White House Offers Public Rice Testimony on 9/11
Published on Tuesday, March 30, 2004 by Reuters
White House Offers Public Rice Testimony on 9/11
 

WASHINGTON - The White House reversed itself on Tuesday and offered to have national security adviser Condoleezza Rice testify publicly under oath about the Sept. 11 attacks before the 9-11 commission.

The White House released a letter to the independent commission from legal counsel Alberto Gonzalez outlining the offer. It also said it would make President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney available to speak before a joint private session of the full panel.

Both offers were on condition that they would not set a precedent under the constitutional separation of executive and legislative powers, an administration official said.

The offers follow bombshell allegations from former White House counter-terrorism czar Richard Clarke that Bush and his top aides ignored an urgent threat from al Qaeda in the months before the attacks on New York and Washington.

The 10-member bipartisan commission investigating the hijacked airliner attacks had unanimously requested that Rice testify publicly and under oath. Bush had previously insisted on meeting privately with only the chairman and vice chairman of the panel.

Up to now, White House lawyers have claimed executive privilege and refused to let Rice testify publicly based on a long-standing position that presidential advisers who have not been confirmed by the U.S. Senate cannot give public testimony.

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