posted on Apr, 8 2004 @ 10:11 AM
Published: April 8, 2004
(Page 19 of 19)
RICE: Now, I would be speculating, but if you would like, I will go ahead and speculate to say that one of the problems here was there really was
nothing that looked like it was going to happen inside the United States. The threat reporting was -- the specific threat reporting was about external
threats: about the Persian Gulf, about Israel, about perhaps the Genoa event. It is just not the case that the August 6th memorandum did anything but
put together what the CIA decided that they wanted to put together about historical knowledge about what was going on and a few things about what the
FBI might be doing. And so, the light was shining abroad. And if you look at what was going -- I was in constant contact to make sure that those
things were getting done with the relevant agencies -- with State, with Defense and so forth.
RICE: We just have a different view of this.
GORELICK: Yes, I understand that. But I think it's one thing to talk to George Tenet, but he can't tell domestic agencies what to do. Let me finish.
GORELICK: And it is clear that you were worried about the domestic problem, because, after all, your testimony is you asked Dick Clarke to summons the
domestic agencies. Now, you say that -- and I think quite rightly -- that the big problem was systemic, that the FBI could not function as it should,
and it didn't have the right methods of communicating with the CIA and vice versa. At the outset of the administration, a commission that was
chartered by Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich, two very different people covering pretty much the political spectrum, put together a terrific panel to
study the issue of terrorism and report to the new administration as it began. And you took that briefing, I know. That commission said we are going
to get hit in the domestic, the United States, and we are going to get hit big; that's number one. And number two, we have big systemic problems. The
FBI doesn't work the way it should, and it doesn't communicate with the intelligence community.
GORELICK: Now, you have said to us that your policy review was meant to be comprehensive. You took your time because you wanted to get at the hard
issues and have a hard-hitting, comprehensive policy. And yet there is nothing in it about the vast domestic landscape that we were all warned needed
so much attention. Can you give me the answer to the question why?
RICE: I would ask the following. We were there for 233 days. There had been recognition for a number of years before -- after the '93 bombing, and
certainly after the millennium -- that there were challenges, if I could say it that way, inside the United States, and that there were challenges
concerning our domestic agencies and the challenges concerning the FBI and the CIA. We were in office 233 days. It's absolutely the case that we did
not begin structural reform of the FBI. Now, the vice president was asked by the president, and that was tasked in May, to put all of this together
and to see if he could put together, from all of the recommendations, a program for protection of the homeland against WMD, what else needed to be
done. And in fact, he had hired Admiral Steve Abbot to do that work. And it was on that basis that we were able to put together the Homeland Security
Council, which Tom Ridge came to head very, very quickly. But I think the question is, why, over all of these years, did we not address the structural
problems that were there, with the FBI, with the CIA, the homeland departments being scattered among many different departments?
RICE: And why, given all of the opportunities that we'd had to do it, had we not done it? And I think that the unfortunate -- and I really do think
it's extremely tragic -- fact is that sometimes until there is a catastrophic event that forces people to think differently, that forces people to
overcome all customs and old culture and old fears about domestic intelligence and the relationship, that you don't get that kind of change. And I
want to say just one more thing, if you don't mind, about the issue of high-level attention. The reason that I asked Andy Card to come with me to
that meeting with Dick Clarke was that I wanted him to know -- wanted Dick Clarke to know -- that he had the weight not just of the national security
advisor, but the weight of the chief of staff if he needed it. I didn't manage the domestic agencies. No national security advisor does. And not once
during this period of time did my very experienced crisis manager say to me, You know, I don't think this is getting done in the agencies. I'd
really like you to call them together or make a phone call. In fact, after the fact, on September 15th, what Dick Clarke sent me -- and he was my
crisis manager -- what he sent me was a memorandum, or an e-mail that said, After national unity begins to break down -- again, I'm paraphrasing --
people will ask, did we do all that we needed to do to arm the domestic agencies, to warn the domestic agencies and to respond to the possibility of
domestic threat? That, I think, was his view at the time. And I have to tell you, I think given the circumstances and given the context and given the
structures that we had, we did.
GORELICK: Well, I have lots of other questions on this issue. But I am trying to get out what will probably be my third and last question to you. So
if we could move through this reasonably quickly. I was struck by your characterization of the NSPD, the policy that you arrived at at the end of the
administration, as having the goal of the elimination of Al Qaida. Because as I look at it -- and I thank you for declassifying this this morning,
although I would have liked to have known it a little earlier, but I think people will find this interesting reading -- it doesn't call for the
elimination of Al Qaida. And it may be a semantic difference, but I don't think so. It calls for the elimination of the Al Qaida threat. And that's
a very big difference, because, to me, the elimination of Al Qaida means you're going to go into Afghanistan and you're going to get them. And as I
read it, and as I've heard your public statements recently, there was not, I take it, a decision taken in this document to put U.S. troops on the
ground in Afghanistan to get Al Qaida. Is that correct?
RICE: That is correct.
GORELICK: Now, you have pointed out that in this document there is a tasking to the Defense Department for contingency planning as part of this
exercise -- contingency planning, and you've listed the goals of the contingency plans. And you have suggested that this takes the policy, with
regard to terrorism for our country, to a new level, a more aggressive level. Were you briefed on Operation Infinite Resolve that was put in place in
'98 and updated in the year 2000? Because as I read Infinite Resolve, and as our staff reads Infinite Resolve, it was a plan that had been tasked by
the Clinton administration to the Defense Department to develop precisely analogous plans. And it was extant at the time.
Dr. Rice Sounds like hamburber helper food