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Archive for Sunday, July 25, 2004

Bush says administration will heed 9-11 panel report

July 25, 2004

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— Without promising what specific steps he will take, President Bush is committing his administration to relying on the recommendations of the Sept. 11 commission in waging the war on terrorism.

"The danger to America has not passed," Bush said Saturday in his weekly radio address, citing the cautionary note sounded this week by the commission chairman, Thomas Kean.

The commission's unanimous report, the culmination of a 20-month investigation, portrayed the Sept. 11 terrorists as creative and determined while the nation they were preparing to strike was unprepared and uncomprehending of the imminent danger.

Legislation that would carry out two of the report's recommendations will be the focus of an unusual round of hearings in August while Congress is in recess.

"The 9-11 commission's recommendations will help guide our efforts," said the president. "We will carefully examine all the commission's ideas on how we can improve our ongoing efforts to protect America and to prevent another attack."

Kean, a Republican, has left no doubt what he thinks should be done, saying that unless the panel's recommendations are implemented swiftly, "we're more vulnerable to another terrorist attack."

"We're in danger of just letting things slide. Time is not on our side," Kean said.

Bush has not said how quickly the administration would act. Two important administration officials, Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge and acting CIA director John McLaughlin, oppose a Cabinet-level overseer of the intelligence apparatus, saying improving the current structure is what is needed.

White House chief of staff Andrew Card will undertake a Cabinet-level review of the proposals, which will be examined at all levels of government.

Bush insists all recommendations are on the table, while detailing the steps already taken.

He pointed to the dismantling of terrorist cells from California to Florida and the removal of regimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We have waged a steady, relentless, determined war," said the president.

Bush said his administration had provided $13 billion to equip and train more than half a million first responders in cities across the country; transformed the FBI into an agency whose primary mission is fighting terrorism; and stockpiled enough small pox vaccine for every American in case of an emergency.

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