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Public Testimony Before 9/11 Panel

pp. 42-83

Published: March 23, 2004 by The New York Times

WASHINGTON, March 23 - Following is the the transcript of public testimony from four high-ranking officials from the Bush and Clinton administrations before the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks, as recorded by Federal News Service.

MARCH 23, 2004






(Page 42 of 83)

ZELIKOW: The president approved their recommendation on that target while choosing not to proceed with the strike on the other target in Sudan, a business believed to be owned by bin Laden. DCI Tenet and National Security Advisor Berger told us that. Based on what they know today, they still believe they made the right recommendation and that the president made the right decision. We have encountered no dissenters among his top advisers. This strike was launched on August 20th. The missiles hit their intended targets, but neither bin Laden or any other terrorist leaders were killed. The decision to destroy the plant in Sudan became controversial. Some at the time argued that the decisions were influenced by domestic political considerations, given the controversies raging at that time. The staff has found no evidence that domestic political considerations entered into the discussion or the decision-making process. All evidence we have found points to national security considerations as the sole basis for President Clinton's decision. The impact of the criticism lingered, however, as policy-makers looked to proposals for new strikes. The controversy over the Sudan attack in particular shadowed future discussions about the quality of intelligence that would be needed about other targets -- Operation Infinite Resolve and Plan Delenda (ph). Senior officials agree that a principal objective of Operation Infinite Reach was to kill Osama bin Laden and that this objective obviously had not been attained. The initial strikes went beyond targeting bin Laden to damage other camps thought to be supporting his organizations. These strikes were not envisioned as the end of the story. On August 20th, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Shelton, issued a planning order for the preparation of follow-on strikes. This plan was later code-named Operation Infinite Resolve. The day after the strikes, the president and his principle advisers apparently began considering follow-on military planning. A few days later, the NSC staff's national coordinator for counterterrorism, Richard Clarke, informed other senior officials that President Clinton was inclined to launch further strikes sooner rather than later.

On August 27th, Undersecretary of Defense Slocombe advised Secretary William Cohen that the available targets were not promising. There was, he said, also an issue of strategy, the need to think of the effort as a long-term campaign. The experience of last week he wrote, quote, Has only confirmed the importance of defining a clearly articulated rationale for military action, close quote, that was effective as well as justified.

ZELIKOW: Active consideration of follow-on strikes continued into September. In this context, Clarke prepared a paper for a political-military plan he called Delenda (ph) from the Latin, to destroy. Its military component envisioned an ongoing campaign of regular small strikes occurring from time to time whenever target information was right in order to underscore the message of a concerted, systematic and determined effort to dismantle the infrastructure of the bin Laden terrorist network. Clarke recognized that individual targets might not have much value, but he wrote to Berger, We will never again be able to target a leadership conference of terrorists, and that should not be the standard. Principals repeatedly considered Clarke's proposed strategy. But none of them agreed with it. Secretary Cohen told us that the camps were primitive, easily constructed facilities with rope ladders. The question was whether it was worth using very expensive missiles to take out what General Shelton called jungle-gym training camps. That would not have been seen as very effective. National Security Adviser Berger and others told us that more strikes, if they failed to kill bin Laden could actually be counterproductive, increasing bin Laden's stature. These issues need to be viewed, they said, in a wider context. The United States launched air attacks against Iraq at the end of 1998 and against Serbia in 1999, all to widespread criticism around the world. About a later proposal for strikes on targets in Afghanistan, Deputy National Security Adviser James Steinberg noted that it offered, quote little benefit, lots of blowback against bomb-happy United States, close quote. In September of 1998, while the follow-on strikes were still being debated among a small group of top advisers, the counterterrorism officials in the office of the secretary of defense were also considering a strategy. Unaware of Clarke's plan, they developed an elaborate proposal for a quote, more aggressive counterterrorism posture, close quote. The paper urged defense to, quote, champion a national effort to take up the gauntlet that international terrorists have thrown at our feet, close quote. Although the terrorist threat had grown, the authors warn that quote, We have not fundamentally altered our philosophy or our approach, close quote. If there were new horrific attacks, they wrote, that then, quote, We will have no choice, nor unfortunately will we have a plan, close quote. They outlined an eight-part strategy to be more proactive and aggressive. The assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict, Alan Holmes, brought the paper to Undersecretary Slocombe's chief deputy, Jan Lodel (ph). The paper did not go further. Its lead author recalls being told by Holmes that Lodel (ph) thought it was too aggressive. Holmes cannot recall what was said, and Lodel (ph) cannot remember the episode or the paper at all. The president and his advisers remain ready to use military action against the terrorist threat. But the urgent interest in launching follow-on strikes had apparently passed by October.


(Page 43 of 83)

ZELIKOW: The focus shifted to an effort to find strikes that would clearly be effective, to find and target bin Laden himself. Military planning continues. Though plans were not executed, the military continued to assess and update target lists regularly in case the military was asked to strike. Plans largely centered on cruise missile and manned aircraft strike options and were updated and refined continuously through March 2001. Several senior Clinton administration officials, including National Security Adviser Berger and the NSC staff's Clarke, told us the President Clinton was interested in additional military options, including the possible use of ground forces. As part of Operation Infinite Resolve, the military produced those options. We'll skip the next paragraph that details them and go to the relationship of the White House and the Pentagon, which was complex. As Lieutenant General Gregory Newbold, director of operations for the Joint Staff put it, The military was often frustrated by civilian policy-makers whose requests for military options were too simplistic. For their part, White House officials were often frustrated by what they saw as military unwillingness to tackle the counterterrorism problem. Skipping the next paragraph, go to General Shelton said that, quote, Given sufficient actionable intelligence, the military can do the operation, close quote. But he explained that a tactical operation, if it did not go well, could turn out to be an international embarrassment for the United States. Shelton and many other military officers and civilian DOD officials we interviewed recalled their memories of episodes such as the failed hostage rescue in Iran in 1980 and the Black Hawk Down events in Somalia in 1993. General Shelton made clear, however, that upon direction from policymakers, the military would proceed with an operation and carry out the order. Skipping the next paragraph, let's go to the concerns expressed by the commander in chief of the U.S. Central Command, CENTCOM, General Anthony Zinni.

Before 9/11, any military action in Afghanistan would be carried out by CENTCOM. The Special Operations Command did not have the lead. It provided forces that could be used in a CENTCOM-led operation. The views of the key field commander, Cary Greg White (ph): General Zinni told us he did not believe that some of the options his command was ordered to develop would be effective, particularly missile strikes. Zinni thought a better approach would have been a broad strategy to build up local counterterrorism capabilities in neighboring countries, using military assistance to help country like Uzbekistan. This strategy, he told us, was impeded by a lack of funds and limited interest in countries like Uzbekistan that had dictatorial governments. Skipping the next paragraph, let's emphasize that military officers explained to us that sending Special Operations Forces into Afghanistan would have been complicated and risky.

ZELIKOW: Such efforts would have required bases in the region, however. The basing options in the region were unappealing. Pro- Taliban elements of Pakistan's military might warn bin Laden or his associates of pending operations. The rest of the paragraph gives an example of that, but go to the next one: With nearby basing options limited, an alternative was to fly from ships in the Arabian sea, or from land bases in the Persian Gulf, as was later done after 9/11. Such operations would then have to be supported from long distances, over-flying the airspace of nations that might not be supportive or aware of the U.S. efforts. Finally, Military leaders again raise the problem of actionable intelligence, warning that they did not have information about where bin Laden would be by the time forces would be able to strike him. If they were in the region for a long period, perhaps clandestinely, the military might attempt to gather intelligence and wait for an opportunity. One special operations commander said his view of actionable intelligence was that if you give us the action, we'll give you the intelligence. But this course would be risky, both in light of the difficulties already mentioned, and the danger that U.S. operations might fail disastrously, as in the 1980 Iran rescue failure. Cruise missiles as the default option. Cruise missiles became the default option because it was the only option left on the table after the rejection of others. The Tomahawk's long range, lethality and extreme accuracy made it the missile of choice. However, as a means to attack Al Qaida and OBL-linked targets pre-9/11, cruise missiles were problematic. Tomahawk cruise missiles had to be launched after the vessels carrying them moved into position. Once these vessels were in position, there was still an interval as decision makers authorized the strike, the missiles were prepared for firing, and they flew to their targets. Officials worried that bin Laden might move during these hours, from the place of his last sighting, even if that information had been current. Moreover, General Zinni told commission staff that he had been deeply concerned that cruise missile strikes inside Afghanistan would kill numerous civilians. The rest of the paragraph offers detail on that, but let's go to the next section -- no actionable intelligence.

The paramount limitations cited by senior officials on every proposed use of military force was the lack of actionable intelligence.


(Page 44 of 83)

ZELIKOW: By this, they meant precise intelligence on where bin Laden would be and how long he would be there. National Security Adviser Berger said that there was never a circumstance where the policy-makers thought they had good intelligence, but declined to launch a missile at OBL-linked targets for fear of possible collateral damage. He told us the deciding factor was whether there was actionable intelligence. If the shot missed bin Laden, the United States would look weak and bin Laden would look strong. There were frequent reports about bin Laden's whereabouts and activities. The daily reports regularly described where he was, what he was doing and where he might be going. But usually, by the time these descriptions were landing on the desks of DCI Tenet or National Security Adviser Berger, bin Laden had already moved. Nevertheless, on occasion, intelligence was deemed credible enough to warrant planning for possible strikes to kill Osama bin Laden. Kandahar, December 1998 -- the first instance was in December 1998 in Kandahar. There was intelligence that bin Laden was staying at a particular location. Strikes were readied against this and plausible alternative locations. The principal advisers to the president agreed not to recommend a strike. Returning from one of their meetings, DCI Tenet told staff that the military, supported by everyone else in the room, had not wanted to launch a strike because no one had seen Osama bin Laden in a couple of hours. DCI Tenet told us that there were concerns about the veracity of the source and about the risk of collateral damage to a nearby mosque. A few weeks later, to set the time, Clarke described the calculus as one that had weighed 50 percent confidence in the intelligence against collateral damage estimated at perhaps 300 casualties. After this episode, Pentagon planners intensified efforts to find a more precise alternative to cruise missiles, such as using precision-strike aircraft. This option would greatly reduce the collateral damage. Yet not only would it have to operate at long ranges from home bases and overcome significant logistical obstacles, but the aircraft might also be shot down by the Taliban.

At the time, Clarke complained that General Zinni was opposed to the forward deployment of these aircraft. General Zinni does not recall blocking such an option. The aircraft apparently were not deployed for this purpose. The desert camp, February 1999 -- during the winter of 1998 and '99, intelligence reported that bin Laden frequently visited a camp in the desert adjacent to a larger hunting camp in Helmand Province of Afghanistan used by visitors from a Gulf state. Public sources have stated that these visitors were from the United Arab Emirates. At the beginning of February, bin Laden was reportedly located there and apparently remained for more than a week. This was not in an urban area so the risk of collateral damage was minimal. Intelligence provided a detailed description of the camps. National technical intelligence confirmed the description of the larger camp and showed the nearby presence of an official aircraft of the UAE. The CIA received reports that bin Laden regularly went from his adjacent camp to the larger camp, where he visited with emirates. The location of this larger camp was confirmed by February 9th, but the location of bin Laden's quarters could not be pinned down so precisely. Preparations were made for a possible strike, at least against the larger camp, perhaps to target bin Laden during one of his visits. No strike was launched. According to CIA officials, policy-makers were concerned about the danger that a strike might kill an emirate prince or other senior officials who might be with bin Laden or close by.

ZELIKOW: The lead CIA official in the field felt the intelligence reporting in this case was very reliable. The OBL unit chief at the time agrees. The field official believes today that this was a lost opportunity to kill bin Laden before 9/11. Clarke told us the strike was called off because the intelligence was dubious and it seemed to him as if the CIA was presenting an option to attack America's best counterterrorism ally in the Gulf. Documentary evidence at the time shows that on February 10th, Clarke detailed to Deputy National Security Adviser Donald Kerrick the intelligence placing OBL in the camp, informed him that DOD might be in the position to fire the next morning and added General Shelton was looking at other options that might ready the following week. Clarke had just returned from a visit to the UAE working on counterterrorism cooperation and following up on a May 1998 UAE agreement to buy F-16 aircraft from the United States. On February 10th, Clarke reported that a top UAE official had vehemently denied that high-level UAE officials were in Afghanistan. Evidence subsequently confirmed that high-level UAE officials had been hunting there. By February 12th, bin Laden had apparently moved on and the immediate strike plans became moot. In March, the entire camp complex was hurriedly disassembled. We are still examining several aspect of this episode. Kandahar, May 1999 -- in this case, sources reported on the whereabouts of bin Laden over the course of five nights. The reporting was very detailed. At the time, CIA working level officials were told that strikes were not ordered because the military was concerned about the precision of the sources's reporting and the risk of collateral damage. Replying to a frustrated colleague in the field, the OBL unit chief wrote that, quote, Having a chance to get OBL three times in 36 hours and forgoing the chance each time has made me a bit angry. The DCI finds himself alone at the table with the other principals basically saying, We'll go along with your decision, Mr. Director, and implicitly saying, the agency will hang alone if the attack doesn't get bin Laden, close quote. These are working level perspectives.


(Page 45 of 83)

According to DCI Tenet, the same circumstances prevented a strike in each of the cases described above. The intelligence was based on a single uncorroborated source and there was a risk of collateral damage. In the first and third cases, the cruise missile option was rejected outright and, in the case of the second, never came to a clear decision point. According to National Security Adviser Berger, the cases were really DCI Tenet's call, close quote. In his view, in none of the cases did policy-makers have the reliable intelligence that was needed.

ZELIKOW: In Berger's opinion, this did not reflect risk aversion or a lack of desire to act on DCI Tenet's part. The DCI was just as stoked up as he was, said Berger. Each of these times, Berger told us, George would call and say, We just don't have it. There was a fourth episode involving a location in Ghazni, Afghanistan in July, 1999. We are still investigating the circumstances. There were no occasions after July, 1999, when cruise missiles were actively readied for a possible strike against bin Laden. The challenge of providing actionable intelligence could not be overcome before 9/11. Skip the next section on millennium plots. Go directly to the section on the attack on the USS Cole. On October 12, 2000, suicide bombers in an explosives-laden skiff rammed into a Navy destroyer, the USS Cole, in the port of Aden, Yemen, killing 17 U.S. sailors and almost sinking the vessel. Skip the remainder of the paragraph. After the attack on the USS Cole, National Security Advisor Berger asked General Shelton for military plans to act quickly against bin Laden. General Shelton tasked General Tommy Franks, the new commander of CENTCOM, to look again at the options. According to Director of Operations Newgold, Shelton wanted to demonstrate that the military was imaginative and knowledgeable enough to move on an array of options and to show the complexity of the operations. Shelton briefed Berger on 13 options that had been developed within the standing Infinite Resolve plan. CENTCOM also developed a, quote, Phase campaign concept, close quote, for wider ranging strikes including against the Taliban and without a fixed end point. The new concept did not include contingency plans for an invasion of Afghanistan. The concept was briefed to Deputy National Security Advisor Kerrick and other officials in December, 2000. Neither the Clinton administration nor the Bush administration launched a military response for the Cole attack. Berger and other senior policy-makers said that, while most counterterrorism officials quickly pointed the finger at Al Qaida, they never received the sort of definitive judgment from the CIA or the FBI that Al Qaida was responsible that they would need before launching military operations. Documents show that in late 2000, the president's advisers received a cautious presentation of the evidence, showing that individuals linked to Al Qaida had carried out or supported the attack, but that the evidence could not establish that bin Laden himself had ordered the attack. DOD prepared plans to strike Al Qaida camps and Taliban targets with cruise missiles in case policy-makers decided to respond. Essentially the same analysis of Al Qaida's responsibility for the attack on the USS Cole was delivered to the highest officials of the new administration 5 days after it took office. The same day, Clarke advised National Security Advisor Rice that the government, quote, Should take advantage of the policy that we will respond at a time, place and manner of our own choosing and not be forced into knee-jerk responses, close quote. Deputy National Security Advisor Steven Hadley told us that tit for that, military options were so inadequate that they might have emboldened Al Qaida. He said the Bush administration's response to the Cole would be a new, more aggressive strategy against Al Qaida. Pentagon officials, including Vice Admiral Scott Fry and Undersecretary Slocombe, told us they cautioned that the military response options were limited. Bin Laden continued to be elusive. They were still skeptical that hitting inexpensive and rudimentary training camps with costly missiles would do much good. The new team at the Pentagon did not push for a response for the Cole, according to Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz, his deputy. Wolfowitz told us that by the time the new administration was in place the Cole incident was stale. The 1998 cruise missile strike showed OBL and Al Qaida that they had nothing to fear from a U.S. response, Wolfowitz said. For his part, Rumsfeld also thought too much time had passed. He worked on the force protection recommendations developed in the aftermath of the USS Cole attack, not response options.


(Page 46 of 83)

ZELIKOW: The early months of the Bush administration: The confirmation of the Pentagon's new leadership was a lengthy process. Deputy Secretary of Defense Wolfowitz was not confirmed until March 2001, and Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith did not take office until July 2001. Secretary Cohen said he briefed Secretary-Designate Rumsfeld on about 50 items during the transition, including bin Laden and programs related to domestic preparedness against terrorist attacks using weapons of mass destruction. Rumsfeld told us he did not recall what was said about bin Laden at that briefing. On February 8th, General Shelton briefed Secretary Rumsfeld on the Operation Infinite Resolve plan, including the range of options and CENTCOM's new phased campaign plan. These plans were periodically updated during the ensuing months. Brian Sheridan, the outgoing assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low intensity conflict, SOLIC, the key counterterrorism policy office in DOD, never briefed Rumsfeld. Lower level SOLIC officials in the office of the secretary of defense told us that they thought the new team was focused on other issues and was not especially interested in their counterterrorism agenda. Undersecretary Feith told the commission that when he arrived at the Pentagon in July 2001, Rumsfeld asked him to focus his attention on working with the Russians on agreements to dissolve the Anti- Ballistic Missile Treaty and preparing a new nuclear arms control pact. Traditionally, the primary DOD official responsible for counterterrorism policy had been the assistant secretary of defense for SOLIC. The outgoing assistant secretary left on January 20th, 2001, and had not been replaced when the Pentagon was hit on September 11th. Secretary Rumsfeld said the transformation was the focus on the administration. He said he was interested in terrorism, arranging to meet regularly with DCI Tenet. But his time was consumed with getting new officials in place, preparing the quadrennial defense review, the defense planning guidance, and reviewing existing contingency plans. He did not recall any particular counterterrorism issue that engaged his attention before 9/11, other than the development of the Predator unmanned aircraft system for possible use against bin Laden.

He said that DOD before 9/11 was not organized or trained adequately to deal with asymmetric threats. As recounted in the previous staff statement, the Bush administration's NSC staff was drafting a new counterterrorism strategy in the spring and summer of 2001. National Security Adviser Rice and Deputy National Security Adviser Hadley told us that they wanted more muscular options. In June 2001, Hadley circulated a draft presidential directive on policy toward Al Qaida. The draft came to include a section that called for development of a new set of contingency military plans against both Al Qaida and the Taliban regime. Hadley told us that he contacted Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz to advise him that the Pentagon would soon need to start preparing fresh plans in response to this forthcoming presidential direction. The directive was approved at the deputies' level in July and apparently approved by top officials on September 4 for submission to the president. With the directive still awaiting the president's signature, Secretary Rumsfeld did not order the preparation of any new military plans against either Al Qaida or the Taliban before 9/11. Rumsfeld told us that immediately after 9/11 he did not see a contingency plan he wanted to implement. Deputy National Security Adviser Hadley and Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz also told us the military plans presented to the Bush administration immediately after 9/11 were unsatisfactory.

ZELIKOW: Roads not taken -- officials we interviewed flatly said that neither Congress nor the American public would have supported large scale military operations in Afghanistan before the shock of 9/11, despite repeated attacks and plots including the embassy bombings, the millennium plots, concerns about Al Qaida to acquire WMD, the USS Cole and the summer 2001 threat spike. Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz warned that it would have been impossible to get Congress to support sending 10,000 U.S. troops into Afghanistan to do what the Soviet Union failed to do in the 1980s. Vice Admiral Scott Fry, the former operations director for the JCS noted that, quote, A two or four-division plan would require a footprint troop level and force that was larger than the political leadership was willing to accept, close quote. Special Operations Forces always saw counterterrorism as part of their mission and trained for counterterrorist operations. Quote, The opportunities were missed because of an unwillingness to take risks and a lack of vision and understanding of the benefits when preparing the battlespace ahead of time, close quote, said Lieutenant General William Boykin, the current undersecretary of defense for intelligence and a former founding member of Delta Force. Before 9/11 the U.S. special operations command was a, quote, supporting command, not a supported command. That meant it supported General Zinni and CENTCOM and did not independently prepare plans itself. General Pete Schoomaker, the chief of staff of the U.S. Army and former commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command said that if the special operations command had been a supported command before 9/11, he would have had the Al Qaida mission rather than deferring to CENTCOM's lead. Schoomaker said he spoke to Secretary Cohen and General Shelton about this proposal. It was not adopted. Let me move now directly to our conclusions and finish. In summary, our key findings to date include the following: In response to the request of policymakers, the military prepared a wide array of options for striking bin Laden and his organization from May 1998 onward. When they briefed policy-makers, the military presented both the pros and cons of those strike options and briefed policy-makers on the risks associated with them. Following the August 20th, 1998 missile strikes, both senior military officials and policy-makers placed great emphasis on actionable intelligence as the key factor in recommending or deciding to launch military action against bin Laden and his organization. Policy-makers and military officials expressed frustration with the lack of actionable intelligence. Some officials inside the Pentagon, including those in the special forces and the counterterrorism policy office expressed frustration with the lack of military action. The new administration began to develop new policies toward Al Qaida in 2001, but there is no evidence of new work on military capabilities or plans against this enemy before September 11th. And both civilian and military officials of the defense department state flatly that neither Congress nor the American public would have supported large-scale military operations in Afghanistan before the shock of 9/11. Thank you. Thank you all very much.


(Page 47 of 83)

KEAN: We'll now hear from former Secretary of Defense William Cohen. Secretary Cohen served with great distinction in the United States Senate before serving as secretary of defense during the second term of President Clinton. Mr. Secretary, we are very pleased that you've consented to be with us today. And we'd like you, if you could, to raise your hand so we can place you under oath. Do you swear or affirm to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?

COHEN: Thank you very much. Your prepared statement will be entered into the record in full. And so we'd ask you to summarize your remarks as you'd like.

COHEN: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. And I'd like I'd like to express my gratitude to the commission for the important work that you are undertaking. I've had the opportunity, I think, to meet with either the members and/or staff on three prior occasions. And I am happy to be here today to contribute whatever I can to the important analysis that you are undertaking. September 11th was a life-transforming event I think for all of us. It was a barbaric attack, killing some 3,000 Americans by turning airliners into cruise missiles. I think all of us have a solemn responsibility to the victims of September 11th, to the victims' families, many of whom may be here today and certainly are watching, and also to the brave men and

COHEN: Let me say on a personal note, my interest in the subject of terrorism began about a quarter of a century ago. I had attended an event -- conference in Bonn, Germany. A banker by the name of Hans-Martin Schleyer (ph), a businessman, had been assassinated by the Red Army faction, and the Europeans were eager to explore ways in which they could combat the scourge of international terrorism. During the time I served as a member of the United States Senate and the Armed Services Committee, I saw the bombing of our embassy in Beirut, the bombing of our Marine barracks in Beirut, the bombing of Pan Am 103, the hijacking of TWA-847, the bombing of the West Berlin discotheque, the bombing of OPM-SANG and of Khobar Towers, among the many acts that were directed against the United States. As a result, during that time, I became convinced that our military was not organized to act swiftly enough in the age of what Toffler described as that of future shock. I helped to write the Goldwater-Nichols Act, establishing the power and the leadership of the joint chiefs of staff as a result of being concerned about what's taken place. That came, by the way, over the objection of the Pentagon during that time. In 1986, I authored the legislation to establish a Special Operation Command, once again, I would point out, over the objections of the Pentagon, because I felt it was important to enable us to be able to respond to the emerging threats. I wrote and I spoke about the subject on numerous occasions convinced that the threat was growing, was becoming more organized, less sporadic, and when coupled with access of weapons of mass destruction, likely to pose an existential threat to the world. I carried these convictions to the Pentagon when President Clinton asked me to serve as the secretary of defense. I found that he not only shared my views, but he was prepared to support efforts to counter these threats with dollars, with deeds, as well as with his presidential words. In my experience, the threat of international terrorism remained a top priority for all members of his national security team throughout the years I served at the Pentagon.

COHEN: In my written statement, I outlined some of the major initiatives that I had the department undertake between January of '97 and 2001. They included enhancing force protection; support for covert and special operations activity; designating and organizing a National Guard to serve as the first responders in the wake of attacks against our cities; organizing a joint task force for civil support to assist the cities and states against terrorist attacks that might take place; helping to train 100 major cities in consequence management against terrorist attacks; engaging in personal diplomacy and public appearances to alert the American people to the threat posed by anthrax, ricin, VX and radiological materials, the danger of them falling into the hands of terrorist groups. These initiatives were undertaken as the department was engaged in waging war in Kosovo; we attacked Saddam Hussein in Operation Desert Fox; as we destroyed a suspected WMD site in Sudan; as we coped with the dangers of cyber attacks against our critical infrastructure, including the unknown consequences of a critical massive cyber failure that was then known as Y2K. I believe that we devoted some $3 billion to $4 billion in defense spending at that time to cope with that for fear that the terrorists would try to exploit that millennium turnover. We launched an attack upon Al Qaida's training camp in Afghanistan as has been discussed earlier today. We continued efforts to capture or kill Osama bin Laden after discovering his role in the bombing of the embassies in Africa and then later with the USS Cole. And we developed new intelligence-gathering capabilities that could be directed against Osama bin Laden and others as, again, you have discussed here earlier this morning. In addition, the department also worked closely with the CIA, the FBI and other agencies, and as a result, I believe we were able to thwart a number of terrorist activities directed here against Americans and abroad. I know the commission is anxious to explore more specifically what happened or did not happen at the Defense Department. But I'd like to try and paint in the few moments I have at least a broader perspective as well. I think all of us who have held the public trust have to be accountable for what we did or did not do during our careers in the public service and holding the public trust. (APPLAUSE) But I want to put it into perspective as a former member of the Senate and a former member of the House of Representatives as well, because I think as the commission may find fault, indeed that's all -- in all probability, that might be the goal of the commission. I don't think so. But I hope you'll find the fault lines as well in our society as a whole. And if you just permit me four or five minutes to outline some of the challenges I think that all of us face, certainly while I was in the Senate, also at the Department of Defense, I'd point out that on many occasions the administration was able to secure the cooperation of Congress in the pursuit of its goals. There were a number of other occasions in which we did not.


(Page 48 of 83)

COHEN: For example, some in Congress, the media and the policy community accused those of us who were focused on the terrorist threat of being alarmists, of exaggerating the threat in order to boost our budgets. And countering this threat of terrorism was, quote, the latest gravy train, according to one expert who was quoted in U.S. News World Report. And the belief that we were somehow indulging in a cynical hyperbole I think resulted in a number of legislative reactions. There were tens of millions of dollars cut out of the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, in the so-called Nunn-Lugar program, which I believe was one of the most important programs we could have passed, and that was to help reduce the accumulation of weapons of mass destruction, nuclear materials and others in the possession of the former Soviet Union. Tens of millions of dollars were cut from that program, I think posing a greater risk to us. We had to spend a significant amount of time trying to lobby to restore funds in that regard. Congress blocked the cooperation with countries whose support was critical to the counterterrorism efforts, such as banning military cooperation with Indonesia, by way of example, the world's largest Muslim country that is a key battleground in the campaign against Islamic extremists and banning any meaningful cooperation with Pakistan, the front line state in the global war on terrorism. There were reasons for this, but nonetheless, that was the reality. We had a program called IMET which was designed to put our military into contact with the militaries of other countries to help educate them in the way that a civilized country and democracy is able to subordinate the military civilian rule and to pursue democratic values. Well, the program was terminated based on activities that took place in that country and elsewhere. We had congressional committees who rejected requests for legislative authority to the department to provide certain support to domestic activity or agencies to prevent or respond to terrorist actions in the United States. It was with this in mind that I tried to combat this complacency and cynicism that I helped to create -- not to create, but I filled the membership of a commission that was led by former Senators Rudman and Hart, including the vice chairman of this commission and former Speaker Gingrich, along with senior retired military commanders and others. In releasing the commission's first report long before September 11, Vice Chairman Hamilton stated the fundamental issue. He said, What comes across to me in this report more than any other single fact is that the commission believes that Americans are going to be less secure than they believe themselves to be, and so I think what we're trying to say in this report is we've lived in a very secure time, we're very fortunate for that, but we're going to be confronted with a lot of challenges to our national security that Americans do not believe we're going to be subject to, and that's really what comes out of this report for me more than any other single thing. Well, I'll tell you, his remarks really resonated with me, because I recall at my very first press conference as secretary of defense back in 1997, I was asked, Mr. Secretary, what is your greatest concern as you look toward the future?

COHEN: And I'd like to just read my response. My greatest concern is that we're able to persuade the American people that having a viable, sustainable national security policy is important even when there's no clearly identifiable enemy on the horizon. We still live in a very dangerous, disorderly world. And in many cases, we face dangers that are comparable to those we've faced from the past, namely the proliferation of missile technology, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the spread of terrorism. I believe that we have been complacent as a society. I think that we have failed to fully comprehend the gathering storm. Even now, after September 11th, I think it's far from clear that our society truly understands the gravity of a threat that we face or is yet willing to do what I believe is going to be necessary to counter it. Even after September 11th, after the anthrax and the ricin attacks in the United States, I remain concerned that the controversy over not finding Iraq's weapons of mass destruction will lead to the erroneous assumption that all this talk about the dangers of WMD is just another exercise in the cynical exploitation of fear. After all, it's commonly noted -- it was noted here again this morning -- there were no attacks since September 11th. I think this is a dangerous delusion. The enemy is not only coming, he has been here. He will continue to try to examine our weaknesses and exploit the crevices in our security and destroy our way of living as well as our lives. Mr. Chairman, I'll conclude here. I think you can deduce from my written statement, I believe that the Clinton administration, far more than any previous administration prior to September 11th, understood the threat that terrorism poses to our country. I think it took far greater and more comprehensive action to counter it than previous administration did by virtue of the growing threat. But in spite of all of this, the United States was hit in a devastating way. Even today, with the global war on terrorism being waged, I believe we need to do far more to prevent the spread of virulent Islamic extremism and to prevent terrorism from reaching our shores. I don't pretend to hold the keys to the kingdom of wisdom and what needs to be done in the future. But I think, as I said before, we all must stand accountable for our actions. It's my hope that the commission, again, will focus on the fault lines that run through our democratic system as we struggle to cope with the challenges of unprecedented proportions. I've outlined just a couple of items which I think should considered for the future. I think we have to develop an in-depth public discussion among our citizens, as well as among elected officials, regarding the compromises on privacy that we're willing to accept in order to remain free and safe. The current debate over access to personal data for aviation security purposes, I don't think is encouraging. We have to elevate the public discussion on these matters and do our best to remove from them electoral manipulation at least until we truly understand the issues and choices.


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COHEN: We have to reconcile the role technology's going to play in our lives, for good and ill, and try to maintain and ensure that it remains our master and that we don't remain its slave. I don't think it's going to be an easy balance to strike, but I think it has to be done. I think we have to consider establishing a domestic intelligence organization distinct from law enforcement and subject to appropriate control and regulation and oversight. I think we have to secure and eliminate, on an accelerated basis, fissile nuclear materials and chemical and biological weapon agents that pose a risk of diversion. This is going to require a much more cooperative relationship with Russia than we currently have. And I think we have to re-energize America's engagement in the Middle East. I believe that the road to peace in the Middle East runs through Baghdad. And success in Baghdad may very well run through Jerusalem. The unabated violence can only serve, in my judgment, to remain a breeding ground for even more savagery and nihilism in the future. And this effort should not await the counting of ballots in November. And finally, I think we need to persuade the free people of the world that the war on terror cannot be waged by America alone. As recent events demonstrate, religious extremists and fanatics don't recognize geographic boundaries. There are no rear lines. There are no pockets of tranquility. There are no safe harbors for innocent civilians. Every one of us is one the front lines today. A virus or bomb, born in a distant laboratory or a factory, is but a plane ride away from any place on this planet. So it's time for sober reflection and the charting of a responsible course of action. And to the extent I can contribute to this, Mr. Chairman, I'm prepared to answer your questions. KEAN: Mr. Secretary, thank you very much for a very articulate statement. Commissioner Fielding, are you going to begin the questioning? And then followed by Commissioner Kerrey.

FIELDING: Mr. Secretary, thank you very much for appearing here today, but also thank you for the many hours you've spent with the commission and the staff in preparing this, and your very full, prepared testimony as well as your remarks this morning. I'd like to also express my personal high regard for you and for all the years of public service that you've given to this nation. Thank you. We, of course, have a mission to fulfill.

FIELDING: And one of the things that we obviously have to figure out is what happened on 9/11. But equally important to our mission is to figure out the other factors that may have contributed to the situation we found at 9/11. And obviously, again, one of those is the development of our counterterrorism strategy. And of course we're going to pick your brain and again today, as far as the aspects of the military fed into that. And my colleagues have a lot of questions, so I'll try to watch that little ball as much as anybody. But under Presidential Directive 62, the military of course and the Defense Department didn't have the leading role in the counterterrorism efforts during your tenure. And yet, ironically, we've heard a lot of testimony and a lot of commentary that the military was being criticized for being reluctant to use its forces and to actually conduct military operations against Al Qaida and bin Laden. As a matter of fact, Richard Clarke's now very famous book, he says, The White House wanted action. The senior military did not, and made it almost impossible for the president to overcome their objections. And I know that you've seen other commentary like that, that the primary limitation that's often cited is that for each decision for using military force, there was this lack of actionable intelligence. And we've heard about it today. And we've heard about it a lot. And our understanding of that is what was stated earlier, that at a specific time, you couldn't anticipate where the location of bin Laden or his key followers might be, so that it could be sufficiently determined that it was worthwhile to launch military reaction to it. After August 20th of '98, there were at least three opportunities to which we have been privy to use force against bin Laden. However, in each case, it was determined that there wasn't actionable intelligence. I guess the first question I'd like to say is whose call is that? How does that decision become a factor and a determinative factor? And in addition to that, if I could, given that you had setbacks in using force, what was your assessment of the existing capabilities at that time of the CIA...


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COHEN: The which capabilities? KEAN: The existing capabilities -- to obtain what would be required as actionable intelligence? And to the extent that you found them deficient, what steps did you take to supplement and to put into action things that the Defense Department could do to beef up that capability?

COHEN: On the second part, Mr. Fielding, I think that Senator Kerry and others would tell you that over the years, one of the identifiable deficiencies within our intelligence collection capability is the absence of good HUMINT, that we have over the years tended to oscillate between focusing upon technical capabilities with our satellite-gathering technologies as opposed to developing human intelligence.

COHEN: With the collapse of the Soviet Union, of course, that becomes a much more challenging objective, to get good human intelligence in areas that are governed by tribal leaders where an individual perhaps can detect who is a remote cousin the minute they show up within 200 yards. So penetrating societies such as that becomes even more problematic in terms of developing good human intelligence. And then you're called upon to try and develop assets on the ground. Well, then the question is, Who do you trust, and how can you trust them, based on what evidence in the past that they have been credible? All of that goes into an analysis by the CIA working with other intelligence agencies. Secretary Powell talked about I R; we have DIA, Defense Intelligence Agency. But essentially we turn to the DCI to say, Do we have good intelligence? We review the PDD, as has been discussed earlier today. We sit down at the Cabinet-level meetings with the president and/or with the National Security Adviser and his team and say, Is this good enough intelligence to warrant taking action? And each case has to be looked at in that regard. Now, you mentioned August of '98. Frankly, it was following the bombing of the embassies in East Africa that the antenna were really up. We were collecting at a level that I saw -- it was unprecedented in terms of the amount of information coming in pointing to bin Laden and then getting the information that would be a gathering of terrorists in Afghanistan. After reviewing all that information, the determination was made: this was a target certainly that we should attack -- that plus the so- called pharmaceutical plant in Sudan. But it was that kind after process whereby -- what do we have? Do we have to be certain? The answer is no. Do you have to be pretty sure? I think that the answer is yes if you're going to be killing a lot of people. We're prepared to engage in collateral damage if the target that we're after is certainly important. But all those factors are into a decision. But having, quote, actionable intelligence means reliable and the basis of that reliability. Single-source information, usually I think George Tenet will tell you not good enough. Maybe if they've got a single source that is truly reliable -- they've had him in the past -- that might be, under the circumstances. But it all depends upon the quality of the people you've got on the ground, coupled with whatever you can put up in the air to locate certain targets. FIELDING: But who makes that final decision? Who makes that call?

COHEN: The president of the United States makes the final decision. We make recommendations. We as the national security team would sit down, examine it and then come to a consensus if we could. If we couldn't, frankly, we would go to the president with our individual recommendations. But most of the time, we were able to reach a consensus.

COHEN: And then the president weighs what has been recommended to him, to act or not to act, and then makes the decision.

FIELDING: Just following up, again, on my earlier line of questioning. Did you do anything or were there any steps available that you thought you were worth taking to augment the CIA's capabilities for collecting intelligence?

COHEN: We worked with the CIA. There were some joint efforts as such to reinforce the CIA. We had a cooperative program in terms of the unmanned aerial vehicles, the UAVs. There was some controversy over that as well, I might add. But trying to find him was certainly a joint enterprise in terms of technical capability. Did we have people on the ground in Afghanistan? The answer was we did not, for the most part.

FIELDING: Was that just not really a viable, realistic option?


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COHEN: Well, again, in looking at Afghanistan, looking at the history of that country, look at the power and the power and the relationship with the tribes in the region. The notion that we could put, quote, Special Forces in that region that would go undetected or uncompromised, I think was pretty remote. Was it possible? You could say it was possible. Was it advisable? We didn't think so at the time. And I think in reflection, we still don't think that was a viable option.

FIELDING: I'd like to ask your opinion, because we have to evaluate the various -- the three incidents. And we've heard a lot of testimony and lot of writings that that particular second event that I made reference to -- I think it was in February of '99, the hunting camp with the UAE hunting camp -- that that was the lost opportunity.

COHEN: As I recall, there were at least three instances in which the initial intelligence take, as they called it, that we think we have him, and what we would then do is, quote, spin up the military at that point, namely, our ability to target that particular area with the thought of taking that individual or group of people out. There were three instances. Each time the munitions and the people were spun up, they were called off because the word came back: We're not sure -- we're not quite sure. In one instance, there was an identification that somehow we had bin Laden in our sights. Turned out it was a sheik from UAE. There was another consideration of shooting down an aircraft that might be carrying bin Laden, should he try to escape. That also proved to be reversed by the intelligence community saying we don't think we have him. So there were three occasions following the attack on the camps in Sudan. But in each and every one of those occasions, it came back on a second look saying we don't think we've got enough here to recommend to the president that we should take military action. And that came from the intelligence community, through the national security adviser, and we all sat and made a collective judgment: OK, under the circumstances, we don't fire.

FIELDING: Now, if you could assist us, if I can take you back to the August 20th attack and response attack. After that happened, there was criticism about the pharmaceutical plant. And there was also criticism in general about trigger-happy and this sort of thing. And recalling that negative reaction, does that criticism affect the planning and use of military force in defending the United States in this context?

COHEN: I'm glad you asked that question, Mr. Fielding, because it's something that I've wanted to talk about for some time. In terms of the kind of poisonous atmosphere that existed then that continues to exist today, you're going to discuss Mr. Clarke's book with him tomorrow but all of the accusations, questioning motives, and calculations during that time, when the attack was launched in Afghanistan and Sudan, there was a movie out called Wag the Dog. There were critics of the Clinton administration that attacked the president saying this was an effort on his part to divert attention from his personal difficulties. I'd like to say, for the record, under no circumstances did President Clinton ever call upon the military and use that military in order to serve a political purpose. When I took the office, I had a very clear understanding with the president. He was very clear with me. Under no circumstances would I ever be called upon to exercise any kind of partisan relationship, would participate in no politics and would never allow the military to be used for a political purpose. President Clinton was true to his word. He never called upon us to do that. It was strictly on the merits. Now, that accusation surfaced again, and it was something of concern to me. I'll take just a few moments to express it. In that fall, I should say that winter, in December of 1998, we decided to attack Saddam Hussein. It was called Operation Desert Fox. It was a four-day operation in which we launched a number of attacks upon his weapons of mass destruction sites, his missile production facilities and killing a number of Republican Guards and others. I got a call the day that that operation was launched. I received a call from Speaker Gingrich and soon-to-be or then-to-be Speaker Livingston asking me to come up to Capitol Hill. They said the House was in an uproar. There was a rage boiling in the House of Representatives. This clearly had to be politically inspired. I was eager to go up to the Hill. I had not been in the House of Representatives for 20 years and I walked that evening into the well of the House of Representatives. There were almost 400 people there that night, maybe more too a closed session of Congress.


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COHEN: And I spoke for three hours, assuring every single member that the reason we attacked Saddam Hussein was because of his noncompliance with the security council resolution, that at no time did the president of the United States ever seek to use that military strike in order to avoid or divert attention from the impeachment process. I was prepared at that time and today to say -- I put my entire public career on the line to say that the president always acted specifically upon the recommendation of those of us who held the positions of responsibility to take military action. And at no time did he ever try to use it or manipulate it to serve his personal ends. And I think it's important that that be clear, because that Wag the Dog cynicism that was so virulent there, I'm afraid is coming back again. I think we did everything we can to stop engaging in the kind of self-flagellation and criticism and challenging of motives of our respective presidents.

FIELDING: Thank you. That also is the conclusion of the staff in the staff report. But I'm glad you had a chance to elucidate on it. On August 20th...

KEAN: Last question.

FIELDING: OK. Thank you. On August 20th, we heard about General Shelton undertaking a planning order for preparation of a follow-on operations, and obviously there were never any follow-on operations that came to fruition. But what directions did you give the military for development of military plans against bin Laden after August 20th for our guidance? COHEN: Our plans were to try to, quote, capture and/or kill -- or kill, I should say in this particular case -- capture or kill bin Laden. That was the directive that went out, the memorandum of notification. The president had signed several of those, refining them on each and every occasion. Taking that directive, we had our people in a position, should there be, quote, actionable intelligence -- again, the key word. And we can -- we should discuss that and debate that issue of what constitutes it.

COHEN: But whenever there was, quote, actual intelligence, we were prepared to take action to destroy bin Laden or the targets. Were there plans to use Special Forces to supplement the Northern Alliance that they were able to apprehend and hold on to bin Laden? The answer was yes. There were packages that were developed with our Special Forces at Fort Bragg. There were a number of proposals quote, on the table or on a shelf, prepared to be utilized in the event that we were certain -- and not certain to 100 percent degree -- but reasonably certain that he was going to be at a given area. I know a question has been raised, Well, why wouldn't you put a unit in there with the anticipation that they could help gather intelligence and track him down? And I've tried to address this in my written statement. But consider the notion, we have 13,500 troops in Afghanistan right now, not to mention the Pakistanis, and we can't find bin Laden to date. So the notion that you're going to put a small unit, however good, on the ground, or a large unit, and put them into Afghanistan and track down bin Laden, I think is folly. But if we had people on the ground, if we had the Northern Alliance, if they were reliable, did we have people prepared to go? The answer was yes. General Shelton, I think, will tell you, it's very difficult to kill an individual with a missile. We all know that. You're talking about six hours from the time you, quote, spun-up, you've got the coordinates, GPS signals -- target that individual. You're six hours away. To put troops on the ground was probably double that time. By the time you take a package and fly them from Fort Bragg or compose some elements that were already in the Gulf, you're talking more than six hours. So the answer is, why don't have you forces on the ground in Afghanistan? And the point I'm simply trying to make is that the notion that you could put thousands or hundreds or even tens of people on the ground and hope to locate him under those circumstances, I think, is simply unrealistic.

FIELDING: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

KEAN: Senator Kerrey?

KERREY: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Secretary, nice to see you again.

COHEN: Good to see you, Senator.


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KERREY: First of all, let me say, as you were introducing yourself, I had not until I prepared for this hearing realized -- then you reinforced it -- that you were the father of the Special Operations Command. And it must have given you a considerable amount of pride to see how effective special operations units were in Afghanistan, Iraq and, according to the reports today in the Hindu Kush again, trying to run down bin Laden as we speak.

COHEN: Senator Kerrey, you may recall one of the complaints that used to come from the Pentagon and the executive branch is that Congress engages in too much micromanagement. I think that was the case. And also the reformation of the joint chiefs of staff of Goldwater-Nichols of macromanagement. But I thought it played a very important role.

KERREY: Certainly. Both of those were. And they want you to micromanage when they've got something they want you to support. (LAUGHTER) But let me also say with great respect, I do think that in '98, that a special operations unit with an element of surprise could have had a tremendous impact at that particular point. It's a judgment call you've got to make. It's a much different situation than it is today. And I appreciate that very much. Look, one of the problems I think that I have with this whole thing is that we were attacked on the 11th of September 2001 by the same people that attacked the Cole on the 12th of October 2000, by the same people who attempted to attack The Sullivans a few months earlier, by the same people who were responsible for multiple millennium attacks in 1999, by the same people who attacked our embassies on the 7th of August, 1998, and now, as we understand it, by the same people who have had previous attacks back to the 1990s, perhaps up to and including the World Trade Center bombing one. So it's not just that we were attacked successfully by 19 men with less than a half a million dollars utterly. I mean they just defeated every single defensive mechanism we had up in place. It's that this is the same group that had attacked us on many other occasions in the past. And that's why I keep coming to the question, of why would we have a presidential directive in place in 1998 that said that the Department of Defense and our military was going to be used principally for a response, if we were attacked in a local and state situation, and to support what the Department of Justice was doing. I don't understand why the military wasn't given a priority and a primary role in the fight against not just terrorism, but the fight against Osama bin Laden. I mean, I presume you've seen the declaration of war that he released on the 23rd of February, 1998. That was very precise. Again, issued by somebody who had demonstrated not just a willingness to kill Americans, but the capacity to kill Americans. And every single time I heard the administration come up before the Intelligence Committee that I was on, maybe just trying to keep doing what you had done for years before, it was, We're going to send the FBI to investigate this stuff.

And I would say, My god, I don't understand this. They killed airmen in Khobar Towers. They attacked our facilities in East Africa. They attacked our sailors on the Cole. I don't understand, and still today don't understand, why the military wasn't given a dominant role. And I wonder, if you're looking back on it today, do you think we underutilized the military during the 1990s in the war against in this case, radical Islamists, led by Osama bin Laden?

COHEN: First of all, I've seen your comments about the need to declare war against Al Qaida. We were at war with Al Qaida. We weren't declaring it as such and the president going to Congress saying, Let's declare war against Al Qaida. I take your point about bin Laden being very precise. He was very precise in issuing a personal fatwa against me. I was put on the list. There was a price tag. There were several attempts, which I don't have to go into details about, going after me. So I was very much aware that this was a war that had been declared against the United States, including members of the president's Cabinet personally, putting us at risk, as well as our military personnel. The use of the military -- the only use I could have seen in terms of could we have done more against bin Laden, it was really talked about putting a massive force into Afghanistan over the objection -- you've heard this this morning, and it's something that I had to take into account: Could we in fact take a much more aggressive military operation against bin Laden without the support of Pakistan or any of the neighboring countries? General Zinni's name has been surfaced on several occasions here. When you recommend people to advise you -- and I was the one who recommended that General Zinni be the commander of the CENTCOM -- you look at their background, you look at their war records, you look at how they've conducted themselves and you hopefully trust their judgment. General Zinni made a number of recommendations, which I took to heart, because he was of the opinion that had we taken certain types military action, it would have been, quote, ineffective, counterproductive. He was the same general who recommended that we not overreact when there was a military coup in Pakistan, saying, Wait a minute, I've worked with this general. I think we may be able to persuade him to be much more supportive than he has been than we think in the past. As a result of that kind of relationship that General Zinni had with General Musharraf -- President Musharraf, later President Musharraf -- we were able to help thwart attacks during the millennium. So you have to at some point put some judgment in the experts that you call upon to give you advice. Could I have second guessed the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Shelton? Yes. Could I have second guessed General Zinni? Did I have reason to, based upon my experience with them? And the answer was no.


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COHEN: I put a lot of faith in their recommendations and their judgment, and I never found them, quote, risk averse. They really were more mission successful in their orientation -- saying if we do this, we're likely to succeed, if we do the following, we're likely to fail. Those were the kinds of decisions we had to make. So, what could have been done? We had lethal authority. Sandy Berger said we weren't trying to send simply a summons to bin Laden in Afghanistan, we were trying to kill him -- him or anyone else who was there at the time. That was, you know, what they call a warning shot to the temple. We were trying to kill bin Laden -- and anyone there that went to that camp. Did we have the kind of information that would have allowed to us get him later? We didn't see it. It was never recommended. I can't account for everything that you've heard, but there was never a recommendation that came to the national security team that said: We've got a good shot at getting him, let's take military action and do it. The only other alternative would have been: Could we have persuaded Pakistan, Get out of the way, we're coming, we don't need your support, we're going to invade Afghanistan ? I leave it to you, Senator Kerrey, and to others who have served in Congress. Do you think it's reasonable that under the circumstances that any president, including President Clinton, could have gone to Congress in October of 2000 and said, These people are trying to kill us, and now therefore we're going to invade Afghanistan and take them out. I don't think so. But other members can disagree. A judgment call. You sat on the other side of that decision.

KERREY: Well, that presumes that the president would come to Congress and request authorization for action there. But as you know, there have been many moments when the president doesn't request such authorization. He just does it.

COHEN: Can I make -- let me make one other point. One other point. You remember Kosovo.


COHEN: Here we had a campaign going on in Kosovo. I don't know how many times you came to the White House, but there were meetings after meetings with members of Congress coming down to the president saying, This is a bad idea, when are you going to get out? What's the exit strategy? How much is it going to cost us? We had to sustain a 78-day bombing campaign -- frankly, without the support of Congress. And it was a successful campaign. And as a result of that, we saved a lot of lives. But I give you that as an example to say the notion that somehow President Clinton or even President Bush -- absent 9/11 -- could have walked into the halls of Congress, say, Declare war against Al Qaida, I think is unrealistic.

KERREY: But, Mr. Secretary, I must say you're making my argument. I supported what the president did in Kosovo. I supported what he did in Bosnia. I was in the minority in both times. But that didn't stop him from doing it. The fact that it was difficult, the fact that it was hard, the fact even at times that it was unpopular -- he believed in it, and he rallied the American people to the cause.

COHEN: He also rallied allies.

KERREY: He didn't rally, he didn't do that with bin Laden. C

OHEN: But he also rallied allies to the cause. You had the NATO countries involved in Bosnia and Kosovo. You have, after 9/11, you have him rallying the international community to help go into Afghanistan. Prior to that time, I dare say there is not a single country that would have been supporting the president of the United States declaring war and invading Afghanistan prior to 9/11. You can disagree with that judgment. I don't think there was a single country, and I frankly think that Congress would have overwhelmingly rejected it. KERREY: I would disagree. I respectfully disagree. First of all, again, as I said, there are many instances where the president doesn't even come to Congress. Operation Just Cause in Panama. He didn't come to Congress and say, Gee, is it OK to do that? Grenada -- the president didn't come to Congress and said, Is that OK to do it? In Bosnia and Kosovo, the very examples that you cite, the president didn't have the support of Congress, and he went ahead and did. I think he did the right thing. But the fact that it's unpopular, that it's difficult, that our allies are not necessarily with it shouldn't deter a president who believes that what we have is a serial killer on our hands who had begun killing us at least as early as 1993, who had issued a very specific declaration of war calling Islamic men to join an Islamic army on the 23rd of February, 1998, and then demonstrated that he had the capacity in a very sophisticated way on the 7th of August to carry out that threat. We had a round in our chamber and we didn't use it. That's how I see it. And I don't know if it had prevented 9/11. But I absolutely do not believe that just because a commander in chief sits there and said, Gee, this thing is unpopular therefore I can't do it, I don't think that's a good argument. I know Secretary Rumsfeld is going to use it here in a few minutes and I'm going to be just as harsh with him. I don't buy it.


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COHEN: Well, Senator Kerrey, let's go back to the Persian Gulf war of '91. There you had Saddam Hussein invading Kuwait. There you had the president of the United States, President Bush 41, going to the international community, gathering support, and then deciding to come to the Congress to get congressional support. Close call. I think it passed the Senate by four votes under those extraordinary circumstances. But I would submit to you the notion that you'd be able in the fall of 2000 to have rallied the Congress and the country to invade Afghanistan and to have had the support of Pakistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, all of the other people in the region, I don't think is realistic.

COHEN: Judgment call -- we can be faulted for that. I just don't think it was feasible.

KERREY: Well, I would just say for the record: Better have tried and failed than not to try at all. And I think in this particular case, again, what you've got, the thing that's most troubling about 9/11 is that it was carried out by the same group of people that had killed Americans the previous October, that had tried to kill Americans on the (inaudible) just before that in the Summer of 2000. It's a series of events stretching back for a decade. That's the problem.

COHEN: And we would...

KERREY: With a declaration of war by he guy who's leading the organization.

COHEN: And we were trying to kill those members whenever we could find them. But you're not talking about people sitting in a city waiting to be attacked. It's like mercury on a mirror. You're talking about individuals who can hide. I mean let's look at what's taking place today. I point out again, you've got thousands of people on the ground in Afghanistan with the support of Pakistan, and we still are unable to track him down and to kill him.

KERREY: But if you look at the performance of the Special Operations units in Northern Afghanistan and the war against Afghanistan, and they leveraged thousands of GIs effort, they were enormously effective.

COHEN: I agree.

KERREY: Likewise in Iraq and likewise again right now in Afghanistan.

COHEN: I agree. I think we owe them a tremendous amount of gratitude for all of the sacrifice they make and the training they have. That's the reason we are the finest in the world, because of that training.

: What was the military objective on 20 August, 1998?

COHEN: The military objective was to kill as many people in those camps as we could, to take out the pharmaceutical plant because we had reason to believe -- actionable intelligence.

KERREY: But there were more men south of Kandahar than there was up by the coast. Why did we attack that particular camp?

COHEN: Because intelligence was that we believed that bin Laden and his associates were going to be there. We went after as many as we could and as high as we could. We didn't know whether he'd be there for sure. We hoped he would be there. He slipped away apparently.

KERREY: Did you consider putting a special ops -- a relatively small special ops team just to get eyes on the prize -- just to be able to be sort of forward air controllers, rather than having to rely on satellites or tribals to tell you where bin Laden was? COHEN: I think that the judgment was that it was a more discrete operation likely to be less compromised than if we tried to put people on the ground at that time. Again, you can question that judgment, but that was a recommendation coming that had the best chance of success of getting him.

KERREY: We're going to hear from Secretary Rumsfeld in a little bit and I want to ask you one last question in that regard. During the transition, you briefed the secretary on 50 items and also briefed him on Al Qaida. And perhaps he's going to recall, but in a previous interview, he didn't remember much about the briefing on Al Qaida. Can you offer any reasons why?

COHEN: I listed -- since I had limited time with Secretary Rumsfeld, I knew that he had -- was quite familiar with the office. And what I tried to do is to give him the whole panoply in a very short period of time knowing that there were going to be specific briefings by the chairman of the joint chiefs and others, the joint staff, the national security adviser and, also, the CIA.


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COHEN: So we tried to cover as many subjects as we could. The very first subject had to do with a major threat to the United States involving Al Qaida or bin Laden's associates, but an extremist group launching an attack domestically. I don't think I want to talk about it any more than that, but that was a number one item. Everything else on the item were issues that I thought he should at least be aware of, but number one was my concern. And frankly I came to Capitol Hill. I met I think with just a total of perhaps eight to 10 people to talk about the threat that existed and what needed to be done what needed to be done to help counter it. I don't think I want to talk about it more.

KERREY: I made the same conclusion, Mr. Secretary. But as I said at the beginning, Goldwater-Nichols, Special Operations Command, the men and women of the Air Force, Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard that won the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, that was your troops and you ought to feel very proud of it.

COHEN: Thank you very much, Senator.

KEAN: Governor Thompson. THOMPSON: Mr. Secretary, let me see if I could get this straight. We've been talking for the last half hour on the issue of a response to the USS Cole. If I understand the testimony of a lot of people, the Clinton administration didn't believe it had proof sufficient of Al Qaida's responsibility before they left office, and perhaps the Bush administration felt it wasn't on their watch and they had other fish to fry. And passing that, you seemed to suggest in your answer to an earlier question that the only option for a military reprisal for the bombing of the Cole was an invasion of Afghanistan. And I think most people would agree -- and certainly prior testimony has cited -- that that was just not an appropriate response. We had no place to forward base from. We had no coalition. It was much different than Kosovo where we had overflight rights and we had allies. But am I wrong in believing that just as appropriate a response would have been action against the Taliban, not necessarily just against Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaida followers. We knew where Mullah Omar lived, presumably. What about a missile strike on Taliban facilities, not just their training camps, but on their civil seats of government? There would have been collateral damage, yes, but I think you said you were willing to accept collateral damage. And the 13 sailors we lost in the Cole were not collateral damage, they were direct damage. Was any consideration given to reprisals against the institutions and facilities, civil government of the Taliban, for the Cole?

COHEN: There were a number of proposals. And I can't recall specifically, but I think Mr. Clarke may be talking about those tomorrow. But there were a number of recommendations to go in and flatten a number of areas.

During that time, we did not have specific information this was bin Laden. Frankly, that was my suspicion. It could have been other Islamic extremists that were operating out of Yemen. We found out in retrospect there had been a previous attack that was unsuccessful against The Sullivan. But that was my suspicion. We were trying to get bin Laden in any event. Whether it was before the Cole or after the Cole, we were still looking for ways in which we might attack bin Laden. So some recommendations to actually just flatten a number of areas. It was the considered judgment at the time that that would not have either gotten bin Laden or have resulted in a positive reaction by either Pakistan -- that we were courting at that point to try and persuade them join us in this effort -- or any of the others in the region. So, it was determined, again, that it would have not been effective, and it might have been counterproductive. That was a judgment call at the time. As the secretary of defense, I have to make recommendations to the president. I have to do so certainly filled with passion in terms of what had happened to the Cole. I went to those funerals and services and I met with all the families, and so it was pretty important to me that I had to also take into account what would have been the impact of launching an attack against the Taliban at that point, when we didn't have the support of Pakistan, who was officially still supporting the Taliban. Would that have been counterproductive and less effective? Our judgment was that it would not have been effective, and we didn't do it.


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THOMPSON: Do you think it's appropriate to assert, as some people have, that one of the first acts of a brand new national administration, in this case the Bush administration, would have been to go to war over the Cole?

COHEN: No. I think the first act of the administration is to assess all of the information it can, to make an informed judgment, to take actions, not only one action, but to see what are the consequences of that action. I don't think any administration should take a precipitous action. They should look at the facts and then make a determination: What are the consequences of this, what is the follow-up? If we take action to attack the Taliban, how much will it take? How many forces? All of these factors have to be taken into account, and I think you never take step one without asking yourself: What's step five and six? Where are we? So, no, I don't fault the administration for not doing that immediately.

THOMPSON: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

KEAN: Commissioner Gorelick.

GORELICK: Mr. Secretary, thank you for your testimony today. It is quite impressive, as always, very thoughtful and broad-gauged. I have been troubled about something that perhaps you can help on.

GORELICK: You were in these meetings where the various possibilities of getting Osama bin Laden were discussed. We now have huge and selective leaks coming from various levels of the CIA who are saying, We really had him. We had great intelligence. We could have gotten him, and the policymakers overruled us. At the same time you have Sandy Berger, and I think yourself, and others, saying, No, the director of CIA told us the intelligence was not good enough and he was not recommending going forward. That leaves us in a very peculiar position. Either the people below George Tenet didn't know what was happening above his level, or at his level, or he was telling them one thing and telling you another, or maybe there is some third possibility. But this is an important issue for us to understand: Did we have it? Did we not have it? Was it good? Was it not good? And how could there be this dispute on something so fundamental? And I would just like your view on this.

COHEN: There are 23,000 people who work at the Pentagon. Secretary Lehman probably knows from his own experience how disconcerting that can be in terms of trying to maintain control and to maintain the flow information coming up through the department of the Navy or the department of defense.

There were 3,000 people on the Office of Secretary of Defense staff that we tried to reduce by a third. That was one of my goals in taking the office itself, but 2,000 people in the Office of Secretary of Defense. I can assure you, there are people inside the Pentagon who say, If only they had listened to me. If only this memo had gotten to the boss, we would have taken the following action. I think all policymakers have to come to the following conclusion: You are judged by the people that you appoint. You pick the best people you can, you rely upon their judgment. If you find that you have to question their credibility or their judgment, you get rid of them. But the notion that somehow there is somebody down in the bowels that has a different view, or has submitted a different analysis that if only had you gotten to the right people would have made a difference, I think you have to take that into account. But if the director of central intelligence says, We don't have it, then you have to rely upon that. If he says, We do have it, you rely upon that as well and say, OK, under these circumstances, we take the following action.

COHEN: If the chairman of the joint chiefs comes to me and says, I recommend the following, you have to rely upon that unless you doubt his actions. I'll give you an example. The chairman of the joint chiefs, I selected him for that position because he was the commander of Special Operations Command. For that specific reason, I wanted to have more emphasis placed upon Special Forces than we had placed in the past. I saw what he did. And I put this in my written testimony. I saw what he did in Bosnia and Kosovo. We had some operation called the PIFWICs. These were persons who had been indicted for war crimes. And they were so- called snatch operations. I saw some of the plans that were put into effect to grab certain people. I saw Chairman Shelton saying, Don't do it that way. Here's a better way. Here's how you're really going to make this thing successful. So I came to see how he operated and to rely upon his judgment. And if I had any doubts that he was giving me the straight information, which I never had, then I would have been derelict in my duty in not calling him on it. So I think you have to take into account one of the challenges that this commission faces, all of us face: How do we have better vertical integration? You've had information about what took place in some of the field offices and the FBI, information that didn't get put up the line, didn't get shared horizontally. How do we construct a system that allows for better vertical information of intelligence and then horizontal cross-fertilization or sharing that information? Tough job. You've got different cultures. You've got different sources and methods and standards. But it has to be done. Now, it will never deal with the issue that you're raising now. If someone at whatever level, second, third, fourth level down says I have a better idea, or, I have information, it's just not getting to the right people. You will always have that problem. But you have to rely upon the judgment of the people that you appoint.

GORELICK: But you are convinced that the director of central intelligence in these instances said to you and your fellow policymakers, We don't have it.


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COHEN: On every occasion, he said that exactly. He would come in initially because he was getting some raw information, saying I think we're going to have it, that we do have it. And then he would go back and he would refine it and after, again, we were prepared to take action to say, We don't think so. To his credit, I mean this is not a fault of George Tenet. This is to his credit, saying, Let's be as sure as we can. If we're going to kill people, innocent people, as well as carrying out this operation, let's be as sure as we can that we've got the right target, the right information, and minimize if we can, killing innocent people. That's his job, and I think he did it well.

GORELICK: Thank you.

KEAN:Senator Gorton? GORTON: Mr. Secretary, help me, with your experience and wisdom, with this very troubling two-word phrase...

COHEN: Actionable intelligence. GORTON: ... actionable intelligence. It seems to me that actionable intelligence, with respect to going after Osama bin Laden after 1988, must have been based on the proposition that almost the sole goal is getting, capturing or killing Osama bin Laden, and that what a lack of actionable intelligence meant was either, one, you didn't have a 90 percent chance of finding him where whatever intelligence you had said he would be; or, two, if you could, you were going to kill 300 or 400 other people while you were doing it, that the collateral damage would be too great to run the risk. But actionable intelligence on August 20th, after the embassy bombings, it seems to me must have been softer than that, and actionable intelligence must have been, Well, we know there is a camp there and we're pretty sure there are going to be some bad guys there. And besides blowing up those two things, it was so bad we've got to do something. Tell me if that's correct. But most of all, tell me what, in general terms for the future, actionable intelligence means. How much of it is the goal? How much of it is your certainty that you can attain that goal? And how much of it is just related to the fact that under some circumstances you're going to have to do something even though you aren't certain that you'll be a success?

COHEN: Senator Gorton, let me give you a real case involving actionable intelligence, the so-called pharmaceutical plant in Sudan. I want to use that as an example because there we were given information that bin Laden, following the bombings of the embassies in East Africa, was seeking to get his hands on chemical and biological weapons to kill as many people as he could. We were real concerned about that. I was very concerned about that.

COHEN: Intelligence started to come in about this particular plant. They had been gathering information on it, and I think I point this out in my written testimony, but, frankly, I apologize for not getting it to you much sooner. I was still working on it as of yesterday, last night. But to give you an example, this particular facility, according to the intelligence we had at that time, had been constructed under extraordinary security circumstances, even with some surface-to-air missile capability or defense capabilities. That the plant itself had been constructed under the security measures, that the plant had been funded, in part, by the so-called military industrial corporation, that bin Laden had been living there, that he had in fact money that he had put into this military industrial corporation, that the owner of the plant had traveled to Baghdad to meet with the father of the VX program, and that the CIA had found traces of EMTA nearby the facility itself. According to all the intelligence, there was no other known use for EMTA at that time other than as a precursor to VX. Under those circumstances, I said, that's actionable enough for me -- that that plant could in fact be producing not baby aspirin or some other pharmaceutical for the benefit of the people, but it was enough for me to say we should take it out -- and I recommended that. Now, I was criticized for that, saying, you didn't have enough. And I put myself in the position of coming before you and having someone like you say to me, Let me get this straight, Mr. Secretary, we've just had a chemical weapons attack upon our cities or our troops and we've lost several hundred or several thousand. And this is the information which you had at your fingertips. You had a plant that was built under the following circumstances, had you manager that went to Baghdad, you had Osama bin Laden who had funded at least the corporation, and you had traces of EMTA and did you what? You did nothing? Is that a responsible activity on the part of the Secretary of Defense? And the answer is pretty clear. So I was satisfied, even though that still is pointed as a mistake, that it was the right thing to do then. I would do it again, based on that kind of intelligence. So that was an example of actionable intelligence. When it comes to other circumstances, you have to weigh it, each and every case. You say, do you take action just for the sake of taking it, saying do something? I think we have a greater responsibility. Before I decide or make a recommendation to the president of the United States to launch a missile that's going to kill a lot of people, I want to make sure as much as I can it's not out of passion, but out of as much reasoned analysis as I can make to say, This is a target that poses a threat to us, Mr. President.


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COHEN: And yes, there are risks that you're going to kill some innocent people, but we have an obligation to take it out. It's individual analysis. I can't give you specifics on it. I gave you an example of where I thought it was the right thing.

GORTON: Thoughtful answer. It preempted any further questions. (LAUGHTER)

KEAN: Secretary Lehman.

LEHMAN: Mr. Secretary, I'd like to follow up on Senator Kerrey's line of inquiry.

COHEN: Good Navy man does that.

LEHMAN: I always follow the black shoes. The question I have is, in the testimony of a number of the witnesses we've had, and of course, in Mr. Clarke's book, your Pentagon comes in for a lot of criticism for basically -- along two lines, the most important of which is that whenever there was an opportunity and a request for options, when the president requested options and so forth, the only thing the Joint Chiefs could come up with, the Pentagon could come up with, was either lob a few cruise missiles or the Normandy invasion. And I recall the debates over the creation of the Special Operations Command in which I was initially skeptical and became a strong advocate as you laid out the case very well for that legislation, which was to provide a president with something in between, a much more discriminating set of options, between the kind of things that came out of the chiefs all those decades, which is either launch an alpha strike from the carriers, send in the 101 Airborne, or carpet bomb with B-52s. And yet, it seems that every time that a request was made for some set of options -- at least this is the testimony we have -- the alternative was always given, Well, we can't invade Afghanistan, Congress will never do it, so the only thing we have is to fire a few cruise missiles. And clearly, as Senator Kerrey was suggesting, there are lots of potential discrete options in between, like putting specialized Special Operations forces on the ground.


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LEHMAN: Now this is before. Yes, it takes 13,000 today and they can't find him. But before the war in Afghanistan, there was a lot -- he was much more accessible. So there were options. But somehow the Special Operations Command -- either did not because it was, as our staff pointed out, a supporting rather than a supported command or because not much has changed after all these years with the new operations command -- did not come up with discrete options. Why was that? And is Mr. Clarke's criticism a valid one?

COHEN: Well, first, I would take issue with the fact that the Joint Chiefs of Staff can only go from B-1 bombers or cruise missiles or the Normandy invasion. If you look at what took place in both Bosnia and Kosovo, Special Forces played a key role over there in terms of some of these operations. So JSOACC was always on tap to do whatever was reasonable to do. I would have to place my judgment call in terms of: Do I believe that the chairman of the joint chiefs, former commander of Special Forces Command, is in a better position to make a judgment about the feasibility of this and perhaps, Mr. Clarke? I had to make that kind of a call. Was Richard Clarke in a better position to say this has a greater chance of success or General Shelton? I indicated that I relied upon the senior military adviser to me, the president for the national security team. I have no reason to in any way ever doubt that he was very straight with me and was not trying to rig the system so you only had one of two options. But, rather, I think he always felt we are prepared to take action to put Special Forces on the ground if there is a reasonable opportunity to achieve the mission. To do anything less than that, to put those young people at risk with the enormity of the task of that country, that size, with that many caves with, by the way, the support of the Taliban, and not the support of Pakistan, I'd have to question whether or not that was reasonable to do so. I did. And I supported the chairman saying, this doesn't make a good deal of sense in terms of putting those young men's lives at risk when the potential for success is very limited, if not de minimus.

LEHMAN: You'll be pleased to know that he's even harsher on the CIA's capability in these kinds of...

COHEN: Everybody can be critical. You can criticize the agency, criticize DOD. The real issue is: What action do we take from here?

COHEN: Where are the fault lines? Where does fault lie? If you think that we were irresponsible in not putting a small unit into Afghanistan when you had virtually no support activities. For example, I mentioned this operations in Kosovo. They had incredible intelligence support just tens of miles away. Now you're going to put a small unit of Special Forces into Afghanistan, where there is no intelligence support miles away, but thousands of miles away. What do you do in terms of search and rescue? This is something I know you were concerned about certainly as secretary of the Navy. What about CSAR? If we lose one of our pilots, or lose one of our people, you got to send in search and rescue. Well, how about refuelers for the C-130 gunships, et cetera? All of those factors were involved on the part of military planning. Do you just put special forces in and say, we know how good you are, go do the job and good luck? The answer is no. You try to make sure you protect them as much as you can and measure the probability of success against the risk that they are put at. LEHMAN: That brings me to the point of these questions really. Many witnesses have criticized CIA for really not having the capability for covert operations and special operations. And yet they've been called upon to do them. On the other hand, the Pentagon has been criticized because they don't want to do them. And so I guess the question that has arisen in our minds is, perhaps there should be a straightforward assignment of the counterterrorism mission to SOCOM and not pretend CIA can do it with civilians and not leave the Special Operations Command as just a supporting operation to the CINCs who are not likely to have the kind of focus for doing this. What would you think of that kind of reform?


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COHEN: Well, actually, I think that Secretary Rumsfeld may be in the process of recommending that. I think he may see the use of Special Forces in a way that achieves that kind of more centralized role than being a support element and being a more central player in terms of Special Forces designed to go out and kill or capture a number of the terrorist groups. I will also offer another comment, if I can, in this war on terror. It's my own personal judgment that the war on terror is, for the most part, not going to be won on the battlefield. I really believe that ultimately, aside from Iraq, which is a big aside, but aside from Iraq, I believe the war has to be wage by the sharing of information on almost a global basis. Again, I pointed my opening statement that we're all at risk now.

COHEN: We have to start sharing information, and it's going to require good police work, sort of what the Brits did by knocking down the door and finding a group of people with ricin in their possession -- sharing that kind of information, and covert operations, police work, Special Forces, and ultimately, finally, the military option. But I think that that's really what's going to be required for the war against terror. And I think Special Forces being charged with a higher level of activity is probably warranted.

LEHMAN: One final question. Another line of criticism from a fair number of our witnesses has been that in making decisions and recommendations from commanders for action of this type, that there has been a huge growth in the role of general counsel, shall we say, epitomized by the CENTCOM general counsel advising the CINC that he could not shoot at Omar because that would violate the assassination order. Just as a phenomenon -- well, I know that didn't happen on your watch, but just as an issue, it seems to us time and time again we see in interviews and queries that every one seems to be afraid to move in the policy level, and particularly in the Pentagon, without having a CYA memo from the legal counsel.

COHEN: I was not aware of any inhibition or prohibition against the Pentagon taking action directed against Osama bin Laden or anyone else. There was no question in my mind that both the agency and the military had complete authority to take whatever lethal action was necessary. I never saw anything that would have inhibited that.

LEHMAN: Thank you.

KEAN: Congressman Roemer?

ROEMER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Secretary, thank you again for a very, very helpful and thought-provoking statement that you gave us. I want to probe and push a little bit harder on two things that you've already talked about a little bit. One is the decision to fire the missiles into Sudan at El-Shifa plant. You've outlined in very specific detail three or four reasons why you decided to do that and why you might have regretted doing that at a later point.

COHEN: No, I never regretted doing that.

ROEMER: There were three or four reasons you are glad you did it and why those things could have come back to haunt you if...

COHEN: OK, all right.

ROEMER: You can clarify my question and your answer. (LAUGHTER) With respect to Sudan, every single person in the Clinton administration has told us that it was a very difficult decision, that they didn't have regrets about it, as you have not had any regrets about it, and that they were roundly criticized for it, not only because there was some theory on Capitol Hill about Wag the Dog, which you have clarified, I think, in your remarks, but I want to push you harder on the other part of this.

ROEMER: A couple of the people, including Sandy Berger in the private sessions with us, said they remembered the editorials across the country saying they didn't get bin Laden. They created, according to an Economist article, the Economist accused them of maybe creating a hundred Osama bin Ladens because they did not kill him with the cruise missile strikes. How does that not impact to some degree your decision, subsequently, when you're having these kinds of decisions come forward to make the tough call, as you did in this particular instance?


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COHEN: It had no impact. I looked at the question. I was satisfied. I regret that one life was lost during that particular attack. We were very precise. We timed it, as a matter of fact, so there would be very few, in any, people at the plant. It was at nighttime. It was timed simultaneously with the attack, virtually, in Afghanistan, so that we didn't lose the surprise element. And we tried to minimize any collateral damage to the extent that we could. But we were prepared to take that down. The wag the dog issue I think was unfortunate. It was untrue. But that was something that reality of what was taking place on Capitol Hill. As far as the criticism was concerned, it had no deterrent whatsoever in terms of our commitment to look for, hunt for and to capture or kill bin Laden. I do want to urge one cautionary note. And that is that even though it's important to capture or kill bin Laden, I think that we should understand that doesn't end it, any more than capturing Saddam Hussein has stopped some of the terrorist actions. I think that we have seen Al Qaida is not -- it doesn't have a central headquarters. It doesn't fly a flag. It is spread through many countries. I know it can be argued that because there was no prior action, it is even more disseminated now. But the fact is that we would take action against bin Laden or his associates wherever we thought we could do so successfully. What we didn't want to do was to take action that satisfied the passion of the moment, that gave us a sense, well, we're doing something, but in fact had the effect of simply generating opposition to what we were doing, undercutting the sharing of intelligence cooperation, making our goal of actually capturing or killing him more difficult.

COHEN: So that was the only hesitation we had: Does this action that is being proposed have a probability of success? Is it likely to achieve our goal? Or is it more likely to undercut our efforts? Those were the only considerations that we had.

ROEMER: I'm very happy to hear that. Let me ask you the question to look forward. Secretary Rumsfeld, who will be with us momentarily, wrote a memo that I think outlined the problem in the future absolutely to the point. And he said, as you have just indicated, that the military is not the only weapon, that it's one of many arrows in the quiver, one of many tools in the tool box to use. I'd like to push you a little bit harder on a country that is absolutely critical to the United States in our future, and that's Indonesia. What specifically, as these training camps produce this wrath of hatred and jihadists, what can we do, even if we're out there with the military killing people and trying to eliminate the terrorists and the jihadists, what can we do as they're cranking out these human conveyor belts of terrorists, in education, in a place like Indonesia, to replace the madrassas with a practical education? Or what can Indonesia do? What can we do on IMET? What can we do reaching out to the moderates in the government there? How can we begin to put new types of military and State Department and intel efforts to reach out to these types of critically important countries in the future?

COHEN: Thank you, Congressman Roemer. You had the secretary of state here earlier, Secretary Powell. And I think he laid out some of the, quote, diplomatic initiatives that have to be undertaken. Some of it involves diplomacy. It involves the use of economic both incentives and disincentives. It involves sanctions. It involves a variety of things. But most of all, it requires engagement on the part of the United States in a very aggressive, diplomatic fashion. Sheik Salman, who is the crown prince of Bahrain -- and if any of you haven't had occasion to meet with him, I'd recommend that you talk to this young man. He's one of most progressive young leaders that I have met in, certainly my travels, but especially in the Gulf region, along with King Abdullah of Jordan.

COHEN: But Sheik Salman made an observation a few months ago which I endorse, basically pointing to the problem that the United States has in dealing with this issue, that much of the Arab world looks through two lenses: one lens focused on how we conduct ourselves in Iraq, now that we're there, how we successfully resolve or achieve success in Iraq and treat the Iraqi people in that process; and the other happens to do with the Middle East conflict, that many Muslims throughout the world also look through the lens of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And so I think we have to become much more engaged there as well, and that's why I mentioned that I don't think it should wait until November elections are over. I think that we have to energize that process now. I have my own thoughts about what needs to be done and have written about that. In addition to that, we'd have to engage Indonesia diplomatically; military, the IMET program is one of the most important programs that we have, the sharing of educational materials, exercises, planning with other militaries. Because of the superiority I believe of the men and women who serve us, because of their excellence in education, discipline, leadership, follow-ship, all the things that make us the greatest force, military force, on the face of the earth, we should be trying to share that talent, technology, techniques with other countries. And, yes, they may be accused of not living up to our standards of human rights. All the more reason why we should engage them, all the more reason why we have to persuade them that this is the way a military has to operate, not with clubs and batons, not with the law of rule, but the rule of law. That also has to take place. So IMET's important. I think we also have to go to other countries who support the madrassas and say that you are feeding the flames of future destruction here. That requires education, it requires giving countries also a hope. I'll come back to the Palestinians for a moment. Unless you see people who have an opportunity for either sovereignty, dignity and opportunity, you are likely to see continued festering of violence in the region. So you have to give people a sense of hope: economic hope, individual liberty in terms of their opportunities -- all of that is involved. So that requires us to be engaged in a very aggressive way diplomatically. The military, by the way, plays a role, a great role, in diplomacy. We have our State Department, and they do an outstanding job with very limited resources. But the military also plays a very big role.


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COHEN: When our men and women in uniform go to a country and the people are able to judge them and see how good they are, how disciplined, how well-led, how technically capable, et cetera, how good they are as human beings, they make a judgment about us. And they say: We want to be like you. We want to have the same kind of capability. We want to develop a relationship with you. We need to do more of that. And so every time there's an issue that comes up on the Hill, they say, well, Abusive human rights; cut off IMET, we should be holding on to IMET. I could be carry on at length about this particular requirement, and I know that there are people on the Hill who would object to that. But I think we have a better chance of influencing people in their judgments about us and helping to persuade them that the way of the future is to have a military like that of the United States and our allies to subordinate that military to civilian rule, to educate the military, to help persuade them that they are in this war against terror with us -- all of that comes about with diplomacy and a very strong military capability and diplomatic effort.

LEHMAN: Thank you very much. I hope this commission will take into consideration those very provocative and thoughtful recommendations into our recommendations at the end of the day.

COHEN: Thank you.

KEAN: Secretary Cohen, thank you very, very much not only for your testimony today, but I know you've given very generously of your time to this commission in private sessions and with the staff. And for that, I thank you very much. I hope if we have additional questions -- and I know we're going to want to talk to you a bit more as we get into our recommendations -- that you will help us there also.

COHEN: OK. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

KEAN: Thank you very much.

LEHMAN: Now this is before. Yes, it takes 13,000 today and they can't find him. But before the war in Afghanistan, there was a lot -- he was much more accessible. So there were options. But somehow the Special Operations Command -- either did not because it was, as our staff pointed out, a supporting rather than a supported command or because not much has changed after all these years with the new operations command -- did not come up with discrete options. Why was that? And is Mr. Clarke's criticism a valid one?

COHEN: Well, first, I would take issue with the fact that the Joint Chiefs of Staff can only go from B-1 bombers or cruise missiles or the Normandy invasion. If you look at what took place in both Bosnia and Kosovo, Special Forces played a key role over there in terms of some of these operations. So JSOACC was always on tap to do whatever was reasonable to do. I would have to place my judgment call in terms of: Do I believe that the chairman of the joint chiefs, former commander of Special Forces Command, is in a better position to make a judgment about the feasibility of this and perhaps, Mr. Clarke? I had to make that kind of a call. Was Richard Clarke in a better position to say this has a greater chance of success or General Shelton? I indicated that I relied upon the senior military adviser to me, the president for the national security team. I have no reason to in any way ever doubt that he was very straight with me and was not trying to rig the system so you only had one of two options. But, rather, I think he always felt we are prepared to take action to put Special Forces on the ground if there is a reasonable opportunity to achieve the mission. To do anything less than that, to put those young people at risk with the enormity of the task of that country, that size, with that many caves with, by the way, the support of the Taliban, and not the support of Pakistan, I'd have to question whether or not that was reasonable to do so. I did. And I supported the chairman saying, this doesn't make a good deal of sense in terms of putting those young men's lives at risk when the potential for success is very limited, if not de minimus.

LEHMAN: You'll be pleased to know that he's even harsher on the CIA's capability in these kinds of...

COHEN: Everybody can be critical. You can criticize the agency, criticize DOD. The real issue is: What action do we take from here?


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COHEN: Where are the fault lines? Where does fault lie? If you think that we were irresponsible in not putting a small unit into Afghanistan when you had virtually no support activities. For example, I mentioned this operations in Kosovo. They had incredible intelligence support just tens of miles away. Now you're going to put a small unit of Special Forces into Afghanistan, where there is no intelligence support miles away, but thousands of miles away. What do you do in terms of search and rescue? This is something I know you were concerned about certainly as secretary of the Navy. What about CSAR? If we lose one of our pilots, or lose one of our people, you got to send in search and rescue. Well, how about refuelers for the C-130 gunships, et cetera? All of those factors were involved on the part of military planning. Do you just put special forces in and say, we know how good you are, go do the job and good luck? The answer is no. You try to make sure you protect them as much as you can and measure the probability of success against the risk that they are put at.

LEHMAN: That brings me to the point of these questions really. Many witnesses have criticized CIA for really not having the capability for covert operations and special operations. And yet they've been called upon to do them. On the other hand, the Pentagon has been criticized because they don't want to do them. And so I guess the question that has arisen in our minds is, perhaps there should be a straightforward assignment of the counterterrorism mission to SOCOM and not pretend CIA can do it with civilians and not leave the Special Operations Command as just a supporting operation to the CINCs who are not likely to have the kind of focus for doing this. What would you think of that kind of reform?

COHEN: Well, actually, I think that Secretary Rumsfeld may be in the process of recommending that. I think he may see the use of Special Forces in a way that achieves that kind of more centralized role than being a support element and being a more central player in terms of Special Forces designed to go out and kill or capture a number of the terrorist groups. I will also offer another comment, if I can, in this war on terror. It's my own personal judgment that the war on terror is, for the most part, not going to be won on the battlefield. I really believe that ultimately, aside from Iraq, which is a big aside, but aside from Iraq, I believe the war has to be wage by the sharing of information on almost a global basis. Again, I pointed my opening statement that we're all at risk now.

KEAN: We will now hear from the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld. Secretary Rumsfeld has had wide experience in several senior positions throughout the government. We are pleased to welcome him before us this afternoon. He's accompanied by his distinguished deputy secretary of defense, Paul Wolfowitz, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Richard Myers. Mr. Secretary, Mr. Deputy Secretary, General Myers, we would ask you if you could raise your right hand and so I may place you under oath. Do you swear or affirm to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?



MYERS: I do.

KEAN: Thank you very much. Mr. Secretary, your written remarks will be entered into the record in full. And we would ask you to summarize your remarks in the opening statement. You may proceed. Thank you.

RUMSFELD: Thank you very much, Chairman and Vice Chairman and members of the commission. I thank you for undertaking this important work. I would just mention that General Myers and Paul Wolfowitz have been intimately involved in the work of the department prior to September 11th, on September 11th and subsequent to September 11th. First, let me express my condolences to the people of Spain. The March 11th bombings will leave that nation changed. Certainly the families that lost loved ones on September 11th -- some of whom I'm sure are listening today -- must feel a bond with the families in other countries who have lost their fathers and mothers and brothers and sisters and sons and daughters to terrorism.


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They understand the pain and the heartbreak and the suffering of the families whose loved ones perished. The recent attacks are deadly reminders that the world's free nations are at war. I also want to thank the courageous men and women in uniform all across the globe who risk their lives so that all of us can live in freedom. This commission has an important opportunity. Those in positions of responsibility in government are of necessity focused on dozens of issues. This commission, however, can focus on one important topic, get it right and provide insights that can be of great value to us. You've been asked to try to connect the dots after the fact, to examine events leading up to September 11th and to consider what lessons, if any, might be taken from that experience that could prevent future dangers. It isn't an easy assignment. Yet the challenge facing our country before September 11th, and still today, is even more difficult. Our task is to connect the dots not after the fact but before the fact, to try to stop attacks before they happen. That must be done without the benefit of hindsight, hearings, briefings or testimony.

RUMSFELD: Another attack on our people will be attempted. We can't know where, or when, or by what technique. That reality drives those of us in government to ask the tough questions: When and how might that attack be attempted and what will we need to have done, today and every day before the attack, to prepare for it and to, if possible, to prevent it? On September 11th, our world changed. It may be tempting to think that once the crisis is passed that things will go back to the way they were. Not so. The world of September 10th is passed. We've entered a new security environment, arguably the most dangerous the world has known. And if we're continue to live as free people, we cannot go back to thinking the way the world thought on September 10th. For if we do, if we deal with the problems of the 21st century through a 20th century prism, we will most certainly come to the wrong conclusions and fail the American people. I saw the destruction terrorists wreaked on September 11th. At the impact site, moments after the American Airlines Flight 77 hit the Pentagon, one could see the flames, smell the burning fuel, see the twisted steel and the agony of victims. And once the crisis passed, I asked the question posed to this commission: What, if anything, might have been done to prevent it?

First I must say, I knew of no intelligence during the six-plus months leading up to September 11th that indicated terrorists would hijack commercial airliners, use them as missiles to fly into the Pentagon or the World Trade Center towers. The president said about forming what is today a 90-nation coalition to wage the global war on terrorist networks. He promptly set U.S. and coalition forces -- air, sea and ground -- to attack Afghanistan, to overthrow the Taliban regime and destroy that Al Qaida stronghold. In short order, the Taliban regime was driven from power. Al Qaida's sanctuary in Afghanistan was removed. Nearly two-thirds of their known leaders have been captured or killed. A transitional government is in power and a clear message was sent: Terrorists who harbor terrorists will pay a price. Those were bold steps. And today, in light of September 11th, no one questions those actions. Today I suspect most would support a preemptive action to deal with such a threat. Interestingly, the remarkable military successes in Afghanistan is taken largely for granted, as is the achievement of bringing together a 90-nation coalition. But imagine that we were back before September 11th and that a U.S. president had looked at the information then available, gone before the Congress and the world and said we need to invade Afghanistan and overthrow the Taliban and destroy the Al Qaida terrorist network based on what little was known was known before September 11th.

RUMSFELD: How many countries would have joined? Many? Any? Not likely. We would have heard objections to preemption similar to those voiced before the coalition launched Operation Iraqi Freedom. We would have been asked, How could you attack Afghanistan when it was Al Qaida that attacked us, not the Taliban? How can you go to war when countries in the region don't support you? Won't launching such an invasion actually provoke terrorist attacks against the United States? I agree with those who have testified here today -- Mrs. Albright, Secretary Cohen and others -- that unfortunately history shows that it can take a tragedy like September 11th to waken the world to new threats and to the need for action. We can't go back in time to stop the attack, but we all owe it to the families and the loved ones who died on September 11th to assure that there loss will, in fact, be the call that helps to ensure that thousands of other families do not suffer the pain they've endured. President Bush came to office with a determination to prepare for the new threats of the 21st century. The bombing of the Cole on October 12th, 2000, was seen both as evidence of the Al Qaida threat and the need to adjust U.S. policy. The more one studies terrorism, the more one becomes convinced that the approach to fighting it that had evolved over several decades really wasn't working. Treating terrorism as a matter of security, combating it through national and international law enforcement techniques and taking defensive measures against terrorist against simply weren't enough. After the attack on the Marine barracks in Beirut, the first World Trade Center attack, the embassy bombings in East Africa and the attack on the Cole, reasonable people have concluded that the value of that approach had diminished. A more comprehensive approach required a review not only of U.S. counterterrorism policy, but also U.S. policies with regard to other countries, some of which have not previously been at the center of U.S. relations, as Secretary Powell testified this morning. Dr. Rice has stated that she asked the National Security Council staff in her first week in office for a new presidential initiative on Al Qaida. In early March, the staff was directed to craft a more aggressive strategy aimed at eliminating the Al Qaida threat. The first draft of that approach, in the form of a presidential directive, was circulated by the NSC staff in June of 2001 and a number of meetings were held that summer at the deputy secretary level to address the policy questions involved, such as relating an aggressive strategy against Taliban to U.S.-Pakistan relations. By the first week of September, the process had arrived at a strategy that was presented to principals and later became NSPD-9, the president's first major substantive national security decision directive. It was presented for a decision by principals on September 4th, 2001, seven days before the 11th, and later signed by the president, with minor changes and a preamble to reflect the events of September 11th, in October.


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RUMSFELD: While this review of counterterrorism policy was under way, the Department of Defense was developing a review of U.S. defense strategy. On February 2nd, less than two weeks after taking office, I traveled to Germany for a conference on security policy. Already we were focused on the problem of unconventional, or asymmetric, threats. On the flight I was asked about the principles that would drive our defense review. I answered that the 1991 Persian Gulf War had taught the world that taking on Western armies, navies and air forces directly was not a good idea. It was, therefore, likely that potential adversaries would look for so-called asymmetrical responses, everything from terrorism to cyberattacks to information warfare, cruise missiles and short-range ballistic missiles to longer-range missiles and weapons of mass destruction. I won't repeat the long list of actions that Secretary Powell presented this morning in his excellent presentation. During the last decade, the challenges facing the intelligence community have grown more complex. Director Tenet will testify tomorrow and will provide a description of the challenges facing the intelligence community. We were concerned about the risk of surprise. In June of 2001, I attended the first NATO defense ministers meeting in the 21st century. I told my colleagues about Vice President Cheney's appearance before the Senate for his confirmation hearings as secretary of defense in March of 1989. During his hearings, a wide range of security issues were discussed, but not one person uttered the word Iraq. And yet within a year, Iraq had invaded Kuwait, and that word was in every headline. I wondered what word might come to dominate my term in office that wasn't raised by members of the Senate committee during my hearings. Three months later we learned the answer: Afghanistan and Al Qaida. These were the kinds of threats that we were preparing to meet and deal with in the months before September 11th, and during those early months we made progress in the effort to transform for the error of surprise and unconventional threats. Our actions included a congressionally required quadrennial defense review, completed just days before the 9/11 attacks, where we laid out the transformation objectives of the department, identified as our first priority the defense of U.S. territory against a broad range of asymmetric threats, in short, homeland defense. We developed a concept for new defense planning guidance and new contingency planning guidance. We found that many if not most of the war plans that existed were in need of updating and that the process for developing contingency plans was too lengthy. In May of 2001, we began the process of streamlining the way the department prepares war plans, reducing the time to develop plans and increasing the frequency at which the assumptions would be updated.

RUMSFELD: I should add that for much of that period, most of the senior officials selected by the president had not been cleared or confirmed by the Senate. Nonetheless, the few new civilians and the many civilian officials who stayed on to help and the military leaders did a great deal of work. Indeed, because we were doing these things in the department as well as in the National Security Council policy review, we were better prepared to respond when the 9/11 attack came. The day of September 11th, the morning, I was hosting a meeting for some members of Congress. And I remember stressing how important it was for our country to be prepared for the unexpected. Shortly thereafter, someone handed me a note saying a plane had hit one of the World Trade Center towers. Shortly thereafter, I was in my office with a CIA briefer and I was told that a second plane had hit the other tower. Shortly thereafter, at 9:38, the Pentagon shook with an explosion of then unknown origin. I went outside to determine what had happened. I was not there long because I was back in the Pentagon with a crisis action team shortly before or after 10:00 a.m. On my return from the crash site and before going to the executive support center, I had one or more calls in my office, one of which was with the president. I went to the National Military Command Center where General Myers, who was the vice chairman of the chiefs at that time, had just returned from Capitol Hill. We discussed, and I recommended, raising the defense condition level from five to three and the force protection level. I joined the air threat telephone conference call that was already in progress. And one of the first exchanges was with the vice president. He informed me of the president's authorization to shoot down hostile aircraft coming to Washington D.C. My thoughts went to the pilots of the military aircraft who might be called upon to execute such an order. It was clear that they needed rules of engagement telling them what they could and could not do. They needed clarity. There were standing rules of engagement, but not rules of engagement that were appropriate for this first-time situation where civilian aircraft were seized and being used as missiles to attack inside the United States. It may well be the first time in history that U.S. armed forces in peacetime have been given the authority to fire on fellow Americans going about their lawful business. We went to work to refine the standing rules of engagement. I spent the remainder of the morning and the afternoon participating in the air threat conference, talking to the president, the vice president, General Myers and others and thinking about the way forward.


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RUMSFELD: During the course of the day, the president indicated he expected us to provide him with robust options for military responses to that attack. In my first weeks in office, I had prepared a list of guidelines to be weighed before committing U.S. forces to combat, and I shared them with the president back in January or February of 2001. The guidelines included a number of points, including one that -- if the proposed action truly necessary, if lives are going to be put at risk, there must be a darn good reason, and that all instruments of national power should be engaged before, during and after any use of military force, and that it's important not to dumb down what's needed by promising not to do things, for example, by saying we won't use ground forces. A few days after September 11th, I wrote down some thoughts on terrorism and the new kind of war that had been visited upon us. I noted it will take a sustained effort to root the terrorists out, that the campaign is a marathon, not a sprint, that no terrorists are terrorist networks such as Al Qaida is going to be conclusively dealt with by cruise missiles or bombers. The coalitions that are being fashioned will not be fixed; rather, they'll change and evolve. And it should not be surprising that some countries will be supportive of some activities in which the U.S. is engaged, while other countries may not. And we can live with that. And this is not a war against Islam. The Al Qaida terrorists are extremists whose views are antithetical to those of most Muslims.

There are millions of Muslims around the world who we expect to become allies in this struggle, unquote. In the following days, we prepared options to deal with the Taliban and Afghanistan. And the president issued an ultimatum to the Taliban. When they failed to comply, he initiated the global war on terror and directed the Department of Defense to carry out Operation Enduring Freedom against the Al Qaida and their affiliates and the Taliban regime in Afghanistan that harbored and supported them. This, of course, was a Department of Defense where the armed forces of the United States had historically been organized, trained and equipped to fight armies, navies and air forces, not to chase down individual terrorists.

In the aftermath of September 11th, the department has pursued two tracks. We've prosecuted the global war on terror in concert with our agencies of the government and our coalition partners. In addition, we've continued -- we've had to continue, and, indeed, accelerate the work to transform the department so that it has the ability to meet and defeat the threats of the 21st century, different threats. There has been success on both fronts. The coalition has been successful in overthrowing two terrorist regimes, hunted down hundreds of terrorists and regime remnants, disrupted terrorist financing, disrupted terrorist cells on several continents.

RUMSFELD: We've also established Northern Command, a new command dedicated to defending the homeland. We have expanded the Special Operations Command in significant ways and given them additional authorities, authorities they need today and will certainly need in the future. We've established a new assistant secretary for homeland defense for the first time and an undersecretary of defense for intelligence. The coalition's actions have sent a message to the world's terrorist states that harboring terrorists and the pursuit of weapons of mass murder carry with it unpleasant costs. By contrast, countries like Libya that abandon the support of terrorism and the pursuit of those weapons can find an open path to better relations with the world's free nations. In the period since September 11th, the administration, several committees of Congress and now this commission, have been examining what happened on that day. A number of questions have been raised. Some have asked: When the administration came into office, was there consideration of how to deal with the USS Cole? It's a fair question. One concern was that launching another cruise missile strike, months after the fact, might have sent a signal of weakness. Instead, we implemented the recommendations of the Cole commission and began developing a more comprehensive approach to deal with Al Qaida, resulting in NSPD-9. Some have asked: Why wasn't bin Laden taken out? And if he had been hit, could it have prevented September 11th? I know of no actionable intelligence since January 20th that would have allowed the U.S. to capture or kill bin Laden. It took 10 months to capture Saddam Hussein in Iraq, and coalition forces had passed by the hole he was hiding in many, many times during those months. They were able to find him only after someone with specific knowledge told us precisely where he was. What that suggests, it seems to me, is that it's exceedingly difficult to find a single individual who is determined not be found. Second, even if bin Laden had been captured or killed in the weeks before September 11th, no one I know believes that it would necessarily have prevented September 11th. Killing bin Laden would not have removed Al Qaida's sanctuary in Afghanistan. Moreover, the sleeper cells that flew the aircraft into the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon were already in the United States months before the attack. Indeed, if actionable intelligence had appeared -- which it did not -- 9/11 would likely still have happened. And ironically, much of the world would likely have called the September 11th attack an Al Qaida retaliation for the U.S. provocation of capturing or killing bin Laden. Some have asked whether there were plans to go after Al Qaida in Afghanistan before 9/11, and if so, why weren't they successfully implemented. I recently reviewed a briefing that I'm told was presented to me in early February.


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RUMSFELD: I should add that it is increasingly difficult to distinguish between information that contributes to so-called national intelligence as opposed to information that is necessary for military intelligence and focuses on the battlefield. I would say that just as it would be unwise to concentrate everything under a single intelligence czar in an effort to improve national intelligence, it would be equally undesirable to concentrate everything under the Department of Defense so that one could improve military intelligence. It seems to me that either would be an unfortunate approach. How can we wage war not just on terrorist networks, but also on the ideology of hate that they spread? The global war on terror will, in fact, be long. And I am convinced that victory in the war on terror will require a positive effort as well as an aggressive battle. We need to find creative ways to stop the next generation of terrorist from being recruited, trained and deployed to kill innocent people. For every terrorist that coalition forces capture or kill, still others are being recruited and trained. To win the war on terror, we have to win the war of ideas: the battle for the minds of those who are being recruited and financed by terrorist networks across the globe. Can we transform the nomination and confirmation process so there are not long gaps with key positions unfilled every time there is a new administration? As I have indicated, for most of the seven months leading up to September 11th, the department's work was done without many of the senior officials responsible for critical issues. We ought to consider whether in the 21st century we can afford the luxury of taking so long to put in place the senior officials for national security and try to fashion the necessary reforms for the clearance, nomination and confirmation process. Another thought: Could our nation benefit from a Goldwater- Nichols-like law for the executive branch of the U.S. government. If you think about it, the Goldwater-Nichols Act in the 1980s helped move Department of Defense towards a more effective joint approach to war- fighting. It was a good thing. But to do so, each of the services had to give up some of their turf, some of their authority. And today one could argue that the interagency process is such that the executive branch is stovepiped much like the four services were 20 years ago. And ask the question: Could we usefully apply that concept of the Goldwater-Nichols law to the government as a whole? Let me conclude by saying that despite the work of the coalition, terrorist attacks continue, most recently in Madrid. It's almost certain that in the period ahead, somewhere more terrorist attacks will be attempted.

RUMSFELD: What can be done? Not long ago, we marked the 20th anniversary of a terrorist attack in Beirut, Lebanon, when the suicide bomb truck attacked the Marine barracks. And that blast killed more than 240 Americans. Soon after that attack, President Reagan and Secretary of State Shultz asked me to serve as the Middle East envoy for a period. That experience taught me lessons about the nature of terrorism that are relevant today as we prosecute the global war on terror. After the attack, one seemingly logical response was to put a cement barricade around the buildings to prevent more truck bombings -- a very logical thing to do. And it had the effect of preventing more truck bombings. But the terrorists very quickly figured out how to get around those barricades, and they began lobbing rocket-propelled grenades over the cement barricades. And the reaction then was to hunker down even more, and they started seeing buildings along the Cornish that runs along the sea in Beirut draped with metal wire mesh coming down from several stories high so that when rocket-propelled grenades hit the mesh, they would bounce off, doing little damage. It worked, again, but only briefly. And the terrorists again adapted. They watched the comings and goings of embassy personnel and began hitting soft targets. They killed people on their way to and from work. So for every defense, first barricades then wire mesh, the terrorists moved to another avenue of attack. One has to note that the terrorists had learned important lessons: that terrorism is a great equalizer, it's a force multiplier, it's cheap, it's deniable, it yields substantial results, it's low risk and it's often without penalty. They had learned that a single attack by influencing public opinion and morale can alter the behavior of great nations. Moreover, I said that free people had learned lessons as well: that terrorism is a form of warfare that must be treated as such. Simply standing in a defensive position, absorbing blows is not enough. It has to be attacked, and it has to be deterred. That was 20 years ago.


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When our nation was attacked on September 11th, the president recognized what had happened as an act of war and that it must be treated as such -- not a law enforcement matter. He knew that weakness would only invite aggression, and that the only way to defeat terrorists was to take the war to them and to make clear to states that sponsor and harbor them that such actions would have consequences. That's why we have forces risking their lives fighting terrorists today. And to live as free people in the 21st century, we cannot think that we can hide behind concrete barriers or wire mesh. We cannot think that acquiesce or trying to make a separate peace with terrorists to leave us alone, but to go after our friends, will work. Free people cannot live in fear and remain free.

RUMSFELD: I thank you, Mr. Chairman.

KEAN: Mr. Secretary, thank you very much. Questioning will be led by Commissioner Kerrey, followed by Commissioner Gorton.

KERREY: Well, Mr. Secretary, very good to see you again. You're still a terrific witness. My favorite witness ever.

RUMSFELD: Thank you.

KERREY: First of all, I'd like to know how many cars it took to get all of you guys over here? (LAUGHTER) It's a big group. Let me just read back to you what you said 20 years ago, Mr. Secretary, that simply standing in a defensive position absorbing blows is not enough, that terrorism must be deterred. And I say with great respect, it seems to me, up to 11 September, we were standing in a defensive position, taking blows. I mean, I'm going to give you the same line that I gave former Secretary Cohen when he was here earlier.

RUMSFELD: And I'm going to give you the same answers. I thought he did a good job. (LAUGHTER)

KERREY: All right. Well, we'll see if they are the same answers. I mean, this was -- it wasn't just that we were attacked on the 11th of September, Mr. Secretary. It's the same group of people that hit the Cole on the 12th of October. Same group of people that tried to hit The Sullivans a few months before that. The same group of people that were responsible for millennium attacks that we had interrupted, and in Jordan. The same group of people that hit our East African embassy bombings on the 7th of August. And now we know believe the same group of people that were responsible for other attacks against the United States. This was an army led by Osama bin Laden who declared war on us on the 23rd of February, 1998. And we had all kinds of reasons, I've heard them all, and they're all wonderful, as to why the only military attack we had was a single attack on the 20th of August, 1998, and other than that there wasn't anything. And 19 men, as a consequence, defeated us utterly, with less than a half million dollars. I ask you, wouldn't a declaration of war, either by President Clinton or President Bush prior to that, not just to go after bin Laden, but to say to the DOD, CIA and other agencies, you've got to work together, you've got to put together a terrorist list of radical Islamists that we believe are connected to these things to prevent from coming into the United States of America. You've got to make sure you consider all options and possibilities that might be used against us. You said you received no specific intelligence about the possibility of a plane being used as a bomb. Mr. Secretary, you're well-known as somebody who thinks about all kinds of terrible possibilities that might happen that nobody else is thinking about. I mean, that's what you do so well when you're going into a difficult situation. I mean, it seems to me that a declaration of war, either by President Clinton or by President Bush, prior to 9/11 would have mobilized the government in a way that at least would have reduced substantially the possibility that 9/11 would have happened. Do you agree or not? That's a different question than I gave Secretary Cohen. I'm getting better at this.

RUMSFELD: It is. I was going to use his answer and now I can't. Possibly, let me put it that way. The problem with it -- it sounds good the way you said it. I try to put myself in other people's shoes. And try to put yourself in the shoes of a new administration that had just arrived. And time had passed. We were in the process of bringing people on board. And the president said he wanted a new policy for counterterrorism. Making a declaration of war in February or March or April, for the sake of argument, without having fashioned the policy to follow it up, which they were working on, without having taken the kinds of steps in the Department of Defense to review contingency plans and get them up to date and get the assumptions current for the 21st century, without having tried to strengthen the Special Operations Forces, it seems to me might have been a bold stroke that would have sounded good. But when not followed up with the kind of capabilities that we were able to follow it up with on October 7th, when we put forces and capabilities into Afghanistan, might -- so it might not have been a great idea. I don't think it would have stopped September 11th.


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KERREY: Let me put it this way to you. Let's say that the Federal Aviation Administration had heeded some warnings about the possibility of a hijacking and had altered the procedures in American airports to prevented these hijackers from being able to get on the planes in the first place; or had different procedures on the airports on the morning of 11th of September to make certain the pilots were locked up front and that the passengers didn't remained in their seats and cooperate.

(APPLAUSE) Let's say that 9/11 hadn't happened. Would you have gone to the American people and carried out the strategy that you say you worked on all year long and came up with on the 4th of September? Because the president had to go to the American people and said, we're going to work to eliminate the Al Qaida network, we're going to use all national elements of the power to do so, diplomatic, military, economic, intel, information, law enforcement.

KERREY: And we're going to eliminate sanctions for Al Qaida and related terrorist networks. And if diplomatic efforts fail to do so, we're going to consider additional measures. Earlier in your testimony, you said all the reasons why to do such a thing would provoke angry response. Would the administration have put this policy in place were it not for 9/11?

RUMSFELD: I believe we would have. One can't announce that for certainty, because 9/11 happened. But it had been worked on, developed and was ready to go into place.

KERREY: Well, then doesn't...

RUMSFELD: In June and July when the intelligence spike took place, there were a good number of steps that were taken. My responsibilities, as you know, were overseas and not domestically. But forces were alerted. Embassies were alerted, as Secretary Powell indicated today. There were a number of steps taken by the Transportation Department with respect to airlines and cautions and warnings there. So it's not as though the intelligence that was gathering had not been understood and address and a great number of steps in addition to the development of the policy taken.

KERREY: I've got to say, Mr. Secretary, if that's the case -- and I trust you, I believe you on this point -- then I don't think it's a good argument to say that the American people wouldn't have accepted something prior to 9/11 that was unpopular, because you just said that absent 9/11 you would have recommended to the president to put in place a policy that would have been exceptionally unpopular and difficult to sell. I believe he should have, by the way, regardless of whether or not 9/11 happened. But it doesn't work. The argument falls on its face if you say, Please understand, we couldn't have done this before 9/11, if you say you would have done it absent 9/11.

RUMSFELD: I understand.

KERREY: All right. Dr. Rice has said that the national security team was briefed on the threat of Al Qaida in the transition and that it was well understood. This is what she said in The Washington Post yesterday: It was well understood by the president and his national security team, the principle.

In the interview that we did with you, you seemed not to be as clear as Dr. Rice was, or at least Secretary Powell was. And by the way, I'm very sympathetic to that given that the Department of Defense did not have that kind of authority over counterterrorism activity. So perhaps that would be the reason you were not. But in the interview, you indicated that you didn't recall that briefing. And in your testimony you also referenced -- I love to hear that even you have moments that you forget, you were at a briefing and people were telling you something. Do you recall the briefings on Al Qaida by Secretary Cohen and...

RUMSFELD: Secretary Cohen commented on it today. We did have a one or two meetings. He had a long list of items. There must have been 40- or 50-plus items.

RUMSFELD: I have given it to the committee. The first item was one that concerned him the most. And it involved a sensitive item that was very much on his mind that was terrorism-related, but to my recollection not Al-Qaida-related.

KERREY: It seems to me that Dr. Rice is overstating the case a bit in that statement saying that the threat of Al Qaida was well understood by the president and his entire national security team.

RUMSFELD: Oh, I don't think that's an overstatement.


RUMSFELD: Certainly the people in the administration who came in didn't arrive out of cellophane packages. They...

KERREY: But you didn't get a briefing by the counterterrorist and security group nor by SOLIC?

RUMSFELD: I did not get a briefing that Secretary Powell got, no. I was briefed by members of the joint staff and other people in the policy departments of the Department of Defense.


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KERREY: Dr. Rice also said that she wasn't satisfied with the off-the-shelf military response options that were available after the Cole, the so-called tit-for-tat options that I think she was referring to 20 August 1998 against the camps in Afghanistan. Did she ask for military options? Or were there military options requested during your term, because our investigation shows that there were no new military plans developed against Al Qaida or bin Laden prior to September 11th?

RUMSFELD: I think it's accurate to say -- General Myers, you may want to chime in here. But I think it's accurate to say that there were military options. And I characterize it as options and not a comprehensive plan to deal with Al Qaida and countries that harbor Al Qaida, but options to react -- response options, military response options to deal with specific terrorist events. And I was briefed on them, as I indicated in my testimony. And I suspect that Dr. Rice was briefed on them. I can just say that I don't remember ever seeing, in the first instance, I don't remember anyone being briefed on military proposals to react to something where they were fully satisfied. Nor do I ever remember military people being fully satisfied with the intelligence available. That's the nature of the world we live in. Dick, do you want to comment?

MYERS: Well, I would just add that we did, after the Cole, continue some of the planning that had gone on before, since '98 actually, and developed some additional options. I think we briefed the committee on those, or at least the staff.


KERREY: I'm confused when the national security adviser, in the Post, says that we didn't have an Al Qaida plan. No plan was given to the new administration on how to deal with Al Qaida. And then she goes on to say that was not satisfied with the off- the-shelf options that were available. Especially in the second case, we don't see any evidence that during the Bush administration there were any new requests that came to DOD asking for new military options. If there was dissatisfaction with the national security adviser, you would think she would have sent a request over for alternative military options.

RUMSFELD: Well, first of all, my recollection is that Sandy Berger has agreed with Dr. Rice that a plan for the Al Qaida was not handed from one administration to the other. And second, my understand is that the joint staff, after I was briefed and asked a lot of questions, went back down and continued working on those response plans throughout that period, and that that was one of the reasons why we were in a position to respond so promptly after September 11th.

KERREY: Is that true?

MYERS: That's correct.

KERREY: I said to Secretary Powell earlier, but I'll say it to you as well, Mr. Secretary. I don't understand this We're waiting for a plan thing at all. I really don't. I mean, we're dealing with an individual who's led a military effort against the United States for 10 years and has serially killed a significant number of Americans over that period of time. Why in God's name have I got to wait eight months to get a plan? I mean, I'm very sympathetic to the problems that you've mention. Paul wasn't on board I guess till March. And your last appointment, I think you had in your testimony, wasn't there, your key appointment wasn't there until August or something like that. I'm very sympathetic to all the difficulties of transition. But I still get in my head: Why do we need a brand new military, a full- blown plan like we're building a house or something here?

RUMSFELD: Well, let me just make one comment and maybe someone else would like to respond. Afghanistan was harboring the Al Qaida. Afghanistan was something like 8,000 miles from the United States. It was surrounded by countries that were not particularly friendly to the United States of America. Afghanistan, as I said publicly on one occasion, didn't have a lot of targets. I mean, you can go from an overhead and attack Afghanistan, and in a very short order, you run out of targets that are lucrative. You can pound the rubble in Al Qaida training camps 15 times and not do much damage. They can put tents right back up.


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RUMSFELD: The country has suffered for decades in drought, in civil war, in occupation by the Soviet Union. And trying to deal with them from the air, in my view -- and that is essentially what the courses of action were that I saw...

KERREY: I appreciate that, Mr. Secretary. But you said earlier that even absent 9/11 your strategy would have been to eliminate the Al Qaida network, to use all elements of national power to do so, to eliminate the sanctuaries for Al Qaida and related terrorist networks. I appreciate that. Is it a tough mission? Yes. But your declaratory earlier was that you would carried that out even absent 9/11.

RUMSFELD: And I would say that that's one of the reasons that Secretary Powell and I and others in the department, in the government spent time connecting with countries in that part of the world in ways that were unusual and distinctly different than had been the case previously, from the very first day of the administration.

KERREY: My time's up. Off to Senator Gorton.

KEAN: Senator Gorton?

GORTON: Mr. Secretary, on page 10 of your written statement, you express what I think is justified frustration in the extended period of time it took you to get a team in place with which to make these decisions. You list nine of your senior staff, the earliest of whom was confirmed on the 3rd of May 2001, and the last of whom, interestingly enough, an assistant secretary for international security policy, not until August 6th. And you say that the confirmation system -- that kind of confirmation system and those delays just don't work in the 21st century. I can greatly sympathize with you on that, but you leave out one very important factor. When were those nine people nominated and actually sent to the Senate?

RUMSFELD: Well, I wasn't suggesting in this that I -- in fact, I hope I phrased it more elegantly than you did. (LAUGHTER) My point here, I hope -- my point, whether I made it well or not, my point is, not simply the Senate confirmation, but the clearance process, the entire process, finding them, putting them through the FBI, putting them through multiple ethics. It took weeks for people to fill out their ethics forms. It cost a fortune for some people to fill out their ethics form. Then you have to go from the one in the executive branch to the one in the United States Senate and have that filled out in different forms.

RUMSFELD: Some of you may have been through this. It's an amazing process. And then some guy walks in and gives you a drug test. (LAUGHTER) It is not just the Senate, although the Senate can be a problem, with all respect. (LAUGHTER)

GORTON: Thank you. Thank you for that clarification. So in your view, it's the whole process.

RUMSFELD: Entirely, yes.

GORTON: From a new administration finding who they want, getting them through various clearances and then the Senate. But we don't know here how long the Senate part of that took in any one of these cases.

RUMSFELD: Well, I know. And I could give it to you if you're interested.

GORTON: I think I would be interested.

RUMSFELD: Well, we tried to parse it out to see how long each piece took. And the Senate is just a part of it.

GORTON: Thank you. On page 16 of your statement, and you've referred to this in connection with Senator Kerrey's questions, you ask and answer the question with respect to why nothing was done with respect to the attack on the Cole in the Bush administration. And you say, In fact, to do it four months later might have then sent a signal of weakness. Now, were the reasons for no specific response to the Cole, one, that you were still uncertain about who was responsible to it; two, that by the time you were in office, say in February of 2002, it was simply too late to respond specifically to an incident that had taken place the previous October; or three, that there just wasn't anything to shoot at?

RUMSFELD: Let me respond this way: First of all, it was seven and a half months. Someone earlier had specified that it was all year, which is not really the case. It was 7.5 months between the day the president was sworn in and the day of September 11th, 7.75 months, for the sake of precision. You say nothing was done. A great deal was done. The Cole commission did a good job. They made a whole series of recommendations and the Department of Defense implemented those recommendations. In my view, that is not nothing. You're right, as the time passed, two things were happening. Time was passing since the event of the Cole attack where 17 Americans and military personnel were killed. Time passed, and we became farther and farther away from that event.


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RUMSFELD: And the other thing that was happening is that the policy was being developed to deal with Al Qaida and the country that was harboring them. Last, and as you got closer to that, and you got farther away from the Cole event, it became logical, it seems to me, to look more toward the comprehensive approach than some sort of a repeat of what had happened after the embassy bombings or after some of the earlier events which, without criticizing the responses that took place then, the fact that they -- that had been all there was led us, me, I should say, to feel very deeply that the president ought not to simply fire off cruise missiles, that in the event he was going to make a response, he had to put people on the ground; he had to put people at risk; he had to show a seriousness of purpose or the administration would be seen as a continuum from the lobbying cruise missiles after an attack with relatively modest effect.

GORTON: Your statement, both oral and written in following up on that is quite impressive with respect to the preparation for a broader policy that took place in the seven months prior to 9/11. And on September 4th, there was a fairly definitive recommendation which you say would almost certainly have been adopted even in the absence of 9/11.

RUMSFELD: No, I think I said that I would have favored adopting it. I don't want to prejudge what would have happened.

GORTON: All right. I'll modify the question of that point. That program, as we understand it, had three parts. First, there would be one more diplomatic attempt with the Taliban to see if they would give up Osama bin Laden. Second, we would begin to arm the Northern Alliance and various tribes in Afghanistan to stir up trouble there and hope that perhaps they could capture Osama bin Laden. And third, if those didn't work, there would be a military response that would be substantial, much more than, you know, lobbying cruise missiles into the desert. But as we understand it, this was seen as a three-year program, if we had to go to the third stage. My question is, given World Trade Center one, given the embassy bombings, given the millennium plot, given the Cole, given the declaration of war by Osama bin Laden, what made you think that we had the luxury of that much time?

GORTON: Even seven months, much less three years, before we could cure this particular problem.

RUMSFELD: Well, let me answer two ways. Number one, I didn't come up with the three years. I tend to scrupulously avoid predicting that I am smart enough to know how long something's going to take because I know I don't know. Where that number came from, I don't know. In fact, dealing with the terrorism threat is going to take a lot longer than three years. And in fact, dealing with the Afghanistan piece of it took a lot less, as you point out. It seems to me that the -- it's interesting that you cite that because in fact, the president and Secretary Powell made an attempt early on, one last try, to separate the Taliban from the Al Qaida, and it failed. Not surprisingly, they'd been rather stiff. But it failed flat.

GORTON: It even failed after 9/11, didn't it?

RUMSFELD: That's my point. After 9/11 it failed flat. And the other concern we had was that we had precious little information about the groups in Afghanistan. We had enough information that there were people knowledgeable who were concerned that if all we did was help the Northern Alliance, as opposed to some other elements in the country, we may end up being quite unsuccessful, and that the goal was to try to get a broader base of support in the country. And that took some time. And the part you left out was that we decided, I decided, the president decided, everyone decided quite early that we had to put U.S. forces in that country. And that was not a part of that plan. That was something that came along after September 11th. GORTON: Well, Mr. Secretary, that's a good answer. But it isn't an answer to the question that I asked you.

RUMSFELD: My question is I don't know...

GORTON: The question...

RUMSFELD: The three years, I just don't know.


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GORTON: The question that I asked you was: What made you think even when you took over and got these first briefings, given the history of Al Qaida and its successful attacks on Americans that we had the luxury of even seven months before we could make any kind of response, much less three years?

RUMSFELD: And my answer was on point. I said I didn't come up with three years, and I can't defend that number.

RUMSFELD: I don't know where that came from. With respect to seven months, I've answered. My testimony today lays out what was done during that period. Do you have -- you phrase it, do you have the luxury of seven months? In reflecting on what happened on September 11th, the question is, obviously, the Good Lord willing, things would have happened prior to that that could have stopped it. But something to have stopped that would have had to happen months and months and months beforehand, not five minutes or not one month or two months or three months. And the counter argument, it seems to me, is do you have the luxury of doing what was done before and simply just heaving some cruise missiles into the thing and not doing it right? I don't know. We thought not. It's a judgment.

GORTON: Let me ask you the same question that I asked of Senator Powell. At one level, you could claim, but you're too modest and too cautious to claim, that your policies since 9/11 have been successful, that is to say there has not been another successful terrorist attack, you know, on -- you know, on the United States. We all know, as Senator Powell pointed out, that that risk is still there, and it's going to be there for as long as any of us can imagine. But none the less, we've now gone two and a half years without any such attack. What do you think or how do you evaluate our provisional success in that connection? How much of it is just luck? How much of it is hardened targets, the steps we've taken for homeland security? How much of it is more effective intelligence and that prevention, both through your department and elsewhere? How much of it is due to the fact that we've attacked the source and to a large extent in Afghanistan at least eliminated it? Give me your own views as to what you think we've done right, and the importance of those things that we've done right. And how much have we ended or reduced the amount of terrorism in the world itself?

GORTON: And how much have we just displaced it and caused it to take place in other places?

RUMSFELD: As a former pilot, one of the things you always did was you never talked about the fact there hadn't been a flight accident for a long time.

GORTON: That's true.

RUMSFELD: And with good reason. You start doing that and something happens. The fact is, a terrorist can attack any time, any place, using any technique. And we can't defend everywhere at every moment against every technique. And we could have a terrorist attack anywhere in the world tomorrow. And we have to recognize that. This is a tough business that we're in. And it is difficult, and it's challenging. Now, to the good side. A 90-nation coalition is a big thing, the fact that all of those countries are cooperating, sharing intelligence, helping to find bank accounts, helping to put pressure on terrorists coming across their borders, helping to put pressure on things moving across their borders. Is it perfect? No. Are things still porous? Yes. Is money still getting there? Yes. But everything is harder. Everything is more difficult to day. It's tougher to recruit. It's tougher to train. It's tougher to retain. It's tougher to finance. It's tougher to move things. It's tougher to communicate with each other for those folks. Someone asked me if Osama bin Laden is masterminding all of this. And I said, you know, who knows. But if I were in his shoes, I think I'd be spending an awful lot of time trying to not get caught. Most of his time's probably spent trying not to get caught. And so he is busy, and that's a good thing. And there has been a lot of pressure. How to put a value on that, I don't know. What worries me is the last point I mentioned in my prepared remarks and that was this issue of: How many people are coming in the intake? How many people are being trained to go out and kill innocent men, women and children? We've got a lot of good things going on, capturing and killing and putting pressure on terrorists today. And every day that cooperation within our government and between 90 nations gets better and better and better. The intelligence fusion cells that are taking place, the cooperative arrangements between the United States and other militaries, the cooperative arrangements between the Department of Defense and the CIA, every day they get better. But at the same time, we know of certain knowledge that money is going to madrassas schools that are training people to kill people. And that's a problem.

GORTON: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

KEAN: Commissioner Ben-Veniste?

BEN-VENISTE: Good afternoon, Mr. Secretary. There are a number of different questions I'd like to ask, but my time is limited. I'd

like to first mention something that Commissioner Gorton brought up, and that is the question of transition.


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BEN-VENISTE: And I think this commission ought to have a recommendation, particularly with respect to the intelligence community and those Cabinet agencies that are charged with protecting the safety of the United States in terms of the way the transition takes place. It seems as though things are done on the fly. People have other objectives. They have many things to do coming in. It appears, from what we have heard, that the administration officials leaving government in the Clinton administration, they were willing to be generous with their time, but they didn't always connect up with the right people, it seems. And I think we ought to have a recommendation with respect to institutionalizing transition in these times which require immediate response to issues. I want to focus on two things, I guess. One, I'm astounded that this past week, a week ago, we saw on television a videotape of the Predator. Now, the Predator, we were told, was of such a high security classification that the classification itself was secret. We couldn't even mention the name of the classification. And I just don't understand how a videotape of the Predator comes into the public access in that way. I just make that as a commentary. With respect to your comment about domestic intelligence and what we knew as of September 10th, 2001, your statement was that you knew of no intelligence to suggest that planes would be hijacked in the United States and flown into buildings. Well, it is correct that the United States intelligence community had a great deal of intelligence suggesting that the terrorists, back since 1994, had plans, discussed plans, to use airplanes as weapons, loaded with fuel, loaded with bombs, loaded with explosives. The Algerians had a plan in '94 to fly a plane into the Eiffel Tower.

BEN-VENISTE: The Bojinka plot in '95 discussed flying an explosive-laden small plane into CIA headquarters. Certainly CIA was well aware of that. There were plans in '97 using a UAV. In '98, an Al Qaida- connected group talked about flying a commercial plane into the World Trade Center. In '98, there was a plot broken up by Turkish intelligence involving the use of a plane as a weapon. In '99, there was a plot involving exploding a plane at an airport. Also in '99, there was a plot regarding an explosive-laden hang-glider. In '99 or in 2000, there was a plot regarding hijacking a 747. And in August of 2001, there was information received by our intelligence community regarding flying a plane into the Nairobi embassy, our Nairobi embassy. And so I suggest that when you have this threat spike in the summer of 2001 that said something huge was going to happen and the FAA circulates, as you mentioned, a warning which does nothing to alert people on the ground to the potential threat of jihadist hijacking, which only, it seems to me, despite the fact that they read into the congressional record the potential for a hijacking threat in the United States, in the summer of 2001, it never gets to any actionable level. Nobody at the airports is alerted to any particular threat. Nobody flying the planes takes action of a defensive posture. I understand that going after Al Qaida overseas is one thing. But protecting the United States is another thing. And it seems to me that a statement that we could not conceive of such a thing happening really does not reflect the state of our intelligence community as of 2001, sir.

RUMSFELD: A couple of comments. I quite agree with you, there were a number of reports about potential hijacking. I even remember comments about UAVs.


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RUMSFELD: I even have seen things about private aircraft hitting something. But I do not recall ever seeing anything in the period since I came back to government about the idea of taking a commercial airliner and using it as a missile. I just don't recall seeing it. And maybe you do, Dick?

MYERS: No, I do not.

BEN-VENISTE: Well, the fact is that our staff has -- and the joint inquiry before us, I must say -- has come up with eight or 10 examples which are well-known in the intelligence community. My goodness, there was an example of an individual who flew a small plane and landed right next to the White House.

RUMSFELD: I remember.

BEN-VENISTE: Crash landed that. The CIA knew that there was a plot to fly an explosive-laden plane into CIA headquarters. So we do, within our intelligence community, have very much in mind the fact that this is a potential technique. You put that together with the fact that there is a heightened threat level. People like Director Tenet, people like Richard Clarke, are running around, as they say, with their hair on fire, in the summer of 2001, knowing something big is going to happen. And yet everybody is looking overseas.

RUMSFELD: And I made two comments on that. One, the spike in that summer, you're correct. There was a good deal of concern about it. And you suggested that warnings did not go out. My recollection is a lot of warnings did go out. Now, I have nothing to do with warnings inside the United States. We had to deal with warnings of force protection ex-U.S. And the State Department, Colin testified to that this morning, that the State Department had a whole lot of alerts. So there was attention to that. The second thing I would say is, the -- how to put this -- in three years, since I've been back in the Pentagon, there have been people running around with their hair on fire a lot of times. It isn't like it's once or twice or thrice. We are seeing so much intelligence, so much information that is of deep concern, that we have scrambled airplanes. We have sent ships to sea to protect them. We have gone up to a high level of alert on a number of occasions because of these types of spikes in intel activity. In most instances when something does not follow, maybe because we went to high alert, maybe because they go to school on us.

BEN-VENISTE: Let me just follow it up briefly to say that we knew that terrorists had attacked us in '93 at the World Trade Center.

BEN-VENISTE: We knew in the millennium plot in December of '99 that Al Qaida had an operative sleeper in the United States, or coming to the United States, who planned to blow up LAX. That was interdicted. They were on high alert during the millennium plot, and they thought about domestic terrorism in that regard. And now, as we get into 2001, it just seems to me like we're looking at the white truck that had everyone captivated during the hunt for the sniper. Everybody was looking in the wrong direction. Why weren't people thinking about protecting the United States? We knew that there were two Al Qaida operatives in the United States. And yet that information does not get circulated. It doesn't get to the people at the airports. It doesn't go on Most Wanted on television where people could identify such individuals. We know that a man named Moussaoui has been identified as somebody who took lessons on just how to steer an airplane, not how to take it off, not how to land it, just how to steer it. So it seems to me when you make the statement, sir, that we didn't know that planes might be used as weapons in the summer of 2001, I just have to take issue with that.

RUMSFELD: Well, I didn't say we didn't know. I said I didn't know. And if I just was handed a civil aviation circular that people did know. And they sent it out on June 22nd, 2001.

BEN-VENISTE: They sent it out. But nobody did a thing about it. Nobody got anybody at our borders to identify individuals who might be suspect, to give them greater scrutiny.

RUMSFELD: Well, may I...

BEN-VENISTE: Somebody was found simply through the good works of a Customs agent who used his native intelligence and picked up probably the 20th hijacker in that way.


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RUMSFELD: Let me put something into some context. The Department of Defense, as Senator Kerrey has indicated earlier, did not have responsibility for the borders. It did not have responsibility for the airports.

BEN-VENISTE: I understand that.

RUMSFELD: And the fact that I might not have known something ought not to be considered unusual. Our task was to be oriented out of this country... BEN-VENISTE: I understand that.

RUMSFELD: ... and to defend against attacks from abroad. And a civilian aircraft was a law enforcement matter to be handled by law enforcement authorities and aviation authorities. And that is the way our government was organized and arranged. So those questions you're posing are good ones. And they are valid, and they ought to be asked. But they ought to be asked of people who had the statutory responsibility for those things. And it seems to me that you've had that opportunity.

BEN-VENISTE: The only reason I put them to you, sir, was because of your comment in your opening statement.

RUMSFELD: Right. I was confessing ignorance. KEAN: Thank you very much, Commissioner. All right, Commissioner Gorelick?

GORELICK: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you, Mr. Secretary and your colleagues for being here today and for sharing your thoughts with us.

GORELICK: I'd like to start where Commissioner Ben-Veniste left off in his dialogue with you. If one looks at the PDDs and the SEIBs that were available to you personally. If all you do...


GORELICK: I'm sorry. It's the senior executive intelligence brief. So these are the daily briefings that go to people at your level and just below you. If you look at the headlines, only the headlines of those in the period that has come to be known as the summer of threat, it would set your hair on fire, not just George Tenet's hair on fire. I don't think it is fair to compare what all of the intelligence experts have said was an extraordinary spike that plateaued at a spiked level for months with spikes that happen, come and go and are routine. You were right... (CROSSTALK)

RUMSFELD: ... the PDD and shared that concern.

GORELICK: Pardon me?

RUMSFELD: I was seeing the PDD each morning and shared that concern. GORELICK: Well, I expect that you would. So now I would like to talk about the aspects that were in your control. I had a conversation with Secretary Wolfowitz's -- one of his predecessors, when the 1996 Olympics were being planned about what do we do when an aircraft is being hijacked and is flying into a stadium at the Olympics? What is the military's response? What is it's role? And it has always been my assumption that even though, yes, you were looking out, that you have a responsibility to protect our airspace. So my question is: In this summer of threat, what did you do to protect, let's just say the Pentagon, from attack? Where were our aircraft when a missile is heading toward the Pentagon? Surely that is within the Pentagon's responsibility to protect -- force protection, to protect our facilities, to protect something -- our headquarters, the Pentagon. Is there anything that we did at the Pentagon to prevent that harm in the spring and summer of '01?

RUMSFELD: First let me respond as to what the responsibility of the Department of Defense has been with a hijacking. As I said, it was a law enforcement issue. And the Department of Defense has had various understandings with FAA whereby when someone squawks hijack, they have an arrangement with the Department of Defense that the military would send an airplane up and monitor the flight, but certainly in a hijack situation, did not have authority to shoot down a plane that was being hijacked. The purpose of a hijack is to take the plane from one place to another place where it wasn't intended to be going, not to fly it into buildings.

RUMSFELD: Second, with respect to the defense of the Pentagon, you're quite right. The force protection responsibilities do fall on the military. And just to put it right up on the table, we're in the flight pattern for National Airport. There's a plane that goes by, you know, how many yards from my window, 50 times a day. I don't know how far it is. But anyone who's been in that office has heard it roar right by the window. There isn't any way to deal with that at all. And force protection tends to be force protection from the ground. Dick, do you want to comment? MYERS: I would just say that since the Cold War, the focus of North American Aerospace Defense Command was outward; it was not inward. The hijacking agreement with the FAA was as the secretary described it. It would be a call and a response to the hijack, but certainly not with the thought of shooting it down. It was to monitor, try to get it to follow instructions and then follow it to its ultimate destination, if we could.


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GORELICK: That is consistent with the story that we have been told throughout the military. I would just say that, to me, again, you know, 20/20 hindsight is perfect. But if I were sitting at the Pentagon and seeing the kind of threats that were coming in that summer, I would say to myself, Is business as usual appropriate? I mean, the question I have is whether you thought to say: Should we have defenses pre-positioned in a way that we don't? We know that our forces that our aircraft from NORAD came too late to the Pentagon.

MYERS: Sure, we changed our whole air defense posture at the end of the Cold War. We went from about 22 sites to down about 7, I believe, between the U.S. and Canada, purposely and at direction of senior leadership. Let me just mention one other thing. The threat spike that I remember and that I recall from that summer of '01 were -- and the things that I was reading -- and I was the vice chairman then so I might not have gotten all of the PDDs, but I think I probably saw the intelligence eventually -- were external to the United States. That's where the threat was, and that's where we took action. And we sortied ships, we changed force protection conditions, particularly in Central Command, but other places around the world based on that intelligence. But I don't remember reading those documents to an internal threat.

RUMSFELD: And it certainly was not business as usual. When we saw those threats, a whole host of steps were taken by way of force protection.

GORELICK: May I ask one more question, Mr. Chairman? We can't go into the content of the PDDs and the SEIBs here. And I can't even characterize them in order to ask you the next question that I would ask. So let me ask you this: Was it your understanding that the NORAD pilots who were circling over Washington D.C. that morning had indeed received a shoot-down order?

RUMSFELD: When I arrived in the command center, one of the first things I heard, and I was with you, was that the order had been given and that the pilots -- correction, not the pilots necessarily, but the command had been given the instructions that their pilots could, in fact, use their weapons to shoot down a commercial airliners filled with our people in the event that the aircraft appeared to be behaving in a threatening way and an unresponsive way.

GORELICK: Now, you make a distinction there between the command and the pilots. Was it your understanding that the pilots had received that order?

RUMSFELD: I'm trying to get in time because...

MYERS: Well, I think -- my understanding, I've talked to General Eberhart, commander now of NORAD, and I think he's briefed the staff. And I think what he told the staff, what he told me, as I recall, was that the pilots did -- at the appropriate point when the authority to engage civilian airliners was given, that the pilots knew that fairly quickly. I mean, it went down through the chain of command.

RUMSFELD: It was on a threat conference call that it was given, and everybody heard it simultaneously. The question then would be -- the reason I am hesitant is because we went through two or three iterations of the rules of engagement. And in the end, we

ended up delegating that authority to, at the lowest level, I believe, to two stars.

MYERS: Right.

RUMSFELD: And the pilot would then describe the situation to that level. To the extent that level had time, they would come up to General Eberhart. To the extent Eberhart had time, he would come up to me. And to the extent I had time, I might talk to the president, which in fact, I did do on several occasions during the remainder of the day with respect to international flights heading to this country that were squawking hijack.

GORELICK: I'm just trying to understand whether it is your understanding that the NORAD pilots themselves, who were circling over Washington, as you referred to in your statement, whether they knew that they had authority to shoot down a plane. And if you don't know, it's fine to say that. You mentioned them in your statement, and I would like to know if you know the answer.

RUMSFELD: I do not know what they thought. In fact, I haven't talked to any of the pilots that were up there. I certainly was immediately concerned that we did know what they thought they could do.


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RUMSFELD: And we began the process quite quickly of making changes to the standing rules of engagement, Dick Myers and I did, and then issuing that. And we then went back and revisited that question several times in the remaining week or two while we were still at various stages of alert. And we have since done that in connection with several other events such as the Prague summit.

GORELICK: As you know, we were not intending to address the issues of the day of in this hearing. And it is the subject of a full additional hearing, and we may be back to you with these questions with a more precise time line for you to look at. Thank you very much.

KEAN: Thank you. Congressman Roemer?

ROEMER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to just start by thanking you, Secretary Rumsfeld, General Myers and Secretary Wolfowitz for your strong leadership for our men and women across the world in the armed services in the battles that they are fighting every day to protect us from this jihadist threat. We are very appreciative of your time and your statements and your recommendations here for the 9/11 commission. Secretary Rumsfeld, my first question for you is a simple one. Did you consider Al Qaida to be a first-order threat? And particularly in the spring and the summer of 2001, how did you practice this priority?

RUMSFELD: I and others in the administration did consider it a serious threat. The intelligence -- correction, it goes back through history, their prior behavior, the statements that had been indicated by Senator Kerrey and the intelligence threat reports that one would read as we went along drove one to a conclusion that they were active, that they had been successful in some attacks and that they were planning, talking, chattering and hoping to do various types of damage. I tried in my remarks to lay out how we addressed the concern. One level was at the National Security Council level and the planning and the process there. A second was to address the department as a whole and see if we couldn't strengthen our special forces, strengthen our agility, develop the ability to move faster, to move with smaller elements rather than large footprints, to...

ROEMER: But the special ops were not used during that time period, correct?

RUMSFELD: Not against Al Qaida. They were used in some other things, as I recall.

ROEMER: So with reference to Al Qaida...

RUMSFELD: But the changes to special ops are still taking place.

RUMSFELD: It will take probably another year for the process -- for them to move from a supporting to a supported command requires them to develop the planning functions in key locations around the world and to rearrange themselves, both with respect to their organizational structure and their equipment.

ROEMER: Let me put this question this way. And you're one that likes metrics, and I like metrics to try to measure what kind of effectiveness we're having. The Clinton administration, fairly or unfairly, used a metric to say during the millennium that they had a small group of the principals, secretary of defense, secretary of state, national security adviser, the president of the United States, Mr. Clarke, that would meet almost on a daily basis during that millennium and try to make sure that they were taking in intelligence, responding to the terrorist threat, trying to push from the top down to the bottom decision-making on how to counter Al Qaida. What was your method of trying to fight Al Qaida from the DOD during the spring and summer when these spikes in this intelligence were coming in? You've got some very capable people. I see Mr. Cambone sitting behind you that is really very proficient in this. What were you doing? And how were you pushing that out to the different departments, as the Clinton administration, for good or bad, successfully or unsuccessfully. I'm not saying their model was the best one.

RUMSFELD: Well, we did it differently. You've mentioned the fact that they had a principals meetings that met frequently. Our arrangement, as Secretary Powell mentioned this morning, was Colin and Condi Rice and I talked every morning. We tended to talk after our intelligence briefings. We are able to discuss the items that we felt were important and needed action. We had lunch once a week, in addition to all of the principals committee meetings and the National Security Council meetings. Internally, we did a great deal with respect to Paul Wolfowitz and General Myers and our team, as it came on board, in terms of focusing the department, but it was a different approach...


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ROEMER: To the metric of the Clinton administration, and again, we'll be talking to Mr. Clarke tomorrow, probably grilling him on what the Clinton administration did right and did wrong. One of the metrics again for the Clinton administration was principals meetings and how many they had on a particular topic, right or wrong.

ROEMER: Were there principal meetings on Al Qaida and terrorism before September the 4th?

RUMSFELD: Well, there were certainly principals meetings where it was discussed. Whether it was the sole topic or not, you have those records and you would know. I left out...

ROEMER: Our records say no, that the first principals meeting on terrorism...

RUMSFELD: Just solely on that topic?

ROEMER: ... until September 4th.

RUMSFELD: I should add a couple of other things that were going on. In addition to meeting with the president in the National Security Council meetings, I was meeting with the president every week separately, and unquestionably, as General Meyers and I do it together, almost always, and often, Secretary Wolfowitz. The other thing we did, was I made a decision early on that the single most important thing we could do that would benefit us in terms of these types of problems would be to develop an exceedingly close link with the Central Intelligence Agency and the intelligence community. And as a result, George Tenet, who I knew and respected, and I started eating lunch with either Paul or Dick Myers or Steve Cambone and one or two of his key people, depending on the topic, and have done it consistently for the last three years. And we did it during that period. And it has, in my view, been critically important to link those two institution together. And I do believe they are as well linked together today as probably ever in history.

MYERS: I would say there was one other thing that the secretary did as well. That was when developing the QDR, which we had to start right after the secretary came into office, by law, was to develop, as part of our strategy, particularly for the first time, in my memory, that we had to set aside forces for homeland defense. And it's the first time we articulated that in our strategy, which set us up pretty well when we wanted to create NORTHCOM, Northern Command, because we thought about it up to that point. But that was just one example. There are lots of things we did in that area that were different.

RUMSFELD: Also, I forget the timing of it, but we worked to get the Congress to allow us to establish an undersecretary for intelligence that Dr. Cambone now sits in.

ROEMER: With respect to Dr. Albright's testimony this morning, some of us were critical of the Clinton administration's failure to respond to the USS Cole bombing. That took place -- as you know, 17 sailors were killed -- on October 12th, 2000. They had several months to deal with that. They had a CIA briefing in December, which was hedged, which wanted to try to point command and control to Osama bin Laden, although they said Al Qaida was responsible. Why didn't we take action in the Bush administration? I know you said in your opening statement that it was old and stale.

ROEMER: The terrorists attacked the World Trade Center in 1993. And then they came back seven years later and attacked the same World Trade Centers. Stale and old and patience are words that I'm not sure -- at least patience is in the jihadist lexicon. Why don't we -- why didn't we adopt that kind of approach earlier, to say we are going to make you pay a price for this, four months from now, four years from now, we're going to go after your camps? We're going to tell terrorists that come from Morocco or Algeria or other places, we may not get bin Laden with a cruise missile, but we're going to maybe get some people coming from other terrorist organizations. They're going to think twice before they come to a sanctuary.

RUMSFELD: Well, I wish that were the case. You can hit their terrorist training camps over and over and over and expend millions of dollars in U.S. weapons against targets that are dirt and tents and accomplish next to nothing. From a cost-benefit ratio, it just doesn't compute. Second, the bigger risk is that they will assume again that the United States is, basically, that's all they can do is to pop a weapon into a training camp, bounce the rubble another couple of times and then stop. And we've seen enough of the terrorists that they have gone to school on us. They have watched what happened in Somalia. They have watched various reactions to their activities and come to conclusion about it. And to the extent they think you're weak, they'll go after you. And to the extent they think you're not weak and you put pressure on them, you complicate their lives. And right or wrong, I and many of us were concerned that another missile attack after we get into office in February or March or April without having a policy, without having a plan that was different, distinctly different would be a mistake and indeed, a sign of weakness, not strength.


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ROEMER: We've just heard, Mr. Secretary, from many people who have said that while these training camps may have been characterized as jungle gyms or playgrounds with swings, rope swings on them, that other people said that they were human conveyer belts of jihadists determined to kill Americans anywhere they could.

RUMSFELD: That's true.

ROEMER: So the cost-benefit ratio of a million dollar cruise missile to taking out some people that can come kill others was one we just didn't consider, I don't think, in the right kind of cost-benefit analysis in the long run. One final question: Again, Secretary Wolfowitz, this is again to be fair, and I want to shoot straight with you on this. We have Mr. Clarke coming up tomorrow. And he has a reference in his book to an April 30th deputies meeting, where he claims -- and we want to know if this is accurate or not, so that we can ask him the direct questions tomorrow -- he claims that in this meeting, when they were talking about a plan to go forward to go after bin Laden and Al Qaida, that you brought up the subject of Iraq and that you put too much attention on Iraq as a sponsor, as a state sponsor of terrorism and not enough emphasis on Al Qaida as a transnational sponsor of terrorism. I have just two comments or two questions on that. One would be: Is that fairly accurate? Is his portrayal of that deputies meeting accurate at all or accurate to some degree? And secondly, in an interagency meeting, where dialogue and discussion of these things should take place, that's what the interagency process is about, isn't that where these discussions should take place, that opinions should be bounced back and forth and debate should be heated at times about the different threats to the world?

WOLFOWITZ: Thanks for giving me a chance to comment. Before I do that, let me just make a comment on the last exchange you had with Secretary Rumsfeld.

ROEMER: Please.

WOLFOWITZ: And it applies to quite a few comments, including Senator Gorton's question about the luxury of seven months. I think there's a basic difficulty of understanding what a plan really is. A plan is not a military option. Military option is to a plan what a single play in football is to a whole game plan. And this notion that there's a single thing that if we'd only done it, it would work, is like a Hail Mary pass in football, which is what a desperate losing team does in the hope that maybe they can pull things off at the end. A plan has got to anticipate what the enemy will do next. It has to anticipate what the government of Pakistan will do. It has to anticipate what world reaction will be. It has to go down many pathways. And it's not a timetable. No one can tell you what's going to happen next. You have to be able to call plays and call audibles. And that's why to put a plan together in seven months wasn't a long period of time, even if we had everybody on board. It was actually rather fast. And I give you as an illustration, in 2002, in January, when the president said, OK, I want to see military options for Iraq, it wasn't until nine months later, I believe, that he finally said, OK. I see that we have a military option against Iraq. And that still wasn't a plan, because that only allowed him to go to the United Nations and be prepared to use all necessary means. It wasn't a decision to use all necessary means.

WOLFOWITZ: And General Franks' planning continued for another five or six months. So I think there's, A, a failure to understand just how complex planning is. And we could get into this. But to Senator Gorton, I fail to understand how anything done in 2001 in Afghanistan would have prevented 9/11. And certainly, Congressman Roemer, the option you present of killing a few relatively low-level Al Qaida in some camp in Afghanistan might have been a worthy thing to do as part of a general plan, but it certainly wasn't going to affect 9/11 except, as the secretary said, to make 9/11 look a retaliation. So let's keep some clarity. But let me...

ROEMER: Perspective. The point is we're not saying that you could have prevented or should have prevented with that particular one action, 9/11.

WOLFOWITZ: Let's be clear, the retaliation...

ROEMER: We're saying that there's no silver bullet. There are a host of options that could have been out there.

WOLFOWITZ: The retaliation for the embassy bombings did nothing to prevent the attack on the Cole, right?

ROEMER: There are a host of things. We're not just saying, you know, a cruise missile going into Afghanistan. We're talking about the breadth of policy here, Northern Alliance, covert operations...

WOLFOWITZ: And Congressman, that's exactly what took seven months.

ROEMER: ... cruise missiles.

WOLFOWITZ: We started in April with the notion of attriting (ph) the Taliban by assisting the Northern Alliance.

ROEMER: OK, good enough.


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WOLFOWITZ: By September, we said the goal is to eliminate Afghanistan as a sanctuary for Al Qaida, much more ambitious thing. With respect to Mr. Clark and let me say, I haven't read the book yet. I was called by a reporter on the weekend with a quote from the book attributed to me. I tried to get the book. It wasn't available in book stores. It was only available to selected reporters. And I got it yesterday, but I did not have time to read it in the last 24 hours. I'll get to it at some point. But with respect to the quote that the reporter presented as having been put in my mouth, which was an objection to Mr. Clark suggesting that ignoring the rhetoric of Al Qaida would be like ignoring Hitler's rhetoric in Mein Kampf, I can't recall ever saying anything remotely like that. I don't believe I could have. In fact, I frequently have said something more nearly the opposite of what Clark attributes to me. I've often used that precise analogy of Hitler and Mein Kampf as a reason why we should take threatening rhetoric seriously, particularly in the case of terrorism and Saddam Hussein. So I am generally critical of the tendency to dismiss threats as simply rhetoric. And I know that the quote Clark attributed to me does not represent my views then or now. And that meeting was a long meeting about seven different subjects, all of them basically related to Al Qaida and Afghanistan. By the way, I know of at least one other instance of Mr. Clark's creative memory. Shortly after September 11th, as part of his assertion that he had vigorously pursued the possibility of Iraqi involvement in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, he wrote in a memo that, and I am quoting here, When the bombing happened, he focused on Iraq as the possible culprit because of Iraqi involvement in the attempted assassination of President Bush in Kuwait the same month, unquote.

WOLFOWITZ: In fact, the attempted assassination of President Bush happened two months later. It just seems to be another instance where Mr. Clarke's memory is playing tricks...

ROEMER: You're doing pretty well for not having read the book, Paul. (LAUGHTER)

WOLFOWITZ: I read the quote.

ROEMER: Let me just say...

KEAN: To the Congressman, we have to move on to the next commissioner. ROEMER: OK. Let me just say in conclusion, thank you for those remarks. And we do have Secretary Armitage in the private interviews with us saying that he thought that the committee process had not moved speedily before or after 9/11, the deputy meeting process and the process on a seven-month or nine-month plan.

WOLFOWITZ: The government doesn't move fast enough in general. I agree with that.

RUMSFELD: Mr. Chairman, may I make a comment also? I want to make certain there's no misunderstanding. I would have supported missile attacks on training camps anywhere, had I believed that we could have achieved the goal that you suggest of killing jihadists. And the issue is that what happens is frequently, we know that people are posted and they know when things are going to happen. And people empty those camps from time to time. In fact, we've seen reactions when ships or planes or missiles begin to go someplace, that they go to school on that and move out. So the fact that a weapon costs a lot more than a training camp is no reason not to do it. The only reason for not doing it is if you, as I indicated, are working on a plan that you think is more comprehensive and you believe you can do a better job a different way.

ROEMER: Thank you.

WOLFOWITZ: In case I wasn't clear, I was not dismissive of Al Qaida as a threat. The whole meeting was about Al Qaida. I also believed that state support for terrorism was a problem. But I have never been dismissive of Al Qaida, and I think precisely because I think terrorism is such a serious problem, as I testified as early as my confirmation hearing. ROEMER: Thank you.

KEAN: The last questioner from the commission is Secretary Lehman.

LEHMAN: Thank you. Mr. Secretary, I hesitate to cite Mr. Clarke as an authority after the last exchange. (LAUGHTER) But he is extremely critical, as has been reported, about successive responses or lack of responses over the prior eight years from the Pentagon when options -- not plans, but options -- were requested by the White House to retaliate against Khobar, against various options.


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LEHMAN: You yourself are reported by another of about the same the credibility author as being particularly unhappy about the options presented to you by the chiefs after 9/11. I assume from what I read in the press that what is underway now in planning and moving SOCOM from being a supporting to a supported staff moves in the direction of somewhat institutionalizing the flexibility and the agility that you all demonstrated so brilliantly in the Iraq war. And that leads to the question that our staff has been looking into and others have recommended to us that perhaps the dichotomy that we have between the Title 50 responsibilities of CIA and the Title 10 responsibilities of your building is obsolete and the really probably SOCOM or what it evolves into may well be -- should be designated as the chosen instrument for transnational counterterrorism particularly, and that the Title 50 issues be dealt with head on and CIA be gotten out of the covert and special operations missions and have all of them under the authority of SOCOM.

RUMSFELD: Let me make a couple of comments, Secretary Lehman. First, the reports that I've been unhappy about military plans, Dick Myers will agree with me that that is probably due to the plans and partly due to my -- the fact that I am genetically impatient. And you can be sure that the men and women in the Department of Defense, in the combatant commands and in the joint staff do a superb job. They really do a wonderful job. When they bring up something to Dick Myers or to me, we do not accept it. We question it. We push it. We probe it. We challenge it. We test it. And we force them to go back and answer 50 other questions. And so it's not surprising that people say we're unhappy. I think that the result of the superb job General Franks did with his team is an example of the product.

RUMSFELD: And it was truly remarkable, what he did and what the Special Forces people did when they were put in there in small numbers all across that country to work with the local militias in Afghanistan and accomplish what they accomplished in such a short period of time, with such precision and such skill and such courage. The question you ask, I don't feel that I've spent enough time thinking about it to know how to answer your question. It's a question that is probably fair to ask. The way we've solved our problems is that if you take the agency and the Department of Defense, what we have done is recognize there's a seam between us, just as there's a seam between our combatant commands in the areas of responsibility, and that we have to address the seam. How do you do that? And very often we do it where George Tenet will say, Look, we're going to do X, and we need X number of your people to join our team. We don't have those competencies. And we'll use the authorities that he has and some of our skill sets. It might be radio people, it might be medical people, it might be something else. And they then execute an activity with people on loan to them, functioning under their authority, and the reverse. There are times when we do things under our authority and they second people to our activity. Now, that's how you get around the problem. And it seems to me that it is imperfect, but life is imperfect. There are always going to be seams, no matter how you organize or how you arrange yourself. And you can have a lousy organizational arrangement, and you can have authorizations that date back to the industrial age, and you have good people. And you can find ways to solve a lot of those problems. And you can have a perfect organizational arrangement and people that aren't working together well, and it's terrible. Dick, do you want to comment on it?

MYERS: Well, you know, I probably haven't finished my thinking on this either, but you're correct in terms of SOCOM, it was essentially a fifth service -- organize, train, equip. What the secretary has recommended to the president and what the president has done is made them operational. And so now they have the operational responsibility. It will take some years for them to grow into that, but they're being pushed very hard to do that. In terms of the relationship between the Department of Defense and the CIA in operations, I don't view it as a zero-sum game. I think there's room in the battle space for lots of players with different skills. The question is how do we put them together, I think was what the secretary was talking about, and that teamwork. I can only speak for the time that I've been here, but the teamwork is pretty darn good, actually.

LEHMAN: Thank you very much.

WOLFOWITZ: I would make one other comment on that, Secretary Lehman. The Special Operations Command, besides having the operational responsibilities is also being provided special authorities.

MYERS: And I will just stop there.

KEAN: Thank you very much. Thank you General Myers, Secretary Wolfowitz, Secretary Rumsfeld. I might say this, Secretary Rumsfeld, I think people ought to know, has been extraordinarily helpful to this commission from day one. The time he spent with us, the time he spent with members of the commission, the time he spent with members of our staff is very deeply appreciated. And I hope you allow us to come back to you as we move toward the recommendation stage as we need your help and your wisdom.

RUMSFELD: Indeed we will. And thank you very much. What you're doing is enormously important, and we wish you well.

KEAN: Thank you very much. Tomorrow, we'll turn our attention to the topic of clandestine and covert action in furtherance of counterterrorism policy goals and national counterterrorism policy coordination. It was a long day today. It's going to be longer tomorrow; 8:30 the gavel will fall.


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