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Rumsfeld Hints at Evidence of Direct State Support of Attacks - 2001-09-18


U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has hinted that the Bush administration has evidence of direct state support for last week's devastating terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

Mr. Rumsfeld stopped well short of revealing details of the evidence the United States has collected so far.

But he told reporters at a Pentagon briefing Tuesday that while he will leave any formal disclosures to the Justice Department and others, he knows a lot about what happened and who was behind the terrorist attacks. He said, "I mean, I know a lot, and what I have said, as clearly as I know how, is that states are supporting these people. And how - what constitutes evidence and who wants to present it at what time I'll leave to the people in that business. I'm in a different business."

Mr. Rumsfeld paused dramatically before responding to a reporter's question with that statement. Asked why, he called it "a sensitive matter."

The United States has identified several countries as supporters of terrorism. But most attention since last week's attacks has been focused on Afghanistan, the state accused of giving sanctuary to suspect terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.

Authorities in Afghanistan have indicated they want to see evidence of his alleged role in last week's suicide airline strikes before turning him over.

But Mr. Rumsfeld said the United States is not prepared to provide the Taleban with such information. He said it could compromise intelligence sources and thus jeopardize U.S. national security.