The U.S.'s National Security Advisor appeared before the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks last week. Here's how she scored.
"We decided immediately to continue pursuing the Clinton administration's covert action authorities and other efforts to fight the network."
In the months before 9/11, the U.S. Justice Department curtailed a highly classified program called Catcher's Mitt to monitor al Qaeda suspects in the U.S. (Newsweek). (And) though Predator drones spotted Osama bin Laden as many as three times in late 2000, the Bush administration did not fly the unmanned planes over Afghanistan during its first eight months, terminating the reconnaissance missions started under Clinton (Associated Press).
"We bolstered the Treasury Department's activities to track and seize terrorist assets."
The Bush administration opposed Clinton-backed efforts by the G7 and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that targeted countries with loose banking regulations being abused by terrorist financiers (Age Of Sacred Terror, by Daniel Benjamin, Steven Simon, former director and former senior director for counterterrorism, National Security Council).
"We moved quickly to arm Predator unmanned surveillance vehicles for action against al Qaeda."
The military successfully tested an armed Predator throughout the first half of 2001, but the White House failed to resolve a debate over whether the CIA or Pentagon should operate the aircraft, and the armed Predator never got off the ground before 9/11 (Associated Press).
"We increased funding for counterterrorism activities across several agencies."
Upon taking office, the 2002 Bush budget proposed to slash more than half a billion dollars from funding for counterterrorism at the Justice Department. In preparing the 2003 budget, Bush did not endorse FBI requests for $58 million for 149 new counterterrorism field agents, 200 intelligence analysts and 54 additional translators, and proposed a $65 million cut for the program that gives state and local counterterrorism grants (New York Times). The administration also vetoed a request to divert $800 million from missile defence into counterterrorism (Newsweek).
"While we were developing this new strategy to deal with al Qaeda, we also made decisions on a number of specific anti-al Qaeda initiatives that had been proposed by Dick Clarke (counterterrorism coordinator for Clinton)."
Rice's statement finally confirms what she previously - and inaccurately - denied. She falsely claimed in March that "no al Qaeda plan was turned over to the new administration" (Washington Post).
"When threat reporting increased during the spring and summer of 2001, we moved the U.S. government at all levels to a high state of alert and activity."
Documents indicate that before 9/11, the Bush administration did not give terrorism top billing in its strategic plans for the Justice Department. General Henry H. Shelton, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff until October 1, 2001, has said that terrorism had moved "farther to the back burner" and recounted how the Bush administration's top two Pentagon appointees, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz, "shut down" a plan to weaken the Taliban (Washington Post).
"The threat reporting that we received in the spring and summer of 2001 was not specific as to... manner of attack."
On August 6, 2001, the president personally received a one-and-a-half-page briefing advising him that Osama bin Laden was capable of a major strike against the U.S. and that the plot could include the hijacking of an American airplane. Rice herself actually admitted this, saying the August 6 briefing said "terrorists might attempt to hijack a U.S. aircraft" (ABC, NBC).