Opinion

What Condoleezza Rice should have said to America

“I am the National Security Advisor to the President of the United States, and as such I am ultimately responsible for all breaches of this nation’s security. On Sept. 11, 2001, a hostile and clandestine terrorist force who had trained diligently for perhaps years, commandeered four commercial airliners and initiated a ruthless aerial attack on at least three of our national landmark institutions: the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and an intended third target that can be conjectured to be either the White House or the Capitol building (fortunately unsuccessfully). The attacks met with devastating results, and their aftermath has altered our way of life and the collective national psyche. No longer can we ignore the slightest of threats or assume that we are at all times safe.

Still, the questions that no doubt trouble the nation are based on what, if anything, could have prevented the attacks.

Members of the commission, by now you have before you information that suggests that there was advance warning of a terrorist attack and that the administration, of which I hold the highest of national security positions, acted lethargically. This is true. There are allegations that the two critical agencies, the FBI and the CIA, had advance and indicative intelligence information that suggested pending terrorist threats. This is also true. There is thought among many enlightened members of this commission that, had this information been properly handled and had not the virus of bureaucratic self-importance and governmental hubris afflicted us all at many levels, well, we would not be having these hearings. This, I’m afraid, is also true. In response, air, sea and ground forces of our military have all but eliminated those who conspired to undertake these cowardly deeds. I take some solace in those facts.

Still, I am the National Security Advisor, and all I can say that would be of any significance right now is that I am profoundly sorry and that I hope all of us in higher office never forget the following: ‘Evil triumphs when good men stand by and do nothing.’ Now, Senator, what is your first question?”

Octavio Ramos can be contacted at o.ramos@umiami.edu.

April 16, 2004

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