White House National Security Advisor
Condoleezza Rice testifies this week in public and under oath about the events
leading up to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.
She will appear Thursday for more than two hours before the independent commission
investigating the attacks.
The commission chairman predicts Condoleezza Rice's testimony will be exciting.
Thomas Kean told the NBC television program Meet the Press that the panel
hopes to learn a great deal from the president's national security advisor.
"We want to know about what happened and what the differences were between
the Bush policies and the policies of the Clinton administration," he said. "We
want to know what she heard and what she knew. And of course we want to know
what differences there might be between her, Mr. Clarke, and a number of other
people we have heard."
Richard Clarke, the former White House counter-terrorism coordinator, recently
told the commission that the White House did not pay enough attention to the
terrorist threat prior to the September 11th attacks.
His accusations ultimately led President Bush to drop his long-standing opposition
to any public testimony by his confidential advisors. After days of White House
statements designed to call Mr. Clarke's charges into question, he changed
course and announced Condoleezza Rice would appear before the commission under
oath and in public session.
Chairman Kean, the top Republican on the commission, told NBC the panel has
been surprised by some of the things it has learned in the process of taking
testimony from former and current officials. He said the American people are
likely to be surprised as well when the commissioners release their final report.
"We will have things in our report on two ends: first the report itself,
secondly the recommendations," said Mr. Kean. "We have got some very serious
recommendations to make, and I think they will be something of great value
to the American people. Also, they will hopefully make the country safer."
The deadline for the commission to complete the report is July 26, but before
it is released, it must be reviewed by the White House to make sure no sensitive
security information is made public.
Mr. Kean said he expects the administration will expedite the clearance process.
The senior Democrat on the commission, Lee Hamilton agreed. He told NBC the review
is required by law.
"Now, we are not going to let them to distort our report," he said. "We understand
this has to go through them. And we already have in place a process by which
this will be done. We are going to roll these chapters out and give them to
the White House."
Mr. Hamilton stressed the White House will not be making a judgment on the
report itself. He said it will be looking for a line here or there that could
compromise intelligence gathering or create other national security concerns.