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XXXXX DRUDGE REPORT XXXXX MON MARCH 29, 2004 17:04:22 ET XXXXX
1999: CLARKE REFUSED TO TESTIFY UNDER OATH; CITING PRIVILEGE
National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice on Monday continued to maintain her public testimony before the panel investigating the Sept. 11 attacks would be a breach of separation between congressional and the executive -- a claim once used by Bush critic Richard Clarke!
On July 29, 1999, Richard Clarke was scheduled to appear before the Senate Special Committee on the Year 2000 Technology Problem. Senator Bob Bennett (R-UT) chaired the hearing, and made the announcement that Richard Clarke would not be appearing before the committee due to a directive by the National Security Council. Since Clarke was not a confirmed member of the White House staff, the directive was made that Clarke was not allowed to testify before Congress.
"Before the committee comes to order, I have some information to share with you which I'm sure will cause some consternation and disappointment. We were scheduled -- at the beginning of this gathering we agreed not to call that portion of it a hearing, to have a briefing from Mr. Richard Clarke. And many of you have been notified that he would be here and as recently as yesterday afternoon when I was with him, we were looking forward to his appearance and he was sharing with me some of the areas that he planned to discuss while he was here.
"Mr. Clarke, as many of you know, is the national coordinator for security and infrastructure protection and counterterrorism on the National Security Council.
"Last night, into the evening, we were notified that the legal staff of the National Security Council had determined that it would be inappropriate for Mr. Clarke to appear. I have just spoken to him on the telephone. The rule apparently is that any member of the White House staff who has not been confirmed is not to be allowed to testify before the Congress. They can perform briefings, but they are not to give testimony. And that in response to that rule, Mr. Clarke will not be coming.
"He apologized to me for their failure to tell us that in a way that would have prevented our putting out the press notice in advance. I do not, in any sense, attribute any improper motives to Mr. Clarke. We had understood that the briefing could be held as long as there was no record made of it so that it would not be part of the formal hearing. And we were prepared to receive his briefing with the court recorder being instructed not to make any record of it and that that would comply with the rule.
"As I say, last evening I received a call at home after the Senate had adjourned telling me that that arrangement would not be acceptable to the legal staff at the National Security Council and that Mr. Clarke, therefore, would not be here.
"He said in our phone conversation just a minute or two ago that he would be happy to come before the committee and give us whatever information we wanted in a closed briefing. I suppose we could have cleared the room here this morning and allowed him to give that briefing to the committee, but I felt given the fact that so many people had gathered it would be an inconvenience for them if we were to do that.
"So we will schedule a briefing with Mr. Clarke at some future time. And the members of the committee will disclose that which we feel is appropriate to disclose based on his briefing.
"We are disappointed. His conversation with me minutes ago make it clear that he is disappointed. I know he wanted to be here, but that is what has taken place in the last 10 to 12 hours. "So with that word of explanation and, as I say, disappointment to many of you, I will now officially call the committee to order..."
Filed By Matt Drudge
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