Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Condi meeting did happen.

Politics: Just not the way everyone remember it and the 9/11 commission are some forgetful people. The democrat Ben-Veniste has to back off when the facts came in and it does contradict Woodward's take on the meeting. October 1st(NYTIMES):

WASHINGTON, Oct. 2 — Members of the Sept. 11 commission said today that they were alarmed that they were told nothing about a White House meeting in July 2001 at which George J. Tenet, then the director of central intelligence, is reported to have warned Condoleezza Rice, then the national security adviser, about an imminent Al Qaeda attack and failed to persuade her to take action. Details of the previously undisclosed meeting on July 10, 2001, two months before the Sept. 11 terror attacks, were first reported last week in a new book by the journalist Bob Woodward. The final report from the Sept. 11 commission made no mention of the meeting nor did it suggest there had been such an encounter between Mr. Tenet and Ms. Rice, now secretary of state. Since release of the book, “State of Denial,” the White House and Ms. Rice have disputed major elements of Mr. Woodward’s account, with Ms. Rice insisting through spokesmen that there had been no such exchange in a private meeting with Mr. Tenet and that he had expressed none of the frustration attributed to him in Mr. Woodward’s book. “It really didn’t match Secretary Rice’s recollection of the meeting at all,” said Dan Bartlett, counselor to President Bush, in an interview on the CBS News program “Face the Nation.” “It kind of left us scratching our heads because we don’t believe that’s an accurate account,” he said. ....In interviews Saturday and today, commission members said they were never told about the meeting despite hours of public and private questioning with Ms. Rice, Mr. Tenet and Mr. Black, much of it focused specifically on how the White House had dealt with terrorist threats in the summer of 2001. “None of this was shared with us in hours of private interviews, including interviews under oath, nor do we have any paper on this,” said Timothy J. Roemer, a Democratic member of the commission and a former House member from Indiana. “I’m deeply disturbed by this. I’m furious.” Another Democratic commissioner, former Watergate prosecutor Richard Ben-Veniste, said that the staff of the Sept. 11 commission was polled in recent days on the disclosures in Mr. Woodward’s book and agreed that the meeting “was never mentioned to us.” “This is certainly something we would have wanted to know about,” he said, referring to the July 10, 2001, meeting. He said he had attended the commission’s private interviews with both Mr. Tenet and Ms. Rice and had pressed “very hard for them to provide us with everything they had regarding conversations with the executive branch” about terrorist threats before the Sept. 11 attacks.
October 3rd(Washington Post):
Former CIA director George Tenet told the 9/11 Commission that he had warned of an imminent threat from al-Qaeda in a July 2001 meeting with Condoleezza Rice, adding that he believed Rice took the warning seriously, according to a transcript of the interview and the recollection of a commissioner who was there. Tenet's statements to the commission in January 2004 confirm the outlines of an event in a new book by Washington Post Assistant Managing Editor Bob Woodward that has been disputed by some Bush administration officials. But the testimony also is at odds with Woodward's depiction of Tenet and former CIA counterterrorism chief J. Cofer Black as being frustrated that "they were not getting through to Rice" after the July 10, 2001, meeting. Rice angrily rejected those assertions yesterday, saying that it was "incomprehensible" that she would have ignored such explicit intelligence from senior CIA officials and that she received no warning at the meeting of an attack within the United States. Rice acknowledged that the White House was receiving a "steady stream of quite alarmist reports of potential attacks" during that period, but said the targets were assumed to be in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Israel and Jordan. "What I am quite certain of, however, is that I would remember if I was told -- as this account apparently says -- that there was about to be an attack in the United States," Rice said. "The idea that I would somehow have ignored that I find incomprehensible."
The commissioners did a 180.
Members of the commission -- an independent, bipartisan panel created by Congress to investigate the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks -- have said for days that they were not told about the July 10 meeting and were angry at being left out. As recently as yesterday afternoon, both commission chairman Thomas H. Kean and vice chairman Lee Hamilton said they believed the panel had not been told about the July 10 meeting. But it turns out that the panel was, in fact, told about the meeting, according to the interview transcript and Democratic commission member Richard Ben-Veniste, who sat in on the interview with Tenet. The meeting was not identified by the July 10 date in the commission's best-selling report. Rice added to the confusion yesterday by strongly suggesting that the meeting may never have occurred at all -- even though administration officials had conceded for several days that it had. A State Department spokesman said later that while the meeting definitely happened, Rice and Tenet disputed Woodward's characterization of her response.
As for the attack happening in America at the July 10th meeting. No.
At one point in the lengthy session, Tenet recalled a briefing he was given on July 10 by Black and his staff, according to the transcript. He said the information was so important that he quickly called for a car and telephoned Rice to arrange for a White House meeting to share what he had just learned, according to the transcript and Ben-Veniste. According to the transcript, Tenet told Rice there were signs that there could be an al-Qaeda attack in weeks or perhaps months, that there would be multiple, simultaneous attacks causing major human casualties, and that the focus would be U.S. targets, facilities or interests. But the intelligence reporting focused almost entirely on the attacks occurring overseas, Tenet told the commission. It was at this session that Tenet said "the system was blinking red," which became a chapter title in the commission report, according to the official who saw the transcript. According to three people present at the session, including Ben-Veniste, Tenet believed that Rice responded seriously to what she had been told. "We particularly questioned him about whether he had the sense that Dr. Rice and the others on the White House side understood the gravity of what he was telling them," said Ben-Veniste, a former Watergate prosecutor. "He said that they believed that they did. . . . We asked him further whether Dr. Rice just shrugged this off, and he said he did not have such an impression." Ben-Veniste's comments seem to contradict his own remarks over the weekend to the New York Times, in which he said that "the meeting was never mentioned to us." Ben-Veniste said yesterday that there was confusion between two different meetings and that the meeting described by Tenet is different in character from the one portrayed by Woodward.
One of three things. Everyone but Woodward is lying. Woodward got it wrong from his own point of view. There were two meetings on that same day which at this point seems impossible.

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