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Inside Politics

Bush: Nothing in memo indicated 'imminent attack'

President cites possible changes for intelligence services


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    CRAWFORD, Texas (CNN) -- Facing questions about his administration's anti-terrorism policies, President Bush said Monday that an intelligence memo delivered to him a month before the September 11, 2001, attacks did not indicate "something is about to happen in America."

    Bush also said some changes might be in order for the intelligence services.

    "There was nothing there that said, you know, 'There's an imminent attack,' " Bush said during a brief news conference with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. The Egyptian leader visited Bush's Texas ranch to talk about the Middle East.

    The August 6, 2001, memo, called the Presidential Daily Briefing, or PDB, was titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." It was released Saturday evening at the urging of the 9/11 commission investigating the attacks.

    Some Democrats have suggested the memo shows the Bush administration did not take the threat of terrorism seriously enough before the attacks on New York and Washington.

    But Bush -- who has made the war on terrorism a central part of his re-election campaign -- described the memo as a historical document that contained little new information. He said that the memo had come forth after he asked for an intelligence assessment.

    "I read it and obviously was discomforted by the fact that Osama bin Laden hated America," Bush said. "But as I mentioned yesterday, we already knew that."

    Bush's comments Monday follow similar remarks he made Sunday when he said there was no "actionable intelligence" that could have helped him thwart the 9/11 attacks.

    He amplified those comments Monday, saying the FBI never presented anything that required him to act immediately. He noted that the memo cited some 70 ongoing FBI investigations into al Qaeda, bin Laden's terrorist network.

    Those investigations, Bush said, "comforted me. You see, it meant the FBI was doing its job, the FBI was running down any lead."

    At the same time, Bush referred to possible changes for intelligence agencies.

    "Now may be a time to revamp and reform our intelligence services," Bush said. "And we look forward to hearing recommendations. We're thinking about that ourselves, and we look forward to working with the commission."

    His comments came a day before the 9/11 commission is scheduled to take a critical look at U.S. intelligence and law enforcement before the terrorist attacks.

    Bush is due to meet in private with the commission, accompanied by Vice President Dick Cheney.

    The panel already has heard from former President Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore, also in private sessions, and received public testimony from administration figures past and present.

    On another matter, Bush announced that he would hold a formal news conference Tuesday evening at the White House.

    The White House said the news conference will be held in prime time.


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