Commission: Bush lacked plan to deal with al Qaeda

Senior Bush administration officials could not agree on a comprehensive strategy for dealing with the threat posed by al Qaeda until one week before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, staff members with the federal commission investigating the attacks said Tuesday.

Administration officials submitted a national security directive on al Qaeda to President Bush on Sept. 4, 2001, staff members on the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States reported during a hearing. Without a signed presidential directive, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld could not order the preparation of military plans against either al Qaeda or the ruling Taliban government of Afghanistan before the Sept. 11 attacks, staff members said.

"The new administration began to develop new policies toward al Qaeda in 2001, but there is no evidence of new work on military capabilities or plans against this enemy before Sept. 11," staff members testified.

Former Sen. Slade Gorton, R-Wash., a member of the commission, said he believes al Qaeda may have been emboldened because the terrorist group did not perceive the U.S. government was taking a hard-line stand against it.

The Bush administration came into office "fully prepared" to deal with al Qaeda and continued to take aggressive action toward the terrorist network while establishing a comprehensive strategy, Secretary of State Colin Powell testified before the commission.

Powell added that the Clinton administration did not leave the Bush administration with a comprehensive counterterrorism action plan. The Bush administration, however, kept on board several Clinton administration advisers, including former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke, who served in every presidential administration since Ronald Reagan, to provide continuity, Powell said.

Clarke, who served under George W. Bush until last summer, published a book Monday that is highly critical of how the Bush administration has dealt with terrorism. Clarke is scheduled to testify before the commission on Wednesday.

Clarke led the National Security Council's counterterrorism staff during the transition from the Clinton administration to the Bush administration and was a central architect in developing al Qaeda strategy. Former Rep. Timothy Roemer, D-Ind., a member of the commission, said Clarke has given about 20 hours of testimony in private session.

Roemer read an excerpt from Clarke's new book Against All Enemies at the hearing Tuesday. In the excerpt, Clarke said he gave a slide presentation to Bush officials, including Powell, in December 2000. According to the excerpt, one of the slides stated that al Qaeda operatives were already inside the U.S. Powell said he could not recall that specific slide.

Roemer plans to ask Clarke on Wednesday about the content of the briefing and how Bush officials responded. Roemer said Clarke is probably the most important official to testify before the committee, given his extensive experience.

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who also testified at Tuesday's hearing, defended the steps the Clinton administration took to deal with al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Both Powell and Albright said they did not believe Congress or the U.S. public would have supported an invasion of Afghanistan prior to Sept. 11. Former Sen. Bob Kerrey, D-Neb., argued that both administrations should have approached Congress with a request to invade the country.

The comprehensive strategy the Bush administration eventually settled on in September 2001 consisted of three phases. The first phase called for dispatching an envoy to give the Taliban an opportunity to expel al Qaeda from Afghanistan. If this was unsuccessful, the U.S. would pressure the Taliban through diplomacy and by encouraging anti-Taliban Afghans to attack al Qaeda bases. If the Taliban's policy still failed to change, the U.S. would seek to overthrow the Taliban regime.

Commission members reiterated their demand Tuesday that National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice testify publicly before the commission. Rice previously appeared privately before the commission, but the White House has refused to let her testify publicly. Commission members said they hope the administration will reconsider its position.

"I think she should disregard the lawyers' advice and rhetoric on this particular issue," Roemer said.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.