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U.S. report on 9/11 to be ' explosive' 

The report will show that top Bush administration officials were warned in the summer of 2001 that the al Qaeda terrorist network had plans to hijack aircraft and launch a ``spectacular attack.''

BY FRANK DAVIES
fdavies@herald.com

07/10/03 (Miami Herald) WASHINGTON - A long-awaited final report on the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks will be released in the next two weeks, containing new information about U.S. government mistakes and Saudi financing of terrorists.

Former Rep. Tim Roemer, who served on the House Intelligence Committee and who has read the report, said it will be ''highly explosive'' when it becomes public.

The staff director for the congressional investigation that produced the 800-page report, Eleanor Hill, said Wednesday that several lengthy battles with the Bush administration over how much secret data to declassify have been resolved.

She expects the document to go to the Government Printing Office late this week and then be made public about a week later.

''It's compelling and galvanizing and will refocus the public's attention on Sept. 11,'' predicted Roemer, an Indiana Democrat. ``Certain mistakes, errors and gaps in the system will be made clear.''

Roemer, who is also a member of the independent commission on Sept. 11, would not discuss details of the report. He said he expects the public report to be a compromise between intelligence officials who wanted to hold back data and congressional leaders and staffers who pressed for more disclosure.

A source familiar with the investigation, speaking on condition of anonymity, cited two ''sensitive areas'' of the report that will command public attention:

More information on ties between the Saudi royal family, government officials and terrorists. The FBI may have mishandled an investigation into how two of the Sept. 11 hijackers received aid from Saudi groups and individuals.

John Lehman, a member of the independent commission, said at a hearing Wednesday: ``There's little doubt that much of the funding of terrorist groups -- whether intentional or unintentional -- is coming from Saudi sources.''

A coherent narrative of intelligence warnings, some of them ignored or not shared with other agencies, before the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

WARNING IN 2001

The report will show that top Bush administration officials were warned in the summer of 2001 that the al Qaeda terrorist network had plans to hijack aircraft and launch a ``spectacular attack.''

Hill would not discuss details of the report, but said it will contain ''new information'' about revelations made last year, when the joint House-Senate investigation held nine public hearings and 13 closed sessions.

The final report was completed in December. Since then a working group of Bush administration intelligence officials has ''scrubbed'' the report, objecting to additional public disclosures.

PUSH FOR DISCLOSURE

The two chairmen from Florida who oversaw the investigation, Sen. Bob Graham and Rep. Porter Goss of Sanibel, have pushed for months for more disclosure.

Graham, a Democrat running for president, has said the administration was using the excuse of national security to block ''embarrassments'' by the government.

Goss blamed the declassification battle on traditional resistance from intelligence officials.

The report will contain chunks of missing type or ''redactions'' to show where information was withheld, Hill said.

Roemer called the report a ``well-written narrative that will be summer reading for adults the way Harry Potter is for kids.''

WIDER PROBE

The 10 members of the independent National Commission on Terrorist Attacks and its staff have had the report for several months and are using it in their more wide-ranging investigation.

The congressional investigation focused on intelligence before and after Sept. 11, while the independent commission's broad mandate includes immigration, airline safety and congressional oversight of counterterrorism.

The commission's two leaders, Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton, complained this week that federal departments were slow in turning over documents needed for their investigation

Copyright: The Miami Herald


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