Condi: We Feared We Were Poisoned
But detected deadly White House toxin turned out to be false alarm
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser User
Posted Nov 3, 2011 1:18 AM CDT
Updated Nov 3, 2011 2:00 AM CDT
Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice delivers a speech after unveiling the new statue of late US President Ronald Reagan in Budapest earlier this year.   (AP Photo/Bela Szandelszky)
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(Newser) – Condoleezza Rice recounted the day that she, President Bush, and Dick Cheney believed they had been exposed to a lethal toxin by terrorists. Cheney suddenly appeared on a secure video conference screen just weeks after 9/11 while Rice and Bush were traveling in China for the APEC summit. He warned them that White House sensors had detected botulinum toxin, and "we all—those of us exposed—were going to die," Rice revealed in an ABC interview. "I remember everybody just sort of freezing, and the president saying, ‘What was that? What was that, Dick?’” recalled Rice, who was national security adviser at the time. “We were just a little unnerved."

It turned out detection of the toxin—among the most lethal known—was a false alarm. Tested mice were still standing after exposure to samples sent to the Centers for Disease Control. After the tests, "I went back to the president, and he was sitting next to the Chinese, and I said, ‘The mice are feet down.’ And the president said, ‘That’s a good thing,’ and I’m sure the Chinese thought it was some sort of code,” Rice said.