Rice’s testimony is the right decision

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 17, 2004

President Bush made the right decision in allowing National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice to testify, under oath and in public, before the commission investigating the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

But the decision wasn’t made until after weeks of pressure, most of it political, on the Bush administration.

Bush’s reasoning for having Rice not testify was executive privilege, noting that his closest advisers needed to know they could keep their conversations with the president confidential.

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That would be sound reasoning except under extraordinary circumstances, and the biggest terrorist attacks on U.S. soil certainly qualify as extraordinary circumstances.

And the Bush administration’s insistence on that executive privilege was beginning to ring hollow, considering how many TV appearances Rice made and newspaper op-ed pieces she wrote.

Moreover, Bush allies in Congress have been seeking to make public classified testimony made by former administration official Richard Clarke, whose accusations about the White House’s actions before Sept. 11 have been among the most critical.

Republicans and Democrats on the Sept. 11 commission were requesting Rice’s public testimony; for them, it was not a partisan issue. They need to know all of the facts &045;&045; and they know that the public, as well, deserves to know as much as it can.

By dragging their feet in responding to the Sept. 11 commission’s request, the Bush White House turned this into a political issue on its own &045;&045; a political issue that has come back to haunt them in recent days.