With such high-profile testimony in the offing, it’s no wonder the commission chairman, Republican Tom Kean, was telling reporters last week to expect major revelations from the investigative hearings expected to begin in late January.
He also suggested that the 9/11 attacks might have been prevented if mid-level government officials at various government agencies had done their jobs. As for senior officials like Rice or her predecessor, Clinton NSA Sandy Berger, and their bosses, Kean said the commission was still studying whether they share the blame. Rice could face tough questioning. One Republican commissioner says a comment by Rice last yearthat no one “could have predicted that they would try to use a…hijacked airplane as a missile”was "an unfortunate comment . . . that was, of course, a wrong-footed statement on its face," given that there was years of intelligence about Al Qaeda's interest in airplane attacks.
Whether she signs up willingly to testify now is still an open question. But the commission wants to hear from her. Said Democratic commissioner Tim Roemer: "The Presidents and Vice Presidents and national security advisers in both administrations should appear." Spokesmen for Rice and the commission had no comment on the talks but a senior Rice aide insisted that "Dr. Rice and the White House continue to work amiably with the commission, consistent with the President's desire to make staff available in accordance with his ability to fight the war on terrorism."