In a column in the Washington Post on March 22, 2004, Condoleezza Rice wrote:
The al Qaeda terrorist network posed a threat to the United States for almost a decade before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Throughout that period — during the eight years of the Clinton administration and the first eight months of the Bush administration prior to Sept. 11 — the U.S. government worked hard to counter the al Qaeda threat.
During the transition, President-elect Bush’s national security team was briefed on the Clinton administration’s efforts to deal with al Qaeda. The seriousness of the threat was well understood by the president and his national security principals. In response to my request for a presidential initiative, the counterterrorism team, which we had held over from the Clinton administration, suggested several ideas, some of which had been around since 1998 but had not been adopted. No al Qaeda plan was turned over to the new administration.
Documents obtained from the National Security Archive previously showed that these statements from Rice were untrue. The documents include a January 25, 2001, memo from counterterrorism coordinator Richard Clarke to national security advisor Condoleezza Rice and “Tab A December 2000 Paper: Strategy for Eliminating the Threat from the Jihadist Networks of al-Qida: Status and Prospects,” These documents, along with the testimony of Richard Clarke, contradict the claims of Condoleezza Rice that “No al Qaeda plan was turned over to the new administration.”
Writing in Salon, Joe Conason reports that this is noted but reported inaccurately in “The Path to 9/11.” Conason writes:
The movie shows a smarmy, condescending Condoleezza Rice demoting Clarke in January 2001 when she takes over as national security advisor. Clarke tries to warn her that “something spectacular” is going to happen on American soil, and she assures him that “we’re on it,” which they assuredly were not.