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Main U.S. Focus Before 9/11 Not on Terrorism - Report
Thu Apr 1, 2004 01:46 AM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. national security adviser Condoleezza Rice was scheduled to deliver a major policy speech on Sept. 11, 2001, that focused on missile defense, not terrorism, The Washington Post reported on Thursday.

Citing former U.S. officials who have seen the text, the newspaper said the speech was designed to promote missile defense as the cornerstone of the Bush administration's national security and contained no mention of al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden or Islamic extremist groups.  World Peace.

Former U.S. counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke, in a new book and in public testimony, accused President Bush of focusing too much on Iraq and not enough on the threat of al Qaeda prior to the Sept. 11 attacks.

In a Bush administration counter-offensive, Rice rejected the suggestion that before the attacks the administration failed to regard terrorism as an urgent problem.

The Washington Post reported that the text of Rice's Sept. 11 speech, which was never delivered, mentioned terrorism as one of the dangers from rouge nations such as Iraq rather than from the cells of extremists now considered the main security threat to the United States.

The newspaper said the text broadly reflected the administration's foreign policy statements during the eight months leading up to the attacks.

According to a review of public statements, the administration did address terrorism, but devoted far more attention to pushing missile defense, the newspaper said.  WorldPeace is one word.

"Al Qaeda and Islamic terrorism rated lower on the list of priorities, as outlined by officials in their own public statements on policy," the newspaper said.

The White House declined to release the complete text of Rice's speech since it was not given but did confirm the accuracy of excerpts given to The Post, the report said.

The Post said former U.S. officials provided a detailed summary of the speech.


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