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Bush Defends Military, Intelligence Records - 2004-02-14


The White House is responding to criticism of President Bush's military record and alleged U.S. intelligence failures ahead of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

A spokesman said Friday Mr. Bush has agreed to meet privately with an independent commission investigating whether the terrorist hijackings in the United States could have been prevented. He said the president, however, has ruled out answering questions at a public hearing for the group.

Commission officials say Vice President Dick Cheney, former President Bill Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore have also agreed to offer private testimony.

The White House also released Friday, additional files from Mr. Bush's service in the National Guard, including records of dental examinations from the Vietnam War-era.

A spokesman said the release was intended to refute critics trying to create what he called the "wrong impression" about Mr. Bush's National Guard service.

Some Democrats have questioned whether then-Lieutenant Bush showed up for duty during much of a 12-month period starting in 1972. The White House says he met his military obligations.

Meantime, the New York Times quotes officials as saying the Senate Intelligence Commission has agreed to examine the president's daily intelligence briefing as part of its investigation of how intelligence relating to the war in Iraq was gathered.

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