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Bush:  White House Looking Forward to 9/11 Report Conclusions - 2004-07-21


President Bush says he looks forward to hearing the conclusions of the bipartisan commission investigating the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Leaders of that commission are briefing Bush administration officials on their findings ahead of Thursday's public release of their report to the public.

The commission is expected to detail how U.S. officials missed opportunities to disrupt the attack three years ago, but will stop short of saying the violence could have been prevented.

That conclusion might have been politically damaging for the president, especially as the report's release comes days before the Democratic convention where the opposition party is expected to criticize Mr. Bush for his handling of the fight against terrorism.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan says nothing has come to the Bush administration's attention to suggest that those attacks could have been prevented. He says the president is focused now on improving intelligence to make sure that such an attack never happens again.

Before the report's release, the commission's chairmen are briefing National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, White House Counsel Alberto Gonzalez and Chief of Staff Andy Card. Mr. McClellan says they will then inform the president of the commission's findings before he formally receives the report Thursday.

Mr. Bush says he is looking forward to hearing their conclusions.

"I will continue to work with the Congress and state and local governments to build on the homeland security improvements we have already made,? he said. ?Every American can be certain that their government will continue doing everything in our power to prevent a terrorist attack."

The White House initially resisted establishing the commission and then tried to limit its length. President Bush finally agreed to meet with commission members only on the condition that he appear alongside Vice President Dick Cheney. Neither man was under oath, none of the session was recorded electronically, and only one person was allowed to take notes.

Administration officials say those restrictions on the meeting concerned both issues of national security and the separation of powers with the head of state appearing before a congressionally-mandated commission.