United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, hours before arriving in New Delhi, was circumspect when asked if US intelligence had warned India that a deadly terror attack in Mumbai is likely, as reported by the media, which is quoting unnamed counter-terrorism officials.
At a press conference at the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation's headquarters in Brussels, Rice said, "As to the reports that I have seen, as you have, I don't really know the source of them, and I'm always reluctant to speak to unnamed sources who are speaking on background, because one never knows what they're talking about--that's one of the problems with the unnamed source issue."
"But we obviously try to pass information to countries all around the world if we pick up information," she acknowledged," and reiterated, "But I'll tell you, having been on the receiving end of information sometimes which one could constitute as, quote-un-quote 'warnings,' they are often difficult to act on, sometimes not very concrete. And, I would just note that the problem with terrorism is that information is useful, but it isn't always something that can prevent."
Rice argued, "The real problem we have with terrorism is that terrorists can be right once and we have to be right 100 percent of the time. and in that regard, I have some, not just sympathy, but empathy for what the Indian government has gone through."
Pressed by reporters on whether the US had passed on specific information of 'increased chatter' as there was before 9/11, Rice continued to state that "I don't know who this source is, and so I don't know what they're referring to."
She repeated that "I've been on the other side of this, and I'm not going to respond to whether there are --chatter or whatever."
"But, I just know that the problem is that information is not knowledge, and that's one of the problems that we have. And, I know the Indian government is looking hard at how it might have more effective counter-terrorism responses, how it might better use information," she said.
Rice said that "We've been through that in the United States. It's a tough business, particularly, for a democracy, and so I have to tell you, I have a lot of empathy for what they're going through."
Rice was also peppered with questions as to whether she was rushing to Delhi to alleviate the Indo-Pakistan tensions, since India has said it has irrefutable evidence that the terror attacks were conceived of and carried out by Pakistan-based groups, allegedly the Lashkar-e-Tayiba.
As she has maintained throughout, during briefings on her plane as well as at all of her stops en route to Delhi, Rice said, "As the President said, I am going to, of course, express solidarity with the Indian people. That was a horrible attack."
"It was, of course, also an attack that killed American citizens," she added. "And, it is therefore of very great concern to the United States. It underscores the importance of getting to the bottom of what happened, both to bring those who perpetrated this terrible crime to justice, and to try and prevent further attacks of this kind. And in that regard, I want to consult with the Indian government further about what we can do to help."
Rice said, "I've already noted that everyone should cooperate fully, and Pakistan in particular needs to cooperate fully and transparently. I was pleased to see the statements of the Pakistani government that they intend to do so, but that is the nature of my trip to India."