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Rice Disputes, Contradicts Cheney on Wednesday

a little cog diss there, Condi?

heh, heh - get your Petroleum Executive stories straight . . .
Condeleezza Rice disputes comment by vice president

New York Times
Mar. 25, 2004 12:00 AM

WASHINGTON - It is a strange occurrence in Washington when members of the well-ordered Bush White House publicly disagree with each other, but it happened on Wednesday.

Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, took exception to Vice President Dick Cheney's assertion that Richard A. Clarke, the administration's former counterterrorism chief, was "out of the loop."

On the contrary, Rice said, Clarke was very much involved in the administration's fight against terrorism.

"I would not use the word 'out of the loop,' " Rice told reporters in response to a question about whether she considered it a problem that the administration's counterterrorism chief was not deeply involved "in a lot of what was going on," as Cheney said on Monday in an interview on Rush Limbaugh's radio program.

homepage: homepage: http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/0325rice-loop.html
address: address: The New York Times

In Rush to Defend White House, Rice Trips Over Own Words 26.Mar.2004 14:46

Walter Pincus and Dana Milbank

Posted on Friday, March 26 @ 10:12:40 EST

Washington -- This week's testimony and media blitz by former White House counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke has returned unwanted attention to his former boss, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice.

The refusal by President Bush's top security aide to testify publicly before the commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks elicited rebukes by commission members as they held open hearings this week. Thomas Kean, the former New Jersey governor Bush named to be chairman of the commission, said: "I think this administration shot itself in the foot by not letting her testify in public."

At the same time, some of Rice's rebuttals of Clarke's broadside against Bush, which she delivered in a flurry of media interviews and statements rather than in testimony, contradicted other administration officials and her own previous statements.

Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage contradicted Rice's claim that the White House had a strategy before Sept. 11 for military operations against al Qaeda and the Taliban. The CIA contradicted Rice's earlier assertion that Bush had requested a CIA briefing in the summer of 2001 because of elevated terrorist threats. And Rice's assertion this week that Bush had told her on Sept. 16, 2001, that "Iraq is to the side" appeared to be contradicted by an order signed by Bush on Sept. 17 directing the Pentagon to begin planning military options for an invasion of Iraq.

Rice, in turn, has contradicted Vice President Dick Cheney's assertion that Clarke was "out of the loop" and his intimation that Clarke had been demoted. Rice has also given various conflicting accounts. She criticized Clarke for being the architect of failed Clinton administration policies, but also said she had retained Clarke so the Bush administration could continue to pursue Clinton's terrorism policies.

National Security Council spokesman Sean McCormack defended many of Rice's assertions, saying that she had been more consistent than Clarke.

Rice so far has refused to provide testimony under oath to the commission that could possibly resolve the contradictions. Wednesday night, she told reporters, "I would like nothing better in a sense than to be able to go up and do this, but I have a responsibility to maintain what is a long-standing constitutional separation between the executive and the legislative branch."

The White House, reacting to the public relations difficulties caused by the refusal to allow Rice's testimony, asked the commission Thursday to give Rice another opportunity to speak privately with panel members to address "mischaracterizations of Dr. Rice's statements and positions."

Democratic commission member Richard Ben-Veniste disclosed this week that Rice had asked, in her private meetings with the commission, to revise a statement she made publicly that "I don't think anybody could have predicted that those people could have taken an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center ... that they would try to use an airplane as a missile." Rice told the commission that she had misspoken; the commission has received information that prior to Sept. 11, U.S. intelligence agencies, and Clarke, had talked about terrorists using airplanes as missiles.

In an op-ed essay Monday in the Washington Post, Rice wrote that "through the spring and summer of 2001, the national security team developed a strategy to eliminate" al Qaeda that included "sufficient military options to remove the Taliban regime" including the use of ground forces.

But Armitage, testifying this week as the White House representative, said the military part was not in the plan before Sept. 11. "I think that was amended after the horror of 9/11," he said. McCormack said Rice's statement was accurate because the team had discussed including orders for such military plans to be drawn up.

In the same article, Rice belittled Clarke's proposals by writing: "The president wanted more than a laundry list of ideas simply to contain al Qaeda or 'roll back' the threat. Once in office, we quickly began crafting a comprehensive new strategy to 'eliminate' the al Qaeda network." Rice asserted that while Clarke and others provided ideas, "No al Qaeda plan was turned over to the new administration." That same day, she said most of Clarke's ideas "had been already tried or rejected in the Clinton administration."

But in her interview with NBC two days later, Rice appeared to take a different view of Clarke's proposals. "He sent us a set of ideas that would perhaps help to roll back al Qaeda over a three- to five-year period; we acted on those ideas very quickly. And what's very interesting is that ... Dick Clarke now says that we ignored his ideas, or we didn't follow them up."

Asked about this apparent discrepancy, McCormack pointed a reporter to a Clarke background briefing in 2002 in which the then-White House aide was defending the president's efforts in fighting terrorism.

Reprinted from The San Francisco Chronicle: