Skip to comments.Clarke Refused to Testify in 1999, Citing Same Reasons as Condi [FR mentioned as first to unearth]
Posted on 03/29/2004 5:15:41 PM PST by Jim Robinson
Monday, March 29, 2004 5:26 p.m. EST
Former Clinton terrorism czar Richard Clarke refused to testify before the Senate Y2K Committee in 1999, citing the same rule invoked by National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice in recent days, with the Bush White House saying the regulation prevents her from testifying publicly before the 9/11 Commission.
In a transcript of a July 29, 1999, Senate hearing first unearthed by FreeRepublic.com, Committee Chairman Robert Bennett, R-Utah, explained that Clarke had canceled his appearance because, as a member of the National Security Council, he hadn't been confirmed by the Senate and as such was prohibited from testifying before Congress.
The Congressional Record confirms Clarke's decision not to appear by invoking the same rule cited by Dr. Rice.
According to a transcript of that day's proceeding, Sen. Bennett opened the hearing by telling his committee:
"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."
TheY2K Committee chairman continued:
"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."
Sen. Bennett explained that Clarke had "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."
In Sen. Bennett's concluding remarks on the subject, he said that Clarke had offered to "come before the committee and give us whatever information we wanted in a closed briefing."
Dr. Rice has made the exact same offer to the 9/11 Commission, though it has done little to quell the media's outrage over her decision not to appear in public.
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