Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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Rice to testify today

National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice is scheduled to testify Thursday at 9 a.m. before the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States.

Rice will make a 20-minute opening statement followed by questioning from 10 panel members, made up of both Democrats and Republicans. Her testimony will last for two-and-a-half hours and is expected to be comprised mostly of rebutting allegations that President Bush failed to confront terrorism before the Sept. 11 attacks.

Major broadcast news networks will break away from their regular daytime programming to cover Rice’s testimony.

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Kenneth Mayer, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin, said the purpose of Rice’s testimony in front of the 9/11 Commission is to investigate what intelligence or policy failures led up to the 9/11 attacks.

The Bush Administration spent weeks refusing to allow Rice to give a public testimony under oath. But after enduring a barrage of criticism, the president finally agreed to allow Rice to publicly testify.

Rice’s testimony is part of a response to allegations made two weeks ago on Bush’s policies prior to 9/11 by the former counterterrorism chief, Richard A. Clarke. Clarke maintained he warned the White House about al Qaeda and was ignored by the administration. The panel is likely to focus on accusations that the Bush Administration focused too much on Iraq and not on al Qaeda prior to Sept. 11.

Mayer said it is unusual for a senior presidential advisor like Rice to testify before a commission.

“There’s a lot riding on her testimony and there’s a lot at stake,” he said.

Mayer also said Rice’s testimony today is her first public interview under oath, which could potentially reveal information that has not already been exposed in previous interviews.

“People will try to explore the differences between what she said before and what she says today,” he said.

Mayer said Rice’s testimony is in the country’s best interest because it is vital that there be public accountability in government advising and decision-making.

“It’s important that people have confidence that the problems that allowed 9/11 and the holes in our security system and national security strategy that allowed this to happen have been addressed,” he said.

In the coming weeks, President Bush and Vice President Cheney will also testify in front of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. Their testimony, however, will be behind closed doors and not under oath.

With the presidential elections approaching, Rice has said she plans to relinquish her duties as national security advisor. Nevertheless, at the end of Bush’s term, Rice will still be a candidate for a Cabinet post if the president is re-elected in November, prompting some observers to suggest Rice’s testimony could affect her future.

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