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Bush agrees to meet with 9/11 commission

Panel also seeks meetings with Cheney, Clinton, Gore

From Pam Benson
CNN

The men will be asked about intelligence warnings they had received before 9/11.
The 9/11 panel wants to hear from former President Clinton, former Vice President Al Gore, President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush has agreed to meet privately with the independent commission investigating the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the White House said Friday night.

Bush is expected to tell the chairman and co-chairman of the commission what he knew of events leading up to the attacks. It's unclear whether Bush will be under oath when he speaks with commission members.

The panel will also request private interviews with Vice President Dick Cheney, former President Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore, a commission spokesman said.

The date for the meeting is still to be determined.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan said in a statement that while the commission's leaders "have suggested the possibility of a public session at a later time, we believe the president can provide all the requested information in the private meeting, and there is no need for any additional testimony."

Commission spokesman Al Felzenberg said the leaders have not yet been asked to provide sworn testimony to the commission, although as the process begins "that question may come up."

Some of the 900 people the commission has interviewed spoke under oath, says Felzenberg, while others didn't.

Felzenberg said letters sent to the four men indicate the commission would welcome the possibility of their appearing at a public session at a later time.

The 10-member, bipartisan panel is interested in hearing about what intelligence warnings the men received before the attacks, the spokesman said.

The group is charged with providing an authoritative account of the September 11 attacks and to recommend steps to prevent such attacks.

The panel interviewed national security adviser Condoleezza Rice last Saturday.

In a recent interview with NBC News, Bush said he would be "glad to share knowledge" with the panel.

The commission was required by law to produce a final report by May 27 on what the government knew or didn't know -- and why -- about the plots to carry out the terrorist attacks.

After resisting the idea for months, the White House announced last week that it supported the commission's request for an extra 60 days to complete its work. (Full story)

Some of the commission's work was delayed because of prolonged negotiations with the administration over access to documents and other key information, such as Bush's daily intelligence briefings.

The commission and its 65-member staff have a $14 million budget. As of October 1, the commission had interviewed more than 200 people and questioned more than 87 government officials, according to the panel's Web site.


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