The meeting was an opportunity for Tenet and Black to brief Rice on the al Qaeda threat, Time said, something Tenet was reportedly very concerned about. The magazine said the DCI's message was that he " couldn't rule out a domestic attack but thought it more likely that al-Qaeda would strike overseas."
According to stories which appeared online last night, in January 2004 Tenet re-created the briefing for 9/11 panelist Richard Ben-Veniste, executive director Phil Zelikow, and professional staff for the panel. (Zelikow, who worked with Rice before joining the commission staff, is now a top aide to Rice.)
The meeting was reported again last week, this time by Bob Woodward in his new book, "State of Denial." In it, he characterized Tenet's message at the sit-down as: "First, al Qaeda is going to attack American interests, possibly within the United States itself. . . Second, this was a major foreign policy problem that needed to be addressed immediately."
On the premise that Woodward's book was the first time the meeting had been mentioned to him, 9/11 panelist Ben-Veniste told the New York Times that the meeting âwas never mentioned to us.â
âThis is certainly something we would have wanted to know about," he told the paper.
When reporters confirmed Tenet's January 2004 briefing with the 9/11 commission yesterday, the Democratic panelist changed his tune. "Ben-Veniste confirmed. . . that Tenet outlined for the 9/11 commission the July 10 briefing to Rice in secret testimony in January 2004," McClatchy newspapers reported. But he wouldn't comment further, referring all questions about the content of the report to Philip Zelikow. Zelikow has yet to comment.
It's clear that the commission knew. Even if they didn't read Time magazine, even if they didn't search for news clips before digging in, they received a detailed briefing -- staffers as well as Ben-Veniste. To date, no one has explained why the meeting wasn't mentioned in the final report. Why not?