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US Senators Seek Meeting With Intelligence Agencies to Discuss Classified Portions of 9-11 Probe - 2003-07-31

Members of the Senate Intelligence Committee are seeking a meeting with officials from U.S. intelligence agencies to explore why a classified portion of a Congressional report on the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks can not be released to the public.

A growing number of U.S. lawmakers are calling on the Bush administration to declassify the 28 pages of the 900-page report, which are believed to deal with Saudi links to the September 11 hijackers. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were Saudi.

Saudi officials also support release of the 28 pages, arguing that Saudi Arabia has nothing to hide.

But President Bush told Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal at a White House meeting Tuesday the pages would remain classified for national security reasons, an argument he underscored at a news conference Wednesday. "It would show people how we collect information and on whom we're collecting information, which, in my judgment, and in the judgment of senior law enforcement officials in my administration, would be harmful on the war against terror," he said.

But congressional pressure to release the section of the report is building.

Two Senators, Republican Sam Brownback of Kansas and Democrat Charles Schumer of New York, are collecting signatures on a letter to Mr. Bush asking him to release the 28 pages as a way to reassure Americans of the nation's anti-terror efforts.

Senator Bob Graham of Florida, a former Intelligence Committee chairman who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president next year, has called on the panel to begin declassifying the material on its own. He will have more to say about the matter at a Thursday news conference.