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Republican Lawmakers Briefed on Contents of 9/11 Report - 2004-07-21


U.S. lawmakers are being briefed by the co-chairmen of the independent commission that investigated the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on its report, expected to be issued on Thursday.

Republican House leaders say while much of the conclusions of what is called the "9/11 Commission" have been known for some time, they underscore the need to learn lessons from past mistakes.

In a series of meetings Tuesday, to continue on Wednesday, the commission co-chairmen, Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton met with House and Senate lawmakers of both parties, providing what most involved described as a general picture of the report's contents.

House Republican leaders say that, for the most part, they were told what has already been revealed by commission staff reports in several public hearings.

But the (Republican) speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, says the briefing served a useful purpose. It gives members of Congress a fuller understanding of the report issued by the 9/11 Commission.

"We owe it to the American people, it's our commitment to make sure that we understand not only the spirit and the idea of the report, but the recommendations, and then we will look at those recommendations and use our best judgment, knowledge, and wisdom of Congress to move forward."

Other Republicans said the report should not trigger a new wave of partisan political attacks by Democrats and Republicans.

"They (the commission co-chairmen) stressed that the report is not a blame game, that there were failures on all fronts," said House majority leader, Tom DeLay.

With members of Congress about to adjourn for a summer recess, they may have plenty of time to read the 9-11 Commission report.

However, it is highly unlikely there will be any legislative action on reforms of the U.S. intelligence system during the remainder of this legislative session because there is so little time left before the November presidential election.

After briefing House Republican leaders Tuesday, neither commission chairman Thomas Kean nor vice-chairman Lee Hamilton stopped to speak with reporters.

However, in a written statement in advance of the report's Thursday release, Mr. Kean says the terrorist threat to the United States "has not disappeared since September 11th, 2001," adding that the commission members hope Congress and the president will act with care and quickly on its recommendations.

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