The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Thursday, April 08, 2004  

This Time, For Condoleezza Rice

Twice in the past I’ve drawn readers’ attention to 20 smart unanswered questions about the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, posed by William Bunch of the Philadelphia Daily News.

Today Bunch is out with 10 sharp questions for National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice, who testified before the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States this morning, in “Condi, We Need Some Answers.”

I wish the commissioners had seen Bunch’s questions beforehand, because by my count seven of the ten questions weren’t addressed either directly or indirectly, including my personal favorite, question number one: “Why were 140 Saudi citizens -- including two dozen members of the bin Laden family -- flown out of the United States on Sept. 13, 2001, when all other air traffic was still grounded?” [Italics mine.] Why is everyone so afraid to aggressively ask this question or pursue its answer?

I endured this morning’s session, and if anyone in the media dares call it a “grilling” he should be fired.

I would call Rice’s performance a let down were it not for the fact that it was as unimpressive as one would expect from such a B-grade policymaker and that the structure of the questioning prevented a sustained line of examination. Much appreciation, though, goes out to Richard Ben-Veniste, Robert Kerrey, and Buddy Roemer for their efforts. Under the circumstances -- We mustn’t be partisan, dontcha know? -- the gentlemen did the best they could.

And how sad to see Lee Hamilton is as dull and predictable and purposefully “congenial” as ever.

Hey, and how about those really, really tough questions from Republicans Jim Thompson and John Lehman? Wow, she was under so much stress you could practically see the pit stains emerging on Rice’s tasteful green suit.

As for former senator Slade Gorton, gee whiz, his questions weren’t even softballs, they were Nerf balls, Nerf balls with sideline coaching included free of charge when Rice didn’t get the gist of the rose-strewn path down which Gorton was so blatantly and helpfully leading her.

But that’s not partisanship, is it?

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