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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 9/1/21

Condi Rice: on 9/11, the 9/11 Commission, Afghanistan, and the Invasion of Iraq" (fictional)

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"Either this nation shall kill racism, or racism shall kill this nation." (S. Jonas, August, 2018)

Secretary Rice With Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Well, at least we got an airport with name on it out of it.
Secretary Rice With Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Well, at least we got an airport with name on it out of it.
(Image by Wikipedia (, Author: Hamid Hamidi)
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Preface: The "9/11" horror and it related events, e.g., Afghanistan, are topics on which I have written numerous times over the years. At this time of year in particular, I sometimes revisit a column that I previously published. This year I am revisiting a fanciful column that I originally published on the old "The Political Junkies" website (defunct for quite some time now): "What Condi Rice Might Have Said Before the 9/11 Commission (Fiction/Satire)." If some of what Rice "testified to" in the fictional hearing sounds familiar, think of the current investigations --- and not --- of Trump, the Repubs., and "Jan. 6."



This column was written on April 7, 2004, the day before National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice was to testify before the 9/11 Commission. I want to thank the Center for American Progress (Washington DC, who's web-based "Progress Report" of April 7 provided much of the factual material that I use below. As you will see as you read it, most of this testimony is fictional. Not only that, it highly unlikely that Dr. Rice would ever say any of the words that I have put into her mouth, much less believe any of them.

However, both how the tragedy of 9/11 came to pass and what are the true root causes of the subsequent events, primarily the US invasion of Iraq, remain largely a mystery. [Note that in this particular column I paid no attention to Afghanistan.] The fictional "testimony" below attempts to explain what happened and why, with a unitary hypothesis of cause. I thought that it would be fun to put that hypothesis into Dr. Rice's mouth. And so, this is what she might have said (but surely did not).


"Dr. Rice's testimony" [on, fictional, April 7, 2004]

It is my pleasure to appear before you today. Since I am appearing under oath, I have decided indeed to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God (and yes, my father was a pastor). You should know that I have submitted to the President my resignation as National Security Advisor, effective at the end of this session with you. Press speculation that I have functioned as a staff person to the President rather than as a policy-maker are totally true. Like my good friend Colin Powell, with whom I have much in common as you can plainly see, I have often been "out-of-the-loop." At this juncture, I can no longer function as a front-person for this Administration. Further, since they have, it is quite obvious; set me up to take the fall for them, I have decided this one time to beat them to the punch.

As I said, I have been out-of-the-loop and have had little access to real intelligence. I am not even privy to what went on in that famous meeting between the Vice-President and top leaders of the oil industry. As to our sources in the CIA, the NSA, the FBI, and elsewhere, much of what was used by the Administration to justify its actions in terms of the invasion of Iraq has been shown either to be totally false or twisted. I am basing my remarks, therefore, on two kinds of intelligence: raw data accumulated by the various intelligence agencies that has been shown to be correct, e.g., that there was no known link between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, and, I have to say, speculations of various kinds that have been wide-spread on the web. Some of that speculation has occasionally made it into one or more respected sources in the print media. However, since what has been put out, certainly from my office I must admit, as the justification for completely missing the boat on 9/11, and then as the reasons for invading Iraq, has been almost totally without foundation, I find myself coming to believe that to some extent, at least, that speculation is correct.

As you know, the White House opposed the formation of this Commission and then when it was finally established, put limits on its investigation. You may recall that the President originally appointed Henry Kissinger to head the Commission, in my view at the time would have been a politically as well as functionally incorrect move. The White House resisted full funding of the Commission, opposed a time extension for it (even though now they want to "vet" the Final Report before it is made public, which sounds as if they are looking for a way to put off its publication until after the November election). They have been very chary of providing access for Commission members to important White House documents and even to notes that Commissioners themselves had taken during their limited access to them.

They did not want me to talk with you in public, under oath, perhaps fearing the very thing that is happening today: I am finally telling the truth as I know it, knowing full well that many people, both friends and enemies, will from now on refer to me as "Bush's John Dean." They have attempted to limit their own testimony and have taken the extraordinary step of demanding that the President and the Vice-President testify together [and when they did, they were not under oath]. Since one of their strategies has been to try to blame the whole 9/11-intelligence-failure mess on Pres. Clinton, they have held back much of the documentation that Pres. Clinton wanted to turn over. One can only assume that that documentation has much in it that would vitiate the charges the present [Bush] White House has been making.

And so, if one is going to dismiss all the explanations and excuses that the White House has been making up to now, both for 9/11 and for its aftermath, the invasion of Iraq, where does one turn? I must repeat that I do not know if any of what I am about to say as fact that can be presently substantiated and documented. Remember, functioning primarily as staff to the president, with a principal task of trying to educate a man to whom, shall we say charitably, education doesn't come easily, I was out of much of the loop on what was really going on. However, given my background in higher education and my Ph.D. level training, I have been trying to put together a unifying hypothesis that would make sense of this whole business. And in the end it has come down to business, that is, as so much of the world, especially the Arab world, has been postulating for quite some time now, the oil business.

Again, let me make it clear that what I am about to tell you now is based primarily on speculation. But it is speculation that has obtained wide currency, here and especially abroad. What might be called the "oil hypothesis'" does at least offer an explanation that is internally consistent. I will present it briefly, and then you are welcome to ask me questions on it. [Editor's note: Since there is no way to predict what the questions might have been should Dr. Rice have made such an extraordinary opening statement as just presented; I am going to leave it with this very brief overview of her (fictional to be sure) 'oil hypothesis.']

"Back in the mid-1990s, Richard Perle, among others, was publishing articles such as one in which he was openly advocated invading Iraq and putting in place a government headed by the now well-known Mr. Chalabi (to whom he referred by name). Among the reasons given was access to a secure major source of crude oil, outside of Saudi Arabia. Iraq happens to have reserves that possibly exceed in size those of Saudi Arabia. That is not speculation.

"It has been speculated that at that famous meeting of Vice-President Cheney and his former colleagues among the top executives of the oil industry, one topic under discussion was a proposed invasion of Iraq to secure those reserves for the US oil industry. If that discussion had occurred, surely the VP and his oil-industry colleagues wouldn't want the public to know about it. And if the discussions were only about global warming and environmental policy, the position of the industry is well-known. So why would the VP go to such lengths to hide the record of the proceedings, unless there were something truly shocking in them.

"Now, if Iraq were to be invaded for oil, there had to be a pretext. And this is where Osama bin Laden came in, either actively or passively. It is now apparent that this Administration knew all about Osama bin Laden. After all, Richard Clarke and the former FBI top 'bin Laden guy,' Mr. John O'Neill, who became head of security at the Twin Towers in August, 2001, and was tragically killed in the attack, had been screaming about him ever since we took office.

"The problem, I now have now come to believe, about doing something about bin Laden, ensconced as he was in Afghanistan, was that from before the time the President took office, the Vice-President's former company, Halliburton, and others, had been negotiating with the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan to build a multi-billion-dollar gas pipeline from Central Asia across their country to an open-water port. Thus, they certainly didn't want to go after bin Laden in his Afghani lair, thus possibly upsetting the Taliban. At the same time, the Taliban were giving assurances that they would keep bin Laden under control, for doing so was in their interest also. But they failed to uphold their part of the bargain, and we all know what happened."

Now, one question on everyone's minds is "did the Administration know that the attack was coming?'" The evidence that they either might have or should have has been retailed by Mr. Clarke here, and many others elsewhere. Some have even speculated that the Administration was party to the plot, but even for a born-again opponent of current White house policy, that is too far-fetched. But as to prior knowledge, one can say that if they didn't have it, why are they being so overwhelmingly secretive, if they have nothing to hide? How indeed are they going to explain why the Attorney General stopped flying on commercial aircraft during the summer of 2001, and so on and so forth? And speaking of the Attorney General, if indeed the attack did come as a complete surprise, how come the DOJ was ready with the 341-page-long "USA Patriot Act," something that most Congresspeople didn't even have time to read before they were asked to vote on it, within two weeks (!) after the attack? How could it possibly have been written and reviewed at the highest levels in that short a period of time? The implications are obvious and frightening for anyone who believes in the US Constitution.

And now on to Iraq, very briefly, before I stop to take questions. We know now that there were neither WMD nor any operational connections between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. We also know now, sadly, that this operation, although it has gotten rid of one of the world's vilest dictators, is highly unlikely to bring "freedom and democracy" to Iraq any time soon. (And in any case, it is highly unlikely that the President could have sold the invasion to the Congress and the American people on that pretext.) One thing that the Administration has accomplished in recent days has been the causing to come together the leaderships of the militant Sunnis and the militant Shiites in violent opposition to our occupation, an alliance that has occurred in no country for hundreds of years, if ever.

And so, for the "cause of the Iraq invasion," if it's not WMD, not destroying supports of bin Laden, not freedom and democracy, then what is it? Some say "hegemony," words used by the likes of Perle and Bill Kristol. But that is a vague concept, and American business has been doing very well around the world for some years now. The hard reason, it seems to me, comes down to that soft, black stuff, called crude oil. And, with a tanker named after me, believe me, I do know quite a bit about it.

This series of events, some real, some the subject only of speculation, is what I think needs to be explored in depth if a true understanding of just what happened is to be revealed. At this point, I am going to stop and make it clear that I will stay as long as you want me to, to answer your questions.

It was noted that when Dr. Rice did finally leave the Commission's chambers many hours later, she was surrounded by three private security guards and, quite publicly, had donned a bullet-proof vest.


Post-script (not from Dr. Rice): As the, in my view, brilliantly organized and undertaken U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, has been completed, one reason for re-presenting this column from 2004 is to emphasize that from the beginning to the very end, the words "9/11," "Afghanistan," and "Iraq" have been closely interconnected. They are topics to which we shall continue to be returning, over time.

(Article changed on Sep 01, 2021 at 3:10 PM EDT)

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Steven Jonas, MD, MPH, MS is a Professor Emeritus of Preventive Medicine at StonyBrookMedicine (NY) and author/co-author/editor/co-editor of over 35 books. In addition to his position on OpEdNews as a “Trusted Author,” he is a Senior (more...)
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