threats posed to this nation’s security?

• Has the 9/11 Independent Commission gained full access to individuals and information to properly investigate this issue? If not, what areas of access must still be gained?

• Who has the 9/11 Independent Commission questioned regarding this issue?

• Has the 9/11 Independent Commission made any “deals” with Administrative officials with regard to the scope of access surrounding this issue? If so, what areas of access are blocked to the 9/11 Independent Commission, as a whole or in part?