US had no knowledge of 9/11 attacks: Rice
By Khalid Hasan
WASHINGTON: Ms Condoleezza Rice, national security adviser, testifying under oath before the commission investigating 9/11 attacks, said Thursday that the administration had no knowledge of any plot to use aircraft as weapons of destruction.
She said there was “no silver bullet” that could have averted the attacks.
She said the President “never pushed anybody to twist the facts,” when asked if he had pushed Dick Clark to find a link between the Taliban’s Afghanistan and Iraq. Answering a question about the 9/11 attacks and if they could have been prevented, she replied that the inability to “connect the dots was structural.” The massive organizational changes made since 9/11, she later explained, was how the US decided it was going to deal with terrorism. She said intelligence obtained from foreign and domestic sources was not shared. Today, there was one single centre where all the information that was needed to fight terrorism was available.
On Pakistan, the national security adviser said in her prepared statement that she read out before answering questions, “Integrating our counterterrorism and regional strategies was the most difficult and the most important aspect of the new strategy to get right. Al-Qaida was both client of and patron to the Taliban, which in turn was supported by Pakistan. Those relationships provided al-Qaida with a powerful umbrella of protection, and we had to sever them. This was not easy. Not that we hadn’t tried. Within a month of taking office, President Bush sent a strong, private message to President Musharraf urging him to use his influence with the Taliban to bring bin Laden to justice and to close down al-Qaida training camps. Secretary Powell actively urged the Pakistanis, including Musharraf himself, to abandon support for the Taliban. I met with Pakistan’s foreign minister in my office in June of 2001. I delivered a very tough message, which was met with a rote, expressionless response. America’s al-Qaida policy wasn’t working because our Afghanistan policy wasn’t working. And our Afghanistan policy wasn’t working because our Pakistan policy wasn’t working. We recognized that America’s counterterrorism policy had to be connected to our regional strategies and to our overall foreign policy.”
In answer to a question, she said,“It takes some time to decide how to reorient your policy towards Pakistan.” She said the US strategy in Afghanistan which was centred around the Northern Alliance, if not changed, would have created a huge problem with Pakistan.
Asked about Muslim disenchantment with and hatred for the United States and what the US was planning to do about it, she replied that it was a “generational challenge” and “we would not see success on our watch”, but in the Middle East itself there were signs of change, especially in Bahrain and Jordan. She admitted that in the past Washington had paid little attention to “the freedom deficit” in the region, indicating that the US had changed that policy. She said reform was going to be a slow process and the one of the items on the US agenda was the reform of the Madrassas. She referred at this point to Pakistan’s education minister, without naming her, as “that wonderful woman” with whom she had discussed educational reform. She said these countries would have to do it themselves, adding, “but we have to stand by them.”