Untruths from Condie Rice and Scott McClellan

by Brendan Lalor

The stream of misinformation from the White House continues to flow. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice stated in testimony before the 9/11 Commission that

RICE: … [the August 6 Presidential Daily Brief] did not warn of attacks inside the United States. It was historical information based on old reporting. There was no new threat information. And it did not, in fact, warn of any coming attacks inside the United States.

As Lerxst points out, she later appeared to contradict her crucial “old reporting” claim:

KEAN: This is the last question, Senator.

KERREY: Actually it won’t be a question. In the spirit of further declassification, this is what the August 6th memo said to the president: that the FBI indicates patterns of suspicious activity in the United States consistent with preparations for hijacking. That’s the language of the memo that was briefed to the president on the 6th of August.

RICE: And that was checked out and steps were taken through FAA circulars to warn of hijackings …

So, in other words, the August 6 PDB did contain more than “historical information,” and was the basis of action?

For more, see the Center for American Progress report on Rice’s opening statement.

In a related case of misinformation, White House spokesman Scott McClellan claimed that “only five members showed up” for Rice’s previous, private testimony before the Commission. As Mimi Hall pointed out in USA Today,

What McClellan didn’t tell reporters was that on Nov. 21 — long before Rice met with the five commissioners in February — the White House counsel’s office had sent the commission a letter saying no more than three commissioners could attend meetings with White House aides of Rice’s rank.

Given that demand, “we are a little surprised that the White House has repeatedly implied to the public that commissioners were uninterested in attending these meetings,” commission spokesman Al Felzenberg said Tuesday.

Commissioner Jamie Gorelick, who did not attend the interview with Rice on Feb. 7, said she finds it “infuriating” that the White House would insinuate commissioners shirked their duty and didn’t have a right to press for more time with Rice. “That’s hooey,” she said.

Although it does not require much effort to ascertain that this Administration is systematically disingenuous and dishonest, a Zogby International poll from early April has 56% of likely voters rating their views of Bush as “favorable.” Could it be that we Americans are not, on the whole, willing to put in the effort to form accurate opinions about matters of the gravest importance to those who prefer democracy to oligarchy or tyranny? Shame on us.

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