The emergency meeting about a terrorist attack on the United States that Condi Rice brushed-off was kept from the 9/11 Commission. CIA Director Tenet and counterterrorism chief, J. Cofer Black, set up an emergency unscheduled meeting with Rice about all the chatter indicating an attack was coming and felt they got the brushoff. Members and staff of the 9/11 Commission said today they were never told about the meeting.
Woodward describes the meeting, and the two officials' plea that the U.S. "needed to take action that moment -- covert, military, whatever -- to thwart bin Laden."
The result? "Tenet and Black felt they were not getting through to Rice. She was polite, but they felt the brush-off. President Bush had said he didn't want to swat at flies.
"Tenet left the meeting feeling frustrated. Though Rice had given them a fair hearing, no immediate action meant great risk. Black felt the decision to just keep planning was a sustained policy failure. Rice and the Bush team had been in hibernation too long....
"Afterward, Tenet looked back on the meeting with Rice as a lost opportunity to prevent or disrupt the attacks. Rice could have gotten through to Bush on the threat, Tenet thought, but she just didn't get it in time. He felt that he had done his job and been very direct about the threat, but that Rice had not moved quickly. He felt she was not organized and did not push people, as he tried to do at the CIA.
"Black later said, 'The only thing we didn't do was pull the trigger to the gun we were holding to her head.'"