3 April 2004

Condi Rice's other wake-up call

FMR US SENATOR GARY HART: No. But as one of those fearing a near-term attack, I went out on my own throughout the spring and summer of 2001 saying, 'The terrorists are coming, the terrorists are coming.' One of the speeches I gave was, ironically enough, to the International Air Transportation Association in Montreal. And the Montreal newspapers headlined the story, 'Hart predicts terrorist attacks on America.'

By pre-arrangement I had gotten an appointment with Condi Rice the following day and had gone straight from Montreal to Washington to meet with her. And my brief message to her was, 'Get going on homeland security, you don't have all the time in the world.' This was on Sept. 6, 2001.

SALON: What was her response?

HART: Her response was 'I'll talk to the vice president about it.' And this tracks with Clarke's testimony and writing that even at this late date, nothing was being done inside the White House.

Now Hart is certainly disgruntled. He co-chaired a commission on US national security. They reported in January 2001. Among others things they recommended a homeland security department. The Bush administration rejected that advice until June 2002.

Okay, it's an obscure little piece of bureaucratic history. It's also independent confirmation of the Clarke claims. It's also emblematic of the Bush administration's refusal to give terror any priority until it became electorally advantageous Go read the whole interview. And weep.

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