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Condi Rice Clarifies May Comments On 911 Knowledge

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 20, 2002

Remarks by the National Security Advisor Dr. Condoleezza Rice
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

Q Dr. Rice, can I clarify something you said a couple weeks ago? When the August 6, 2001 memo came out, you came here and said that nobody -- I don't have the quote in front of me, but nobody could have imagined a plane being used as a weapon and being driven into one of our buildings. But the hearings revealed some intelligence --

DR. RICE: Somebody did imagine it. Right.

Q Did imagine it and did report on it. Did you know about that intelligence?

DR. RICE: I did not know about that intelligence. You might note that report is from 1998. We came into office in 2001. And we did not know about the report.

Q The one that came up in the intelligence meeting?

DR. RICE: Right.

Q When did you become aware of it, just for the record?

DR. RICE: Well after September -- well, actually, after -- well after I talked to you in May. Yes, definitely. In fact, you have to understand that as documents come up and documents come up, people are reaching back into other periods of time, and things are being surfaced. But when I said that the August 6th memo had dealt with hijackings and that the analysts that we were reading had talked about all of this in traditional means, that was absolutely rock-solid truth.

Q In hindsight, wouldn't it have been better if you guys and the President had known about this other report and been able to report it --

DR. RICE: Look, I think it's -- there are always shards of intelligence and of different kinds of analyses. I mean, how do you stack it up against the hundreds of reports about car bombs? So I wouldn't make that claim. I just -- but I do have to tell you, no, we did not receive those reports.

Q How do you do it differently now?

DR. RICE: Pardon me?

Q How do you do it differently now? You're talking about stacking up the shards of intelligence. What have you learned from this experience that makes this different?

DR. RICE: Well, again, this was a report in -- there were a couple of reports in 1998. We're talking about 2001. This is an extended, a longer period of time. But it is true that what we are trying to do is to have both better intelligence-sharing, so that shards from different agencies get put together, places where a picture can be created of what might actually be going on. And the real breakthrough here is there was no homeland security department whose responsibility it was to think daily about the vulnerabilities of the United States to various kinds of attacks, and then act on those vulnerabilities.

So the most important -- I would say the most important reorganization and the most important innovation since that period of time would be the creation of a homeland security department.


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