The Principals of the National Security Council are a select group of senior officials who met frequently to advise the President on issues of national security policy. They failed to meet with Richard Clarke, who requested urgent meetings about Al Qaeda, so that the Administration failed to prevent 9/11.
On April 9, 2008, ABC News [ revealed] that the Principals Committee had met frequently, at the insistence of CIA Director George Tenet, to discuss the torture of enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay (Gitmo) and elsewhere in great detail. Tenet wanted a record to show that the CIA was being ordered to do this, and not cowboying off on its own. Members of the Principals Committee at the time of these meetings included
- National Security Adviser Condolleeza Rice
- Vice President Dick Cheney
- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
- Secretary of State Colin Powell
- CIA Director George Tenet
- Attorney General John Ashcroft
According to the ABC News report, John Ashcroft was the only one who expressed any doubts about these meetings, saying, "Why are we talking about this in the White House? History will not judge this kindly."