No, no—it's a secret speech. You know, like Kruschev's.


According to MSNBC, the 9/11 commission has asked the White House for the infamous speech Condi Rice was to deliver on September 11, 2001. The White House says it won't hand it over, because such "draft documents" are confidential.

Got that? The speech is confidential.

Josh Marshall comments:

Unless the argument is that we can't let our enemies know the depth of the poor judgment displayed by the president's national security team it is searchingly hard to fathom what possible national security issue could be implicated by handing over the speech since it was—do we have to say it?—a speech! A speech for public consumption.

Like almost all the other restrictions the White House has placed on the Commission, this is just so they won't be embarrassed politically. They don't like the Commission. Again and again they display open contempt for its work. They didn't want it created in the first place. And they've tried to obstruct its work at almost every turn.

All that's different here is that the political nature of the obstruction is undeniable.

NEXT: Bitter Baghdad

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  1. Even if Sparky is right, and the commissioners wrong, about the relevance of the speech to the commission’s task, the President should not be withholding information that the commission deems necessary. That’s why a commission was appointed – so that decisions about how to proceed with the investigation would be made by people who don’t have a stake in the political/electoral fight.

  2. “Got that? The speech is confidential.”

    Yes, I understand. Thanks.
    But it isn’t a speech because speeches are, you know, SPOKEN. It exists solely as a private document until recited publicly. Only then does it enter the public domain.
    Not a difficult concept.

  3. All that’s different here is that the political nature of the obstruction is undeniable.

    The political nature of the commission is undeniable as well.

  4. It doesn’t strike me as unreasonable that a draft of a speech be treated as confidential. As Critic wrote, it’s not a public record until it’s delivered. A draft may need to be reviewed to make sure it isn’t disclosing any information that shouldn’t be going out.

  5. Critic: Do you really think the relevant issue here is whether the speech is in the “public domain,” or are you pulling my leg?

  6. “Infamous”?

    Ay carramba!

  7. Jesse,

    I’m saying nobody has a right to demand its release. The Administration has to determine whether their intransigence on this issue will help or hurt them in the long run.

    Rather hyperbolic to bring Kruschev into it, wouldn’t you say?

  8. I would add that keeping it from the public for “national security” reasons seems a little spurious. I think they are simply reluctant to cave to partisan demands.

  9. If the speech is confidential, then shouldn’t Condi Rice be arrrested for spreading confidential information on international television? I mean, what if Bin Laden was watching, or something?

  10. Rather hyperbolic to bring Kruschev into it, wouldn’t you say?

    Yesterday I gave a post about Godzilla the headline “Imperial Lizard.” Was I hyperbolically dragging in the Klan, or was I making a joke?

  11. that’s great. you are fiddling as the world burns. so much furor over so much bullshit which has nothing to do with our survival but everything to do with scoring idiotic political points, while we are all being swallowed by a menace for whom such points are meaningless. the commission and the leftists can all commend themselves for a job well done after our country lies in smoldering ruins. way to keep your eyes on the prize! the islamists could not have begged allah for better allies than you.

  12. Mike-
    So you’re saying that if not for folks like us, Bush and company would have focused solely on threats to the United States, rather than go after countries like Iraq?

  13. Critic: Do you really think the relevant issue here is whether the speech is in the “public domain,” or are you pulling my leg?

    Josh Marshall, who you extensively quoted, was arguing that the speech was public. The fact that the “speech” was never made public is certainly “the relevant issue” where Marshall’s silly-assed argument is concerned.

  14. I once wrote a note to myself to yell FIRE! in a crowded theater. I have not yet yelled fire in the theather but I should be prosecuted for disturbing the peace, false reporting, public endangerment…

    Attention pansies and whimps, war in progress, leader leading, butts will be kicked and names taken. Like it or not there are bad people who mean to do you harm and our government is busy protecting your life and liberty.

  15. Wow, Bushies are getting a little desperate, eh?

    Last time I was threatened with “an American city in smouldering ruins” by someone in order to get Shrub what he wanted, it was an Iraqi nuke build with African uranium that was going to do the deed. Fool me one, shame…shame on you. A foo mah…won’t get fooled again. For the record, the only way this commission’s work could undermine national security is if Shrub took people off guard duty and put them on spin patrol.

    This “leftist,” “politicized” commission that Reet and rst refer to – it’s the one appointed by the President, right? The one with half Republican members? There is an actual definition for the word “partisan,” fellas, and it ain’t “inconvenient for Republicans.”

    “Like it or not there are bad people who mean to do you harm and our government is busy protecting your life and liberty.” Yes, an effort that the millions of military, intelligence, and security officers will have no chance of successfully undertaking if a White House intern is compelled to spend 30 seconds sending a fax.


  16. she’s a witch, burn her!!!!

    oh wait that was another commission…

  17. When the Bushies went out to get Clarke two weeks ago they pulled an old “background” document out and made it public – specifically to Fox news. Background info to reporters is anonymous and any one of them who would have outed its source would have lost their job. So please give me a break about Condi’s “confidential” speech.

  18. “Shrub”?
    Who’s childish?

  19. Hey dan,
    with reference to: “Like it or not there are bad people who mean to do you harm and our government is busy protecting your life and liberty.”

    What’s the weather like on your planet? Around
    here the bad people who mean to do me/us harm
    are “our government”. They are infinitely busier destroying my life and my liberty than they are protecting me from any harm whatsoever.
    From what has the government protected me?
    Could it be… nothing?
    Shirley Knott

  20. Poor Shirley,

    Has the government really destroyed you?
    How so?

  21. Jesse says:

    Critic: Do you really think the relevant issue here is whether the speech is in the “public domain,” or are you pulling my leg?


    I’d say the speech is not a speech until it is spoken.

    How can it be a secret Kruschev type speech if it was not a speech?

    BDS in action.

  22. Josh Marshall thinks a sitting National Security Advisor citing executive privilege is a sham coverup? Please. Last time I checked, he was willing to go to the mat with anyone who thought that there was no such thing as “Secret Service Agent’s Wife’s Hairdresser’s Dog’s Favorite Mailman Privilege” (or something like that) preventing Bill Clinton’s protective detail from having to testify about crimes witnessed. He is a full time shill for the DNC on most issues, and the only thing separating him from Joe Conason is that Marshall is generally polite in tone.

    I guess it’s just not conceivable that a National Security Freaking Advisor would have any sensitive information that they’d be willing to share with other government officials, but not with the general public. I suppose the whole NSA is filled with information, that would be released but for the fact it would embarass Karl Rove…


    I think full transparency in government would be a great thing – as long as you don’t mind advisors who hold their tongues for fear of giving advice that might be too blunt and hurt somebody’s feelings later on if subpoenaed.

  23. So, is it only the last draft of the speech which they have to turn over? Or every version ever created?

    After all, all that exists is a draft of a speech that *might* have been given under other circumstances.

    Or maybe not.

    And what is the point anyway? That we/they didn’t see it coming? That we focused on one kind of threat, and it was another that bit us?

    Who doesn’t know that at this point?

  24. Wow, Bushies are getting a little desperate, eh?

    You said it. And the most desperate of the comments here — leaving aside mike’s and dan’s, since I assume they were kidding — is Stephen Fetchit’s.

    Hey Stephen: I don’t really give a crap whether Marshall is a hypocrite. (Though he’s obviously way smarter, way more honest, and way more open-minded than Conason is.) I didn’t like it when Clinton claimed bullshit privileges, and I don’t like it when Bush does it either — especially when the commission Bush is stonewalling is aimed at figuring out what went wrong on 9/11, something I’d think we’d all have an interest in accomplishing.

    And geez: You have to be really far gone to believe that the speech might include “sensitive information.” It was going to be delivered in public at Johns Hopkins University. When the event was rescheduled and Rice delivered a radically different talk, the full text of the new speech was published. (I can send you a copy if you’d like.) An excerpt from the jettisoned speech has already appeared in the press. Read it. Do you really think this is top secret stuff?

    A final note to everyone: Here in America, it is considered normal everyday English to describe a text prepared to be spoken as a “speech,” even if it hasn’t been delivered. Really!

  25. What should be relevant here is what bullshit this commission is. I might have some respect for it if it was sincerely searching for what was broken before 9/11 so that we could fix it and prevent another tragedy. I have no respect, zero, zip, zilch, for a bunch of pinheads who appear to be solely interested in placing blame and making the Bush Administration look bad.

    You don’t have to be a Bush apologist to see that the commission has totally forgotten its assignment.

  26. I just noticed, prior to today, I had never once heard the existence and function of the commission itself assailed. But every thread dealing with it, since Clarke’s testimony, contained numerous personal attacks on his character, motives, and competence. Now, suddenly, there are 5 (6 if you count Sparky’s) comments declaring the commission itself to be a politicized sham, and not one disparaging word written about Clarke.

    I guess this means the “get Clarke” campaign has failed utterly, and has been abandoned in favor of a new line.

    As a Democrat, I find that getting my co-partisans to get their shit together is like herding cats. How do you people do it?

  27. Oh, and Diego, you’re supposed to begin your comment with “As a lifelong Democrat…”

  28. If the speech was never given, did it ever exist?

  29. It’s true that the Administration obviously wants to keep this “secret” in order to avoid embarassment, but it’s equally true that the speech is largely irrelevent to the Commission’s work. It seems pretty pointless to ask for some speech as part of this investigation. Speeches like this one are policy pronouncements. They let people know what the priorities are for future developments, i.e., AFTER 9/11. Obviously, those priorities changed. The Commission should be able to get any relevant information that it’s after, regarding broad-vision domoestic security policy goals for the Administration between 1/2001 and 9/2001, from any speeches that were delivered during that period and from, you know, actual policy enactments.

  30. Bush is as anal retentive as Joseph Stalin. That said, releasing drafts of speeches never delivered is like a reporter giving up his notes. You goddaloddanerve. Now, get back on Ashcroft’s War on Porn where the real danger to liberty is coming from.

  31. 9-11 commission – HAVE YOU NO SHAME?????

  32. But why should anyone other than the commission members get to decide whether it is “relevent” or not, Sparky? And where do we draw the line? The speech was defining what the white house HAD been focusing on, and WOULD BE focusing on (if only 9/11 hadn’t interfered with their Reagan-era star wars missile defense wet dream). If Condi was to give a speech on 9/11/01 indicating that they planned to focus on missile defense, then that would indicate that some PLANNING had already been done, BEFORE the speech, BEFORE 9/11/01. Does that make sense? I mean, in order for Condi to give a speech on the 11th of september, the contents of said speech had to have been planned and discussed and focused on BEFORE the 11th of september.

    Unless, of course, it was supposed to be an improv speech, which would, of course, mean that we’d not be having this discussion now.

    But it wasn’t an improv speech; instead, it reveals what they were thinking about pre-9/11. True, it detailed what ACTION they planned to take post-9/11 (not post-attack, of course)…but in order to make this speech about planned action, they had to have actually made PLANS. Thus, the speech would reveal, partially, what their focus was before 9/11.

  33. “They let people know what the priorities are for future developments”


    The charge laid by Mr. Clark says that the Bush priority was missle defense – not terror attacks; that the danger perceived by Bush and his advisors was way off the mark. The Bushies now claim that they were well aware of and acting on terror. The speech shows they were not. They need to own up to that.

  34. The Bush people are right to treat the Commission with contempt. It’s not a serious attempt to search for truth, it’s a field of partisan landmines.

    The shameful stuff that’s happened related to the Commission already makes the already-secretive Administration properly wary. This is simply politics at this point, so why should they help their enemies? The only argument pro is to look good, not to help America find the truth.

    I’ll give Jesse Walker credit for finding a few paragraphs from Josh Marshall that are only mostly wrong rather than completely clueless.

  35. Hey Dink,
    Read what I wrote until you can comprehend it.
    I did not claim to have been destroyed.
    The claim was “the bad people who mean to do me/us harm are “our government”. They are infinitely busier destroying my life and my liberty than they are protecting me from any harm whatsoever.”
    And this is correct. Ashcroft, Bush, et al, are far far busier working to destroy liberty and justice than they are busy working to protect me from harm.
    The question stands — just what harm has the Govt. protected me from?
    And just what harm has any islamist of any stripe done me? Heck, they’re not even responsible for the ludicrous blue laws in this country…

    Could it be you’re blinded by your biases?
    Shirley Knott

  36. Jesse Walker writes: “Here in America, it is considered normal everyday English to describe a text prepared to be spoken as a ‘speech,’ even if it hasn’t been delivered. Really!”

    It’s also normal everyday English to refer to a surprise announcement as a “bombshell,” but that doesn’t mean that the person delivering the announcement should be charged with using explosives.

    You were using the word “speech” to imply that the draft was a public document. It wouldn’t have been nearly as effective to say, with eyes metaphorically bugging out, “Got it? The draft is confidential.” _For the purpose for which you were using the word_, a draft is not a speech.

    I too suspect that the reason for withholding the draft from the public has more to do with politics than national security, but it’s ridiculous to argue that because the draft of a speech is colloquially itself called a “speech,” it should have the same status as a delivered speech.

  37. Just out of curoisity–a lot of people on this thread basically seem to be saying that government shouldn’t be accountable to its citizens. Those of you defending the privacy of Ms. Rice–what was your opinion when Ken Starr violated the privacy of Bill Clinton and his plump paramour?

  38. I am not kidding. What is the point of playing gotcha politics on this issue? If the point of the commission is to determine what policy we must pursue to fight terrorism and prevent another 9/11 attack, what in the hell does the NSA’s speech draft have to do with it?

    In the meantime, you tie down the administration in dealing with niggling political bullshit and that distracts from the task at hand. Which, again, is killing terrorists and destroying the structures that support them. The Iraq war may or may not have furthered that effort and may or may not have been a good idea. But it happened and we’re there and we have drawn in alot of terrorists and islamists. We better focus on what we’re going to do about it NOW, or else it isn’t going to matter who is president next year.

  39. Gary: Actually, I never said that the speech “was a public document.” It obviously isn’t public, or there wouldn’t be a problem getting a copy.

    What I said, or at any rate meant, was that there’s no reason it shouldn’t be released to the public, given that Rice was willing to read the whole thing publicly until events convinced her that a different speech was called for. It’s not a question of the document’s status; it’s a question of whether releasing it will do any harm.

  40. Mike: Who’s playing gotcha politics? I assume the commission wants to read the speech to see if it corroborates the stuff Richard Clarke’s been saying. It’s clearly a minor matter, but that’s why it’s such a vexing example — if the White House won’t cooperate on something as peripheral and harmless as this, it makes their refusal to cooperate on more substantial matters all the more suspicious. Put bluntly, it makes it look like they’re more interested in covering their asses than in protecting the country.

  41. The burden should be on the government to make the case that its actions need to be secret, not on the public to make the case that government actions should be transparent.

  42. Fun partisan fact: the Republicans gave Ken Starr 70 million dollars to investigate Bill Clinton’s real estate deals and sexual escapades. The Republicans gave the 9-11 commission around 15 million dollars to investigate what caused the death of 3000 Americans.

    Sex or death? Follow the money trail and it’s obvious which one most offends the current administration.

  43. Real TV goes into politics!

    This has to be an election year. We are witnessing the process of a two party system.

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