WASHINGTON — The chairman of the national commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks outlined his strategy Sunday for questioning national security adviser Condoleezza Rice when she appears for public testimony on Thursday.
Tom Kean, the former Republican governor of New Jersey, told NBC’s "Meet the Press" that the commission would probe Rice for any contradictions between her recollection of the Bush administration’s anti-terrorism policymaking process and those of former national security council counterterrorism aide Richard Clarke.
Rice will be before the committee for 2 1/2hours, "as long a session as we’ve had with any witness," Kean said.
"We want to know what she heard and what she knew, and of course what differences there may be between her, Mr. Clarke and a number of other people we’ve heard," Kean said.
Kean said the commission and the White House plan to have a final report finished and available to the public by July, but he acknowledged in response to questions from NBC’s Tim Russert that he could not guarantee a release date. The White House will review the report to protect intelligence sources and methods, a process that could be time-consuming.
"This is one of the big remaining obstacles, for us to get the report declassified," Hamilton said.
He insisted, however, that "we’re not going to let them distort our report."
Kean and other commission members who made the rounds of Sunday morning talk shows emphasized that the commission was united and determined to produce a report that would apportion blame equally among all of those who are responsible — and make all necessary policy recommendations.
Still, there was an echo of last week’s partisan feuding over Clarke’s testimony when former Navy Secretary John Lehman, a Republican, and former Sen. Bob Kerrey, a Democrat, appeared on CBS’ "Face the Nation."
Lehman said Clarke was "not credible now, because he’s chosen up political sides, and he’s retelling history in the light of where we are in the campaign today and what sells his books, in my judgment."
Kerrey responded that "nobody who knows Dick Clarke could say anything other than this guy’s a pile-driver when it comes to terrorism. That’s all he cared about morning, noon and nighttime, too."