Memo to Condi

By Eric Boehlert
Published March 29, 2004 7:19PM (EST)

National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice completed her damage control media marathon Sunday night with a jaw-dropping falsehood on primetime, which will likely only add to her mounting Washington woes. Desperate to try to both knock down Velcro-like charges from President Bush's former terrorism czar Dick Clarke that the administration was dismissive of the al-Qaida threats during the first eight months of 2001, as well as trying to fend off criticism for her refusal to testify in public before the independent, bi-partisan 9/11 commission, Rice appeared on CBS's "60 Minutes" where she uncorked this whopper: The 9/11 commission "is not concentrating on what happened on the day of September 11th."

Is she serious? Apparently so. Rice told CBS' Ed Bradley that the commission's 21-month investigation will only concern itself with vague "policy" issues, not the attacks of Sept. 11. And that's why she won't testify in public, because the administration cannot "find an example of a national security adviser -- sitting national security adviser -- who has been willing to testify on matters of policy." It's amazing, because either the president's top national security chief doesn't know what the 9/11 commission is doing, or she goes on national TV to dissemble the well-known facts. From the official 9/11 commission website: "The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, an independent, bipartisan commission created by congressional legislation and the signature of President George W. Bush in late 2002, is chartered to prepare a full and complete account of the circumstances surrounding the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks." [Emphasis added]

And there's this from President Bush's prepared comments when he signed the commission into law on Nov. 27, 2002: "This Act also establishes the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States to examine and report on the facts and causes relating to the September 11th terrorist attacks." From Section 604 of Public Law 107-306, which requires the Commission to investigate "facts and circumstances relating to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001." And, oh yeah, on May 19 and 20, the commission's holding tick-tock hearings in New York City that will focus specifically on "The 9-11 Plot." Someone inside the NSC may want brief Rice.

Eric Boehlert

Eric Boehlert, a former senior writer for Salon, is the author of "Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush."

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