Rice. Rice, Rice, Rice. RICE!
March 31, 2004 10:25 AM   Subscribe

Looks like Rice will testify before the 9-11 Commission after all. In a letter sent by White House counsel Alberto Gonzales to the Sept. 11 commission, Gonzales notes:
Furthermore, we have now received assurances from the speaker of the House and the majority leader of the Senate that, in their view, Dr. Rice's public testimony in connection with the extraordinary events of September 11, 2001, does not set, and should not be cited as, a precedent for future requests for a national security adviser or any other White House official to testify before a legislative body.
Separation of powers question: If the institution of the separation of powers is a set of informal arrangements between the branches, which continually look to previous practice, how can this not be a precendent? Various blawgs weigh in.
posted by monju_bosatsu (48 comments total)
About 27 hours, Outlawyr.
posted by tirade at 10:33 AM on March 31, 2004

The wildest part is that there already is a precedent. And if she is volunteering, this could never be a precedent that it was OK to compel them to testify. I just don't get the precedent angle at all.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 10:36 AM on March 31, 2004

Guess it's too late to post this then :(

(Gratuitous self-link, for old times sake...)
posted by dash_slot- at 10:53 AM on March 31, 2004

The state of NYC newspapers: still lame.
posted by teradome at 10:58 AM on March 31, 2004

Good post, Monju. Everyone was expecting a meaningless, short post with links to mainstream news outlets, but you brought up an interesting aspect of this news item that is well worth discussing.

Back on topic: Whatever they say about not setting precedents is irrelevant. Reason: The lawyers are talking law, but the precedent is a political one. Next time someone wants a presidential aide to appear before a commission, it will be public opinion and not the letter of the law that determines what will happen. Just like it did in the Rice case.
posted by Triplanetary at 11:12 AM on March 31, 2004

The whole "Bush's resistance/concession" angle on this story is pure Song of the South... as in Briar Rabbit's plea of "Pleeease don't throw me in the briar patch!"

Bush and Cheney got exactly what they wanted: they only have to testify privately, without oath, and in one joint session. Rice is as good as gone, since she will not sign on for another four years. If someone has to take the sword fall, it'll be her.

Can someone tell me why Clinton had to provide sworn testimony in the Paula Jones and Monica Lewinsky cases, yet Bush and Cheney don't have to do so in the 9-11 investigation? Which represents a bigger threat to our nation?

I want to hear from some of the Republican defenders here why they don't want to hear Bush and Cheney testify under oath about what happened. How does this gap in the investigation help America?
posted by squirrel at 11:16 AM on March 31, 2004

And, in passing, Bush said at first NO WAY. Now, losing points politically, OK--and Kerry flip flops?
posted by Postroad at 11:36 AM on March 31, 2004

Also from the Gonzales letter:
"the commission must agree in writing that it will not request additional public testimony from any White House official, including Dr. Rice...Other White House officials with information relevant to the commission's inquiry do not come within the scope of the commission's rationale for seeking public testimony from Dr. Rice. These officials will continue to provide the commission with information through private meetings, briefings, and documents, consistent with our previous practice...the president and vice president have agreed to one joint private session with all 10 commissioners, with one commission staff member present to take notes of the session."
Meanwhile, according to this cached version of an MSNBC article:
U.S. officials told NBC News that the full record of Clarke’s testimony two years ago would not be declassified. They said that at the request of the White House, however, the CIA was going through the transcript to see what could be declassified, with an eye toward pointing out contradictions."
(This paragraph is missing from the current version of the article.)
posted by kirkaracha at 11:44 AM on March 31, 2004

Can someone tell me why Clinton had to provide sworn testimony in the Paula Jones and Monica Lewinsky cases, yet Bush and Cheney don't have to do so in the 9-11 investigation?

I'll take a stab at this and say it's because Clinton was directly involved, whereas B&C are only indirectly involved. That and the difference between a private matter and a matter of national security, too.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 11:50 AM on March 31, 2004

Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security adviser to then-President Carter, testified before the Senate in 1980 regarding alleged lobbying or criminal activities by the president's brother, Billy Carter.

Sandy Berger, national security adviser to then-President Clinton, testified in 1997 before a Senate committee reviewing the Clinton campaign's fund-raising practices.

Several presidential aides during the Nixon administration testified before the Senate about Watergate, including White House counsel John Dean, former chief domestic adviser John Ehrlichman and former White House aide H.R. Haldeman.
posted by michaelonfs at 11:54 AM on March 31, 2004

I just don't get the precedent angle at all.
Thought she used the precedent angle while trying to not testify.
posted by thomcatspike at 12:00 PM on March 31, 2004


"how can this not be a precendent"

Outside the context of a legal case (judicial branch) I'm not sure the concept of precedence has much meaning or relevance.
posted by Outlawyr at 12:20 PM on March 31, 2004

Make that "precedent"
posted by Outlawyr at 12:45 PM on March 31, 2004

Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security adviser to then-President Carter, testified before the Senate in 1980 regarding alleged lobbying or criminal activities by the president's brother, Billy Carter. etc, etc .

None of these examples dealt with issues of national security. Regardless of what you think about Condi Rice, the larger principle is that the National Security Advisor is cleared to read information that very few people in government (including a good number of folks in the House and the Senate) have access to, much of which can potentially seriously compromise both people and ongoing operations.

Testifying about Billy Carter or Monica is one thing ... testifying, in public, about the tactics and operations in use against al Qaeda is quite another - especially when al Qaeda is still operating, and still planning attacks. (You better believe they are reading every single page of publically accessible work done by the commission).

The real question is ... what purpose will be served by public testimony? If the commission really wants a non-political investigation of security prior to 9/11, with the intention of learning from the tragedy, questioning Rice in private would be fully sufficient ... and in fact, questioning her in public will be nearly useless - as there are large numbers of details she will not be able to discuss publically (which is what a top secret clearance actually means).

But an honest effort to find the truth is not the intention. The Democrats have managed to hyper-politicize this investigation. They delayed the commission's report (now scheduled to be released the day the Democratic convention starts). Obviously Bush is fighting back - (I notice - interestingly enough, that after positively ripping Rice a new one for a couple of weeks about not testifying, the Dems actually have the balls to try to accuse Bush of "flip-flopping" like Kerry when they finally give into the demands).

Rice's public testimony is not an effort to get at the truth - it is an effort to take political shots at Bush during the campaign ... plain and simple. They will learn nothing new ... as Rice has already testified privately in front of the commission for over four hours - and interestingly enough, only five of the commission members bothered to show up for the private testimony. But now we hear its vital for her to testify publically - in a forum where she'll only be able to talk about a fraction of what she could privately.

Actually, I think the Dems may have badly miscalculated. I think Bush played it right. With all this controversy, her testimony will get serious national coverage ... and the woman is positively brilliant. Richard Clarke's disgruntled employee blathering will, I suspect, be fully exposed for what it is. He isn't even in the same intellectual league as that woman. If the Dems wanted bare knuckle politics ... well, they're about to get them.
posted by MidasMulligan at 1:04 PM on March 31, 2004

I thought that the only executive branch member to testify before a committe was Ford concerning the pardon.
perhaps it may mean "under oath" or in relation to sensitive documents.
posted by clavdivs at 1:19 PM on March 31, 2004

my favorite precedent regarding separation of power was nixon offering transcripts of his tapes to a virtually deaf, blind and senile southern senator named stennis for "review" rather than turn them directly over to the prosecutor. when the "compromise" was refused, nixon, as head of the executive branch, fired everyone who was investigating him. yep, there's a lot of precedent out there old shrub has yet to tap into.
posted by quonsar at 1:23 PM on March 31, 2004

Condi may be a brilliant Sovietologist, but she's clearly not so brilliant at not obvious lying and contradictng herself and her boss in public over and over. Either Richard Clarke*, Rand Beers, Paul O'Neill, Ray McGovern, Richard Armitage* and Donald Rumsfeld are lying, or Condi is. She doesn't fear the testimony, she fears the oath.

* under oath
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 1:42 PM on March 31, 2004

But an honest effort to find the truth is not the intention. The Democrats have managed to hyper-politicize this investigation. They delayed the commission's report (now scheduled to be released the day the Democratic convention starts). Obviously Bush is fighting back

Refresh my memory--Who prevented the formation of this commission for over a year? Who has stonewalled and refused to give requested documents? Who has refused to let their NSA testify in public, yet sent her out on every single talk show there is--multiple times? Who is basing their reelection campaign on being good at fighting terror?
posted by amberglow at 2:01 PM on March 31, 2004

But an honest effort to find the truth is not the intention. The Democrats have managed to hyper-politicize this investigation.

As the ultimate political "realist" I expected you to accept this with a bored shrug. You never get uptight when the shit flies the other way. For instance, the Republicans, your party, hyper-politicizing gay marriages and constitucional amendments.
posted by sic at 2:30 PM on March 31, 2004

pardon, constitutional
posted by sic at 2:31 PM on March 31, 2004

well, look at this, from CNN: A Look at Bush's Reversals
posted by amberglow at 3:48 PM on March 31, 2004

But an honest effort to find the truth is not the intention. The Democrats have managed to hyper-politicize this investigation. They delayed the...

Okay, hold it right there, Midas. In these two and a half lines I hear you saying: a) that the Bush administration, by contrast to his democratic detractors, is interested in finding the truth about 9-11 failures; b) that Democrats have politicized the investigation to such a degree that their efforts dwarf Bush administration politicization; and c) that the Democrats are also the ones who have largely delayed this investigation.

Am I inferring you correctly? Please correct or clarify.
posted by squirrel at 9:35 PM on March 31, 2004

BTW, Outlawyr, if this topic is so worthless, why show your face here, and even weigh in?
posted by squirrel at 9:37 PM on March 31, 2004

This is hot--here's a quote from a speech by Philip Zelikow, the executive director of the 9/11 Commission -

""Why would Iraq attack America or use nuclear weapons against us? I'll tell you what I think the real threat (is) and actually has been since 1990 -- it's the threat against Israel," Zelikow told a crowd at the University of Virginia on Sep. 10, 2002, speaking on a panel of foreign policy experts assessing the impact of 9/11 and the future of the war on the al-Qaeda terrorist organisation.
"And this is the threat that dare not speak its name, because the Europeans don't care deeply about that threat, I will tell you frankly. And the American government doesn't want to lean too hard on it rhetorically, because it is not a popular sell," said Zelikow.

The statements are the first to surface from a source closely linked to the Bush administration acknowledging that the war, which has so far cost the lives of nearly 600 U.S. troops and thousands of Iraqis, was motivated by Washington's desire to defend the Jewish state.

The administration, which is surrounded by staunch pro-Israel, neo-conservative hawks, is currently fighting an extensive campaign to ward off accusations that it derailed the ”war on terrorism” it launched after 9/11 by taking a detour to Iraq, which appears to have posed no direct threat to the United States.

And now we find out about Desert Badger, too.

Frustrated that Iraqi gunners were shooting at American planes, within weeks of coming into office, President Bush approved war plans for a massive retaliatory attack on Iraq if a U.S. pilot had been shot down.

CNN has learned that the secret plan Operation Desert Badger called for escalating air strikes within four to eight hours of a shootdown. Pentagon sources say a long list of targets across the country would be hit, crippling Iraqi air defenses and command and control. The plan went far beyond the Clinton administration's 1998 Operation Desert Fox, which hit 100 targets in four days.

President Bush revealed Desert Badger's existence in January, responding to criticism he planned to invade Iraq from the beginning.

George W. Bush, President of the United States: Like the previous administration, we were for regime change. And in the initial stages of the administration, you might remember, we were dealing with Desert Badger or flyovers, and fly-betweens and looks.

And so we were fashioning policy along those lines

All this and Falluja, too--Condi is going to be on a very hot seat next week. They're going to have to move up Osama's capture six months to get out of this one.

Oh, and for Midas, here's a graph of Bush's approval ratings. The graph will need to be extended downward muy pronto.
posted by y2karl at 10:40 PM on March 31, 2004

That ol' missile defense would shot them airliners down lickety split.
posted by y2karl at 10:52 PM on March 31, 2004

And now we find out about Desert Badger, too.

Desert Badger Desert Badger Desert Badger Desert Badger Desert Badger Desert Badger Saddam Saddam!
posted by homunculus at 10:58 PM on March 31, 2004

And, in passing, Bush said at first NO WAY. Now, losing points politically, OK--and Kerry flip flops?


He first said NO WAY to the idea of even establishing a commission.

Then he gave in, but it had to be private and lead by Henry Kissinger.

Then he gave in and said it could be public, and Kissinger resigned.

Then he said NO WAY to letting them obtain documents pertaining to the attacks.

Then he gave in, and said they could have some of them.

Then he said NO WAY when Kean sought an additional $11 million in funding, as part of the $75 billion supplemental spending bill that the president just requested to pay for war with Iraq.

Then he gave in, and agreed to funding.

Then he said NO WAY to extending the deadline for the final report.

Then he gave in, and let them extend it.

Then he said no one from his cabinet would testify.

Then he gave in and said Condi could talk in private.

Then he said NO WAY to testifying himself.

Then he gave in and said and he would only talk to the Republican committee chairman in private for one hour.

Then he said NO WAY to testifying before the whole commission.

Then he gave in, and said Condi will testify in public, and him and Dick will talk to the whole commission in private.

I think it would be fair to say Dubya doesn't exactly always "hold his ground."
posted by sixdifferentways at 11:09 PM on March 31, 2004

I know this is an important subject and all, but for whatever reason this news does not excite me very much. Do we really expect Rice to say anything of interest? The whole drama of will-she or won't-she was more interesting than anything she will say. I find her to be a dull interview. Perhaps I'm wrong and Bob Kerrey or some surprising character will draw her out or catch her in a contradiction, or perhaps she will be so stunningly prepared and persuasive, that we will all look at Richard Clarke as a fraud. But I doubt it. We'll just get in our partisan corners, stiffening our resolve.

I do thank the poster for finding some intersting takes on the subject rather than simply linking to mainstream news sources that I scan every day anyway. This is a quality MetaFilter post, not just an AP link of the sort that obsesses some people. The discussion has also been civil, suggesting that those who claim MetaFilter can't "do politics" are mistaken. Obviously, when people treat each other with respect, it is possible.

It is hard to treat one's adversasries with respect in this political climate, and that is true of all sides and parties. The Clarke-Bush fiasco is but one example, and I think what freaked out the Bush side is that Clarke immediately seized the high ground with his apology and statement of failure. Nobody could say he was letting himself off the hook.
It kind of made everyone overlook that he does have a bit of an ax to grind -- he was demoted and ignored and shoved off the team, after devoting much of his life to the issue of terrorism.

But the Bush WH has played this so badly. Unable to find any facts wrong in his account, it has settled for personal attacks, even about his sexuality (can't find the link right now). Likewise, there are plenty of people who a year ago would have denounced Clarke as a hawk and not someone they admire who are now glomming onto him simply because some of his remarks are unfavorable to Bush. He doesn't go easy on Clinton his book, though I think he did in his testimony. His views are a bit authoritarian for my taste.

So, anyway, these people end up squared off in these grand national dramas, more concerned about their arguments and the politics and how they can spin things than they are about what it means for our security and the health of the community. We see this same dynamic play out on smaller stages, some as small as a message board or a family unit.

Here is a vital, important subject, and we need to find a way to bridge our differences and talk about it.
posted by Slagman at 11:43 PM on March 31, 2004

Great quotes as usual, y2karl! One request: please don't link all of the text. Reading too much italicized yellow ink is distracting.
posted by squirrel at 1:54 PM on April 1, 2004

my favorite precedent regarding separation of power was nixon

John Dean thinks the Bushies are creepier than Nixon, btw.
posted by homunculus at 2:09 PM on April 1, 2004

Enough with Condi--she's toast after next week--Why isn't Bush himself testifying in public and under oath, like the responsible leader he's supposed to be?
posted by amberglow at 4:30 PM on April 1, 2004

But an honest effort to find the truth is not the intention. Indeed:

Bush Aides Block Clinton's Papers From 9/11 Panel

The commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks said on Thursday that it was pressing the White House to explain why the Bush administration had blocked thousands of pages of classified foreign policy and counterterrorism documents from former President Bill Clinton's White House files from being turned over to the panel's investigators.

The White House confirmed on Thursday that it had withheld a variety of classified documents from Mr. Clinton's files that had been gathered by the National Archives over the last two years in response to requests from the commission, which is investigating intelligence and law enforcement failures before the attacks.

Scott McClellan, the White House spokesman, said some Clinton administration documents had been withheld because they were "duplicative or unrelated," while others were withheld because they were "highly sensitive" and the information in them could be relayed to the commission in other ways. "We are providing the commission with access to all the information they need to do their job," Mr. McClellan said.

The commission and the White House were reacting to public complaints from former aides to Mr. Clinton, who said they had been surprised to learn in recent months that three-quarters of the nearly 11,000 pages of files the former president was ready to offer the commission had been withheld by the Bush administration. The former aides said the files contained highly classified documents about the Clinton administration's efforts against Al Qaeda.

posted by y2karl at 9:42 PM on April 1, 2004

'I saw papers that show US knew al-Qa'ida would attack cities with aeroplanes'

A former translator for the FBI with top-secret security clearance says she has provided information to the panel investigating the 11 September attacks which proves senior officials knew of al-Qa'ida's plans to attack the US with aircraft months before the strikes happened.

She said the claim by the National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice, that there was no such information was "an outrageous lie".

Sibel Edmonds said she spent more than three hours in a closed session with the commission's investigators providing information that was circulating within the FBI in the spring and summer of 2001 suggesting that an attack using aircraft was just months away and the terrorists were in place. The Bush administration, meanwhile, has sought to silence her and has obtained a gagging order from a court by citing the rarely used "state secrets privilege".

She told The Independent yesterday: "I gave [the commission] details of specific investigation files, the specific dates, specific target information, specific managers in charge of the investigation. I gave them everything so that they could go back and follow up. This is not hearsay. These are things that are documented. These things can be established very easily."

She added: "There was general information about the time-frame, about methods to be used ­ but not specifically about how they would be used ­ and about people being in place and who was ordering these sorts of terror attacks. There were other cities that were mentioned. Major cities ­ with skyscrapers."
posted by squirrel at 8:28 AM on April 2, 2004

"For many generations New York had taken no heed of war, save as a thing that happened far away, that affected prices and supplied the newspapers with exciting headlines and pictures. The New Yorkers felt perhaps even more certainly than the English had done that war in their own land was an impossible thing. In that they shared the delusion of all North America. They felt as secure as spectators at a bullfight; they risked their money perhaps on the result, but that was all. And such ideas of war as the common Americans possessed were derived from the limited, picturesque, adventurous war of the past. They saw war as they saw history, through an iridescent mist, deodorised, scented indeed, with all its essential cruelties tactfully hidden away. They were inclined to regret it as something ennobling, to sigh that it could no longer come into their own private experience. They read with interest, if not with avidity, of their new guns, of their immense and still more immense ironclads, of their incredible and still more incredible explosives, but just what these tremendous engines of destruction might mean for their personal lives never entered their heads. They did not, so far as one can judge from their contemporary literature, think that they meant anything to their personal lives at all. They thought America was safe amidst all this piling up of explosives. They cheered the flag by habit and tradition, they despised other nations, and whenever there was an international difficulty they were intensely patriotic, that is to say, they were ardently against any native politician who did not say, threaten, and do harsh and uncompromising things to the antagonist people....And then suddenly, into a world peacefully busied for the most part upon armaments and the perfection of explosives, war came; came the shock of realising that the guns were going off, that the masses of inflammable material all over the world were at last ablaze.

The immediate effect upon New York of the sudden onset of war was merely to intensify her normal vehemence.

The newspapers and magazines that fed the American mind--for books upon this impatient continent had become simply material for the energy of collectors--were instantly a coruscation of war pictures and of headlines that rose like rockets and burst like shells...And then suddenly, into a world peacefully busied for the most part upon armaments and the perfection of explosives, war came; came the shock of realising that the guns were going off, that the masses of inflammable material all over the world were at last ablaze...In half an hour New York had passed from serene sunset and gaping admiration to a troubled and threatening twilight.

The first loss of life occurred in the panic rush from Brooklyn Bridge as the airship approached it. With the cessation of the traffic an unusual stillness came upon New York, and the disturbing concussions of the futile defending guns on the hills about grew more and more audible. At last these ceased also. A pause of further negotiation followed. People sat in darkness, sought counsel from telephones that were dumb. Then into the expectant hush came a great crash and uproar, the breaking down of the Brooklyn Bridge, the rifle fire from the Navy Yard, and the bursting of bombs in Wall Street and the City Hall. New York as a whole could do nothing, could understand nothing. New York in the darkness peered and listened to these distant sounds until presently they died away as suddenly as they had begun. "What could be happening?" They asked it in vain."
posted by clavdivs at 10:39 AM on April 2, 2004

well i f%$^&% up that obscurity
posted by clavdivs at 10:46 AM on April 2, 2004

I think we're alone here, clav. Hmm... I wonder if Outlawyr is going to post the former FBI translator story to the front page.
posted by squirrel at 11:23 AM on April 2, 2004

if it makes a dif, i would like to see what this woman had. Just the data, not a compellation of the data. Someone posted that she was discredited...I'm very tired today as evident by my little obscure Wells thing, which i botched. But I was amazed when i read this book written in 1907.

I was struck too by the anti-imperialists during T. Roosevelts' administration about the issue of the canal, how germany used gunboats to go collect debts. The A-Is' thought that for the first time, America placed her interests ahead of her honor. That was over a hundred years ago.
posted by clavdivs at 11:59 AM on April 2, 2004

The executive branches of most American administrations since the industrial revolution have been thinly-disguised bag-men for big corporations. This goes for both prominent political parties. The Republicans have been groomed by public conception into being dirtier because they were at the helm during some of the uglier decisions. Importantly, those same decisions may likely have been made by Democrats, had they controlled the executive at the time.

Can you imagine how much dirtier the Democratic party would seem to the world now if Gore hadn't been usurped by the supreme court? Gore surely wouldn't have plowed the US face first into a trench of horror, as Bush has, but he would have done some mighty shitty things in the protection of his associated interests.

Anyway, I believe that this woman, good old Condi, who the Bush administration has laughably started calling "Dr. Rice" is just a face of color, a fronter to cover for the cabal of very rich and very white individuals whose interests her office is working for. She's no Colin Powell, she's even more out of the loop. She's got nothing that this kangaroo inquiry can use, which is why she has been so ceremoniously brought in. She is supposed to appease us.

Where did you hear that the FBI translator was discredited?
posted by squirrel at 11:51 AM on April 3, 2004

she wasn't discredited, as far as I know, just gagged by Ashcroft.
posted by amberglow at 11:56 AM on April 3, 2004

Gagged by Ashcroft I can believe. There ought to be a conflict of interest leash preventing him from blocking her, though. Has the translator issue been in another FPP that I didn't see? I can't believe that only we three are discussing it.
posted by squirrel at 12:20 PM on April 3, 2004

it's been in other blogs, but nothing else here i don't think...I don't know if it's the gag order that's stopping other media from reporting on her or not. The Observer has a thing on her tho, by Gail Sheehy (and i saw her on Hardball last night).
posted by amberglow at 12:40 PM on April 3, 2004

Sheehy, i mean
posted by amberglow at 12:40 PM on April 3, 2004

I find it kind of eerie, how quiet the mainstream press has been on this story. To me, it's ten times bigger than Monica--especially in that so many deaths are involved. I think I just have to be patient. These stories sometimes take a while to gain momentum. I'm still holding out for a Bush, Cheney perp walk before November.
posted by squirrel at 12:53 PM on April 3, 2004

we can only hope, squirrel (and spread the word)
posted by amberglow at 12:57 PM on April 3, 2004

White House Refuses Panel Request for Rice Speech The White House has refused to provide the panel investigating the Sept. 11 attacks with a speech national security adviser Condoleezza Rice was to deliver on the night of the attacks touting missile defense as a priority rather than al Qaeda, sources said on Tuesday.
posted by amberglow at 6:11 PM on April 6, 2004

Claim VS. Fact: Condi's opening statement -- from Center for American Progress
posted by amberglow at 2:15 PM on April 8, 2004

« Older old school   |   Dorifto! Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments