NewsHour Extra Feature Stories
NewsHour Extra features stories can help students identify and interpret
key issues in current events. This activity anticipates one class period,
but the follow-up essay might be assigned as homework, or in another period.
Warm Up: Use initiating
questions to introduce the topic and find out how much your students know.
Main Activity: Have
students read NewsHour Extra's feature story and answer the questions
on the reading comprehension handout.
Discussion: Use discussion
questions to encourage students to think about how the issues outlined
in the story affect their lives and express and debate different opinions.
can write an 500-word editorial on the topic expressing their views and
send it to NewsHour Extra [firstname.lastname@example.org]
for possible publication.
are graded on their answers to reading comprehension questions and/or
to Testify Publicly Before 9/11 Panel: 04/07/04
1. Did you know anything about
the al-Qaida terrorist network or Osama bin Laden before the September
2. Did the attacks come as
a surprise to the U.S. government, or were officials expecting some kind
of terrorist strike? Why?
3. What can the government
learn about protecting the United States by investigating what happened
before Sept. 11?
Reading Comprehension Questions:
(click here for printout)
1. Who is Condoleezza Rice and
what is she doing this week?
After initially citing
executive privilege and refusing to testify publicly, National Security
Adviser Condoleezza Rice has reversed course and agreed to appear before
the 9/11 commission, an independent panel investigating whether the
Sept. 11 terrorist attacks could have been prevented.
As national security adviser,
Rice's job is to analyze and respond to any dangers the United States
faces from terrorists or other countries.
2. What is the National Commission
on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States?
The National Commission
on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States was created by Congress
in November 2002. Its mission: to determine why the government was unprepared
for the events of Sept. 11, 2001.
3. What do the president's supporters hope will come out of Rice's testimony?
The president's supporters
hope Rice's testimony will put to rest charges the White House ignored
the threat of terrorists, like Osama bin Laden's group al-Qaida, before
4. Who is Richard Clarke and why has he angered the Bush administration?
Rice is expected to challenge
claims made by former counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke in his recent
book "Against All Enemies: Inside America's War On Terror"
and in his testimony before the panel last month.
Clarke said the Bush administration
did not take seriously enough the possibility terrorists might attack,
choosing instead to focus on more traditional threats like long-range
missiles in countries like Russia and China.
Clarke also said the war
on terror was derailed because the Bush administration focused so heavily
on invading Iraq -- a country the White House claimed had weapons of
mass destruction and ties to al-Qaida. To date, no such weapons have
5. How have members of the
Bush administration responded to Clarke's accusations?
Members of the Bush administration
-- including Rice -- spent the past several weeks trying to discredit
much of what Clarke said on and before his official testimony.
"Before Sept. 11,
we closely monitored threats to our nation. President Bush revived the
practice of meeting with the director of the CIA every day -- meetings
that I attended. And I personally met with George Tenet regularly and
frequently reviewed aspects of the counterterror effort," Rice
wrote in an editorial in The Washington Post.
White House officials
have said that Rice will argue that the Bush administration did not
ignore possible signs that the 9/11 attacks would occur and that it
was in the process of devising a plan to combat terror and al-Qaida.
Rice will argue that the public should not judge the president and his
advisers on their pre-9/11 policies based on what happened on Sept.
6. What has the 9/11 commission
said about the September 11 attacks?
Last month the 9/11 commission released an interim report looking
at the problems that all administrations have had fighting terrorism
and the mistakes made -- including problems using diplomacy to try to
stop Osama bin Laden.
Two leaders of the 9/11
commission, Republican Thomas Kean and Democrat Lee Hamilton, have already
suggested the attacks could have been prevented.
"The whole story
might have been different," Kean said on NBC News, "if we
had been able to put those people on the watch list of the airlines,
the two who were in the country; again, if we'd stopped some of these
people at the borders; if we had acted earlier on al-Qaida when al-Qaida
was smaller and just getting started."
7. Why did Condoleezza Rice
almost not testify?
Rice's public testimony almost didn't happen at all. For months,
the Bush administration argued with the 9/11 commission over how or
whether she would testify. Rice spoke to the panel in February, privately
and not under oath.
The president initially
said Rice would not testify publicly because it would violate executive
privilege -- the rule that says the president's aides do not have to
testify about private conversations with the president. Unlike Cabinet
secretaries, who often testify before Congress, the national security
adviser is expected to be an independent advice-giver to the president,
above any political fray.
8. What did President Bush
say about Rice's testimony?
But after Clarke's explosive testimony, public pressure mounted and President
Bush reversed course.
"Now the commission
and leaders of the United States Congress have given written assurances
that the appearance of the national security adviser will not be used
as precedent in the conduct of future inquiries," he said.
Mr. Bush, who initially
opposed the creation of the 9/11 commission, told reporters he looks
forward to Rice's testimony.
"She's a very smart,
capable person who knows exactly what took place and will lay out the
facts. That's what the American people want," he said.
Discussion Questions (more
research might be needed):
1. Do you think Richard Clarke's
accusations will hurt President Bush in the upcoming presidential election?
Why or why not?
2. Do you think the American
public is paying attention to the 9/11 commission? How much attention
should it pay? Why?
3. What should the U.S. government
be doing to prevent another terrorist attack? Do you feel like it is doing
all that it can?
Send your answers, in essay
form, to email@example.com for