April 14, 2004
RICE TESTIMONY, PDB REVEAL 'NO SMOKING GUNS'
** Rice "easily
silenced her inquisitors," but whether she spoke the "entire
truth" is not clear.
** With "much
riding" on Rice's testimony, her "worthy debut" is a boost to
** The PDB had no
"concrete warning" of 9/11, but skeptics say U.S. could have
Commission's interrogation of Rice a 'wild goose chase'-- Global media judged NSA Condoleezza Rice's
9/11 testimony impressive but "dissatisfying" and only "half
convincing." They saw Rice coming
off "without a scratch;" her deposition contained no "shocking
revelations" that either "confirmed or dismissed" preconceived
notions of Bush and his "underestimation" of the al-Qaida
threat. Although Rice managed to rebut
the allegations of White House "negligence," her testimony--Italy's
top-circulation Corriere della Sera pointed out--"didn't eliminate
doubts regarding the administration's anti-terror strategy before the
attacks." A center-right Danish
writer contended that Rice's "star quality" didn't preclude Bush's
being "off the mark" on the threat from al-Qaida. Arab papers found her responses
"banal" and "insulting," with the independent Jordan
Times complaining that "instead of answering the concerns of
many," Rice "raised even more questions."
Rice 'did not lose an inch of ground,' seen as 'doing her duty'-- Commentators regarded Rice's testimony as
critical to White House "credibility" though they split on whether
her account would have any effect on public opinion. Some noted her "strenuous defense"
of President Bush's work, stressing that Bush himself had "much
riding" on her "public debut."
The NSA's confident performance and "authoritative evidence"
convinced London's center-right Times that the "Bush administration
was not negligent in responding to warnings about al-Qaida; and since
9/11...made a vast number of changes" in its intelligence gathering
"so that America could meet future challenges." Russia's official Rossiyskaya Gazeta
observed that Bush's own political future largely "depended on how well
PDB did not forecast imminent attacks, but U.S. government is not
entirely 'blameless'-- Most Euro observers
across the spectrum accepted that there was probably no way the U.S. could have
prevented the 9/11 tragedy, but nevertheless suggested that Washington could
have "done more" to forestall the terror attacks. Echoing a typical view, Germany's
center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine reasoned that since the content of
the August 2001 PDB was "disturbing enough...doubts remain whether
Washington truly did everything possible to counter the danger" from bin
Laden. While Western analysts agreed the
PDB contained no "concrete evidence" of an imminent plot, Arab writers were more adamant that the
declassified memo "makes it patently clear that the terror threat was of
an immediate nature." The UAE's
expatriate-oriented Khaleej Times declared "Bush had known all
along about the potent 9/11 strikes but failed to do anything about
it!" Latin and Asian papers
likewise harbored "suspicions" that the administration did "not do
all it could do to prevent the attacks."
Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press
sentiment. Posts select commentary to
provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion. This report summarizes and interprets foreign
editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S.
Government. This analysis is based on 46
reports from 19 countries, April 8-14.
Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent
BRITAIN: "Standing Her Ground"
An editorial in the center-right Times
commented (Internet Version, 4/9):
"Both the timing and the context of Condoleezza Rice's testimony
yesterday endowed her appearance with crucial political significance. Her
evidence to the commission investigating the September 11 terrorist atrocities
came as American television broadcast pictures of the most serious fighting in
Iraq for a year.... Given the quality of
her performance and her clear mastery of the security brief, the reluctance to
have her appear is all the more bemusing.
For President Bush, much was riding on her performance.... She did not
disappoint, though she inadvertently hinted at tensions between herself and
senior figures at the Pentagon. She gave a performance yesterday that was
confident, measured and professional. Her manner was courteous but
unapologetic, and her evidence authoritative.... Two points came through forcefully: the Bush
Administration was not negligent in responding to warnings about Al-Qaida; and
since September 11, it had made a vast number of changes to improve the
gathering, sharing and use of intelligence so that America could meet future
challenges.... Where Dr Rice
particularly helped her boss was in the firm separation of the response to
Al-Qaida and U.S. military engagement in Iraq. The Democrats, naturally, want
to use the controversy over the latter to cast doubt on the former. That would
seem justified neither by the historical record nor by the interests of U.S.
security. Dr Rice's testimony will challenge the more puerile preconceptions
about U.S. policy and increase the pressure on her to contemplate a career in
"Mr Bush Forced To Reveal Pre-11 September 2001 Alerts"
Patrick Jarreau commented in left-of-center Le
Monde (Internet version, 4/13):
"On Saturday 10 April the White House published a document whose
existence has been known for almost two years, but whose content had been kept
secret.... Condoleezza Rice, Mr Bush's
national security adviser, told the committee of inquiry that the briefing made
to the President, just over a month before the attacks, 'was a historical
perspective based on old data.' The
document published by the White House only partly justifies this observation. The document does indeed cite statements by
Bin Ladin dating from 1997 and 1998, but it also cites much more recent
data.... According to presidential
officials, the information was vague and included nothing that could
subsequently be considered to have predicted the 11 September 2001 attacks.
Questioned on Sunday, as he left the military chapel at Fort Gorge, Texas,
where he celebrated Easter, Mr Bush said that the 6 August briefing 'did not
indicate a terrorist threat,' and that it mentioned neither 'the time nor the
place of an attack.'... Internal CIA
sources have stated, however, that this briefing was prepared on the initiative
of the CIA itself, which was worried about the White House's inertia with
regard to terrorist threats.... Ms. Rice
said that following the 6 August 2001 briefing the President instructed his
aides to join their 'battle stations.'
Richard Ben-Veniste, one of the Democratic members of the committee of
inquiry, has doubts about this. He
said, in televised interviews, that nothing comparable to the Clinton team's
mobilization at the time of the so-called 'Millennium threat' at the end of
1999 was observed. Having been alerted,
the police then arrested, on the Canadian border, an Algerian who planned to
explode a car bomb at Los Angeles airport."
"Bush On The Defensive"
An editorial in left-of-center Le Monde
asserted (4/13): "Six and a half
months away from the presidential election on 2 November, George W. Bush has to
deal with a controversy in connection with the 11 September 2001 attacks. He could well have done without this, at a
time when the coalition troops find themselves bogged down in Iraq.... On this
committee's insistence, the White House has at last agreed to publish a
confidential note read out to President Bush by a CIA official on 6 august
2001, that is, 36 days before the attacks in New York and Washington. This note is entitled: 'Bin Ladin Determined
To Hit United States.' It cites
"preparations for the hijacking of aircraft and other kinds of
attacks. Of course, Condoleezza Rice,
the President's adviser on security matters, played down the importance of this
note in her evidence to the committee of inquiry, describing information as
'historical.'... According to this
inquiry, better coordination between the two security services would have made
it possible to arrests the two 11 September 2001 hijackers. However, it would be an oversimplification
to offer solely on a 'bureaucratic' explanation. There are deeper reasons why the President
did not pay greater attention to the August 2001 note. After
11 September he portrayed himself as the leader of the war on terrorism. However, he had previously shown little
interest in the subject. Together with
his foreign policy advisers, he had very different priorities...for reasons
entirely separate from terrorism."
"Condoleezza Rice Defends Her
Philippe Gelie in right-of-center Le Figaro
(4/9): “Part of her testimony was also
to give a performance fitting the stakes: and indeed it was a great moment of
political theatre.… Ms Rice carried a tremendous responsibility on her
shoulders. In three hours of grilling, she did not lose an inch of ground, but
she was clearly disconcerted by some questions. In the end, she was only half
convincing, especially when compared to the exceptional demonstration given in
March by Richard Clarke.”
GERMANY: "The Document"
Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger argued in center-right Frankfurter
Allgemeine (4/13): "The incident is unprecedented and reveals how
serious the White House thinks of the accusation that the Bush government did
not pay enough attention to the danger of terror attacks. Never before has a President declassified a
document like the CIA briefing from August 6 with the alarming title 'Bin Laden
Determined To Strike Inside the United States'. Not just the 9/11 commission, which so
unusually demanded the release of the document, but everybody can now make up
his mind whether the government knew of an imminent major attack. The document does not forecast a certain time
or place of an attack. In this respect
Bush's and his National Security Advisor's claim that there was no concrete
warning is correct. But the content is
disturbing enough: Bin Laden wanted to
bring the fight against the U.S. to America and had created a structure for
this purpose. Even if the government
knew about it, doubts remain whether it truly did everything possible to
counter the danger. Were other things
more important? This defensive move will
not have the desired effects and declare the government blameless.... The fact
is that bureaucratic inflexibility, quarrels over competences and the secret
worlds of the intelligence and other services helped terrorists."
Steffen Hebestreit said in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau
(4/13): "The 9/11 terror attacks
could not have been prevented, according to human judgment. This cannot be concealed by the declassified
CIA memo, which warned President Bush 36 days before the attacks that Bin Laden
and al-Qaida planned to strike inside the U.S.
However, the memo gets the president into a difficult position, because
it proves that the...analysis in the U.S. administration was shortsighted,
having concentrated to much on the failures of the intelligence services and
neglected possible failures of the government.
This emphasizes doubts about the quick decision of the government to
create the new mega department of Homeland Security, granting it so many
competences that reduce fundamental human rights drastically."
"The Silent President"
An editorial in the Financial Times
Deutschland commented (4/13):
"There is a possibility of keeping silent for too long. U.S. President George W. Bush has refused
for a long time to comment on the accusations that before 11 September 2001 he
had ignored the threat posed by Al-Qaida.
However, what was supposed to be the silence of somebody accused
unfairly is increasingly seen by the public as an admission of being partly to
blame. In such a climate, any
statement, any publication is suspected of being an attempted cover-up. For
instance, the memorandum now presented by the U.S. Administration -- under
massive public pressure -- confirms the latest statements by Bush's Security
Adviser Condoleezza Rice in every point.
Four weeks before the attacks there was no concrete clue pointing to the
terrorist attacks of New York and Washington.
Just the statements that Usama Bin Ladin planned to hijack planes...and
that he had been planning attacks since 1997 are hardly sufficient evidence to
support the claim that the President had acted negligently after assuming
office. All the clumsier is Bush's attempt to blame his predecessor Bill
Clinton. Clinton's strategy against Bin
Ladin was indeed limited to occasional retaliation. However, during the first eight months of
his term Bush, too, was busy with other things, such as tax reductions, despite
the warnings that terror cells were operating in the United States. The
Americans and the world will believe Bush again only if he speaks openly about
11 September and does without clumsily attributing blame to others."
"A Cold Performance"
Olivia Schoeller commented in left-of-center Berliner Zeitung
(4/10): "There was no way to
prevent the 9/11 attacks. Maybe one
could have come closer to the assassins, if investigators had exchanged
information. Maybe one should have
examined the collected data more thoroughly and reacted quicker.... But not Americans alone, the entire world
lacked the ability to imagine such attacks.
National Security Adviser Rice partly rebutted accusations against the
White House, but her statements were dissatisfying. Of course, it is not an accident that Clarke
makes his accusations now, and it is annoying for the White House that the commission
hardly recognizes the failures of the Clinton administration. However, Americans don't care about it. Given the 3,000 victims they don't want to
listen to records but demand emotions.
If Condoleezza Rice had apologized on behalf of the government for one
or the other failure, it would have been a great gesture. It would have also told millions who watched
it on TV that this government is a government of all Americans."
"Anger And Doubt In America"
Washington correspondent Torsten Krauel editorialized in Die
Welt of Hamburg (4/10): "The
situation is critical, also because the White House is psychologically
paralyzed. The numerous concessions and
corrections the 9/11 commission forced Bush to make emphasize that. First, it was constitutionally impossible
that Condoleezza Rice testifies, but suddenly it was feasible. First, the August 6 P.D.B. was too secret to
show it to anybody. Now, the entire
world can read it. And meanwhile
Secretary Rumsfeld corrected the Iraq strategy:
Generals now decide how many soldiers they require. And they will get what they need."
ITALY: "United States Stands At A
Marcello Foa commented in right-of-center Il
Giornale (4/12): "The date is
significant: 6 August 2001. The title
is disturbing: 'Bin Laden Determined To
Strike The United States Inside Its Territory.'... Neither the author of the report, the former
head of the anti-terrorism department at the White House, Richard Clarke, nor
the experts from the CIA had predicted the attacks of 11 September. But the document cited many intelligence
reports which were not corroborated, and which were thus of doubtful
reliability, including, specifically, one regarding the hypothesis of an attack
on a U.S. embassy using planes full of explosives. Alerts, clues, details. Bush did not know about 11 September. But he and Rice knew more about the plans of
al-Qa'ida than they have admitted to date.... But above all it risks
compromising that most precious asset of every country, one that is even more
precious for a superpower: credibility.
Today we discover a United States which continues to be motivated by
good intentions, but which suddenly is incapable of being precise and
efficient, which it had always been in the past, at crucial times. The superficiality with which Condoleezza
Rice underestimated the alerts over al-Qaida recalls the ingenuity with which
the U.S. army allowed Usama bin Laden and his Colonels to escape after the
victory in Afghanistan. And it
evokes the heedlessness with which the neo-Conservative hawks led by Defense
Secretary Rumsfeld ignored the warnings of the military planners, and of the
experts on the Middle East, concerning the difficulties of running Iraq after
the fall of Saddam Hussein.... Europe
cannot do without the alliance with the United States.... But there is no doubt that the United States
stands today at a turning point. The
mistakes over 11 September, and those over Iraq, have thus far eroded U.S.
prestige in the world, but not compromised it.
But in order to continue to maintain its leadership, the United States
needs to make a fresh start. And to get
back its former wisdom, which it has lost."
"Condoleezza Doesn’t Apologize"
Vittorio Zucconi opined in left-leaning,
influential La Repubblica (4/9):
“A wild goose chase, as the saying goes in U.S. political slang, the
expedition of the ten members of the September 11 Investigating Committee who
hoped to nail George Bush and his lies by using NSC Condi Rice as their decoy
on live television, ended up with an empty bag.… No shocking documents,
revelations or smoking guns were revealed that either confirmed or dismissed
what many thought about Bush and his underestimation of the al-Qaeda threat.…
The final judgment on this President pre and post September 11 must remain a
political one. To speculate on intentions is always very difficult and adviser
Rice succeeded in repeating that judgments given after the fact are very
speculative. Rice, and not her ten inquisitors, who had negotiated for weeks
with Bush on her deposition, came out bruise-free from the confrontation with
the commission.… Certainly, Bush and his war prophets on preventive war could
have done much more to prevent September 11.… They should have taken Clarke’s
warnings more seriously and the inevitably uncertain signs that come from
intelligence, as well as the suggestions offered by the outgoing and hated
President Clinton.… But if we want to condemn this Administration, than it must
be a political and not judicial condemnation. There will never be evidence that
Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz negligently ignored al-Qaeda to fix
themselves on the ideology of ‘export democracy.’… And Rice, who is much too
intelligent and too cynical to get herself trapped in the cages of ideology,
easily silenced her inquisitors. … Apologies, verdicts and political
condemnations are not up to her. The verdict will be issued by the American
voters who on November 2 will judge whether that day [September 11] Bush was
sleeping, or worse that he lied.”
"Condoleezza - A Day As Defendant"
Maurizio Molinari noted in centrist, influential
La Stampa (4/9): “The testimony pre-empts the line that Bush will hold
in his electoral campaign: September 11 was possible because of errors in
evaluation and coordination of intelligence and also due to the fact that in
the last 20 years none of the administrations ‘understood that terrorism had
declared war on us.’ Once the battle was over, President Bush praised the
adviser, defining her testimony as ‘extraordinary.’ But what will really count
is the verdict of the polls on the reaction of the public opinion. In a nation
which is deeply divided pro and anti-Bush, the difference will be made by
uncertain sectors of voters who will judge the only ‘I don’t remember’
pronounced by the girl who was raised in the segregation of Alabama and who
became the U.S. President’s most trusted adviser.”
"Condi And The Trench For Bush"
Caretto notes in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (4/9):
“On a formal level, Rice’s awaited deposition...was a great proof of democracy
as well as a great political show.… But in terms of substance, it didn’t
eliminate the doubts regarding the Administration’s anti-terrorism strategy
before the attacks on the Twin Towers and it left divisions in the political
forces. Called to establish if Ground Zero could have been avoided, the Commission
has brought to light another American wound. [The investigation] began as a
search for the guilty parties that perhaps don’t exist, and it has become a
painful re-examination of the war on Iraq. One year after the attack on
Baghdad, the super power runs the risk of losing the wonderful unity it
rediscovered on September 11, 2001, after the most controversial elections in
"Condoleeza Defends Bush - ‘We Couldn’t
Stop The Attack’"
Giampaolo Pioli notes in conservative,
top-circulation syndicate Il Resto del Carlino/La Nazione/Il Giorno
(4/9): “She didn’t convince the Twin Tower widows who were watching the
deposition, but she strenuously defended President Bush’s work before the
investigating committee by stating that the al-Qaida attack could not have been
avoided because there were no specific threats and there were no indications on
where and how it would have been carried out.”
"September 11 Could Not Be Avoided"
Mario Platero writes in leading business Il
Sole-24 Ore (4/9): “Yesterday
Condoleezza Rice denied that President Bush had put the fight against al-Qaida
on the back burner.... But she
clarified the positions and like the president and the vice-president of the
commission, respectively a Democrat and Republican, said ‘she contributed in
clearing things up.’ After which, everyone will remain on their positions. We
must not forget that in America this is an electoral year.”
"It Went Off Well"
Elmar Guseynov and Sergey Chirkin commented on
page one of official government-run Rossiyskaya Gazeta (4/9):
"Condoleezza Rice did not betray or let down George Bush. All who hoped to see the charming black lady
turn in her boss and friend in front of TV cameras must be disappointed. Rice's behavior was quite different from her
former colleague and White House advisor Richard Clarke's. She did not apologize for the
Administration's failure to prevent the 9/11 tragedy. Nor did she accuse George Bush Jr. of
anything.... The way the black slim
American acted is a new pledge of a continued career in U.S. big-time politics.
Bush's own political future, in large measure, depended on how well Rice would
do. For Rice herself, testifying to the
Commission was the role of a lifetime. Her reputation was on the line."
"America Benefits From Such Inquiries"
Natalia Gevorkian commented in business-oriented
Kommersant (4/9): "The U.S. President is lucky to have such a
national security advisor. With her
beside him, he must feel relatively secure.
The entire policy of the U.S. conservatives in the past four years hung
on Condoleezza Rice's testimony....
George Bush may lose the elections, of course, in spite of the worthy
public debut by his national security advisor.
But America only benefits by having its leaders account for their
actions in public. That adds a lot of
value to what is going on in Washington these days. Too bad that, looking for a model of
democracy, we, for some reason, passed up America in favor of France. Can you imagine Jacques Chirac being questioned
by an inquiry? The hell you can."
"9/11 Commission Wins"
Artur Blinov stated in centrist Nezavisimaya
Gazeta (4/9): "The very fact that a top-ranking White House official
has had to testify at open hearings, and under oath at that, is a major victory
for the Commission in its litigation with the White House."
"It Won't Help Bush"
A commentary in business-oriented Kommersant
noted (4/9): "Based on early comments, Mrs. Rice succeeded in beating off
some of the worst sallies against the Administration, but her testimony will
hardly have a great impact on public opinion which has been increasingly
disillusioned with George Bush's policies."
"It's About Morality, Not Politics"
Georgiy Bovt contended in reformist Izvestiya
(4/8): "The Bush administration
faces a severe political crisis. Even
Bush's re-election is in jeopardy....
Now that the uprising in Iraq involves the Sunnis as well as the Shiites
and there is talk about the situation getting out of control...and the leader
of the Massachusetts clan, Edward Kennedy, has called Iraq George Bush's
Vietnam, stepping up the 9/11 Commission investigation, an error in the Condoleezza
Rice's testimony, and more leaks about the President having been insincere at a
critical moment may spell a political disaster for Bush.... But then, most Americans are still not
inclined to compare Iraq to Vietnam.
Today's American society is not what it was in the 1960s and 1970s. And the taped scenes of a mob committing
atrocities over the dead bodies of Americans in Fallujah will not necessarily
help the Democrats recruit more supporters in the elections. In fact, all that
may result in undecided voters siding
with Bush. It is not so much about
support or no support for the Iraq war as about how sincere Bush and his team
are about what they do, be it Iraq or 9/11.
It is not so much politics as morality.
Bush and his people need to prove not that what they did was absolutely
right, but that, in doing it, they were honest, even if what they did was
"The Strength Of The U.S. System Lies In Its Power Of Democratic
Senior foreign editor Anneliese Rohrer commented
in centrist Die Presse (4/8):
"Despite the well-founded criticism of some aspects of U.S. foreign
policy, the American version of democracy deserves our respect.… The appearance
of Condoleezza Rice before the 9/11 Commission to testify on the political and
strategic shortfalls leading up to the September 11 attacks is seen by many as
the ultimate proof of Washington’s incompetence.… All those who’ve not only
followed Rice’s statements, but also the Commission’s seemingly endless
televised sessions in recent weeks, can only arrive at a somewhat different
view of the situation, and cannot help but regard the traditional power of
renewal of the American democracy with considerable respect. It would be
unthinkable in almost all European countries that an investigation as
politically risky as this could possibly be broadcast live on TV.… This is one
of the strengths of the U.S. political system, and Europe would be well advised
to recognize that strength even from its lofty heights of moralizing
"Rice’s Spin Cannot Hide Bush’s Negligence”
Poul Høi judged in center-right Berlingske Tidende
(4/10): “Condoleezza Rice’s star quality
on television cannot hide the fact that the Bush Administration was slow off
the mark regarding the threat posed by Al-Qaeda before September 11, 2001. On August 6, Bush received a memo
entitled: 'Bin Laden Determined to
Attack the United States'.”
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: "Credibility Gap"
The independent English-language Gulf Today
(Internet Version-WWW, 4/13):
"President George W. Bush is facing tough times ahead of the
November re-election.... The reluctant
release of a security memo by the White House backed the accusations of former
counter-terrorism czar Richard Clarke that Bush had failed to take the Al-Qaida
threats seriously.... The connection
between the war and its negative impact is yet to dawn on the American
voters. So far there has not been much
public reaction to Iraq being compared to a potential Vietnam in the making for
the U.S. ... Even the stepped up attacks by Democratic presidential aspirant
and Vietnam war veteran John Kerry could not stir the Americans to notch up
their concerns over the Iraqi conflict.
Nevertheless if the coalition casualties mount and when the U.S. allies
come under more pressure of their domestic constituencies to pull back their
troops, it might affect Washington's stance on the war that failed to discover
Saddam's alleged weapons of mass destruction.... The impact of the secret memo, released
before the Congressional commission on the Sept. 11 attacks, would sink in when
the Americans realize that bombing Iraq was White House's top priority rather
than protecting the US from Al Qaeda.
Although Bush's National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice had argued
that there was 'no silver bullet' to prevent the September 11 attacks, the Bush
administration's credibility is under shadow.
In the days ahead the politically incendiary memo could have deeper
impact if the US fails to stem the exploding vi olence in Iraq. Washington should turn the informal truce
to permanent peace with the support and participation of the Iraqi
"Rice's Historical Testimony"
Following the end of the live relay after the
Rice Testimony, Dubai's independent Al-Arabiyah Television carried an interview
with its Washington director who noted (4/8): "[The session] casts some
doubt on the ability of the current U.S. Administration to act based on recommendations
made by Richard Clarke.... Rice could not defend herself well and that the U.S.
media and Congress will raise several questions about Rice's ability to
understand the threats posed by Al-Qaida....
Rice's historical testimony will have a great impact on the credibility
of Bush and the U.S. Administration, particularly if it turns out that the 9/11
attacks were used as a pretext to wage war on Iraq.... Rice's testimony was good, but there were
some points of weakness."
"Bush In The Dock"
An editorial in the expatriate-oriented
Enlgish-language Khaleej Times asserted (4/12): "So After all, President Bush had known all along about
potent 9/11 strikes but failed to do anything about it! The Bush White House,
in an unprecedented move in American history, yesterday released a highly
sensitive document confirming the fact that the U.S. president had been
informed a month before the Sept 11 attacks that Al Qaida was all set to launch
strikes on America.... Now it is almost a certainty that in the coming days and
months when the U.S. president will face American voters in his re-election
bid, he will come under increasing fire and will be hard pressed to explain why
he failed to see the clear and present danger staring in the face.... The Bush administration had initially
dismissed the highly classified information as 'historical' in nature and
defended itself by pointing out that the document talked of a threat that had
existed for at least three years. However, the declassified memo makes it
patently clear that the terror threat was of an immediate nature. The memo also
takes the wind out of the president's security adviser Condi Rice's sails and
her argument that the White House did not have clear and specific leads that
the terrorists were targeting America....The disclosures are sure to fire up the proceedings of the
commission probing 9/11 attacks. The live proceedings of the bipartisan panel
will have a devastating impact on the U.S. presidential polls later this year.
Already under fire over the mess in Iraq, Bush will find the re-election bid a
really hard nut to crack. The Americans are not likely to forgive-and-forget
the shocking indifference and negligence on the part of Bush administration in
the run up to what is billed as a watershed in American history. And history
does not forgive the mistakes of such magnitude."
JORDAN: "The Missing Mea Culpa"
An editorial in elite independent
English-language Jordan Times stated (4/11): "The testimony of White House National
Security Adviser Condeleezza Rice to the 9/11 Commission in Washington on
Thursday may, instead of having answered the concerns of many, have raised even
more questions. The real issue was and has been, ever since the U.S.-led war
against Iraq, whether U.S. President George Bush and his key advisers were so
insistent on getting into Iraq that they glossed over the threat of terrorism
from Al Qaida against their own country.
Rice made a daring and admirable effort to defend Bush's policy on Iraq
and terrorism by suggesting that the White House, while cognisant of the
dangers of terrorism, was determined to pursue and implement a broad-based
strategy to undermine the root bases where Al Qaida had established
itself.... Yet she gave no clear answer as
to why the White House did not act on intelligence reports that Al Qaida was
determined to strike at the heart of the US. She only said that these reports
did not amplify where and how the feared terrorist attacks would be conducted.
Her response was so banal, it was insulting....
This overblown focus on Iraq has blurred the vision of U.S. policy
makers and led their country to the perilous situation it finds itself in Iraq
now. There is no denying that the mindset of the White House was so distorted
and biased on where the real and immediate danger lurked that the U.S. was left
unguarded when the terrorists struck at the World Trade Centre in New York and
the Pentagon in Washington. That fatal error of judgement has left a fire
raging out of control in Iraq. While Rice may have scored good marks for her
poise during those hours of testimony, she did little to say mea culpa on
behalf of herself, her colleagues and her boss. Had she, we might have hoped
for the beginning of more sustainable international support to help tame the
fires in Iraq and get it ready for democracy and independence."
"Sources of Information"
In her weekly column in government-owned Tishreen,
Dr. Buthaynah Sha'ban, Expatriate Affairs Minister, commented (4/11): "In her testimony before the 9/11
Commission, U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice answered a question
as to why most Arabs and Muslims are angry at the United States. Rice
essentially blamed this on the lack of reforms and political and individual
freedoms in the Middle East and said that her country is now working to advance
reforms and democracy in the region....
This answer showed that the U.S. Administration, intentionally or
unintentionally, fails to understand the essence of the problem. The treatment
it prescribes and adopts, therefore, is only makes the problem worse and more
disastrous for Arabs and Muslims on the one hand and for the Americans on the
other. The problem essentially lies in U.S. policy in the region and,
specifically, in U.S. support for Israel....
For ideological reasons, the U.S. Administration refuses to admit that
the essence of the problem is its continuous support for the Israeli occupation
of the Arab territories."
INDIA: "One Flew Over The American Nest"
An editorial in the nationalist Hindustan
Times averred (4/13): "With
each passing day, it is becoming clearer and clearer that George W. Bush and
his administration gravely underestimated the threat from al-Qaida. Newly
released documents, recently published books by former officials, and testimony
before the commission investigating the 9/11 attacks leave no room for doubt
that the Bush White House did not recognise the magnitude of the danger. It is
always easy to be wise in retrospect.
And evidence before the 9/11 commission suggests that part of the
problem was the inability of America's many intelligence agencies to work in
concert with each other. Besides, the
Bush team did not have the advantage of experience.... Two points, however, are
worth making. First: was the Bush White
House really unable to connect the dots or was it just unwilling to do so? It is worrying that officials say that the
Bush team underestimated the al-Qaida threat because it had already focused on
Iraq, to the exclusion of nearly everything else. We know now how obsessed President Bush was
with Saddam Hussein. It would be a
shame if this obsession led him to ignore intelligence that could have saved
lives. And second: were the Bush people
simply too complacent? Except for the
abortive attempt to explode bombs at the World Trade Center during the Clinton
era, most international terrorist organisations have avoided launching major
attacks on U.S. soil. When such attacks have occurred, it is domestic
organisations (far-right zealots, for instance) that have been
responsible. Could it be that President
Bush and his team treated al-Qaida as a relatively low priority because they
never dreamt that Osama bin Laden could strike within America? If so, then 9/11 should have taught the
President that terror is truly international."
"Bush in Trouble"
Widely read, owned by the Sahara Group Rashtriya
Sahara stated (4/13): "U.S.
President George Bush is facing problems from all sides. Iraqi rebels have escalated attacks on the
coalition army in Iraq.... A violent atmosphere is prevailing in the country
and obviously, Bush is being held responsible for it. Hundreds of U.S. citizens are demonstrating
before the White House demanding the end of US efforts to colonize Iraq. It shows how emotional this issue has become
in the country. Some demonstrators
defined his occupation as unjust and smacking of imperialism, whereas others
saw it as sheer madness. This public
wrath might prove to be costly for George Bush in the election year.... Apart from the Iraq issue, Bush is finding
himself in dire straits over the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United
States. In its report of 6 August 2001,
the FBI had informed him about Al-Qaida's intention of targeting U.S.
institutions. It also clearly mentioned
the possibility of planes being used in these attacks. This report has now been made public. Every U.S. citizen is bound to be baffled as
to why precautionary steps were not taken despite such an apprehension. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice
tried to blame the report for failing to give any warning. She was testifying before the commission
investigating into these attacks. But
her statement proved to be incorrect.
The FBI had drawn its conclusions given in the said reports on the basis
of findings of 73 secret investigations.
The White House will certainly find it extremely difficult to provide a
satisfactory answer for this negligence.
This issue is sure to be raised in the Presidential elections. It would be interesting to see what policy
George Bush takes in this matter."
An editorial in the left-of-center Marathi Maharashtra
Times held (4/12): "Bush
administration national security adviser Condoleezza Rice's public testimony
before the commission investigating the attacks on the World Trade Center and
the Pentagon, has added to the widespread skepticism about the preparedness of
the administration in averting the attack despite several warnings. Initially, Rice claimed that the intelligence
agencies were unaware of the possible use of airplanes in the terrorist
attacks. But when she was asked about the August 2001 secret report about the
early warnings of a possible plane hijack, she said 'there was no specific time, place or method'
mentioned in the report.... In all
fairness it must be admitted that Al Qaida had not used planes as missiles
before September 9/11. Therefore, as
Rice said, the government could, at the most, anticipate a plane hijack
followed by a conditional release of passengers, held hostage by the Al Qaida
militants. Rice said the administration could only foresee a demand for the
release of militants arrested in the 1993 attack on the World Trade
Center. The failure on the part of the
intelligence agencies in the 9/11 attacks is unambiguous. But whether Ms Rice
has spoken the entire truth is not yet clear."
An editorial in the pro-BJP right-of-center Pioneer
(4/12): "The United States's National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice,
made a valid point before the Independent Commission in the U.S. investigating
the terrorist attacks on 9/11, when she said, 'For more than 20 years the
terrorist threat gathered and America's response across several administrations
of both parties was insufficient.... The question whether an intelligence
failure led to the success of the 9/11 attacks has to be seen in this context.
While even the most foolproof intelligence system cannot prevent terrorist
outrages altogether, the success rate in foiling these are obviously higher if
the agencies concerned are alert and capable of not only collecting but also
collating and adequately interpreting intelligence gathered by an extensive
network. The U.S. had such a network and apparently there was concern in the
intelligence community about the use of airplanes prior to 9/11 but, according
to Rice it did not yield actionable intelligence. Available 'chatter' or intelligence
intercepts only threw up 'frustratingly vague' information about 'big
things'. To a large extent this was, as
Rice pointed out, due to systemic inadequacies.... Given the change in their
mood after 9/11, the U.S. needs to further tighten its own intelligence system
and act effectively to force Pakistan to deliver Osama bin Laden and Mullah
Omar besides crushing Al Qaida and Taliban remnants operating from its
Federally administered Tribal Areas. Also, it must not abandon Iraq as such a
course would give a major boost to the Al Qaida's morale."
An editorial in the center-right national
English-language Nation stated (4/10):
"The three-hour grilling of Dr. Condoleezza Rice...was a brilliant
display of democracy.... Even if many
facts remain undisclosed, the process watched on all major networks provides
the American people a fair insight into the Bush administration’s working.... Whatever 'carrot and stick'or other methods
came into play at the time is immaterial.
What is relevant is that such matters are wrapped in secrecy in
Pakistan, even after the emergence of Parliament."
"Rice's Testimony And Pakistan's
An editorial in the Lahore-based liberal
English-language Daily Times stated (4/10): "From what Ms. Rice has said, it should
be clear that Islamabad kept to its traditional policy for as long as it could,
in fact more.... Many Pakistanis may
still not be convinced. But perhaps they
should come out with it straight. When
they say that General Musharraf should not have ditched the Taliban, they are
saying that Pakistan should have instead thrown in its lot with Afghanistan and
gone down fighting. In other words,
Pakistan should have faced the wrath of America.... We are witnessing the dangerous spectacle of
Islamists who have swallowed Samuel Huntington’s thesis of the ‘Clash of
Civilizations’. They want to settle for
nothing less than an Armageddon, just like the Christian fundamentalists who
are waiting for the Second Coming of the Christ. But saner elements on all sides should join
hands to avoid the anarchy that such millenarian creeds threaten to let loose
on the world."
An editorial in the centrist national English
language News (4/10): "It is
also unfortunate that Ms. Rice would drag President Musharraf in essentially a
political arm-twisting of Mr. Bush in the election year, especially when
Pakistan is playing the role of a frontline state in furtherance of
Washington's strategic objectives in the region.... That Pakistan did not play an effective role
against Taliban prior to 9/11 attacks is only a reflection of Washington's own
policy failure towards Islamabad.... The
Bush administration must accept its failure in line with the country's
"Supporting America: A Bad Bargain,
An editorial in the center-right Urdu Pakistan
(4/10): "Giving her testimony before the 9/11 Commission, President Bush’s
National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice said that America adopted carrot and
stick policy for Pakistan and admitted that America’s tilt for India was a
strategy to pressurize Pakistan....
Pakistan has been put into docks and being pushed to wage America’s war
against the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Pakistani civilians and military men are
being killed in the fighting....
Attempts have been made on the life of the President of Pakistan. There are dangers to Pakistan’s nuclear
program and we are being blackmailed.
Our nuclear scientists are being held and investigated.... FBI is itself involved in nabbing people from
Pakistani soil and efforts are afoot to change the curricula of Pakistan
schools, so that the coming generations would not be aware of fundamental
Islamic injunctions about Jihad and other important issues. Irony of fate is that America is in danger,
it needs Pakistan’s cooperation and Pakistan instead of taking any advantage of
the situation is suffering loses. Why
did we have this bad bargain?"
“Madam Rice’s Reasoning and Explanations"
An editorial in the popular Urdu Din
(4/10): "President Bush’s National
security Advisor’s statement refers to the fact that even the most powerful
country is not beyond weaknesses and sometimes its power becomes its
weakness.... WMDs could not be recovered
from Iraq.... Madam Rice said in her
statement that the attack on Iraqi did not abate its war against terrorism.... The recent events in Iraq show that America
should try to minimize the anger and hatred against it in the Islamic
world. The present U.S. strategy has
only augmented this anger and hatred."
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
"Rice Defends Bush Administration in Damage-Control Effort"
Official English-language news service Beijing
Xinhua reported (4/8): "U.S.
National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice on Thursday stoutly defended the
Bush administration on its anti-terror strategy before the Sept. 11, 2001
attacks to counter charges that could hurt President George W. Bush's
re-election bid. In a high-profiled
public testimony before an independent commission looking into the Sept. 11
attacks, Rice said the elimination of al-Qaida
was the top priority of the Bush administration before the Sept. 11
attacks.... To rebut charges by former White
House counterterrorism aide Richard Clarke that the Bush administration did not
consider the threat of al-Qaida urgent before the Sept. 11 attacks, Rice
provided a detailed accounting of what the administration had done during its
233 days of office before the attacks....
The White House agreed to let Rice testify publicly in a major reversal
of attitude. It initially resisted
calls from the commission for Rice's public testimony, citing executive
privilege. But the White House found it
under increasing criticism from the commission, family members of 9/11 victims
and lawmakers for its refusal.... As
expected, the three-hour, sometimes-contentious testimony by Rice drew mixed
reaction, with administration officials praising her performance while others
demanding more answers. White House officials said President George W. Bush watched Rice's testimony at his ranch
in Texas and was 'very pleased' by her performance.... But relatives of the Sept. 11 attacks'
victims said Rice had failed to answer questions over why the Bush
administration had not been able to prevent the attacks, saying they wanted
more from her.... It is very natural
that the full implication of this highly-publicized event would unfold only
gradually. It can be anticipated, however,
that a political debate would follow along the party line. Republicans are
expected to use the Rice testimony to argue that the Bush administration has
taken anti-terrorism as its top priority, while Democrats are seen likely to
use the same testimony to press the Bush administration for answers to more
tough questions they would say left unanswered."
Conrado de Quiros noted in the top circulation, center-left Philippine
Daily Inquirer (4/12):
“Asked why the Bush government failed to act in a more strenuous
way on an Aug. 6 intelligence report warning of dire events to come within the
immediate future, [Condoleezza] Rice replied that she was hampered by a
‘structural flaw’ in US intelligence gathering…. One of the relatives of the victims, an
elderly man, would express the sentiments of the others when he said that he
found the excuse unacceptable.... To try
to explain the whole thing away as a ‘structural flaw!’ -- he choked at his
words and apologized for being very emotional.
But there is a ‘structural flaw’ in all this. It has nothing to do with the ‘structural
flaw’ Rice has in mind.... It has to do
with people having eyes but not the ability to see. It has to do first of all
with the people who decide war and peace seeing only the variables in their
antiseptic equations and, helped along by the formidable insulation of
bureaucratese, not the flesh and blood that take the full brunt of the
‘structural flaws’ of their calculations.
But even more than that, it is the inability of one set of victims to
see how their grief and despair are the same grief and despair that cut deep
into the hearts of others. It is the
capacity of people to see again and again the matchstick figures leaping to
their deaths from the World Trade Center but not a child's arm sticking out
from rubble that was once a home razed to the ground by a smart bomb. It is the
capacity of one people to keen like dogs over the loss of their own but to see
the entombing of others as the acceptable results of operations gone
haywire. That is the biggest structural
flaw there is. The forgetfulness that
the tears in Baghdad and Tokyo, as in New York, are the same.”
"Easy To Be Wise In Hindsight"
An editorial in the St. John's Telegram
asserted (4/14): "An Aug. 6, 2001
memo to U.S. President George W. Bush, declassified last week, outlines how
close the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation was to figuring out that Osama
bin Laden would launch attacks against that country. 'FBI information...indicates patterns of
suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings
or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal
buildings in New York,' the memo concludes.
There are those on a U.S. commission investigating the attack who now suggest
there was enough information--including the fact that there were at least 70
FBI investigations underway into suspected al-Qaida operations--that Bush and
his senior staff should have taken some action. Problem is, you can’t always
connect the dots in time. And even when you begin to connect those dots, there
can be problems with the way you draw your lines. Commercial fishermen still question whether
the reaction to the red knot population decline is out of proportion to the
amount of detail the scientific community has about the bird. And anyone who
might have suggested the sweeping personal privacy restrictions that would have
been needed to stop the 9/11 attacks before they occurred would probably have
been unable to successfully make that case to the U.S. public. Without the
experience of the 9/11 attacks, there probably would have been few Americans
willing to suffer even a handful of the legion of limitations that have since
been piled on travellers, let alone the constitutional concerns over the
possibility of arbitrary detention....
About the best thing you can say about the latest information from the
investigation into the 9/11 attacks is that U.S. intelligence services were
tantalizingly close to catching a few eels of their own."
"The 9/11 Blame Game"
A comment in Toronto's conservative National Post held
(Internet Version-WWW. 4/8): "Much
hoopla surrounds this morning's testimony from U.S. National Security Advisor
Condoleezza Rice.... And after initially
opposing her appearance before the commission on the basis of executive
privilege, the White House decided to change course. That was the right call -- for Ms. Rice's
testimony today will help debunk the accusation that the White House has
something scandalous to hide. It is unlikely, however, that any
earth-shattering disclosures will emerge....
This whole blame game has become increasingly tiresome. For all of the partisan
bickering about who knew and did what prior to the Sept. 11 terror attacks,
neither side is in a position to cast stones. There is no point in Ms. Rice
claiming she and the Bush administration did everything possible to combat
terrorism prior to 9/11. They didn't. And neither did the Clinton
administration. No one did. As we now know, the 1990s served up plenty of
clues about what al-Qaeda was planning. A variety of airplane-relating
terrorist schemes were disrupted in Europe and Asia, including one that
involved ramming an airplane into the Eiffel Tower. And in the summer of 2001,
intelligence data suggested al-Qaeda would try to strike U.S. soil. But few in Washington took the warnings
seriously. Up till 9/11, Islamist terrorism was seen as a far-away phenomenon
-- the recent attacks had taken place in obscure spots such as Yemen, Kenya,
Tanzania and Saudi Arabia. Certainly, the idea of an attack against the United
States on the scale of Sept. 11 was seen by most as science fiction.... If there is one lesson to be learned from
9/11 it is that there is no barbarism to which terrorists in general, and
militant Islamists in particular, will not stoop in their war against
'infidels.' Three thousand people paid with their lives so this lesson might be
learned. Rather than assigning blame for the tragedy, Washington's partisans
should focus on ensuring such an atrocity is never repeated."
ARGENTINA: "Big FBI Mistakes Before The September 11 Attacks
Jorge Rosales, Washington-based correspondent for daily-of-record La
Nacion commented (4/14): "The FBI bluntly failed in thwarting the
September 11 attacks...because it was in the middle of an inward confrontation
on how to face a terrorist threat, it had limited intelligence, little
strategic analysis and it acted on bureaucratic inertia. This was the blunt
conclusion of the independent commission investigating the September 11 attacks
regarding the performance of the FBI and the CIA. The two of them are likely to
become the scapegoat of the Bush administration amid the heavy criticism it
faces on its performance prior to the September 11 attacks. The Republican
leader is going through one of the toughest moments of his administration since
the September 11 attacks, and his reelection...starts to be in doubt. The
chaotic post-war scenario in Iraq and the revelations of his administration
overlooking a terrorist threat have placed Bush on the defensive and in search
for a shortcut in order to get out of t
he crossroads. Perhaps this is why the
Republican president has said this is the right moment to overhaul the FBI and
CIA, a demand Bush ignored last year, when the Congress made a request on
this.... The truth is that the Bush administration has not made a decision on
what to do with the FBI and the CIA. But it feels they should be overhauled in
order to get out of this difficult situation."
"News Of The
Marcelo Cantelmi, international editor of
leading Clarin, wrote (4/11): "Complications are increasingly huge.
The Republican administration has long been questioned due to the non-existence
of the arsenal that justified the war in Iraq.
According to the official story, this conflict was all made up as a
prior step to the beneficent reorganization of the whole Middle East. Today there are no WMD, of course. But the
scenario is hellish, and war is not only far from its end but it is getting
worse. To this menu of problems, one should add the revelation that the
government had some kind of previous information on the September 11 attacks.
Perhaps, if it had made use of this information, it could have stopped the
worst terrorist attack in the U.S. history. But the suspicion that it did not
understand the evidence, or -even worse- that it underestimated it, is
An editorial in center-right O Globo averred (4/13): “Since
September 11 the White House has been trying to convince American voters that
President Bush has the profile of an ideal warrior to lead the U.S. in times of
crisis. But, well-founded denunciations
such as that of former Advisor Richard Clarke and documents made public upon
demands from Congress strengthen suspicions that the Bush Administration did
not do all it could to prevent the attacks in New York and Washington. At this rate--even if it's discounted as a
scheme of the opposition -- when the November elections come there won’t be
anything left of the resolute Commander-in-Chief’s reputation, laboriously
constructed by the Republican hawks. The
great question is to know the effect it will have at the polls.”
An editorial in center-left Jornal do Brasil
noted (4/10): “The Americans went to war based on false information.... The panorama in Iraq is obscure. It seems to lead the country to an extremely
volatile situation, with unpredictable consequences to Iraq, the Middle East
and the world. And the recent speech by the Security Council Adviser,
Condoleezza Rice before the independent committee in charge of investigating
the 9/11 attacks doesn’t change anything in this scenario. It is necessary now to find a way to
eliminate the distrust in relation to the project with inspections that do not
expose the industrial, technological secrets obtained by the country with great
"9/11 Wasted Opportunity"
A regular columnist for fourth largest and
conservative La Nacion commented (4/11): “The 9/11 Commission wasted the
best opportunity it has had up to now to learn exactly what happened in the
White House before and after the fateful terrorist attacks. No doubt, Condoleezza Rice knows what is
really going on, but the advisor came
out without a single scratch from her appearance Thursday in Washington.… I
believe that Republicans and all those who feel comfortable with the
unnecessary death of American soldiers in Iraq must feel proud of the
appearance of Ms. Rice.… The lies which some call discrepancies, could have
been cleared up, or even better, confirmed, [but] the commissioners were happy
with her tale.”
NIGERIA: "America And Iraq: The Seeds Of
Lagos-based independent New Age editorialized (4/14):
"It is all very well for the Bush administration to put a positive spin on
rapidly unfolding events and for Secretary of State, Colin Powell to say
America would not cut and run from Iraq, but there is no disputing the fact
that the American occupation is turning into a very bloody quagmire.... The 9/11 commission in Washington would do
well to take this factor into consideration as well as how officials worked to
the answer, looking for facts and evidence to justify the goals and policies of
the administration, in this case, the determination to invade Iraq.... Even then, the U.S. would not be in its
present predicament if it was perceived to have been governed by good faith and
a fairness of approach to all parties in the Middle East."