Condoleezza Rice on Homeland Security
Secretary of State
A: We got a list of policy initiatives from the Clinton administration; we acted on those policy initiatives We felt that we were not in a position to have a comprehensive strategy that would not just roll back al Qaeda--which had been the policy of the Clinton administration--but we needed a strategy to eliminate al Qaeda. And we put that work into motion. And, in fact, that produced a comprehensive strategy several weeks before 9/11. The fact is that the country was not on war footing about al Qaeda and terrorism until after September 11th.
Q: But do you think that you or the administration made any mistakes, any misjudgments between the inauguration and 9/11?
A: We were discussing the threat spike that took place between June and July, to try and figure out how to respond. But everything pointed to an attack abroad.
A: We are still safer today because we have an umbrella of intelligence and law enforcement worldwide. So we are safer, but not yet safe. And we're going t have to continue to pursue this war aggressively. The one thing that we have to be very careful about as a country is to not lose sight of one of the things that hurt us most, was not knowing and not having light on what was going on inside the country with al Qaeda. There's been a lot written about the fact that the CIA and the FBI were not sharing information. Well, in large part, they were by tradition and culture and legally not able to share and collect intelligence information in the way that might have helped to keep us safe. The Patriot Act, which the President has now gotten through Congress, is doing precisely that. So we've a lot more tools now than we had before. But no one should think that this war on terrorism is by any means over.
Rice looked skeptical. She focused on the fact that my office staff was large by NSC standards (12 people) and did operational things, including domestic security issues. She said, "The NSC looks just as it did when I worked here a few years ago, except for your operation. It's all new. It does domestic things, and it is not just doing policy. I'm not sure we want to keep all of this in the NSC."
A: This is being worked out between the U.S. government and the British government. Britain is a friend, and so we're going to be open and transparent with Britain about what's going on here. I think we have to remember, these people were picked up for terrorism and so that has to be kept in mind. But both the treatment of them, which is in accordance with the standards of the Geneva Convention, and also the very careful process that the military commission sets up to try to deal with, and balance the concerns of national security with due process, those are being discussed with the British government and I'm sure will be fine.
We cannot afford a 50 year commitment in the Balkans. We cannot afford a 20 year commitment in the Balkans. And so finding ways to deal with those issues [is an important area of discussion with Europe and NATO]. And it is not just West Europe, by the way, I mean the Australians stepped up to the plate in East Timor. But we had to give them a lot of help.
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Republican Presidential Nominee:
Sen. Sam Brownback(KS)
Gov. Jeb Bush(FL)
Rep. Newt Gingrich(GA)
Mayor Rudy Giuliani(NYC)
Gov. Bobby Jindal(LA)
Secy. Condi Rice(CA)
Gov. Mark Sanford(SC)
Sen. Fred Thompson(TN)
Secy. Tommy Thompson(WI)
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