March 27, 2004

 

Statement of the Family Steering Committee
Regarding Condoleezza Rice and Release of 28 Pages

(Received via email from the Voices of September 11 support group)

The Family Steering Committee demands the appearance of National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice under oath in a public hearing immediately. We believe that testifying before the Commission in a public forum is Ms. Rice's moral obligation given her responsibility as National Security Advisor to protect our nation.  The death of nearly 3000 innocent people warrants such a moral precedent.

We further request Richard Clarke, Samuel Berger, Brent Scowcroft, and Deputy National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley also be present, under oath, and made part of the same panel as Dr. Rice.

We have attached a list of questions that must be addressed during this hearing. In addition to these questions, we would also appreciate the reconciliation of various issues that were raised on behalf of Mr. Clarke during this past week's hearings. Furthermore, we would request the examination and discussion of the following issues:

1. The draft report of the 2001 NSPD-5 Presidential Commission on Intelligence Reform chaired by General Brent Scowcroft.
2. Budget requests made by various agencies since 1998 so as to compare those requests within the agencies from which they originated, within the Administration, and by Congress.
3. The NSC policy options paper, prepared by Richard Clarke's office during Spring 2001 which proposed a change in US policy regarding [--------------------------].(Joint Inquiry Report, Appendix, NSC Document Request, July 1, 2002, enclosure to Condoleezza Rice letter dated  July 8, 2002)
4. The after-action report on the Millennium prepared by the National Coordinator for Counterterrorism's office.

We would encourage White House counsel to view this commission for what it is - a quasi-legislative entity. After all, Chairman Kean is an Executive Branch appointee to the Commission. Furthermore, the mere fact that the Commission has gained access-albeit limited access, to the Presidential Daily Briefings (something that the Joint Inquiry of Congress was refused for reasons of Separation of Powers principles) further supports the notion that this Commission is not a purely legislative body.

Assuming arguendo that White House counsel continues to persist that a legal precedent might be presented, Dr. Rice should testify to set a moral precedent that is aptly warranted by the murder of 3000 people. Voluntarily coming forward to testify under oath during a public hearing without the use of a subpoena would simply set a rare, refreshing, and appropriate moral precedent for all of history to judge.

Finally, in light of recent actions on behalf of Senate Majority Leader Frist, we also request the de-classification of the infamous 28 blank pages of the Joint Inquiry Final Report. The Saudi government stated to the media in August 2003 that they would like the 28 pages released. Members of the Joint Inquiry have stated on the record that the 28 pages did not include national security secrets. Nevertheless, the White House continues to refuse to release said information on grounds of national security.

One of the underlying themes of this past week's hearings was the failure to garner the "will of the nation." One way to arouse the will of the nation is to engage the American people in healthy debate and dialogue. In order to have the will, the nation must be properly informed. As such, we encourage the release of the 28 pages of the Joint Inquiry Final Report that pertains to the foreign sponsorship of terrorism.

We hope that Senator Frist will show the same zeal to release the 28 pages as he has shown in de-classifying Mr. Clarke's testimony. We request that all witness testimony to the Joint Inquiry of Congress be impartially reviewed and declassified if possible. We abhor the tendency to over-classify information and we support the release of any material as long such public release does not legitimately harm national security.


Questions For Condoleezza Rice

1. As stated in the Appendix of the Joint Inquiry of Congress' Final Report:
"Despite the White House decision, the Joint Inquiry was advised by Intelligence Community representatives of the content of an August 2001 PDB item that is discussed in the report. This glimpse into that PDB indicated the importance of such access [-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------]*

*National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice stated in a May 16, 2002 press briefing that, on August 6, 2001, the President's Daily Breif (PDB) included information about Bin Ladin's methods of operation from a historical perspective dating back to 1997. One of the methods was that Bin Ladin might choose to hijack an airliner in order to hold passengers hostage to gain release of one of their operatives. She stated, however, that the report did not contain specific warning information, but only a generalized warning, and did not contain information that al-Qa'ida was discussing a particular planned attack against a specific target at any specific time, place, or by any specific method." (Joint Inquiry Final Report, Appendix pages 1-2).

Ms. Rice can you reconcile this intimated discrepancy?

Terrorism as a Policy Priority

1. During your time as Deputy National Security Advisor, what priorities did you  establish for U.S. Intelligence priorities and where did terrorism fit in?  How did this change from the priorities of the Clinton administration?

2. How were these priorities conveyed to the intelligence Community?  Did the intelligence Community propose any changes in priority with regard to counterterrorism or al-Qa'ida?  What were they?

3. Prior to September 11, who at the National Security Council and the U>S. government played a leading role in setting counterterrorism policy?  Who else was involved in this process?  Please describe the process, the participants and the fora.

4. Prior to September 11, did Congress support the NSC's counterterrorism efforts?  Did Congress oppose NSC priorities related to terrorism in any way?  Please provide details of both, as appropriate.

5. Was Richard Clarke, the National Coordinator for counterterrorism, included all in Principals' meetings related to terrorism after January 2002?  If not, why not?  How was it determined who would be involved in such meetings?  What was his role in counterterrorism policy and intelligence prioritization after January 2002?

6. During the transition from the Clinton administration, did former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger or other senior Clinton NSC officials provide any advice, information, warning, or guidance requiring policy, priorities, or threats from al-Qa'ida and Bin Ladin?  If so, what was the advice, information, warning, or guidance?

7. Prior to September 11, was the Administration engaged in a review of counterterrorism policy?  What issues were identified for change?  What stage were plans in?  What changes in the role of the intelligence Community, if any, were planned?  What happened to the review after the September 11 attacks?

8. When the new Administration came into office, was it aware that Usama bin Ladin had declared war on the United States in 1998?  Who provided this information, and how was it provided?  What was the impact of that fact on the Adminstration's national security priorities?  How did it affect the intelligence Community's posture?

9. Prior to September 11, did the President or other senior officials in the administration make any public statements or give any speeches on the subject of the threat of terrorism, or Usama bin Ladin's terrorist network in particular?  If so, please make copies available to the (Joint Inquiry Staff)?

Resources

1. Prior to September 11, did the Intelligence Community come to the new Administration with any requests for additional counterterrorism resources, e.g. additional funding?  Who made the request, and what was the nature of the proposal?

2. Did the Intelligence Community ask the Administration for more resources to fight Usama bin Ladin and al-Qa'ida?  Who made this request?

3. Did the Intelligence Community ever cite a lack of resources as the basis for not acting?  If o, provide details and the NSC response.

4. When the DCI, Director of NSA, and FBI Director requested more counterterrorism resources, what was the stated justification for their requests?

5. What was the NSC's response to each specific Intelligence Community request for any increases in resources for counterterrorism?  For al-Qa'ida?

Agency responsiveness and support for policy makers

1. What specific strengths did you observe in intelligence collection, analysis, and reporting on Bin Ladin, al-Qaeda or terrorism in general prior to September 11?  What specific weaknesses?  Please provide specific examples of each.

2. What was the quality of intelligence received by the NSC?  Did the NSC make any efforts to improve this quality?

3. With respect to Intelligence Community counterterrorism efforts prior to September 11, how responsive were the CIA, the FBI, NSA, and DIA?  

-Did they provide the President and the National Security Council with the information needed to make informed decisions?
-Did the agencies use their authority aggressively?  Did they cite limits or a lack of authority as a basis for no action?
-Did they shift resources appropriately in response to NSC direction?
-Did the NSC provide any specific tasking to Intelligence Community agencies to which they did not respond?  Please provide specific examples.

Threat to the homeland

1. Prior to September 11, including especially spring/summer 2001, what information did the Intelligence Community provide to the National Security Council, orally or in writing, indicating the possibility of terrorist attacks inside the United States?

2. Prior to September 11, what information did the Intelligence Community provide to the National Security Council on al-Qa'ida activities and infrastructure inside the United States?

3. 3.  Prior to September 11, did the National Security Council ever consider alerting the American people to the internal threat from al-Qaeda?  What happened?

4. Did the National Security Council ever consider enhancing U.S. border controls, e.g., by strengthening watchlist programs, alerting the FAA or the airlines, or inspecting cargo containers on a larger scale?  If so, what happened?

5. Prior to September 11, what was the National Security council's view regarding how well postured the FBI was with respect to combating terrorist groups inside the United States?  What steps were taken to improve the FBI, if any?

6. Prior to September 11, did the Intelligence Community provide the NSC with any information regarding the possibility that al-Qa'ida members would use airplanes as weapons or hijack airplanes in the United States?  What did the NSC do in response to this information?

Foreign governments

1. Prior to September 11, which foreign governments were most and least helpful regarding counterterrorism?  How were they helpful or not helpful in each case?

2. Prior to September 11, were the governments of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan supportive of U.S. conterterrorism efforts?  How responsive were European allies?  What priority was counterterrorism cooperation in Saudi Arabia relative to military operations against Iraq, the Middle East peace negotiations, and other concerns?

3. Did Intelligence Community agencies ask for NSC assistance in getting foreign governments to take action against terrorist cells?  Did the NSC take any specific actions to support the Intelligence Community?  What did the NSC do?  Did the NSC ask or instruct the State Department or the Department of Defense to assist the intelligence Community in this regard?

4. Prior to September 11, was there any discussion of increasing information sharing and/or counterterrorism cooperation with the Sudan?

Use of Force/Overt and Covert

1. Prior to September 11, did the National Security Council consider the use of military force against al-Qa'ida in Afghanistan?  How?  In what form?  Why was it not pursued?  Was there sufficient intelligence to support military options?  Was their tasking to gain further intelligence to support military operations?

2. Prior to September 11, did the National Security Council issue any tasking to the CIA or the U.S. military to develop plans involving the covert or overt use of force?

3. Prior to September 11, did the National Security Council ever review the CIA's authorities to conduct covert action against Bin Ladin or al-Qa'ida?  What problems were identified regarding existing authorities, (_________) ?  Were there any proposals to change those authorities before September 11th?  What steps were taken?

4. Prior to September 11, was the unarmed Predator flown in Afghanistan after the Bush Administration came into office?  Were proposals made to the NSC to fly it?  Which participants favored flying it?  If it was not flown, why not?

5. Did the National Security Council support the development of the armed Predator?  Did any administration official try to expedite the process?  Were any discussions held on this issue at the NSC?  Who participated?

6. Did you consider (_________________________) Why or why not?  What impact did you expect?

7. Why was there no military response to the attack on the USS Cole?  Was this considered?

Recommendations

1.  What recommendations would you make to improve the intelligence community's performance?