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Congress Opens Intelligence Probe - 2002-06-04

Congress has begun closed-door hearings on why U.S. intelligence agencies failed to prevent the September 11 terrorist attacks, and how future attacks can be averted.

Lawmakers are considering evidence that the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency sometimes mishandled information and did not share intelligence with each other.

The joint House-Senate Intelligence Committee probe will try to determine what intelligence agencies knew about the plans to attack the Pentagon and World Trade Center prior to September 11 and what agencies may have done with that information. The hearings will also look into how the system can be improved to prevent future attacks.

The joint committee is meeting in a soundproof room in the Capitol under very tight security. The panel which is to hold public sessions at the end of the month is expected to hear testimony from FBI Director Robert Mueller and CIA Director George Tenet in the coming weeks.

The committee opened hearings as The New York Times quotes Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak as saying his country's intelligence service warned U.S. authorities a week before September 11 that the al-Qaida terrorist network was in advanced stages of an attack on an unspecified American target.

But President Bush dismissed Mr. Mubarak's comments. Touring the National Security Agency outside Washington, Mr. Bush told reporters he saw no evidence suggesting the United States had information that would have enabled it to prevent the attacks on New York and the Pentagon near Washington.