Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice reflected on the Bush administration’s handling of America’s national security after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, saying that “fortune” and “not perhaps skill” kept the country safe.
“We recognize that it was fortune and not perhaps skill, but fortune, that led us to be able to protect the country,” Rice said at the Heritage Foundation on Friday.
“There were those who though were skilled. Our intelligence officers, our Homeland Security people and, perhaps most importantly, our men and woman in uniform who volunteer to defend us at the front lines of freedom — and we owe them our eternal gratitude for doing so.”
In her speech, Rice also said she takes “some responsibility” for the American people being “tired.”
“It’s reasonable that the American people are tired and I take some responsibility for that. I told President Bush as we were leaving office, I said, ‘You know, Mr. President, I think they’re just tired. It’s been terrorism and it’s been war and it’s been challenge and it’s been vigilance and I think people are tired,’” she said.
“I understand that and there are those who say that we’ve sapped our strength — by our over-extension abroad — to deal with our domestic problems at home. … Perhaps it is our lack of confidence at home that is sapping our desire and our will to lead abroad.”
“The confusion at home,” she added, “becomes an excuse not to engage the world and it’s directly related to our willingness and our ability to lead.”
Former Vice President Dick Cheney has said the Bush administration had to do “everything” in their power to prevent the next terrorist attack.
“We would have been absolutely, totally irresponsible if we hadn’t taken the view that we had to do everything in our power in order to prevent that next attack, and that’s exactly what we did,” Cheney said on June 1, 2009.
“I even look back at it and to some extent, our success allows some of our fellow citizens to say, ‘Oh, there was nothing to worry about.’”
He continued, “We did what we felt we had to do and if I had it to do all over again, I would do exactly the same thing.”