William Rivers Pitt: 20 Questions for Condi
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Unanswered Questions : Thinking for ourselves.
20 Questions for Condi
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Thursday 08 April 2004
National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice is scheduled to appear before the September 11 Commission on Thursday, 8 April 2004. Her sworn testimony will be broadcast on a variety of media channels. It would be most helpful if the following questions could be answered during her testimony:
1. On September 11, 2001, you were slated to deliver a speech describing national missile defense as the cornerstone of American foreign policy. No mention of Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda or fundamentalist Islamic terrorism appeared in the text of the speech, which you never delivered because of the attacks in New York and Washington. The White House is refusing now to release the text of that speech to the 9/11 Commission. Why?
2. That speech appears to verify claims made by former Counter-Terrorism Czar Richard Clarke that terrorism was not on the Bush administration's list of priorities before the 9/11 attacks. Why was the Bush administration so interested in national missile defense during the 'Summer of Threat' in 2001, when alarm bells about an impending attack were sounding everywhere?
3. The Hart-Rudman Report, prepared during the Clinton administration and delivered to the new Bush administration, carried many prescient warnings about the threat of Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda terrorism. That report was completely disregarded by the Bush administration. Why?
4. You and others within the administration have claimed that al Qaeda terrorism was an "urgent" priority within the White House. If so, how do you justify the demotion of Richard Clarke, who was the ranking expert in the White House on that specific threat?
5. You and others within the administration have claimed that al Qaeda terrorism was an "urgent" priority within the White House. On May 8, 2001, the White House announced that Vice President Dick Cheney would chair a task force to investigate the possibility of a terrorist attack on American soil. If terrorism was an "urgent" priority for the Bush administration, why did this Cheney terrorism task force not convene a single time for a meeting after it was created?
6. You and others within the administration have claimed that al Qaeda terrorism was an "urgent" priority within the White House. Outgoing National Security Advisor Sandy Berger warned you that Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda would be the most important issue your administration would be dealing with, and he left you a massive file on the subject. By your own admission, that file went unread until September 11, 2001. Why?
7. You and others within the administration have claimed that al Qaeda terrorism was an "urgent" priority within the White House. If that is the case, why did George W. Bush tell author Bob Woodward in his book, 'Bush at War,' that he felt no sense of urgency about the terror threat? Did the "urgency" you have described somehow not translate into the Oval Office where command decisions are supposed to be made?
8. On May 17th, 2002, you said, "I don't think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center, that they would try to use an airplane as a missile - a hijacked airplane as a missile." Abdul Hakim Murad, one of the bombers in the first World Trade Center attack in 1993, described while under interrogation in 1995 a plot to use airplanes as missiles against the White House, the CIA, and other prominent American targets. Were you not aware of this?
9. Ramzi Yousef, one of the masterminds behind the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, confirmed the testimony of Abdul Hakim Murad by describing in 1997 plots to use commercial airplanes as missiles. FBI agents who testified in the trial of Yousef further corroborated these statements. Were you not aware of this?
10. In 1993, the same year as the first World Trade Center attack, a $150,000 study was undertaken by the Pentagon to investigate the possibility of airplanes being used as bombs. A draft document of this was circulated throughout the Pentagon, the Justice Department, and to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Were you not aware of this?
11. The 1993 Pentagon report was followed up in September 1999 by a report titled 'The Sociology and Psychology of Terrorism.' This report was prepared for the American intelligence community by the Federal Research Division, an adjunct of the Library of Congress. The report stated, "Suicide bombers belonging to Al Qaida's martyrdom battalion could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the CIA, or the White House." Were you not aware of this?
12. In 1994, a disgruntled Federal Express employee invaded the cockpit of a DC10 with the intention of crashing it into a company building. Were you not aware of this?
13. Again in 1994, a pilot intentionally crashed a small airplane into a tree on the White House grounds, narrowly missing the building itself. He clearly intended to smash the plane into the building. Were you not aware of this?
14. Also in 1994, an Air France flight was hijacked by members of a terrorist organization called the Armed Islamic Group, who intended to crash the plane into the Eiffel Tower. Were you not aware of this?
15. Given the testimony of Murad in 1995, the testimony of Yousef in 1997, the FBI agents who were witnesses in the trial of Yousef in 1997, the Pentagon report detailing the airplane-bomb threat in 1993, the 1999 report from the Federal Research Division which described the airplane-bomb threat and named al Qaeda specifically, the attempt by the Federal Express employee to use an airplane as a bomb, the airplane attack on the White House, and the attempt by the Armed Islamic Group to use an airplane as a bomb against the Eiffel Tower, do you find it at all inconsistent to claim that no one could have predicted the use of an airplane as a terror weapon? Isn't it more likely that you and the administration were the ones who could never imagine the use of airplanes as weapons, because you were not treating the terror threat as a priority and were therefore not privy to all the data regarding the threat that was readily available?
16. There is someone in this hearing room right now named Sibel Edmonds. Ms. Edmonds was hired by the FBI as a translator nine days after the terrorist attacks. She has already testified privately before this panel. In her testimony, she stated that she personally saw documentary evidence which proves you were wrong when you claimed there was no advance warning of air attacks on U.S. soil. Ms. Edmonds saw intelligence documents that pointed to the use of aircraft against skyscrapers and other important buildings in New York, Washington and five other cities. In an interview Ms. Edmonds gave to the Toronto Star on April 5, 2004, she said, "There was specific information on the use of airplanes. There were people issuing orders and information on people already in place in this country months before Sept. 11. But she (Rice) is saying 'we' did not know, including herself, her advisers and the FBI. That statement is not accurate. It's a lie and a lie is a lie." How do you respond to these statements from Ms. Edmonds? Remember, she is sitting right behind you.
17. Ambassador Joseph Wilson was sent to Niger in February 2002 to investigate the allegation that Iraq was seeking uranium from Niger for use in a nuclear weapons program. He returned and directly informed your deputy, Stephen Hadley, that the allegation had no merit. Despite this, George W. Bush used the Niger uranium allegation in his 2003 State of the Union speech to justify the looming Iraq invasion. How is it possible that this bogus allegation made it into that speech after your own deputy was informed the charge was false?
18. Ambassador Joseph Wilson in July 2003 revealed on the editorial pages of the New York Times that he had made that trip to Niger, that he found nothing there to support the uranium allegations, and that Bush should not have used the allegation in his speech. Several days later, Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, was 'outed' as an undercover CIA agent by White House officials, who used proxies in the media to destroy her career. There is currently a federal investigation into this matter. Do you have any information regarding which White House officials did this to Plame that could help the investigators? Please remember that you are under oath.
19. According to American Central Command, 639 American soldiers have died in Iraq. More than 18,000 American soldiers have been evacuated for medical reasons. Over 10,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed. The cost of the war is somewhere in the neighborhood of $200 billion, but the figure is hard to pin down because the White House has consistently refused to provide budget data on the amount of money we have spent there. To date, there have been no weapons of mass destruction found in Iraq, and no connections between al Qaeda terrorism and Saddam Hussein have been established. As National Security Advisor, can you explain how all this death, all this money, and the total lack of any evidence of a threat to America posed by Iraq fits into the defense of our national security?
20. Finally, Dr. Rice, one last question. This panel was convened to determine why the 9/11 attacks happened, and to work towards ensuring that no such horror ever visits our nation again. As National Security Advisor, you held a vitally important position on the day of the attacks, and stand now as one of the people America depends on to help us keep such a thing from happening again. Yet you and the administration tried to thwart our request to interview you in this public forum. Few activities within American government are more important than that which we are undertaking here, but you refused to help us until public and political pressure made it impossible for you to do otherwise. How can you justify this behavior?
If you believe that any or all of these questions should be put to Dr. Rice during her testimony, you can forward them to the 9/11 Commissioners at this address: info@9-11Commission.gov
William Rivers Pitt is the senior editor and lead writer for truthout. He is a New York Times and international bestselling author of two books - 'War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know' and 'The Greatest Sedition is Silence.'
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