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Bush Welcomes 9/11 Commission's Recommendations - 2004-07-22


President Bush says he agrees with the findings of the commission that investigated the September 11th, 2001 attacks and will seriously consider the panel's recommendations.

Just hours after the commission released its long-awaited report, the president went to the state of Illinois to speak at a police training center.

Mr. Bush said he agrees with the panel's conclusion that the terrorists involved in the 2001 terrorist attacks were able to exploit deep institutional failings in the nation's defenses that had developed over time.

"The commission's recommendations are consistent with the strategy my administration is following to address these failings and to win the war on terror," he said.

The president did not formally commit himself to any of the specific ideas put forward by the commission. But he said they will all get a close look, including a plan to create a top government post to oversee the work of all the government agencies involved in intelligence gathering.

"We will carefully study all their proposals, of course," he added. "We agree that better coordination among the various intelligence agencies is needed. We agree that more human intelligence is needed because we know the best way to figure out what the enemy is thinking is to get to know the enemy firsthand."

President Bush got his personal copy of the more than 500-page report before leaving Washington from the two men who steered the commission through its work: its Republican Chairman Tom Kean and the top Democrat on the panel, Lee Hamilton.

Mr. Bush originally opposed the creation of the independent panel, saying already existing congressional committees were better suited to investigate the 9/11 attacks. But despite his early skepticism, he embraced the panel's report and praised its members, saying he appreciates their hard work and their comprehensive findings.

"We will give serious consideration to every idea because we share a common goal: to do everything in our power to prepare for and to stop any terrorist attack," he said.

The president echoed sentiments expressed by commission members when they released their report to the public. He said dangers still exist and America cannot afford complacency.

"We must do everything we can to prevent an even bolder and deadlier attack. We will never let our guard down," he stated.

President Bush met once with the full panel during the course of its investigation. He at first resisted calls for a meeting with all the commission members, but he changed course and met with them for several hours at the White House, along with Vice-President Dick Cheney.

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