I actually set my alarm and got up to watch, live, the testimony of Condoleezza Rice to the 9/11 panel. I even made myself eggs, sausage and coffee. Now, you have to understand, for me to get up at 6AM for anything is nothing short of a miracle.
One thing I quickly came away with was that Dr. Rice is undeniably a very intelligent, accomplished woman. She was measured, smart and unflappable in her answers. She said there was no "silver bullet" that would have stopped the 9/11 attacks. She very subtly placed blame on the Clinton administration and Richard Clarke. She kept saying that the memos she received were not actionable. That's one that bothered me. She received, many from Richard Clark, memos, e-mails and/or PDBs (presidential daily briefings) that talked about terrorism. Some said Al Quaida cells were in the US, one said that Middle Eastern men were at US flight schools learning how to fly large planes but weren't so concerned about landing them, one PBD on Aug 6, 2001 was titled "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States." Now that one was interesting. Apparently Dr. Rice dismissed this PDB as not containing anything relevant or of great importance, but yet continues to refuse to declassify it, as the administration has refused to declassify almost 10,000 documents. My real problems were not necessarily what she said, which was predictable, but with the issues surrounding these hearings.
First of all, the Bush administration refused to even have a commission until the families of 9/11 kept pushing for one. If they hadn't done that, there would be no investigation, NONE, into the worst terrorist attack on American soil. How is that it's OK to spend millions of dollars to determine whether Clinton did or did not lie about a blow job, but not OK to investigate an obvious breakdown and failure of intelligence that resulted in 9/11? You can't tell me that along the way somebody or 'sombodies' didn't drop the ball and should be forced to take responsibility. 9/11 doesn't warrant an investigation?? So after stonewalling and dragging their feet, Bush appoints Henry Kissinger to head the commission. Are you fucking kidding me??? I won't get into the problems with that, but please do your own research into Kissinger. Finally a commission was appointed, one that was supposed to be non-partisan, which brings up another problem. I watched Thursday as the Republicans, in obvious partisanship, lobbed soft, squishy questions to Dr. Rice. The questions got much more pointed and tough with the Democratic commission members. So I question the validity of the panel in the first place.
Another problem is that when Bush was told of the attacks, he continued to sit in a Florida school classroom. In fact, he sat in there for almost 5 minutes after he was told the second plane hit. I was home with a badly sprained ankle, sleeping, when my best friend called me from Missouri to wake me up, and I ran to the television. But Bush just sat there. Then he and everyone else went and hid in a hole, while Richard Clarke stayed in the White House trying to figure out what happened and what we should do. The same Richard Clarke, I might add, who apparently 'wasn't in the loop'. Why didn't the Bush administration want a commission? The obvious question is what do they have to hide? In his new book Worse Than Watergate, John Dean, Richard Nixon's lawyer, says that the Bush administration is more secretive than the Nixon administration. Now that's saying something. This White House, if they could, would choose to operate in total secrecy. One of the reasons they didn't want a 9/11 commission is because they feel they are above the checks and balances system. They, who are PUBLIC servants by the way, would prefer to operate in total secrecy. They, especially Cheney, believe the loss of secrecy is eroding presidential power. He even disagreed with the investigation into Iran-Contra. And this from Bush, "I have an obligation to make sure that the presidency remains robust and that the legislative branch doesn't end up running the executive branch." To steal from John Dean, "secrecy is the way if dictatorships, not democracies."
Could the 9/11 attacks have been stopped? I really don't know. But what needs to be stopped is this administration, which has said a big, fat "fuck you" to the families of 9/11 and an even bigger "fuck you" to the American people from day one.