WASHINGTON, March 30 (Xinhuanet) -- The White House has allowed the president's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, to testify in public under oath before the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, an official said Tuesday.
The administration made the offer on the condition that this should not be set as a precedent, the official said.
In a letter to the commission, Alberto Gonzales, the president's legal counsel, said that Rice is prepared to testify publicly aslong as the administration gets assurances in writing from the panel that this is not precedent setting, the official said.
The White House has previously refused to let Rice testify publicly, citing executive privilege.
Rice has met with the panel in private and has also refused to appear before the commission in public. "There is an important principle involved here: It is a long-standing principle that sitting national security advisers do not testify before the Congress," she said on Sunday.
The commission was set up by the Congress in late 2002 to examine security-related issues before the attacks and response afterward and to make recommendations on guarding against future attacks.
The administration was also offering a joint meeting of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney with the full 10-member commission, said the official.
Tom Kean, former governor of New Jersey and a Republican and chairman of the commission, has said that his commission feels unanimously that Rice should testify in public.
Members of the independent panel have insisted that Rice give public testimony under oath, particularly after last week's charges by former White House counterterrorism adviser Richard Clarke that Bush had not done enough to deal with the al Qaeda threat before the attacks. Enditem