WASHINGTON – President Bush said Monday his national security adviser "knows exactly what took place and will lay out the facts" when she testifies before the Sept. 11 commission (search).
Condoleezza Rice's (search) testimony on Thursday was assured only after Bush changed course last week under pressure and decided to allow her to appear publicly and under oath. She has testified in a private session in February.
"She's a very smart, capable person who knows exactly what took place and will lay out the facts," Bush told reporters while on an economic and fund-raising trip to North Carolina.
"That's what the commission's job is meant to do and that's what the American people want to see and I'm looking forward to people hearing her."
Bush said he was looking forward to his own meeting with the commission, a joint session with Vice President Dick Cheney that will be private.
The president said he planned to tell the commission that his administration "would have done everything in our power" to stop the attacks had the government been able to anticipate them.
"What is important for them to hear is not only that, but that when I realized that the stakes had changed, this country immediately went on war footing and we went to war against Al Qaeda," the president said.
"It took me very little time to make up my mind, once I determined Al Qaeda (search) did do it, to say, 'We're going to go get them,' and we have," Bush said.
Bush did not say when he and Cheney will appear before the commission.
"I told them I'd meet with them at a time that's convenient for all of us and hopefully we'll come to that date soon," the president said.
Their joint testimony was part of a deal between the commission and the White House.
"All things considered, maybe we would have rather to have them one at a time, but we don't see any problem with it, really," the commission chairman, former Republican Gov. Thomas Kean of New Jersey, said Sunday.
"They promised us to give us the time we needed to get our questions answered, and if we have any problems ... we'll have follow-ups."
Commissioners are not expecting the White House to order major changes, based on national security concerns, to the commission's final report.
The panel is due to complete its report on July 26. Security specialists from the CIA, the FBI and other agencies first must review it, under White House supervision, for possible security leaks.
Democratic commissioner Tim Roemer, a former congressman from Indiana, said Rice's testimony should help clear up discrepancies in her public positions and those in public testimony before the commission by former White House counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke (search).
Other members said Rice would be asked why the government's anti-terrorism effort became so flawed that it allowed the terrorists to strike and how the administration plans to fix the problems.