TCU Daily Skiff Thursday, April 8, 2004
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Rice’s testimony will affect election politics, profs say
National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice will testify publicly and under oath today before the commission investigating Sept.11.

By Sarah Greene
Staff Reporter

The fact that the commission investigating the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, is hearing testimonies about the government’s actions leading up to attacks during an election year mean it will impact the election, political science professors say.

James Riddlesperger, who chairs the political science departme nt, said President George W. Bush backed down primarily due to the election.

“The simple truth is that Bush is taking a real PR hit on the issue and it is distracting from his campaigning,” Riddlesperger said.

Ralph Carter, a political science professor, said the upcoming election would have an impact on the commission.

“Election year politics to some extent affect everything,” Carter said.
Initially, the White House would not allow Rice to testify, saying it would violate executive privilege, or the right of the president to order a government witness not to testify before Congress, according to the C-Span Congressional Glossary.

Bush agreed to reverse his claim of executive privilege and allow Rice to testify because the Sept. 11 attacks were a unique circumstance, according to a CNN interview.
“The terrorist threat being examined by the commission is still present, still urgent and still demands our full attention,” Bush said.

Political science professor Adam Schiffer said Bush’s decision to allow a security adviser to testify is rare, but necessary.

“It’s highly unusual for an adviser to testify, but it’s also highly unusual for terrorists to blow up a building in America,” Schiffer said.

Carter said it was politically imperative that Bush make this decision, because he was getting pressure from both Republicans and Democrats.

In the past, presidents have claimed executive privilege and have sounded self-serving, Riddlesperger said. In the instances of Richard Nixon with Watergate and Bill Clinton with Monica Lewinsky, both presidents hid behind the claim. Therefore, when Bush used executive privilege to keep Rice from testifying, he looked bad, Riddlesperger said.

Rice will face questions based on accusations former White House counterterrorism chief, Richard Clarke, made against the Bush administration in his recent testimony to the commission.
Clarke, who served under Clinton and Bush, testified the Bush administration did not put enough focus on the threat of terrorism prior to Sept. 11 and that they used the attacks as a pretense for invading Iraq, according to a CNN report.

“Your government failed you,” Clarke said. “Those entrusted with protecting you failed you, and I failed you.”

Rice’s testimony will be interesting because there has been an all-out effort by the Bush administration to destroy Clarke’s credibility, but so far Clarke has been able to back up his claims with documents, Schiffer said.

Riddlesperger said Rice will give a strong rebuttal against Clarke, and predicts that the commission will scrutinize the day-by-day manner in which the Bush administration handled terrorism.

“I think that she will say that the Bush administra tion took terrorism seriously, that they were not asleep at the wheel,” Carter said.

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